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Trying to buy MiSeq second hand ...

We recently had the opportunity to buy MiSeq, not from Illumina, but from the previous owner. At first, it looked like an interesting offer, but it became a little nightmare. So, I thought I would try to share experiences. Maybe somebody knows somebody who can find someone who can ... ?

 

Our company provides sequencing services, including of course those using Illumina platforms. We use the MiSeq system for years. At the end of 2017, it turned out that we might buy from one of our clients their MiSeq. We said why not? The instrument is about 18 months old, not under warranty any longer, but it has not been used much, it is trouble-free, we know its history (it is no ebay machine :-), and for some reasons they have decided to get rid of it. We agreed on the price and thought it was done. But we were ridiculously wrong.

Of course, we need to be sure the instrument will be OK after the transfer. I should probably point out that our laboratories are close to Prague and Illumina has no office in the Czech Republic, but a distributor. So, we asked the distributor to quote the technical installation of the instrument after transport. And it turned out we were somewhat naive.

First, we were told that if we do not sign a service contract, we will not get any service at all – the manufacturer's technical support requirement (!). This was quite a surprise. As if the service contract was a necessary condition of operation. The quoted price for the contract was slightly less than 14,000 Euro / year (without the replacement of reagents destroyed in the event of a technical defect) - it seemed somewhat expensive :-) We rejected this requirement. Then it turned out that the service contract may not be needed, but the Health check must – the manufacturer's technical support requirement (!). The Health check procedure is basically the technical installation (which we want) plus it includes running the control sample. But we can run the control sample(s) on our own and we will see if it is okay. So, we also refused the Health Check and insisted on the technical installation only. (One thinks Health Check would be the recommended procedure, not mandatory, especially when we do not intend to sign a service contract but at that time I was already not surpised at all.)

Then another thing appeared. We have been told that there is a problem with "software transfer", lapidarily speaking with a software license. Basically, we might be able to buy MiSeq from the previous owner, but at the same time we will have to buy a new software license from Illumina. For those of you who do not know MiSeq - it's just a „box“ that has a computer inside. You cannot sell / buy it without computer/software since computer + software is an integral part of it. Perhaps a lawyer would find sense in this claim, but I am not a lawyer and naively think that when I buy a car, let's say Tesla (not my case, unfortunately), and then after several years want to sell, I simply sell it. However, in this case, it seems that Illumina will want money for the used car sold again because the car has a computer and software on board, without which it is just useless, by the way... I do not understand how this can be legal in the European Union?

Anyway, we did not get any further. We do not have this MiSeq, we do not have it installed, we do not know anything about the software transfer and we are waiting for the third month for the distributor/Illumina to give us some final opinion. Fortunately, we do not need to buy it, it has just occured.

But I wonder, does any of readers have experience buying a used Illumina device? And did you manage?

Richard Nádvorník, richard.nadvornik@seqme.eu

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