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I just bought a "New" UPS.  It's 4 years old.   Did I get ripped off?

Posted on 2010-09-17
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Last Modified: 2013-12-11
I just bought a couple of the APS SMART-UPS 420VA.  Paid about $100 each, good money.   The eBay seller description said "New"

When I opened the box, the units look clean and pretty new except for:  
  1)  A paper taped on top, "Quality Assurance Test" dated Nov 2006.
  2)  The Battery itself has on the bottom a date of 2006.

Ok, so even if the UPS unit has never been used in the last 4 years...   IS THE BATTERY and reliability of the unit STILL good enough?    I've always been under the impression that a UPS which is more that a couple of years old sould be replaced.  

Did I get ripped off?


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Question by:JReam
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LVL 2

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by:sibisteanu
ID: 33701960
you have been deceived.
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by:dansperber
ID: 33702070
obviously it is not brand new, but since it has never been opened or powered on you should be good to use it.  Since the batteries dont have any power charge cycles on them they should still last a long time...depending on the type of battery (nicad, lithium, etc), there are different numbers used to determine max life, and that is usually by charge cycles.  You can condition the battery by fully charging it and then let it drain completely...make sure it drains so much that the equipment plugged in will no longer power...then plug it back in to charge...that should condition it for first use.
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by:Caracena
ID: 33702075
Yes and no. If they've never been used, you should get a good time on the batteries but expect the life of those batteries to be shorter than they should (a year and a half maybe).
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Expert Comment

by:kevinrupert
ID: 33702335
Yes you have been tricked but it should still be ok as long as the battery has not been used.  If it has been used for the 4 years then odds are you will not get the typical life out of the battery.  Do you know what type of battery (lithium...)?
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by:mastoo
ID: 33702494
They meet the ebay definition of "new" -

New: A brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item in its original packaging (where packaging is applicable). Packaging should be the same as what is found in a retail store, unless the item is handmade or was packaged by the manufacturer in non-retail packaging, such as an unprinted box or plastic bag. See the seller's listing for full details.

Having pointed this out I'll opine, like others, that they are probably fine.
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LVL 23

Assisted Solution

by:Dr. Klahn
Dr. Klahn earned 25 total points
ID: 33702521
Batteries used in UPSs are generally lead-acid gel cells.  Lead-acid cells go bad through a process called sulfation (see link below).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead%E2%80%93acid_battery#Sulfation

Since the batteries have not been charged or discharged while in storage, the plates have not sulfated and the batteries should still be usable.  Perhaps they will not hold as much of a charge as a new cell, but they will still be usable.

FYI, I had the same experience on ebay, probably with the same seller.  If you paid by PayPal, I would file a "significantly not as described" claim.
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by:JReam
ID: 33702542
I can't tell really what type of battery it is (nicad, lithium, etc).  Best description I can find is "Maintenance-free sealed Lead-Acid battery with suspended electrolyte : leakproof ".  http://www.apc.com/resource/include/techspec_index.cfm?base_sku=SC420
 
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by:JReam
ID: 33702588
The ebay seller was secure4life.  Item:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280540317214 .   600+ feedbacks and 99% ok.  Maybe I just got unlucky and they sent me some dusty boxes.
 
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by:Caracena
ID: 33703349
Don't bother anymore. With that rep, then they are not used at all. Probably never opened either.
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aleghart earned 400 total points
ID: 33703984
The battery is not any good.  You were cheated, pure and simple.  Everyone who says they're fine, have never read the docs from APC about the batteries.

Self-discharge rates for a connected battery are about 5% per month.  Leads connected, but switch turned 'off'.

Self-discharge rates for detached batteries are 1-3% per month.

If you're warehousing the batteries for disaster planning, or are a seller with slow-rotating shelf stock, you're supposed to charge them to full capacity every 3-6 months.

Otherwise, the battery appears to charge, but at the first outage the UPS dies.  And the customer has no recourse because it could be a year or longer from the time of purchase.

The people who sell, re-sell, or store these UPS are supposed to know that.  Some ignore it, and just put old stock on "sale" or "clearance" without disclosing that the units are non-op until the battery is replaced.


See here:
http://emea-en.apc.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/91/~/battery-discharge-during-storage
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by:garycase
garycase earned 75 total points
ID: 33704160
You got a good price for the units, and the batteries are PROBABLY okay ... APC units are shipped with the batteries disconnected, so they're effectively in a storage condition.    The units themselves are fine ... and the APC software will let you know the state of the battery charge after you connect the batteries and let them charge for a few hours.

r.e. "... I can't tell really what type of battery it is (nicad, lithium, etc)."      "... Best description I can find is "Maintenance-free sealed Lead-Acid battery with suspended electrolyte."   ==>  You just said what kind of batteries they are :-)    [Lead-Acid]            These have excellent storage characteristics, as already noted in an earlier comment.

The worst case is the batteries won't last as long as you might like.     Fortunately, replacements are only $22  [http://www.planetbattery.com/product2.asp?id=9&id2=8062&id3=8152 ]      I think you did fine ... you could have easily paid $22 more for the units  (they're $129.99 at Staples for example).     Just set them up;  charge them;  and they should give you excellent service.
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by:aleghart
ID: 33704739
Unknown storage state for almost 4 years...even at 2%/month, they're dead.  After discharging that far, there's a good chance of permanent loss of function due to sulfation.  Even with the gel.  Some manufacturers called these "unrecoverable", and no amount of charging will ever make the batteries functional.

