A very good friend of mine who just happens not to be connected to the coding and marking industry, has recently been searching for a car to replace his 15 year old Vauxhall Astra.
Unfortunately over the last few weeks he has become obsessed with finding himself a bargain. I have tried to steer him away from travelling hundreds of miles to look at so called immaculate low mileage bargains which always end up having more bad history than a Premier league footballer.
Against my better judgement he finally turned his attention to good old e-bay. On Saturday I received an e-mail attachment from him followed by an excited phone call. He was very enthusiastic about a 2004 Vauxhall Vectra, low mileage with a 2006 front bumper headlights and plastics. I tried to explain that this all sounded very dodgy, what with a new front end from a later model and the owner only desperate to sell because he was emigrating abroad. He explained that he had telephoned the owner and had been assured that the car was in very good genuine condition and would be a very good proposition for my friend.
The bidding finished at nine thirty on Saturday evening, we were all waiting in the pub for his arrival to find out if he had bid successfully. In he walks with a grin like a Cheshire cat, exclaiming he had secured the car for £1900; some £1600 below his budget. The car was some 200 miles away in Blackburn.
On Sunday morning he boarded a train heading for Blackburn with £1900 cash in his wallet, some three transfers and four hours later he was met at the railway station by the owner as arranged with the Vectra.
Every body panel was damaged, the CD/radio player was missing, the clutch was slipping and the gear lever tried to jump into the back seat every time you lifted off the accelerator peddle. In short the car was a complete tin of nails. I received a call from my friend late on Sunday evening he was stranded at a Railway station in Milton Keynes, with no hope of getting home until 5am on Monday morning. I ended up driving through the night to fetch him terrified that I might run over a badger or a rabbit and have a death on my conscience.
On our journey home he told me his tale of woe, he had lost a day of his life and was £50 worse off for wasted train fare.
This set me thinking about the high number of calls we receive every week of every month of every year. The conversation usually starts off with a request to fix or make good an ink jet coder which does not work. Further investigation usually reveals that said ink jet coder has been purchased at auction, or from a second hand machinery dealer who has no intention of offering after sales support. We usually find that a sum between £1500 to £3000 has been spent on the coder. A further call to the specific manufacturer is followed up by a service engineers report that reveals that a further £1500 minimum is required to restore the inkjet coder to its former glory. This is usually the point where we get the distress call, with the customer already having blown his full budget on a machine which is only fit for the skip.
Please be assured if you are considering the purchase of an industrial coding and marking machine; there is no such thing as a bargain. Buying from auctions or second hand dealers will invariably cost you thousands of pounds in the long run. Why go to all this trouble when you can purchase a fully reconditioned system, with a full parts and labour warranty for less than £3000. Backed up by an after sales service that has few equals for the industry sector.
My friend has finally seen the light, he has set himself a maximum travelling distance of 70 miles and has decided that he will only buy from a garage or dealer. He is now prepared to stop looking for that elusive bargain and realises he must pay a fair price for a fair vehicle.
If only we could educate those people that are looking for coding and marking machinery bargains, unfortunately these fools stand to lose a whole lot more than a £50 train fare.