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Becky: There we are. We're being recorded.
So welcome today everyone, to Avoid the Junk: How to Get Quality Used Computers
with our TechSoup Talks webinar. If you're online and tweeting this,
feel free to use the Twitter hash tag, #TechSoup.
After this webinar, you will also be able to ask any additional questions in our hardware forum.
So thank you all for joining us. I'll go ahead and introduce our presenters
so we can get ourselves rolling.
Again, I'm Becky Wiegand with TechSoup. I'm a staff writer here
and I also help produce our webinars. I would like to introduce first, Jim Lynch,
who is the head of our GreenTech Initiative here. And he's been a longtime advocate
for refurbishing and reuse of electronic equipment and computers. He is a real expert on this topic.
We'll also be joined by Matthew Halden, who is the head of our Refurbished Computer Initiative,
which is TechSoup's product offering of hardware for nonprofits and libraries.
They'll give you more details about that program in a little bit.
We are also joined by Lisa Gunsauley of Redemtech.
She is representing our partner Redemtech who helps us make sure our computers
that are distributed are high quality refurbished through the factory refurbishing process
that she'll discuss in a little while.
Answering our chat questions, we have Andres Galves,
who is also with our Refurbished Computer Initiative
and he's the guy that knows the minute details about everything about RCI.
And he's the one that you would talk to if you end up calling us to ask questions about our program
or place your request for computers. So he will be on the chat
to help answer any questions regarding the program.
Then we also have Kevin Lo, who is a Senior Tech Analyst here at TechSoup.
He'll be here to collect your questions and make sure that if you have any tech problems
you're being assisted. So thank you everyone for joining us.
Quick overview of what our agenda's going to cover, I've already done the introductions.
So we're going to talk a little bit about TechSoup and our mission around refurbishment,
why it's important, why there's an environmental case for it, and give you some tips
for choosing a refurbisher, whether you go through an organization like ours,
or Redemtech or anybody else for that matter.
We'll talk a little bit about what our program offers, and talk about what Redemtech does
and the value they bring to the sector. And then we'll leave you with some resources,
and open it up for Question and Answer.
So to just start it off, I have a background with nonprofit organizations.
Before my work here at TechSoup and I was always kind of the accidental techie
who was in charge of figuring out how to get computers when one busted.
And we frequently had a local tech guy who would say, "Oh I can get you some used machines,
and I'll clean them up for you and no worries, it will be great."
I realized after a while that that actually cost us a lot more in the long run to go about it
in a really kind of disheveled manner, because we almost always ended up with a computer
that still had some data on it, or had software left on it that we didn't own it,
and we didn't have the license keys. So later, if we needed to upgrade
we had all sorts of problems.
So we soon realized that we had to really look at how we were replacing our hardware.
As a small nonprofit I think we had four people in our office at the time.
We were really tight budgeted so cost mattered but quality mattered just as much
because we ended up paying for it in the end if we went with bad refurbishing,
or just took donated computers from anyone. So we'll have some resources to discuss at the end
of this that will help you avoid that. But the tips we're going to discuss here today
will hopefully help your organization get the equipment you need and avoid the junk.
So to start us off I'm going to go ahead and ask Jim Lynch to go ahead and give us a little bit
of an introduction of both his work and history, as well as what TechSoup's mission is
around refurbishing. So go ahead Jim, let's get us started on our refurbishment mission.
Jim: Thanks Becky. This is Jim Lynch.
I've been here a long, long time here at TechSoup before it was even called TechSoup.
We've been in this area of work oh, for about 10 years.
And our work in this field has been advocacy for the reuse portion
of the electronics recycling sector which is kind of a not well understood part of computer recycling.
So we've basically been trying to strengthen in whatever we can
these people who do computer reuse, repair, refurbishment.
We've been promoting refurbishment standards. For instance, really holding conferences
and things that advocate for everybody having warranties,
everybody having fail rates under 10 percent, everybody having customer support
that is personal, and things like that.
We also try to increase public and institutional awareness, mostly from institutions
like universities and large businesses on how to usefully donate equipment.
It's important to know that the huge install base of their equipment is two-thirds in institutions
or in businesses. And they get rid of their equipment at a fairly young age,
between three and four years of age. Most of that or much of that is very useful
and we want to get it into refurbishment and out to the people who really need it
at the lowest possible cost. There's an incredible environmental case for adding life to electronics
which is another thing we're advocating for.
