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Posts Tagged ‘copier service contracts’

Copier Service Response Time: What’s Reasonable and What’s Way Too Long

Last week I received a call  from the office manager of a company here in Baltimore, Maryland looking to lease a new copier.

As I usually do when I receive a call like this I began asking this office manager a few questions about their current copier situation and why they might be looking to leave their current vendor.

She gave me a few of the usual answers like the copier is jamming a lot, the copier is regularly down going altogether and they’re not at all happy with the service from their existing copier company.

From there I scheduled an appointment to meet with the office manager and general manager of the compan.

If you’ve visited this blog before you’ll know that often when I meet with prospective customers and begin asking these types of detailed questions I’m stunned by the answers. I guess I shouldn’t be stunned  any more but it’s kind of hard not to be when you find out how badly people are being taken advantage of by morally challenged (shady) copier companies.

When I arrived at the company and was waiting for the office manager and General Manager to meet with me I observed they had an old Lanier copier right there in the front office. When I say an old Lanier, I mean OLD. At least 12 years old.

After asking my more detailed questions I found out 2 things that really did shock and amaze me.

1) They have been paying a lease payment for their old copier for at least the past 8 YEARS. Yes I said AT LEAST 8 YEARS!

They even suspect that 8 years ago when the copier was first delivered that it was already used. Judging from the make and model of the copier I think they’re probably right.

The issue of paying a lease payment for the same copier for years and years perpetually is one I’ve seen many times before. It’s called “ever-greening”. What it means is that the lease will continue to self-renew until the customer says stop with written notice.

I think it’s called ever-greening because the copier companies bank accounts are becoming greener by ripping off people who are too busy running their businesses to pay attention to whats happening to them.

This practice is very common so I decided to dedicate a whole post to it in the next few months.

Now lets move on to shocking discovery number 2.

2) The existing copier company regularly takes up to 4 business days to service the copier.

No I’m not joking. I wish I was. On more than one occasion this company has been without a copier for 4 days and even at their best this company would take 2 days to get there.

So you have something to compare to my company offers all of our customers a 4 hour service guarantee. From the time you pick up the phone and call us we have 4 hours to get to your location to service the copier. If we don’t get there within 4 hours we will credit our customers $100.00 toward their next service plan invoice.

We rarely have to pay. We’re dedicated to providing top notch service.

While a 4 hour service guarantee may be a bit on the ambitious side I think same day or next day service are totally reasonable expectations. If your copier company is taking longer than that on a regular basis you may want to consider having a polite conversation with them about the issue.

If that doesn’t work it may be time to consider looking into other companies who can service your brand of copier.

I hope this information helps. As always feel free to email or call me with any questions about buying or leasing copiers.

If your business is located in Maryland, Washington DC, or Northern Virginia and you would like a competitive quote from a copier salesperson who will tell you the truth (even when it hurts), please fill out the quick easy form below and I would be glad to help.

If you are anywhere else in the United States and would like my recommendation for copier companies in your local area fill out the form below and I’ll get back to you asap.

As always you can also ask me any copier buying question you like and I’ll do my best to give you a solid answer.

Thanks for stopping by. Have fun.

Ed Worthington

 

 

 

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Should You Include Maintenance Plan Costs In Your Copier Lease?

Business saving money Stock Image

 

Recently I met with a prospective copier lease customer located here in Baltimore, Maryland.

The company is what I would consider a mid-sized manufacturing business with 200 employees.

They have 3 copiers and 3 large commercial color printers at their facility.

During our initial meeting I asked the CFO of the company how his billing was set up with his current copier vendor and he informed me that everything was included in his lease.

By everything he meant that the copiers, the printers and the maintenance agreement for all of them were all rolled into one lease.

Just to be clear, when I say maintenance agreement/plan I’m speaking of an agreement that covers toner, all service and repairs as well as preventative maintenance. Basically everything except paper and staples for the copiers and printers.

When I asked the CFO if he’d ever considered having the maintenance agreement billed separately from the lease he looked puzzled.

I explained to him that he was paying interest/leasing fees on the maintenance agreement and that he really didn’t have to do that.

I further explained that all copier companies will bill you separately for your maintenance agreement and that keeps you from paying leasing fees on your copier maintenance plan.

I told him that many copier companies don’t actually hold your lease in-house but instead send it to an outside company. In these cases the leasing company sends you the lease invoice each month for the lease and the copier company will send you the bill for the maintenance plan because they are the ones providing the maintenance.

Then what the CFO said next had me puzzled. He said he likes to keep the copiers, printers and maintenance together in the same lease so he doesn’t have to write 2 checks every month. Huh?

