Archive

Posts Tagged ‘copier’

Should You Include Copier Maintenance Plan Costs into Your Copier Lease? Updated

copier : young worker using a copy machine

Back in March of 2014 I wrote a post titled, Should You Include Copier Maintenance Plan Costs in Your Copier Lease?.

At the time I was very against including copier maintenance plan costs (also referred to as a copier service plan) into the lease of the copier.

I noted that in many cases the reason the copier buyer does this is for the convenience of having to write only one check while some copier companies may be motivated by the fact that they can get interest and fees on the maintenance plan costs whereas if the maintenance plan is billed separately they don’t.

Please note that I said “some” copier companies may be motivated by interest and fees on the service plan. I don’t want to paint the whole industry with a broad brush. That really wouldn’t be fair.

While I still feel that it’s generally a bad idea to add the service cost to the lease I have discovered a new way to go about this.

A way that you can combine the lease and the service agreement together without paying ANY interest or fees of any kind on the service. The best of both worlds.

It’s called a pass-through. The reason it’s called a pass-through is that the leasing company will accept their monthly payment from the business who leased the copier and then  pass the copier service/copier maintenance agreement portion of the payment back to the local copier company who sold the machine and performs the service/maintenance on the machine.

This is done without you the customer paying any fees whatsoever to the leasing company for passing the payment to the local copier company.

This can be a little confusing so I’ll sum up the whole process for you.

When you lease your new copier you purchase a service agreement on the copier.

A copier service agreement covers toner, repairs (including parts and labor) and preventative maintenance. All you have to do is buy paper. Everything else is covered.

When is comes to billing some copier companies will add the service/maintenance costs to the lease. The problem with this is that you are paying interest and fees on the service plan.

It doesn’t have to happen this way because the copier company who sold you the copier and will service the copier can bill you separately for the copier service agreement.

In other words you pay the leasing company their payment for the copier and write a separate check to the local copier company for the service plan on the copier because they will be performing the service on your copier.

Many copier buyers love the convenience of making only one payment but don’t want to pay interest and fees on the service plan if they don’t have to.

This is where the pass-through comes in.

The leasing company sends the customer one monthly bill which includes the copier and the service agreement and then passes the service plan portion of the payment back to the local copier company.

The copier buyer is happy because they only had to cut one check.

It’s a great service that provides the best of both worlds for the copier buyer.

I now offer this single payment service to my customers here at my copier company in Baltimore so if you are in Maryland, DC, Northern Virginia or Delaware and 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 honest copier companies in your local area fill out the form below and I’ll get back to you with the names of some trusted companies.

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

Thanks for stopping by. Have fun.

Ed Worthington

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Copier Data Security: Prevent Copier Identity Theft: A Guide for Business

October 7, 2013 Leave a comment

One question that I constantly get from my clients is how to secure the sensitive data on their copier.

I recently discovered this guide online and I thought that it was great information.

Please read this carefully and apply it to your business as best you can.

Copier Data Security: A Guide for Businesses

Federal Trade Commission | business.ftc.gov

Does your company keep sensitive data — Social Security numbers, credit reports, account numbers, health records, or business secrets? If so, then you’ve probably instituted safeguards to protect that information, whether it’s stored in computers or on paper. That’s not only good business, but may be required by law.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, your information security plans also should cover the digital copiers your company uses. If the data on your copiers gets into the wrong hands, it could lead to fraud and identity theft.

Digital Copiers are Computers

Commercial copiers have come a long way. Today’s generation of networked multifunction devices — known as “digital copiers” — are “smart” machines that are used to copy, print, scan, fax and email documents. Digital copiers require hard disk drives to manage incoming jobs and workloads, and to increase the speed of production. But not every copier on the market is digital: generally, copiers intended for business have hard drives, while copiers intended for personal or home office use do not.
The hard drive in a digital copier stores data about the documents it copies, prints, scans, faxes or emails. If you don’t take steps to protect that data, it can be stolen from the hard drive, either by remote access or by extracting the data once the drive has been removed.
Digital copiers store different types of information in different ways. For example, photocopied images are more difficult to access directly from the hard drive than documents that are faxed, scanned or printed on the copier.

The Life-Cycle of a Copier

Copiers often are leased, returned, and then leased again or sold. It’s important to know how to secure data that may be retained on a copier hard drive, and what to do with a hard drive when you return a leased copier or dispose of one you own.
It’s wise to build in data security for each stage of your digital copier’s life-cycle: when you plan to acquire a device, when you buy or lease, while you use it, and when you turn it in or dispose of it.

Before you acquire a copier:

Make sure it’s included in your organization’s information security policies. Copiers should be managed and maintained by your organization’s IT staff. Employees who have expertise and responsibility for securing your computers and servers also should have responsibility for securing data stored on your digital copiers.