And you know, we want to divert just every under five year old computer into that stream,
and we want to divert all the ones that are over that, that are kind of nearing their end of life
to proper computer recycling. Then essentially we want every nonprofit and school
and even low-income individuals wherever they may be to have a computer if they need
or want one. So that's our advocacy work. Back to you, Becky.
Becky: Thanks Jim. Well, we have some great resources here that Jim has collected
on the value of the environmental case and why this really matters.
So I'm not going to read these all off but you can see on the screen some statistics…
I'm sorry about that we had a little bit of an audio problem. I apologize.
My line muted itself for some reason.
But I was just talking about Jim has collected some great statistics here
on the environmental case for refurbished, talking about how you know, just one of these bullets,
a five pound laptop, when it's discarded you're throwing away 20,000 pounds of raw materials
that it took to make it, which is a pretty staggering number.
So Jim did you want to go over any of these other statistics?
Or should we move along to our tips for refurbishing at this point?
Jim: Well let me just say a couple things about this. I mean whenever possible
people love to buy new equipment. That's great and that's understandable.
But you know the environmental case stems from the fact that huge, huge numbers of computers
are discarded at about half their lifespan all over the world. And we think that's crazy
because it takes a huge amount of energy and water is polluted in the making of them
and they contain about a thousand different things, different components,
and materials in them so they're wildly expensive environmentally to make.
So extending life of the over one billion computers in the world is actually an environmental mission
and it has to do not so much with toxics reduction as it has to do with the zero waste part
of the environmental movement and that's kind of, where we naturally fit in this whole thing.
So that should probably tell people what they need to know. But one thing I want to do,
I want to mention beyond that is the U.S. EPA is basically, absolutely confirming this whole thing.
It's 25 times more beneficial environmentally to reuse computers than recycle them
at three to five years of age. So that's in the slide. So that's it for the environmental case I think.
Becky: That's great. Thanks so much Jim for those statistics. It is kind of staggering
for somebody who uses a computer every day to kind of realize how much energy is expended
just in the creation of them. So hopefully, because we're all on this webinar together,
we're all here for the same reason and understand the value
of looking to refurbish computers instead of buying new.
So right now, I'm going to turn it over to Matthew Halden from our RCI program
to give the first four of our eight tips on how to choose a good refurbisher,
and what to look for when you are looking at used computers. So take it away Matthew.
Matthew: Thank you Becky. So just a little quick introduction about myself.
I've been with TechSoup about seven years now and have started working much more closely
and in line with Jim and all of his work around advocacy, and just education
about the benefits of reusing machines. So this is a really cool thing for me to participate in,
and I'm really excited to get a chance to speak with all of you about this, and my experience.
So the first tip that you see here is just that we know that computers are,
especially for nonprofits, a very considered purchase decision because of their expense,
and the limited budgets that people have for technology in the nonprofit and library space.
So we highly encourage people and think it's a good idea to try
when you're looking for refurbished computers and computer equipment
to go with the more recognized manufacturers. And it really helps for things
like doing apples to apples comparisons, both across specifications
when you're assessing your technology needs, and when you're evaluating things like pricing,
because these folks, you're going to see these machines across a large cross section
of resellers, including computer refurbishers.
Also, the larger manufacturers like the Dells, HPs, IBMs, publish a lot more information
about their products that you can usually research and find information on the web
about things like troubleshooting guides, or other documents
that can just help to support the products themselves.
So our second tip is around warranties and return policies.
What we've found is that obviously you know, with used computers
you're going to run into problems sometimes. And when you're considering
or looking to buy some you definitely want to look into and make sure that there is
some amount of warranty coverage for those computers.
It seems like industry standard is typically somewhere between 30 and 90 days.
And obviously you know, the more coverage you get the better.
One of the things that we've learned through our experience
in offering refurbished computer equipment through TechSoup Global
is that a lot of nonprofits when they purchase their computers,
because there are often not a lot of real savvy tech people that are always onsite,
people have a tendency to kind of just sit on the product when it gets to their offices.
And they might not get around to opening the box and checking everything out for weeks
or even months in many cases. And it's really important that people check out what they got
right away, because that clock is ticking on the warranty as soon as the product ships.
So the last thing that you want is to have that computer sitting in a box
for the duration of the warranty period, and then open it up only to find that it's missing
a key component, or just is nonfunctional. And then you have to go out and spend more money
to pay somebody to fix it for you or worse yet, it's just completely unusable.