This business does a fairly significant amount of printing and copying so they are paying A LOT of money unnecessarily.

Unlike this CFO many businesses who have the cost of maintenance rolled into their copier lease don’t understand that they’re paying leasing fees on the copier maintenance agreement.

I’ve even had prospective customers tell me that the sales rep of their current vendor told them that there are no fees whatsoever associated with putting maintenance into the lease.

That sounds like a bunch of poo poo to me. There could be many reasons a copier salesperson is encouraging you to do this but my bet is that it benefits the salesperson to do so.

One possibility is that the copier company actually holds the lease in-house and by rolling maintenance plan costs into the lease they make increased profits on that maintenance. Therefore the copier company may be giving the sales rep an increased commission for putting the maintenance costs into the lease.

If the leasing company (whether in-house or not)  is allowing you to have maintenance costs rolled into your copier lease they are charging you for the privilege one way or another.

They are leasing companies, not charities. They didn’t get to be the incredibly profitable entities they are by lending money to businesses for free.

It seemed to me that this CFO was costing his company a boatload of money for the convenience of writing one check per month instead of two. Heck, most copier companies will bill you quarterly or even annually for maintenance so you really don’t even have to write a maintenance check every month.

My advice is to have your maintenance agreement billed separately to avoid unnecessary costs to your business.

If your business is located in Maryland, Washington DC, or Northern Virginia and you would like a competitive quote from a copier salesperson who will tell you the truth (even when it hurts), please fill out the quick easy form below and I would be glad to help.

If you are anywhere else in the United States and would like my recommendation for copier companies in your local area fill out the form below and I’ll get back to you asap.

As always you can also ask me any copier buying question you like and I’ll do my best to give you a solid answer.

Thanks for stopping by. Have fun.

Ed Worthington.     edworthington@outlook.com.                           443-570-0414

 

 

 

 

Copier Service Contracts- Are They Really Necessary?

February 19, 2013 Leave a comment

If you already own a copier or are getting ready to buy one you no doubt have been offered a copier service agreement. These agreements go by many names. The most popular are: copier service agreement, copier service contract, copier maintenance agreement, copier maintenance contract.

Whatever your vendor or potential vendor calls them copier manintenace agreements can strike fear in the heart of copier buyers. No I’m not kidding. People really do get afraid and conflicted. Why? Simple. They don’t want to get ripped off. I don’t blame them. My industry is full of shady characters.

I’m really not sure if the copier industry has more shady characters than any other industry but it sure does seem so.

Recently I wrote a two part series called Copier Service Contracts- What You Really Need to Know. If you didn’t get a chance to read them I would take a moment now and give them a read. Here are the links:

Part 1-  http://wp.me/p23icE-2S

Part 2- http://wp.me/p23icE-6b

The series received a lot of attention but there was one question that kept coming back up in the feedback I recieved. It went something like this: thanks Ed for educating me on how not to get ripped off when I purchase a copier service contract, but do I really need one in the first place?

My answer to that is YES. Let me explain.

First of all I am NOT the kind of person who buys service agreements or extended warranty’s. I was at Best Buy a few weeks ago and bought a monitor for my computer and the guy ringing me up asked if I wanted an extended warranty. It was about an additional 15% more for the warranty. I turned it down. I always do and here’s why.

If you look at these extended warranty’s from a long term view, you as the consumer almost always lose. Why? Because odds are you’ll never need the warranty. They are highly profitable for the company. That’s why the salespeople always push them so hard.

But a copier is an exception to the rule. First let me say that although I sell copiers I make no compensation whatsoever on service agreements. I have no reason to care one way or the other except that I want my clients to be exceedingly happy with their purchase and for me that means that they get a service agreement.

Here are 5 reasons why you need a copier service agreement.

1) For what you get, they are very reasonably priced. As I stated in my previous posts a copier service agreement usually covers everything except your paper and staples. Toner, preventative maintenance, and all repairs including parts and labor.

At my company we don’t charge minimums, we just charge by the number of copies/prints used per month, quarter, or year. Depending on the model of the machine and the number of copies/prints used we charge anywhere from .005 (half a penny) per page on the low end to .008 on the higher end for black prints. Many companies are more expensive than we are but even if you’re paying a penny or a penny and a half in my opinion you are coming out ahead.

Remember this includes everything except paper and staples. Of course copier companies are making a profit even at these low numbers but we are all in business to make a profit right? As you can see with these numbers there can’t possibly be a lot of money made here. The money is made in the volume of pages copied and printed.

2) Preventative maintenance is scheduled and taken care and you don’t have to do a thing. In my opinion this is a really big deal. We are all very busy in our business lives and it’s too much to ask our customers remember at what intervals their copier needs preventative maintenance.