When you buy or lease a copier:

Evaluate your options for securing the data on the device. Most manufacturers offer data security features with their copiers, either as standard equipment or as optional add-on kits. Typically, these features involve encryption and overwriting.

Encryption is the scrambling of data using a secret code that can be read only by particular software. Digital copiers that offer encryption encode the data stored on the hard drive so that it cannot be retrieved even if the hard drive is removed from the machine.

Overwriting — also known as file wiping or shredding — changes the values of the bits on the disk that make up a file by overwriting existing data with random characters. By overwriting the disk space that the file occupied, its traces are removed, and the file can’t be reconstructed as easily.
Depending on the copier, the overwriting feature may allow a user to overwrite after every job run, periodically to clean out the memory, or on a preset schedule. Users may be able to set the number of times data is overwritten — generally, the more times the data is overwritten, the safer it is from being retrieved. However, for speed and convenience, some printers let you save documents (for example, a personnel leave slip) and print them straight from the printer hard drive without having to retrieve the file from your computer. For copiers that offer this feature, the memory is not overwritten with the rest of the memory. Users should be aware that these documents are still available.
Overwriting is different from deleting or reformatting. Deleting data or reformatting the hard drive doesn’t actually alter or remove the data, but rather alters how the hard drive finds the data and combines it to make files: The data remains and may be recovered through a variety of utility software programs.
Yet another layer of security that can be added involves the ability to lock the hard drives using a passcode; this means that the data is protected, even if the drive is removed from the machine.
Finally, think ahead to how you will dispose of the data that accumulates on the copier over time. Check that your lease contract or purchase agreement states that your company will retain ownership of all hard drives at end-of-life, or that the company providing the copier will overwrite the hard drive.

When you use the copier:

Take advantage of all its security features. Securely overwrite the entire hard drive at least once a month.
If your current device doesn’t have security features, think about how you will integrate the next device you lease or purchase into your information security plans. Plan now for how you will dispose of the copier securely. For example, you may want to consider placing a sticker or placard on the machine that says: “Warning: this copier uses a hard drive that must be physically destroyed before turn-in or disposal.” This will inform users of the security issues, and remind them of the appropriate procedures when the machine reaches the end of its usable life.
In addition, your organization’s IT staff should make sure digital copiers connected to your network are securely integrated. Just like computers and servers that store sensitive information, networked copiers should be protected against outside intrusions and attacks.

When you finish using the copier:

Check with the manufacturer, dealer, or servicing company for options on securing the hard drive. The company may offer services that will remove the hard drive and return it to you, so you can keep it, dispose of it, or destroy it yourself. Others may overwrite the hard drive for you. Typically, these services involve an additional fee, though you may be able to negotiate for a lower cost if you are leasing or buying a new machine.

One cautionary note about removing a hard drive from a di gital copier on your own: hard drives in digital copiers often include required firmware that enables the device to operate. Removingand destroying the hard drive without being able to replace the firmware can render the machine inoperable, which may present problems if you lease the device. Also, hard drives aren’t always easy to find, and some devices may have more than one. Generally, it is advisable to work with skilled technicians rather than to remove the hard drive on your own.

For More Information

To learn more about securing sensitive data, in general, read Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business at ftc.gov/infosecurity.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair practices in the marketplace and to provide information to businesses to help them comply with the law. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Watch a new video, How to File a Complaint, at ftc.gov/video to learn more. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Opportunity to Comment
The National Small Business Ombudsman and 10 Regional Fairness Boards collect comments from small businesses about federal compliance and enforcement activities. Each year, the Ombudsman evaluates the conduct of these activities and rates each agency’s responsiveness to small businesses. Small businesses can comment to the Ombudsman without fear of reprisal. To comment, call toll-free 1-888-REGFAIR (1-888-734-3247) or go to sba.gov/ombudsman.
Protecting Sensitive Information: Your Legal Responsibility
The FTC’s standard for information security recognizes that businesses have a variety of needs and emphasizes flexibility: Companies must maintain reasonable procedures to protect sensitive information. Whether your security practices are reasonable depends on the nature and size of your business, the types of information you have, the security tools available to you based on your resources, and the risks you are likely to face.
Depending on the information your business stores, transmits, or receives, you also may have more specific compliance obligations. For example, if you receive consumer information, like credit reports or employee background screens, you may be required to follow the Disposal Rule, which requires a company to properly dispose of any such information stored on its digital copier, just as it would properly dispose of paper information or information stored on computers. Similarly, financial institutions may be required to follow the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Safeguards Rule, which requires a security plan to protect the confidentiality and integrity of personal consumer information, including information stored on digital copiers.
business.ftc.gov

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 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.

How Fast Does My Copier Really Need To Be?

November 11, 2012 Leave a comment

One of the questions I get the most and probably the first question you should ask yourself when purchasing a copier is, “how fast does my copier need to be?”.

The speed of the copier you select should be based on the number of copies and prints you will do per month.

Buyer Beware! When reading the manufactures literature they tend to overinflate the number of pages per month that their copiers can handle.