Our third tip is around software. So many computers these days
are bundled with software packages. And it's really important
that when you're looking at purchasing a computer or computer equipment
that comes with that software, that it really is legal and the licensing is authentic.
Typically this is more common in used PC settings.
If you're looking on some of the larger online retail spaces like craigslist and eBay,
you're going to find a lot of pirated software that comes with these computers.
And that can cause a lot of problems down the road, whether it's when you go to upgrade
your equipment or transfer the software over to another machine or something like that.
You just want to make sure that it's legal and that you're doing it the right way.
You definitely don't want to get a phone call from the Microsoft anti-piracy folks.
So our fourth tip is around service and support for the equipment.
Again when you're going through your purchase decision process,
I think one of the things that's areally nice to have thing is just to know
that there will be somebody available to you on the other end once you receive that equipment,
whether it's via phone or email or even you know, a web chat function,
some way to be able to reach back out should you get the wrong piece of equipment
or it's not complete or you have to just return the whole thing to get a replacement.
That personalized level of service is really a nice thing to have,
and helps people feel a little more secure and confident that they're spending the money wisely,
and going to ultimately get what they paid for.
Becky: Those are great tips. And before we move onto the next four of our eight tips,
if you could raise your hand if you've purchased or gotten refurbished or used computers before.
That gives us a good idea of how many people have already been in the situation
of having refurbished machines. Later on maybe we can hear a little bit more in the chat,
some of your experiences. I'm hoping that they were good ones,
but I know I've personally had some less than good ones.
So it helps to know a lot of the tips that are being offered here.
So it looks like we've got probably about 10 people who have ventured into the refurbished
or used computer realm before, and a lot of others who have stayed away from refurbished
for whatever reason. So hopefully this will give you an opportunity
to want to venture into the refurbished computer territory. So I'm going to go ahead
and pass it along to Jim Lynch to go ahead and give us our next four refurbishing tips
for searching for a good refurbisher.
Jim: There we go, un-muted.
So number five is when buying online make sure that you buy from a reputable place.
That's pretty common sense. One thing that I look for personally
is something called VeriSign Secured Seal. That's what we use at TechSou
and that's what Amazon uses, and a bunch of other reputable websites.
And the other thing that we recommend is basically avoid going to a website
through spam links. So it's best if you initiate going to a website and looking around.
And this would be the same for places like RefurbDepot
and other kinds of online dealers and used equipment.
So the next one is pricing of refurbed PCs. In our program the RCI program,
Refurbished Computer Initiative, we have offs, or commercial grade equipment
that comes out of essentially corporations. And so once again,
do the apples to apples comparison. You can get lower priced equipment that's for home use
or consumer use, but our experience is that the nonprofit offices and especially in labs
computers take a pounding, and it's better to get a more robust type of computer.
And of course, when you get equipment it should come with all the right cords and peripherals
and mice and keyboards, everything working. At our program, we basically have found
that it's useful to add new mice and keyboards to our equipment that we send out.
The next one is to make sure that refurbished equipment is taken back conveniently
at the end of life at low or no cost. First of all, probably everybody knows that it's not good
to throw away this stuff, that it contains toxic metals like lead and mercury and cadmium.
There's not universal free recycling in the United States or anywhere else in the world
except for the 27 states of the European Union. There are about 20 U.S. states
that have no cost recycling and there's a nice list of them at the electronics take back campaign.
In those states, you would get free recycling. In every other state you probably won't
and probably you should expect to pay something in the range of 20 dollars
to get computers properly recycled.
One thing when getting rid of equipment that you should really think about
is the fact that your data needs to be wiped clean completely and utterly.
To format a hard drive actually does not do that. It's important to know that
there is special software and there is a standard for the kind of software it has to be.
It's from the U.S. Department of Defense and so it's called the 5220.22 Standards.
So if you talk to a refurbisher or a recycler, make sure that they use that type of software,
and make sure that they know that you need your software or your hard drive wiped.
You could certainly wipe it yourself and we have on our TechSoup learning center
a bunch of information about that.
And then finally, check to ensure that your refurbisher has a clearly stated policy
about fail rates and so on. And one thing we stress is that 10% for both new
and used equipment is kind of the industry standard on that.
And in terms of end of life things, it's important that you ask questions of them.
So if you go to a recycler, you should probably question them about what their policies are
on exporting, because a lot of stuff is going into developing countries in a very bad way.
If they claim that they're U.S. EPA certified, don't believe it. The EPA doesn't certify any recyclers.
