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What to look for in Photocopier Service Contracts

Photocopiers are complex machines especially the new ones out in the market. It is unlikely that an office has the needed skill to perform in-house repairs and maintenance so service contracts are recommended for high level machines. If the photocopier is considered to be an essential asset, the business owner must get a comprehensive contact.

Service contracts add a significant amount to the cost of a photocopier. This contract is usually based on a combination of fixed monthly charges and extra charges based on usage. Different suppliers offer different contracts. There are different factors to consider such as how quickly a technician will be sent out to fix your machine.

A malfunctioning photocopier can cause serious logistical issues. Add to that the frustration that it will bring to you and your staff because they can’t move forward with their tasks. Important projects may also be delayed.

Repairs can also be very costly. Instead of paying for repairs in full, a maintenance contract will only require you to pay a pre-arranged monthly fee. A third party will then take the responsibility of ensuring that the copier is kept in good condition.

Assessing Contracts

There are different arrangements for photocopier maintenance contract. If you plan to rent or lease, you will most likely be bound to an ongoing service agreement. Here are some things to consider when choosing a contract.

  • Do you need to pay a fixed monthly fee?
  • Do you need to pay a fee based on the usage volume?
  • Will the contract cover labour charges and the cost of parts if your machine breaks down?
  • How long will it take for the technician to come if you need repairs?
  • Will the contract cover consumables such as toner or ink cartridges or do you have to buy them yourself?
  • Will you get a replacement machine for the whole time yours is being serviced?
  • Be sure to read the fine print before signing anything.

The above points should give you an idea of the level of service you can expect to get.

Service Contract Terms

A typical contract will charge you a fixed monthly fee. You will also be charged an additional fee for every page that you print above your limit. There is a wide range of contracts to choose from. You can get a low monthly fee with lower copy limits but higher cost per excess page. You can also get a very high monthly fee but with unlimited copier use.

A broken machine can cause all sorts of problems especially if your machine is an MFP or multifunctional printer. There is a possibility that you won’t be able to use 3 functions (copy, print, and fax).  To minimise down time, a good maintenance agreement should have a predetermined response time wherein the supplier is obliged to send you a technician. It should be within the same day or just a few hours after you call for help. Suppliers that have their own engineers in-house will have a faster response time compared to those that rely on a third party service.

Be clear on who pays for parts and labour and in what circumstance. This usually depends on who owns the unit.

Alternatives to a Maintenance Contract

If you feel that a service and maintenance contract is not for you, there are a couple of alternatives.

Extended Warranty

There is a possibility to have an extended warranty for your unit. This usually applies to cheaper machines because it is not economically wise to take on a service contract. An extended warranty will cover much less than a typical service contract. This means it is unlikely that an engineer will be sent to your office should you need one. Also, relying on just the warranty will mean long delays because you need to send your copier away for repairs. Will the office be seriously affected if the photocopier is out for an extended period of time?

Some photocopiers are supplied with extended warranties at no extra charge but again, will your office be able to handle the delay? Yes, you saved money from getting a maintenance and service agreement but your office may also suffer from the lack of equipment. It is wise to weigh the pros and cons before agreeing to an extended warranty.

Pay as You Go

You can also get a Pay as You Go contract. In this type of agreement, you only incur costs if your copier needs attention. You will only be charged if an engineer or technician is deployed to your office to repair your unit. This type of agreement also works for small volume or cheaper machines because it is not financially wise to get a comprehensive agreement. Be warned though that call out and repair fees for this kind of contract are generally higher than a standard service contract so you bear a greater financial risk. This option is popular among low volume machine owners because they are less likely to break down.

The advantage of this kind of agreement is that there are no monthly costs. You need a contingency plan though should your repairs become expensive. This can greatly impact the cash flow of a small business.

End Notes

To decide which option is best for you, consider the cost of the service contract versus the cost of the photocopier. You should also consider the likelihood of the device breaking down and its potential effect on your business. How will your office handle the loss of an asset for a lengthy period of time? It might be better to pay a monthly fee than be caught off guard with an expensive repair and parts replacement bill especially if it happens at a time when cash flow is limited. You also avoid all the hassles of scheduling repairs and looking for a replacement machine on your own.  With a good service contract, you just call your supplier and they will take care of everything for you. Depending on the contract, you may even get a replacement unit while yours is being serviced.