Hummel figurines, Big Mouth Billy Bass, used copies of The Best of Air Supply; eBay can be a great place to find just about anything you might want at a very reasonable price. There’s no doubting that the consumer to consumer selling site has changed the way the world shops, but is it really the best place to buy anything? When it comes to used c-arms and other medical imaging equipment, probably not.
“But why?” you ask. “The pictures look great AND the seller has one of those cute “Top Rated” ribbons right next to the price. Not to mention, there’s only two days left on the auction, and the seconds are disappearing while I read all your negative feedback.”
In that case, we’ll be quick about filling you in on the risks of buying your medical imaging equipment through the world’s largest online auction site.
Biohazards: How much information can you really find about your seller? Can you find out if they are ISO certified and OSHA compliant? If not, there’s a chance that this person knows absolutely nothing about bloodborne pathogens and is selling you an item that could be dangerous to the touch, or at least really gross.
Dose Calibration: Your seller may or may not actually be in the used c-arm or medical imaging industry. Many companies or individuals will try and sell anything they think they can get a few thousand dollars out of, whether they’re an expert on the item in question or not. Without the right knowledge, the system on the block could be significantly out of calibration and emitting dangerous radiation levels.
Potential for Problems: How much is covered in the event of shipping damage? Or failing parts? Or missing accessories? If this type of information (readily available through the project management or parts departments of reliable vendors) is missing from the posting, the unknowns should raise an eyebrow on your end. The huge potential for problems can end up costing you much more money on the back end in repairs, parts, and peripherals.
For those of you who read the previous passage and became concerned, below you’ll find what you can expect from more established vendors who have helpful little things like websites, phone numbers for specific staff, and references from people with real names instead of screen monikers like “MedDiva77”.
Ability to Inspect: Almost all traditional medical imaging equipment vendors will honor a request to see a c-arm in person before purchasing. Unlike an eBay purchase, where the buyer is often forced to rely on photos or the word of the seller, these companies have project management staff that can set up an inspection appointment for you or your representative at the facility housing the system.
Due Diligence: By this we mean an exercise of engineering wherewithal; refurbishment perhaps or, at least, a thorough test of the system with calibration back into OEM specifications as needed. A traditional vendor will also see to the decontamination of the system.
Support After Point of Sale: An eBay store is a simple way for a “one man show” type of seller to get his product on the market. After a purchase is made from a vendor like this, it can often be difficult to get ongoing service and replacement parts. More established vendors offer these things after a sale is complete by virtue of their engineering and parts inventory. These will be especially important to the eBay buyer if a system, purchased sight unseen, arrives in bad shape.
By all means, do your homework, ask lots of questions and let us know if you have a c-arm project that we can assist you with. We are happy to be your go-to resource for all things c-arm!