That's a bad sign. And the U.S. federal government actually has a checklist
of all the questions you should ask at the federal electronics challenge.
So that's it for the last four tips.
Becky: Great. Thanks Jim. And we have a link to that government challenge
that shows the refurbishing information of different companies
towards the end of this presentation among our resources.
Again, don't feel like you need to jot down any notes here,
because you'll receive all of these slides and links to the resources discussed after the fact.
So now, I'm going to go ahead and turn it back over to Matthew for a few minutes
just to talk a little bit about our own program here at TechSoup Global for refurbished computers.
And again, we have Andreas Galves on the line as well, who is here to answer any questions.
So if you have ordered computers through TechSoup before and have questions,
or if you are interested in doing so, he's the person to ask
and can help address any questions in our chat during this portion,
and also in the Q&A toward the end.
Matthew, tell us a little bit about RCI.
Matthew: Well, hello again. So everybody heard a little bit earlier, Jim talk about
and describe TechSoup Global's work in the area around advocacy and education about reuse.
And most of you probably know that we've been offering donated and heavily discounted software
for a long time. Well, one of the things that we heard a lot about from all of the nonprofits
and library communities that we work with, is that there was also a huge and significant need
in the nonprofit arena for quality, cheap computer equipment.
So we decided to create a program ourselves to make good, affordable
refurbished computer equipment available to the customers that we serve.
So the mission of the RCI program is generally speaking, to just reduce the overall volume
of you know, good usable computers and computer equipment
that is currently going into the waste stream, and ending up in landfills,
and to turn that equipment into refurbished computers that are fully functional
and at a good price point and make those products available to the libraries, nonprofits
and low income individuals that our organization serves.
The program effectively works by — we work with Redemtech, who we'll introduce you to
and let speak in just a little bit here. It's one of the largest computer refurbishers
and asset management companies, as they're called in the United States.
So they help us acquire the products that you see available in our catalog.
They perform a series of services on those computers that includes testing,
fixing damaged parts, cleaning the machines so that they're in better cosmetic shape,
and preinstalling the software that goes onto these machines.
They also then ship the equipment to the nonprofits that request them through our website.
In terms of eligibility, the program is actually very inclusive. Many of TechSoup Global's programs
have very specific rules about who's eligible to participate and receive our donated products.
The RCI program, in large part due to the fact that it's actually a TechSoup program,
is much more open and available to just about our entire customer base.
And in terms of restrictions which are basically the rules that govern and dictate things
like how often you can request product donations and in what quantities, things like that,
it's again very, very open. There are no budgetary restrictions.
So organizations of just about all types and all sizes can request
our refurbished computer equipment, and there really aren't any quantity limitations
for the program. Organizations can request as many computers
as they have a need for over time. However, due to supply issues
and our want to just be able to provide consistent turnaround times
and set expectations appropriately around how quickly the organizations will get the products,
we do ask that for organizations that have special quantity limits in excess of 10 machines per order
or request, that they work those though with our administrative folks so that we can coordinate
on the back end with our refurbishing partner to ensure timely delivery,
and that there's sufficient product available.
In terms of our product offerings, it's a pretty good cross section of manufacturers and spec ranges
from a variety, or rather across desktop and notebook products.
All of them again are guaranteed to be in good working condition and cosmetically free
of any major damage or defects. With refurbished equipment, you're bound to have some
minor blemishes, surface scratches, and things like that but fully functional and tested.
We are looking to, we are constantly working to expand our catalog of offerings
and hope someday soon to be offering a consistent supply of things like LCD monitors,
and potentially lots of other types of refurbished equipment.
These are all business grade computers which is another important thing to note,
which just means that they're more powerful and robust machines that are intended and built
for a little more of the kind of wear and tear of the office setting.
Some other things that are kind of unique and special about our RCI program,
all of the computers that you find do come with preinstalled software
that includes both a Microsoft Windows operating system, and the Microsoft Office Standard Suite,
which has the Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel, and Word applications.
So just about everything we feel that meets a nonprofit's needs
relative to how they'll be using the computer.
The machines also come with a 90-day warranty. So like I mentioned in the tips earlier today,
it is still really important that folks open up their boxes and check everything out to make sure
it's fully functional and everything's there. When you get your equipment,
we want to make sure that if there are problems that we're able to get you
your fully functional computers, and all of the component parts
in a timely manner before the warranty expires.