Just search for "gel battery storage" and they'll all have the same recomendations: charge every 3 months in hot or cold weather.  Every 6 months in temperate weather.  After 1 year of no charging, battery is generally unrecoverable.

My biggest hassle with the dead batteries (bought old store stock) was transportation.  Shipment cost on replacement lead-acid batteries is quite high.  Plus, I had to legally dispose of the old batteries.  Not easy for a business.  I didn't want to sign manifest paperwork as a private individual...you are responsible legally and financially for problems.  For a business, the paperwork requirement is just as great, if not greater, and you have to pay disposal fees.

For smaller batteries, might not be a huge issue.  But for 1500VA and 3000VA UPS units, this gets to be pretty unwieldy.

If you're lucky enough to have an auto parts store nearby, some will take the batteries with no questions asked, as long as they're not leaking.  AutoZone is one that is good about taking batteries (and clean motor oil) right over the counter.
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by:garycase
ID: 33704812
I certainly agree the batteries will have a significantly shortened life; but the UPS units themselves are fine. They SHOULD have been advertised as NOS units (although they're not really old enough for a typical NOS designation), but "New" is technically correct by e-bay's definition. The price, however, was very good for these units, so I wouldn't say "... cheated, pure and simple .." is an accurate description of the transaction. Misled perhaps, but not cheated.

The safest thing to do is simply replace the batteries -- you MAY even get the e-bay seller to absorb (or at least share) the cost of doing so.
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by:aleghart
ID: 33705015
http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/selling-practices.html

You're required to:
  • Describe only the item you're selling in the listing and the terms of the sale.
  • Provide complete and accurate details.
  • Specify the condition of the item.
  • Describe any defects or flaws—this helps avoid problems or buyer dissatisfaction.
http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/providing_item_condition.html

What "new" means                
An item is considered "New" when it meets the following guidelines:                
  • It's in the original condition from the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer.
  • It has not been refurbished or used for any purpose.
  • It has no known defects or damages.
The product was 4 years old with a battery.  You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that it's not in factory-original condition.

So, technically, the seller may have been clueless that a lead acid battery does not stay fresh for any length of time.  Or, seller may have been clueless as to the date of manufacture.

To clearly inform the buyers, a statment of "I don't know how old these things are" would suffice.  Then, caveat emptor is valid.  Otherwise, the seller is not providing sufficient information for an informed decision.

I know...anything goes in the wild-wild-web.  I've been scammed on eBay as well as by a reputable retail store.  But, when a seller does not disclose information, it is deceptive.  I won't retract my statement that the buyer was cheated.

It wasn't in the same condition as from the factory.  Therefore not "new".  Therefore, a refund or coverage of battery replacement cost is justified.  I'd push for battery replacement cost to save on transport/shipment of the UPS units, which may be just fine sitting for years in "normal" weather.  Water damage, corrosion,  or drop shock should have been apparent in the packaging.  I've got units 10-years old that still work (with battery replacements every few years).  So, the electronics and other stuff should be fine.
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by:garycase
ID: 33705231
Agree -- that's why I said I'd replace the batteries and ask the e-bay seller to cover or at least share the cost of doing so.   $22 (with free shipping) isn't bad ... and a reputable seller on e-bay may just cover that.

... I still wouldn't say "cheated", however -- it's unlikely the seller was aware of any "defects or damages".
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Author Comment

by:JReam
ID: 33705468
Hey Guys, big thanks for all of your comments.    
We pretty much agree with aleghart's replies, the batteries are 4 years old, and they're not in "New Condition".   Your comments above are mostly in agreement that 4 years old is definately not "New" with UPS batteries.  We wanted NEW UPSs, just like the eBay Item's description described, and that's we we thought we bought.  We're not interested in older or used UPS, or fix-me-ups with replacement batteries.  
Bottom Line:  We'll go back to the seller to seek a full refund.    
We have no reason to believe that the seller intentionally tried to cheat us or anything like that.  We'll have to see how they respond to our refund request.  Although the seller involved sells alot of UPSs and therefore should know that 4 years old is not "New", so maybe in the end We Did Get Ripped Off!.      
THANKS !
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by:aleghart
ID: 33705532
If seller is unreceptive to full refund (and shipping), the consider garycase's suggestion that they pay for replacement batteries.

The units themselves generally last for many times longer than the batteries.  Taking a partial hit by paying for batteries may be a better alternative to the seller to keep a good rating.

I actually had a seller drive a replacement to my house the next day when a PSU started smoking.
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Expert Comment

by:garycase
ID: 33705609
The UPS itself is still a current model and is undoubtedly fine -- it's only the batteries that are an issue.    Up to you, but I'd think the cost of returning the units ... and shipping for new units from another supplier (unless the same seller will absorb the shipping costs both ways)  is an unnecessary expense.     If the seller will either provide or simply pay for new batteries, you'll have units that are new.

Note also that APC warrants their UPS's for two years from the date of sale -- and the warranty INCLUDES battery replacement if the battery fails during that time.     If you simply register the units (required) on APC's web site, you'll have a two-year warranty period during which you can get a new battery for FREE.

You clearly got old stock -- but I'd hardly say "ripped off" is an appropriate term.
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