So in order to help with this question I have copied the information below ( how to determine your monthly output and the maximum duty chart) from BLI’s (Buyers Laboratory) website.

BLI is an excellent source of unbiased information for anyone in the process of buying a copier or printer. At the end of this post I have included information on who Buyers Lab is and how to contact them.

How do you determine your monthly output volume?

  • Bills for your service agreement and print shop provide a good snapshot of your current usage; so does a look at your current copier’s meter.
  • Some copier companies use network management utilities that can tell you all the prints, copies, faxes and/or scans sent from the network to your copier or printer.
  • Many dealers also use devices that audit your volume. However, audit tools can sometimes miss devices such as small printers.

The chart below compares the average manufacturers maximum monthly page output vs. what Buyers Lab recommends so you don’t  send your copier to an early grave.

Manufacturers’ Maximum Monthly Duty Cycle vs. BLI’s Optimum Monthly Volume

Monochrome Average Maximum Monthly Duty Cycle BLI’s Optimum Monthly Volume
Up to 20 ppm 19,094 3,600
21 to 30 ppm 50,983 9,000
31 to 40 ppm 123,140 17,000
41 to 49 ppm 145,141 26,500
50 to 59 ppm 259,070 37,250
60 to 69 ppm 314,865 55,000
70 to 79 ppm 347,059 82,000
80 to 89 ppm 530,000 135,000
90 to 99 ppm 750,000 175,000
Color* Average Maximum Monthly Duty Cycle BLI’s Optimum Monthly Volume
16 to 25 ppm 85,879 13,500
26 to 36 ppm 113,101 15,000
37 to 46 ppm 153,278 28,000
46+ ppm 225,306 36,500

* For color models that a have a different speed for color and black modes, the speeds listed are the black speeds.

Hope this helps!

Come back next month when I’ll cover the question, “Should I lease or buy a copier?”.

If you have any copier buying questions please feel free to contact me.

If your business is located in Baltimore, Maryland,  Washington, DC or Northern Virgina and you are in the market for a new or used copier please contact me for a NO OBLIGATION, ABSOLUTELY NO PRESSURE quote.

Ed Worthington- Senior Account Executive

Action Business Systems-Toshiba

ed@edworthington.com

443-570-0414

Buyer Lab Info:

For over 45 years, Buyers Laboratory (BLI) has been the leading source for unbiased and reliable intelligence for the imaging industry. BLI was founded in 1961 by the late Arthur Kallet, the co-founder and 20-year head of Consumers Union, the publisher of the highly respected Consumer Reports magazine (BLI is not affiliated with Consumers Union). In February 2004, BLI was acquired by publishing industry veterans Michael Danziger and Mark Lerch, the current Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of BLI, respectively. In 2005, BLI launched its international division with offices in Hong Kong and London.

You can reach Buyer Lab on the web at http://www.buyerslab.com

Are you overlooking a major source of cost savings and increased profits in your health care practice?

September 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Most health care practices don’t know what it actually costs them to copy, print, and fax documents, and are overlooking a major source of cost savings and increased profits. They may know what they paid for the hardware, and they may know what they pay for service and supplies, but most don’t know which of their machines is the least expensive to operate.

For example, inkjet printers are extremely expensive to operate, laser printers are less expensive than inkjet printers, and copiers are the least expensive machines to print from. The catch is that all 3 types of machines do basically the same job.

We’ve helped many companies like the University of Maryland Healthcare System, MedStar Health as well as thousands of small practices like yours find a virtual goldmine in their printing, copying, and faxing budgets with our FREE Document Cost Analysis.

Here’s a real life example. I was recently able to save a small practice in Baltimore $457.00 per month on their printing and copying costs. And this is not an unusual story. Many practices are simply unaware of the cost savings that are available to them.

I would like to offer you the same free service to audit your expenditures for copying, printing, and faxing, and give you a report of your true costs.  The report is yours to keep, with no obligation so you can use this information to plan your future strategy whether that is in the near future or further down the road.

If you’re not quite ready to meet and would like to perform a document cost analysis yourself just call or email me for a free copy of our Document Cost Analysis Worksheet. This worksheet will guide you through the process of evaluating your document costs and allow you to see where you can find cost savings and increased profits for your practice.

Image

 

 

Save Your Organization Big Time and Big Money

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment

In this tough economy everyone is trying to find ways to save their business time and money.

If you haven’t heard of Managed Print Services it is something you really should take a look at. Organizations are literally saving thousands of dollars per year with Managed Print Services or MPS as it is also known.

If your business is located in the Baltimore, Maryland or Washington DC area and would like to know more, click the link below and then call or email me with you questions. ed@edworthington.com or 443-570-0414 We offer a NO PRESSURE, NO OBLIGATION assessment of your current situation to see how much we can save you

http://mba.toshiba.com/usa/managed-print-experts/index.html