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SECOND HAND KIT
Peter Savage shows you how
not to get caught out when
buying second hand kit.
Last week a client, on the lookout for some second-hand
kit, asked me about the basic ground rules when buying
equipment. How could he be assured that everything was
sound, and in an orderly fashion, and that he would be able
to gain good title on the equipment?
There are two ways to buy equipment: through a dealer
and directly from a user, and the rules are more or less
the same whether buying through traditional routes or the
Internet. Dealing with dealers
Looking first at buying from a dealer, it is natural to assume
that the dealer has clean title. However, in many cases,
smaller dealers act as agents for clients; they do not
actually pay for the equipment until they have secured a
sale. This is similar to second-hand car dealers who might
hold stock without first settling the outstanding finance on
the cars. In their case, it is relatively easy to check whether
there is any finance outstanding on the car as all finance
companies register their interest with HPI (a company
name based on the original meaning of the acronym –
hire purchase information). HPI’s database of information
is available to the public; anyone can search the hire
purchase history of a car to assess whether it is a buyable
proposition. If the owner of the car is the same as given in
the logbook, and the car is clear of finance at HPI, you can
be pretty sure there are no monies outstanding and you
can have clean title.
As an aside, and sticking with cars and car dealers for the
moment, if the log book is still in a private individual’s name
you are entitled to ask the dealer to check the title. If you
find there is outstanding finance, you are entitled to ask
the finance company to confirm that it has been cleared
Image: Sony PMW-EX1 (Discontinued)
before you pay for the car; you are also entitled to settle the
outstanding debt yourself.
Moving back to equipment dealers, unfortunately there
is no easy way (equivalent to the HPI check) to find out
whether the equipment has been paid for or if it has
outstanding finance. Although the HPI records cover kit, it
is not usual for finance companies to register equipment. In
reality, then, you have to look at the reputation of the dealer
and assess whether it is financially viable.
Company information is easily found, for a small fee of
£1.00, at Companies House (via its WebCHeck service).
This service assumes you are conversant with company
accounts, and that you understand the differences between
small abbreviated accounts and full accounts. If you do:
fine. If you don’t then another option is to use a credit
ratings agency (available on the Internet). For a relatively
affordable fee of between £5.00 and £30.00, companies
such as Equifax and Experian offer various levels of credit
rating, and indicate the level of credit you should offer
My rule of thumb when dealing with dealers is that you
should buy equipment up to the value of their credit limit.
For instance, if a dealer is trying to sell you kit to the value
of £50,000 and they have been given a £5,000 credit limit
then, as they say, caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.
Most UK dealers are acutely aware of their credit ratings
and work particularly hard to maintain them at acceptable
levels for the type of business they transact. Most good UK
dealers have strong accounts but, if a dealer doesn’t have
title to equipment and in the process of selling goes bust,
then you will be left in a very tricky and potentially expensive
position. Private sales
Looking next at private sale or end user purchases, it
becomes a little more complicated. I like to check that the
company owns the equipment so I ask to see the purchase
36 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 95 NOVEMBER 2014