When you’re dealing with copier service contracts you need to understand exactly what you need, what you don’t, and what you’re getting yourself into. For the most part, service contracts from copier dealers and servicing companies are a great way to expense away hassle-free use of your copier or multifunction printer. You just need to know how to negotiate these deals and also what to look for so you cover all of your bases.
Copier Service Contracts and Knowing the Minimum “Click” Amounts
We’ve used the term “click” so many times it probably doesn’t need to be explained, but it’s essentially a printed image. That’s one click for a single-sided piece of paper and two clicks for a two-sided sheet. It doesn’t matter how much is printed on a paper, if it came out of the machine with the intention to be printed upon, it’s a click.
When you enter into a copier service contract, you guarantee the service provider a number of monthly minimum clicks. You’ll pay that rate regardless of whether or not you actually use them or not. And you’ll pay overages if you go beyond that amount. That means you really want to take your best guess—hopefully based on some data—on how much your office actually prints each month.
Most copier service contracts (also called copier maintenance contracts) present you with a minimum number of clicks that you get billed for each month. It doesn’t matter if you go under that amount—you’re still going to pay that minimum amount. Of course, if you go over you’ll have extra charges! Make sure you understand the overages before you sign so that there are no surprises later. Also, it’s common that the service provider will attempt to differentiate pricing between the included clicks and the overage clicks. This is in order to get more of the “guaranteed” or “expected” clicks up front and not receive most of their funds as overages.
Sometimes a Click is More Than a Click
One thing that can catch you unawares is when dealing with A3 or tabloid size paper. Anything that measures more than A4 or letter could count as more than one click. It all depends on the service provider and how your contract is set up. Make sure you specify this up front if you do a lot of 11×17 printing, so you don’t end up getting charged 2-clicks per page without realizing what’s going on.
Another thing to be aware of is color vs. black and white. A color click will always cost more than a black and white click (due to increased toner costs) but you want to make sure what will happen when you print a document with only a very tiny amount of color (perhaps a small part of your logo is color and appears on the top header of most printed pages). Like everything else, knowledge is power—you want to know what costs will be incurred before they happen. This keeps you from being surprised and/or disappointed by your service provider down the road.
What’s Included in a Copier Service Contract
Most copier service contracts include toner, drums, maintenance & repairs, and anything else that isn’t paper (or staples if you have a finisher). It’s designed to be hassle-free and to allow you to focus on your business and not maintaining a device in your office (or becoming an expert in troubleshooting issues). Of course, it can also include some things you don’t want—like fine print. Reading the fine print can save you tons of headaches down the line. Some of the more “incendiary” fine print we’ve seen includes drastic overage fees, quarterly or annual service fee increases, and exceptions for ongoing maintenance that don’t allow for normal wear and tear issues.
The bottom line with any copier service agreement is that you have to be able to read the fine print and understand exactly what you are being charged. There are a lot of copier service companies out there, so make sure you’re getting a good deal and don’t be afraid to shop around. When rates range from $0.008 to $0.02 per black and white copy, you know that there is a lot of room for negotiation!