16. Use surplus new

Buy 'surplus new' not 'brand new'

Never be ashamed to make the most of someone else's misfortune. Well, OK – never is a bit strong. But there is one situation in which I would advise you to do so. Whenever the opportunity allows, buy surplus new, not brand new.

One of my friends is a new car enthusiast. Whenever he replaces his car, it absolutely must be with a brand new one – something about the smell of it, he says. It strikes me as a bit bizarre, especially when I consider the depreciation hit that he suffers each time, but it all seems very sensible to him. I'm at the other extreme: I've only ever bought one brand new car, and lost so much money as a result that I'm almost too ashamed to admit to it, even today. Regardless of how much I earn, I will never again buy a brand new car.

Now, were money no object, we'd all have brand new every time – myself included. And for many, including my friend, the desire for 'brand new' is strong enough to outweigh the significantly higher price that it commands. The thing is, brand new versus used is a false comparison. There is a third option: surplus new.

Surplus new

Let's imagine you have a network project under way. You've done your homework and planning, specced out your requirements and it's time to place the order. You know exactly what you need, and if you're anything like me, you're going to want to get it at the best possible price, but without sacrificing specification, performance, quality or warranty. You shop around a bit, but you need to maintain momentum on the project, so you place the order.

At this point, imagine getting a call back from the dealer: "I've just had a customer cancel his order. There's some overlap between his order and yours and I can let you have those items at a reduced price as I need to clear them out of stock." Now whether or not you're by nature an 'Always brand new and only brand new' person this has got to be good news. I can't imagine many situations in which you'd be answering with anything but a resounding "Yes, please!" The same product, with the same warranty, for less money. That's 'surplus new' and the downside is difficult to see, largely because there isn't one.

Excess stock happens

This situation does often arise, for a wide variety of reasons. A typical example would be a customer with an unmissable deadline to hit in relation to a complex network project. It's almost standard practice in such situations to order more than is required of the project's lower cost, longer lead time components, as insurance against any of these being faulty or suffering damage during the build.

Without such over-ordering, the entire project could be held up for months by a single faulty component. Generally such over-ordered product can subsequently be sold back to the dealer, minimising costs. And that, of course, means the dealer has as surplus new product to shift.

Customers cancel orders for other reasons, too. Changes of direction, component delays and hold-ups in other related projects are just three examples. Whatever the reason behind the order cancellation, though, it almost always leaves the dealer with surplus stock.

Dealers are rarely in a position to send the unwanted products back to their manufacturers, and simply putting the excess items into stock is usually not a viable option, for financial reasons. The best option is almost always to sell the products on, quickly. That means reduced prices. And that's good news for you.

When ordering networking products, always ask if the items you need are available from surplus new stock. You could make significant savings.