When you have a service agreement your copier company knows when you need a PM (preventative maintenance) call and they will do it automatically. You don’t have to remember anything. This is important because copiers are machines and just like other machines they need to be maintained.

If you think about all the things a modern copier does it’s amazing they don’t have more problems and break downs. One of the reasons they don’t is because many copier companies do a great job of maintaining the machines. It’s actually in their best interest to do so because if they don’t and the machine has a major issue due to wear and tear it will cost the copier company a lot more money than what they would’ve paid for a preventative maintenance. appointment.

3) It locks in your toner, maintenance and repair costs, with a reasonable increase, for the life of the contract. If you don’t have a service agreement the copier manufacturer or dealer can increase the cost of toner, preventative maintenance and repairs any time, and as much as they want.

Furthermore if your copier goes down and you don’t have an agreement the cost of a service call is around $150.00 per hour PLUS parts. If the copier has one serious issue the agreement can pay for itself very quickly.

4) If your copier is down, you are a high priority and should have a guaranteed response time built into your service agreement. This comes in handy because as we all know when the copier goes down a lot of work just can’t get done.

A guaranteed emergency response time may not written in the standard service agreement with all copier companies but you should request it. Read the fine print of the service agreement and if you don’t see anything about it request a guaranteed response time IN WRITING. Also, don’t forget to ask what the penalty is for the copier company if they don’t meet that response time.

For example at my copier company, Action Business Systems-Toshiba here in Baltimore, Maryland we have a guaranteed emergency response time of 4 hours. If we’re not there on time we will credit the customers next service invoice $100.00. It’s a strong guarantee and we stick to it. So should your copier company.

5) Finally, if the copier has a major issue and is down for more than a few business days as part of your service agreement you should get a free loaner, you just pay for the toner used.

Here at my company our guarantee is that if the copier is down for more than two business days we’ll bring in a loaner. You may be thinking there’s not way you could live without your copier for two days but let me reassure you, this pretty much never happens. Most copier break downs can be resolved in a matter of minutes or a few hours at the max.

If you don’t have a service agreement no copier company is going to give you a loaner for free. They may rent you a copier but it’s going to cost you because you’ll pay a rental fee plus a fee for how much toner you have used. Again the free loaner may not be written into the standard service agreement from your copier company but you should negotiate to have it added.

All of the reasons I have listed above and many more add up to three words, PEACE OF MIND. When you purchase a service agreement everything is taken care of and for a very reasonable price. That;s why I think they’re a good idea.

I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email, give me a call or fill out the easy form below. 443-570-0414 If you’re in the Baltimore Maryland, Washington DC or Northern Virginia area I would be happy to give you a competitive quote on your next copier, printer, scanner, commercial document shredder as well as all types of document management software. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a fun day!

 

Copier Service Contracts- What You Really Need to Know- Part 2

January 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Hey it’s Ed Worthington from Action Business Systems-Toshiba Copiers. We are a copier company in Maryland serving the Maryland, Washington DC and Northern Virginia area but this blog is relevant to anyone in the world who buys copiers.

In today’s installment of my Copier Service Contracts series I’d like to talk with you about another thing you really need to know about copier service/maintenance contracts: Automatic Increases.

When I say automatic increases what I mean is that ALL copier service agreements contain in the terms and conditions the ability for the company to increase the cost of the service in specific time increments.

For example the agreement may state that the service fee can go up as much as 5% per year each year. Some people may think that’s too much and some may think that’s reasonable.

My main purpose of this post is to make you aware of the fact that these increases exist in the fine print and to let you know that YOU NEED TO READ THAT FINE PRINT SO YOU DON’T GET RIPPED OFF.

This is particularly relevant to me right now because there is a company I am working with right now whose current copier vendor has a 10% per quarter increase built in. Yes I said 10% per quarter. OUTRAGEOUS!!

This company also just received a check in the tens of thousands of dollars from their current copier company because I exposed that fact that they were being ripped off.

The current vendor not only charged them the 10% per quarter but much more. Can you say SHADY!

You may ask yourself how a copier company can get away with overcharging a small business so badly.

Well I’ll tell you how and it happens all the time. It is because the business Owner/Controller/CFO doesn’t pay attention to the service bill from the copier company and they increase it slowly. They don’t increase it by 30% all at once. But maybe by 5-6% every quarter.

It really starts to add up!

So the first ACTION POINT here is before you sign a copier maintenance agreement read the fine print and if you don’t like what you see, negotiate.

The second action point is to read your copier service bill carefully and watch for increases.

This advice could save you a lot of money in the long run.