Another really unique thing about the RCI program and our service offering is that just
in the last year we've introduced a new service which we're calling the take back program.
This is a free service that is included with all of our equipment that you see in the catalog today.
And basically, this allows our nonprofit and library customers to work
with our refurbishing partner Redemtech to have their machines or equipment be returned
back to them where the machines will be wiped of all data and the products will be disposed of
in the most environmentally responsible way. You'll hear more about this later on
but Redemtech does have a zero waste export policy. So we feel that this is a really unique thing
and something that makes our product offering very special and very green,
which we like very much.
A couple of other things just to quickly note here about the RCI program,
there is customer support available for just general questions about the products
and the program. And I think Becky introduced you to Andreas a little bit earlier,
who is a dedicated administrator who can provide kind of a second tier level of support
should you have any problems or questions around quality, or have any special needs
relative to products that you need special configurations or larger quantity orders,
things like that.
Additionally, we have a pretty robust RMA process that does include some technical support
that would be provided to you for troubleshooting and things like that.
And we also have a very large community and content resources on the TechSoup website
where you can post questions in our forums and things like that to get additional information
about you know what the right computer is for you and how to most effectively utilize the products
that you're requesting.
Becky: Great. Thank you Matthew. Just to let folks know who are interested in seeing more
about the different products available, it is this really long link. I'm just skipping back one slide.
It's the really long link on the slide where you can see the full range of products available
through TechSoup's refurbishment program and you can look at the prices
and all the specs and details.
We had a couple of people who were asking questions about the configurations
of the software that are installed. And Andreas responded to one of them
just saying the machines come standard with, and this is the typical configuration,
with Windows XP Pro operating system and Office 2003 Standard.
So this is business grade software that's installed on these machines when you get them
and I think Matthew noted that it's all bundled as one price
or one cost that includes shipping as well.
So keep that in mind when you're looking at refurbishers and you're comparing costs.
Make sure that you're looking at do they charge an additional fee for shipping?
Do they charge additional fees for the different peripheral things like your mouse
and the keyboard? Or do they charge additional fees for the software that comes installed?
Or does it come installed with any software? So just, make sure that you're looking at that.
Now somebody just asked a question. Curtis is asking why there are no Apple products.
And that's a tough question that we deal with a lot but we just don't see that there's a lot of products
that are — a lot of computers that are Mac based that come through the refurbishing system.
There's just not a lot that's donated and a lot of companies are using PC's
and it's corporations largely that donate into this cycle.
And I think Jim can also respond to this one a little bit better as well so I'll pass it to him to address.
Jim: Yeah that's a great question. Apple has very, very few certified refurbishers
and their licensing requirements for putting the OS's on them is very difficult for refurbishers.
So they do the refurbishment themselves and there are just a few places
like Small Dog Electronics in New England that do carry refurbished Macs.
They generally have a pretty high resale price. And I think the problem with this is
mostly the relicensing of operating systems with Apple computers that kind of limit
the amount of resale that goes on with them. That's our experience with it.
Becky: Great. Thanks for clarifying on that. And we'll get to more questions in a little bit as well.
So just to go back to Matthew really quickly, I'd love to have him just highlight
some of the impact that the RCI program has had across the sector and environmentally,
because we do serve a lot of nonprofits and libraries. And the impact is pretty huge
with just the small amount of time that we've put into this.
Matthew: Thanks Becky. Everybody can read the information that's on this slide
but I think that this is part of, for me, what's really exciting about the work that we're doing here.
This program is just entering its fourth year and we've already helped
more than 6,000 nonprofit organizations and libraries
by distributing refurbished computer equipment to them. In total it's been a little more
than 14,000 pieces of equipment, which we've been able to reuse and keep out of the landfills.
We've been using a tool that was developed by the EPA in conjunction with some universities.
I can't remember exactly which universities, but we're able to kind of calculate
some of the environmental benefit from the reuse of all of this equipment.
So you can see some really neat kind of data points and equivalencies that we've shown here
based on how the distribution and reuse of these computers equates to things like
greenhouse gas savings, energy savings, and all solid waste savings.
Becky: Great. Thank you, that's really helpful.
And now we've talked about Redemtech and mentioned them a couple of times,
and so I'd like to introduce Lisa from Redemtech just to talk a little bit about what they do.
