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Schools Save Money With Refurbished Computer

Author : Marcus Wellington

At less than half the cost of purchasing new computers, buying high-quality refurbished
machines is cheaper and more efficient, some education technology directors say—and that’ s a
big deal with school budgets stretched so thin.

McNairy County Schools in Tennessee bought 300 used Dell laptops for its one-to-one
computing initiative from CDI, Computer Dealers Inc., one of the largest computer resellers in
North America. The district plans to buy 300 more from CDI when more funding comes.

“ We don’ t have very much money here, and I’ m trying to get as many laptops in the classroom
as I can,” said Terry Burns, McNairy County’ s technology coordinator. “ To me, it’ s a no-brainer.
If you get Dell refurbished with a three-year warranty, or a four-year warranty, … that’ s the
same thing as a new Dell to me.”

And they come at a fraction of the cost: CDI’ s used computers cost one-half to one-third of the
price of new computers bought directly from companies such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo.

“ Whatever you would pay for one computer from Dell, you can get two, maybe three, from us,”
said Saar Pikar, senior vice president and general manager of CDI, which is based in Markham,
Canada, and operates as a subsidiary of U.S.-based Relational Technology Solutions.

CDI resells name-brand computer equipment—including laptops, desktops, LCDs, servers, and
printers—that was leased to Fortune 500 companies and returned, or is brand-new “ end-of-the-
line” product inventory that computer companies never sold.

Getting over the stigma associated with buying used equipment is one of the biggest
challenges—but CDI’ s no-questions-asked warranty and its exceptional service have helped.

“ Of course, I had hesitations … but you’ ve got to take a chance in life,” said Burns, who has
nothing but positive things to say about his district’ s experience with the refurbished machines.
He added: “ Now, I don’ t plan to buy anything but refurbished, especially with our budget.
Tomorrow night, I’ ve got a board meeting, and I’ m going to tell the board that I want to go with
CDI and these refurbished computers. I don’ t plan to buy new computers.”

Brian Bray, director of technology for Lebanon Community Schools in Oregon, feels the same.

“ First, the decision had to be made that we would buy refurbished equipment, leased-returned
equipment,” Bray said.

It made good business sense, he said, so the district bought 2,000 Dell desktop computers from
CDI to use in its administrative offices, students labs, and classrooms.

“ We are rolling out way, way, way more technology in front of our kids for the dollar, and it’ s
completely reliable. And at these prices, you [can] keep some spares in the building and when it
quits, you say: ‘ Go swap it,’ ” Bray said.

“ It’ s been a total good experience. I often check in with other school districts about their
acquisition strategies and their fleet maintenance strategies, and what we’ re doing wins. It’ s the
right thing.”

He added: “ We get machines that are just a little behind the curve, [but] they are more than

enough to do what we need to do. We get very good pricing, we get warranty coverage, and
there’ s some logistical considerations for us.”

Greater efficiency

In addition to low prices, buying refurbished computers from CDI has helped the Lebanon
Community Schools standardize its computers on only one model, which in turn helps its staff of
three full-time equivalents be more efficient.

“ With such a small team, we rely on network automation tools. If we need to install software, we
push it automatically. We don’ t walk up to machines and do things almost at all,” Bray said. “ So
it’ s important that the machines be long-runs of the same box. We don’ t have to worry about any
drivers or anything. We can make a good standard image and push it out.”

With the way technology turns over in the marketplace, the same computer might not be
available to buy when more computer funding becomes available.

“ If you go buy new machines, you buy $20,000 worth in March and you want to go and get some
more in July, that exact same machine might not be there,” Bray said. “ If you are buying off-
lease business-class equipment that’ s coming out of big corporations … there are millions and
millions of them out there. And if we want more, even a year later, we can get them.”

CDI, he said, is great at handling large volumes of orders for the same machine.

“ It isn’ t only the price savings in getting lease-returned equipment, it’ s that standardization is
key to our efficiency,” Bray said.

Also, the way CDI packages and ships computers—stacked three-high and shrink-wrapped and
bubble-wrapped on a skid—adds to Lebanon’ s efficiency. There are no boxes to dispose of for
each machine.

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Submitted : 2010-10-23    Word Count : 799    Times Viewed: 469