If you have any questions about copier service agreements or anything else copier/document management related feel free to call me or fill out the form below and I’ll get right back to you. 443-570-0414 Thanks for stopping by.

How to Buy A Copier

December 21, 2012 Leave a comment

After many months of writing and editing I have finally finished my new book, How to Buy a Copier- A Step by Step Guide to Copier Leases, Copier Service Contracts and Just About Everything Else You Need to Know To Get The Right Copier at the Best Possible Price.

I know the title is long but I wanted it to communicate exactly what this book is. This book is THE definitive copier buying guide for anyone who is now or will ever buy a copier for their business or practice.

Although my company Action Business Systems-Toshiba Copiers is located in the Maryland and service the Baltimore, Washington DC, and Northern Virginia areas this copier buying guide can help you no matter what part of the country or world your in.

To receive a FREE copy just fill out the form below.

Copier Service Contracts- What You Really Need to Know- Part 1

December 7, 2012 Leave a comment

When it comes to copier service contracts there are some things you really should be aware of so you’re not caught off guard after you sign a contract. One of the most important is that most copier service contracts have a built-in minimum amount of copies/prints per month and charge overage charges if you go over that minimum.

When a copier company comes out to meet with you to give you a quote many times they will ask you how many copies/prints you are doing per month now. The reason they ask this question is because when they prepare a quote for you they’re going to quote you a price for the machine (cash or lease price) and they’re also going to quote you on a service contract for that machine.

Just to be clear the terminology may vary depending on what part of the country you are in but typically the contract will be called a service or maintenance contract/agreement.

The quoted price usually includes toner, repairs (parts & labor), preventative maintenance, and any consumables. Basically everything except your paper and staples.

In case you’re not aware a copier service agreement usually consists of 2 components. A monthly minimum number of copies at a set price and then a per copy/print price for “overages”. For example your agreement many be for 10,000 black copies/prints per month for $100.00 (1 cent per copy/print) and then any “overages” will be billed at an increased rate say, 1.5 cents per copy/print.

I’ve never really understood the overage thing and it truly baffles me. In what other business does a company penalize you for buying more of their product? In other words in the above example as part of your monthly “minimum” 10,000 copies you are billed at 1 cent each but magically after the 10,000 copies/prints per month the price goes up to 1.5 cents. Why? I really can’t tell you. Does it cost the copier company any more for the toner at the 10,001st copy than the 10,000th copy. I think we know the answer to that.

On top of this mystery there is another mystery I can’t seem to solve about my industry. If you do less than the “minimum” number of copies/prints per month (again 10,000 in our example) than you are still charged for the 10,000. Why? Again, no clue.

I would agree that in some cases where a business or professional practice does a very low volume per month/year there does need to be an annual dollar minimum. At my copier company in Baltimore, Maryland we have a minimum of $300.00 per year for the service agreement. I think this is very reasonable due to the fact that the service agreement covers repairs and toner. In other words if your copier goes down and we have to send a technician to your location and you bill less than $300.00  for an entire year than you can see how the company can easily start losing money. When your copier goes down they/we have to pay the technician, gas, parts, ect. Again keep in mind that the $300.00 minimum includes toner.

So in summary if you go over your “minimum” monthly copies/prints the cost per copy goes up and if you go below your minimum you still would be charged for the 10,000 copies/prints. Sounds like a lose/lose proposition for the customer to me.

Here at Action Business Systems I write my service agreements very differently. For example, I have a company interested in a new copier in Towson, Maryland. The way I quoted their agreement is the way I quote them all.

First, we agree on a per copy/print cost. In this case we were at $.007 (less than one penny) per copy. This amount varies depending on the type of copier you buy due to the toner efficiency of each machine.

Then, once the copier is delivered we wait until their first month is over and bill them for the exact amount of copies they did in that month. Then we do the same for every month thereafter. There is no lose/lose situation with minimums and overages. This is the most fair way to bill a customer for their copies/prints.

So in the example of the Towson, Maryland customer above if they do 20,000 copies/prints per month we just multiply that by .007 for a total of $140.00 for that month and we send them an invoice for that amount. Simple and fair.

You may have trouble finding a copier dealer in your area willing to do business this way but if you insist on it you may just get it.

If you’re business or professional practice is located in Baltimore, Maryland, Washington DC or Northern Virginia area I would be happy to give you a simple and fair quote on a new copier and copier service agreement. Just shoot me a call or email. In the month of December 2012 we are giving away a free Toshiba Laptop, Toshiba Thrive Tablet or Toshiba flat screen TV with every new copier purchased or leased. Contact me, Ed Worthington at 443-570-0414   ed@edworthington.com or just fill out the form below.