And they're just one example of a refurbisher that we work with, that we partner with
for all of our products, but there are many others out there. And again, this webinar's intention
was to help you know the tips for choosing the one that best fits your needs. And you know,
we hope of course that some of your needs can be filled with the products
that come through TechSoup through Redemtech. And if they don't,
then we hope that the resources that you're learning here today
will help you find one that does.
And so I'd like to invite Lisa to give us a little overview of what is Redemtech?
What do they do? And what does their factory refurbishment mean?
So that you can use that information to compare when you're looking around for others as well.
So Lisa can you join us?
Lisa: Sure. Thank you, and good morning and good afternoon to everyone that's joined us.
Today I wanted to describe a little bit about what Redemtech does, and then we'll talk about
what a factory-refurbished piece of equipment means to you and to others.
Redemtech is a leader in the e-steward standard, and what that means
is that if we do get equipment from large orgs, enterprises, etc.,
we will not export that e-waste overseas to underdeveloped, third world countries.
We are ensuring that all of that product if it cannot be reused will be recycled
here in the United States and used as source for additional manufacturing
here in the United States. We do not incinerate, we do not use prison labor,
and we obviously do not landfill.
But our first and foremost cause here at Redemtech is to promote the reuse
of computer equipment. So whether that is for nonprofits such as you
to be able to use this equipment or whether it's children just needing a laptop or a deskto
for high school work or even being reused in the workforce but for someone
who may not need the latest and greatest processor speed, that's what our cause is for.
Redemtech is a subsidiary of Micro Electronics. We're a large, privately held technology company
here in the United States with retail stores called Microcenter.
We have sustained organic growth since our tenure. We started our company in 1998
and we do have stable leadership with our company with over nine years plus
with a lot of operational experience and that has helped us become very operationally mature
in handling all of this e-waste and making sure that it goes to the right market for reuse.
We are a IDC G.R.A.D.E. endorsed, which means that an independent auditor came
and measured our processes and our quality controls to ensure that we are doing
what we represent we are doing to all of our customers, and we have been certified
to be a responsible asset disposition company for anyone who wants to use us for services.
And we are a fully integrated international service so we have presence here in the United States,
as well as Canada, Europe, and Mexico.
And the one thing that we have realized here especially with a lot of the budgets getting tighter
in the economic times is that an average PC, especially a business model unit
that as Matthew stated is being built for constant use on a day in day out basis
in the professional world, these PC's are indeed very robust and they can last a very long time.
So if an organization used to pull out machines within a three-year period of time
after they purchased it new, they are starting to extend the life a little bit within their organizations
to usually four to five years at this point now. Although a lot of organizations
aren't hit economically as hard as others and they do have a very aggressive lifecycle.
But what we have learned in our studies is that the useful life of a Tier 1,
which means the main, original equipment manufacturers, such as Dell, IBM, HP, Compaq,
those types of hardware units, can stay in good working order for in excess of eight years.
So what that means is that a lot of the enterprise clients that we work with
will be pulling these units out in potentially a three to five year range
and there's still a lot of use left in those machines.
They might not have a lot of market value on the secondhand market
where it has been minimalized depending on how long that machine has been used
but it certainly can be useful for the operator and for the organization
that needs to use that machine.
So that's why we are making sure that when the units come in
and even if they are missing hardware, or components I should say as far as memory
or hard drives, we will upgrade and repair and make those units complete again for reuse
back into the market and we love to recycle unless it's absolutely obvious that the machine
cannot be repaired back to a complete working unit,
which would be economically feasible for anyone to do so.
So the other important thing to understand is that not only the financial impact helps everyone
in being able to purchase refurbished equipment as opposed to buying new equipment
but it also helps everyone in the larger picture of ensuring that you know,
we're not throwing more things to the e-waste side of the fence
and we're not wasting that equipment that could practically be used.
So we don't want to dispose of equipment prior to their full extent of their lifetime.
Some of the things that Redemtech ensures when we are refurbishing our equipment
is making sure that we have the infrastructure and the labor and the management
and the controls in place to provide a quality end product at the end. So as I stated
we do have very efficient and mature operations. We run over two million assets annually
through all of our plants and that's a mixture of all types of technology.
So we have to have technicians who are very well versed in the different types of gear
that will be coming through the door, along with PC's and the monitors and so forth.
We have consistent quality control checks in place to ensure
that we are meeting everyone's standards, along with ensuring that the product
is being dispositioned in the correct manner. We do warrant our services and our hardware.
So if we provide our product through the RCI program it does come with a 90-day warranty
and we're ensuring that it also is in good cosmetic condition
as well as the functionality of the machine.
