Copier Service Agreements: Why Reading the Small Print Can Save You Big Headaches
Almost every company needs a copier, but not every company knows how to assess the true long-term value of one. Most small businesses are terrible at this, in fact. The business owner may only look at the cost to buy the unit, not what it costs to service for a lifetime - most of the time, the costs are significant. Of course, you don't have to buy a copier if you don't want to. You can always lease one. If you go this route, you still have to contend with the service contract, and here's where things tend to get sticky.
Check For Monthly Print Volumes
Most service contracts come with stipulations that must be followed or else you'll pay a surcharge. One common example is monthly print volumes. While some contracts specify a maximum number of prints per month, many specify a minimum print volume you must meet.
These print volumes are expressed as pager per month. If you fail to use your copier often enough, you may find yourself paying a premium just to keep it. For example, printer and copier giant Xerox requires businesses to meet a monthly page quota. If companies fail to meet this quota, they are charged around $100. For multifunction printers and copiers, the fee can be double that.
Emergency Service Calls
If your copier breaks down, it's time to call the tech. Here's where you want to know what you're going to be charged, if anything. Some service contracts provide for limited free repairs. Others you pay for all service repairs, regardless of the reason you're calling.
Since most copiers you get from the company will be new, you probably don't have to worry too much about getting a bad one. Still, it pays to check out the policies regarding emergency service. A jam in the printer side of things can bring your business to a grinding halt.
You don't want to be bound by a service contract that prevents you from fixing the jam yourself - you could be waiting for several days for a fix.
Replacement Toner and Parts
Companies like Printercorp Australia provide replacement parts as needed, but you may be responsible for paying a service technician to come out and do the work. You might also have to pay for the toner and any other parts.
Before you go signing any agreements, check your service contract. It's going to spell out what you're responsible for, break down the charges, and fill you in on any surcharges you'll be billed for.
In almost every case, you're going to find that using the service provider (the company that sold you the copier) for your toner needs is going to be much more expensive than going out and buying the toner yourself. Plus, you won't have to wait a day for service when you do finally run out.
If you do decide to have the leasing company do all of the work for you, make sure you understand the company's policies concerning repairs. Specifically, you need to understand what the delay is between calling in service and actually getting someone out to see you.
If you can't cope with a one or two-day delay, then self-service is probably the route you should take.
photo credit: makenosound on Flickr