And we do provide a 12-hour customer service and technical support grou
that always is readily available to help the RCI folks and the nonprofits.
We do provide the easy and free take back program. So that means
that when the nonprofit is done with the machine, we will provide an easy website link for them
to go to or else call us toll-free to go ahead and pick up that equipment for them
and we will ensure as Matthew stated that it's recycled properly here in the United States.
And we also are able to provide a low cost on cosmetic repairs and the parts
that are being performed for the units as we're running them through the machines.
So a refurbished hardware checkpoint is a confirmation that the unit meets
the specifications, the configuration, the cosmetic condition requirements that is required
within the program, for the RCI program and for the nonprofit. We are making sure
that we are doing a diagnostic testing of that machine,
making sure that all internal components are working as well as external port.
We are doing the inspection of the memory size and hard drive size and wireless connectivity
and upgrading those areas if necessary. We are ensuring that the data is overwritten
to meet the Department of Defense requirements as Jim Lynch mentioned earlier.
We do the imaging for the Microsoft OS and Office Suite and that imaging is per the model
and the drivers that are required for that machine specifically.
For desktops we open up the case and do an internal inspection of the unit
and clean out the inside of the gear as well. And as I mentioned, cosmetic restoration, buffing
and painting and exterior cleaning is key to making sure that everyone is very happy
with the end product. And we do include new keyboards and mice for the desktops
and appropriate power cords always with all of the equipment, along with the easy setup guide
and support information. And new inbox packaging ensures that the product
is being shipped out and it will arrive in a safe and secure manner.
So if anyone has any interest in learning more about Redemtech
and how we again can produce and supply the hardware that we are for the RCI program,
please visit us, our website. You'll find that there's some newsletters and whitepapers,
and a lot of independent research and regulatory database information that's free for you to peruse
and sign up for to just constantly be informed of what's going on out there.
Becky: That's terrific. Thanks so much Lisa for that overview.
And I think the list that she just covered of the checkpoints that Redemtech goes through
to ensure that your refurbished computer meets that factory refurbishment standard,
is a great list to take anywhere you go if you're looking for a refurbished machine.
So if you're talking to a local tech guy who says, "I'm willing to refurbish
some donated computers I got." It would be a great idea to run down a list like that
and see what the standards are that are being used before you invest.
I've listed a few additional resources here that we won't spend time on today,
but there's everything from an article on tips on buying refurbished computers,
and the sections on our site where you can find more information on recycling and reuse,
and obviously the refurbished computer initiative that we just talked about,
and what Jim mentioned earlier, the U.S. Government's federal electronics challenge
where you can see different products.
I'm going to go ahead and open it up to some questions. We've already had quite a few
coming in so we'll jump right in. Vijay has asked, what is the minimum charge
for a refurbished computer through the RCI program? So I don't know if Matthew
might be able to take that. I think they're about $180 dollars for a desktop and $260 or so
for a laptop? I'm not sure if that's totally correct but you can find all of our product information
on our website, with the links that you'll receive in the follow-up email.
Matthew's shaking his head, no, don't ask me.
So let's see, what else do we have that's already come in here?
We have a question from Ushnish about any thoughts on using proprietary Microsoft software
versus open source software for refurbished computers? And Matthew's already said
that the RCI computers come with a standard install of Microsoft operating systems
and software but other open source things are most welcome
and Jim will go ahead and talk a little bit about that.
Jim: Yeah, one of my hats here at TechSoup is to be the GreenTech Co-Director.
And we're getting a lot of refurbishers and by the way we run something called,
or administer something called the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher Program,
the community version of it. And there are over 700 computer refurbishers
out there in the United States and a whole bunch more in other countries.
And we talked to a bunch of those guys, and they often use open source operating systems
like Ubuntu to good effect. They use them and it works very well.
And they also use an application which is freeware called Open Office
which works very well.
And then just coming online are Google Docs, which are essentially
a version of Microsoft Office. It's not Microsoft, but it's a version of an Office application.
It's like word processing and spreadsheets and things that you use on the internet.
So you just go to your search engine and type in Google Docs and it's a very useful open —
it's somewhat open source, but freeware, that you can use and they work very well.
So yes, the question is a resounding yes on that.
Becky: Great. Thanks Jim. We have just a few minutes left, so we're going to go ahead
and get to some other questions. We have kind of a general question.
How long typically will these computers last giving the ongoing operating system upgrades
and dropping of support by Microsoft of old operating systems?
What's the real life span we can expect?
Jim: Yeah, that's such a great question. The thing we didn't mention
or that we may not have mentioned well enough is that the hardware life of desktop computers
is between seven and eight years of age. And the hardware life of laptops is a bit less,
between six and seven years of age. And so depending on the life or the age
of the used computer or refurbished computer you'll get, you should be able to get
between three and four years of age for laptops,
and between two and three years of age for laptops.
Now the other aspect of this is that software degrades over time.
So it's a weird thing but software kind of gets messed up. And my recommendation to people
is every couple of years it's useful to reinstall the software on your computer,
especially an operating system. And it's a hassle and it's hard to do
but it actually will make the computer run much, much better and much cleaner and much faster.
There's no — of course you know there's no extra cost in doing that. It's just labor.
But that's very useful, for every computer, new computers, or used computers.
Becky: Great. Thank you for that. That's really useful. And I think along the same lines,
I know this is answering to this individual person over chat, but I do think it's relevant to everybody.
But Marie had asked, what's the correct computer for my nonprofit?
We use Office, Filemaker Pro and the internet. So not a whole lot of high-end usage
but you know, what is the correct type of computer to look for as a refurbished machine
if you're only using basic functions like that versus maybe if you have a networked office
that's all connected to a server? Are there different levels of computers
that are offered through the refurbishing program? Anybody want to field that one?
Becky: Hi, this is Bill Robertson with Redemtech. Really, when you look at why
we made such in roads in used computers is because of the software
that's associated with these machines. If you look at technology with computers, you know,
you basically double the computer every I think it's 18 months as far as the capacity
and the buildup. And what's happened over this period of time is that the software
has not kept up with the engines of the computers. So a dual core machine today,
yes, it will run your current software a little bit quicker and faster.
However, we're still back in the realm of the Office, you know, the 2003.
And so what happens is that the machines that we have offered through this program
are quite capable of running your current business. And you know,
if you divide this into both desktops and laptops, you can run an XP Pro on something
that has 256K memory on it. We don't recommend that but you can still run that.
So you know when you look at computers, that you know, are they good enough
for my business? Of course they are. I would look definitely at the Pentium 4's or greater,
nothing less than that at this point. And on laptop issues, I would probably start
with what they basically call a gigahertz and look for a 1.6 or greater.
Becky: Those are great recommendations and I love the specificity
because it perplexes a lot of people when they're trying to make the decisions
and they're not actually a trained IT person which was me in my life before I came to TechSoup.
I'm still not an IT person. I'm really grateful we have people here to do that for me.
But we have just one other question that we're going to get to and then we're going to wrap it up.
And if you have additional questions that didn't get answered you can take those
over to our community forums where we will answer them there.
The last question, do we sell any computers that are compatible with Windows 7 or Vista?
Bill: You need two gigabytes of memory on the system in order to really run it effectively.
Windows 7 you only need one gigabyte of RAM. So when you go to look at the computers,
yes, these computers have the capacity to do that because most of them will go u
to probably four gigabytes of memory. However, what we sell on the site
are really based on I believe probably one gigabyte of memory at this point.
Becky: Great. That's really useful. And I think that sounded like a pretty hearty endorsement
for upgrading to Windows 7 and bypassing Vista altogether if you've never landed there
in your own office. Thank you so much for everyone joining us today.
We are just about out of time so I'm going to go ahead and wrap it up.
Again I invite you to join us to continue the discussion in our community forums.
You will receive this link shortly after this wraps up in a follow up email so you can find us there.
I'd like to thank our speakers. Thank you Lisa for your participation,
and Matthew and Jim from TechSoup, and Andreas and Kevin for helping manage the chat,
and Bill from Redemtech for joining us here at the last minute. We really appreciate that input.
I'd also like to thank our sponsor ReadyTalk. They have made this webinar possible
by donating the use of their system to help TechSoup expand awareness of technology
throughout the nonprofit sector. ReadyTalk helps nonprofits and libraries in the U.S. and Canada
reach geographically dispersed areas, and increase collaboration
through their audio conferencing and web conferencing services.
So thank you much everyone for joining us. We really hope that this has been useful for you.
Please take a moment to fill out the post-event survey; 5 good, and 1 bad.
We hope that you will give us a lot of fives if it was useful.
Do join us back in our forums to continue the discussion.
Thank you so much and have a great afternoon everyone.