Decoding Copier Contracts to Find Your Best Partner
When purchasing a copier or entering into a copier leasing contract or service and managed print agreement it is important to find a partner that is trustworthy, consistently delivers and operates with transparency. When evaluating a new partners, it can be difficult to identify these traits quickly.
In some cases, it might be easier to look for warning signs or red flags that perhaps you should steer away from a particular company.
For example, a company offering to sell you a copier or pressuring you to sign a copier leasing contract, or offering a confusing service or managed print agreement may be an early warning sign of deceptive internal organizational practices. It’s essential for your team to be vigilant and look out for these tactics that some vendors might employ.
Here are some common deceptive copier leasing practices to watch for:
When considering a business partnership, it’s important to be mindful of any hidden fees that might not be clearly outlined in the contract. Transparency plays a crucial role in maintaining a positive working relationship. Some dealers may introduce additional charges after providing you with a quote, but you shouldn’t hesitate to seek clarification.
Hidden fees associated with machinery may encompass various aspects, such as delivery fees, setup fees, networking fees, insurance fees, stair fees, removal fees, and training fees.
Similarly, in the context of managed print agreements, you might encounter additional costs like maintenance fees, service charges, or fees for exceeding monthly page limits. Other potential charges may include delivery fees, monitoring fees, and cancellation fees.
While it’s entirely reasonable for your partner to charge for these valuable services, it’s essential to ensure that all fees are explicitly stated in the contract. This way, both parties can enjoy a clear and mutually beneficial business relationship.
You should be aware that certain contracts may include clauses that automatically renew the agreement without requiring your consent, unless you submit a written cancellation notice within a specified timeframe. Managing this timeframe can sometimes be a bit challenging.
It’s a good practice to always review your contracts for any automatic renewal clauses and, if needed, negotiate their terms. Relying on your vendor to proactively inform you about renewals isn’t advisable, as even the most transparent vendors may not be able to keep track of every account efficiently.
To stay in control, it’s a wise move to establish your own renewal process. This way, you can ensure that you don’t inadvertently find yourself locked into an agreement you no longer wish to continue.
It’s important to exercise caution when dealing with vendors who may push for overly long-term contracts. Typically, copiers are financed with five-year fair market rate options for purchase, and maintenance contracts typically renew on an annual basis.
The most reliable partners will give you the flexibility to make adjustments to your maintenance agreement, ensuring it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. Conducting regular reviews, such as a Quarterly Business Review or at the very least an Annual Account Review, will help ensure that your copier still aligns with your requirements and that your service plan remains effective.
Your best best business partners take the time to right-size your copier fleet and create a plan that adapts to your evolving needs. They won’t try to sell you more or less than what’s necessary. Instead, they’ll work diligently and honestly to match your current needs while helping you envision a growth-oriented plan for the future. This approach ensures that your copier solution remains a perfect fit for your business.
Overpriced Service Agreements:
In the business world, some companies offer lower prices for their equipment but compensate for it through service agreements that are both pricey and rigid. It’s crucial for you to confirm that the costs associated with the service agreement, covering maintenance, toner, price per print, and repairs, are reasonable when compared to industry standards.
One tactic that companies might employ to recover costs is imposing excessive penalties for page counts. Be vigilant when reviewing contracts, as some may impose severe penalties for exceeding your monthly page or usage limits. Ensure that these penalties align with your needs, and that you have the flexibility to adjust the page count as necessary.
Another strategy employed by companies is the annual escalation of prices at unreasonable rates over the life of the contract. While it’s understandable that companies may need to adjust their rates due to rising costs or inflation, it’s vital to confirm that any rate increases are clearly disclosed and documented in writing. This leads us to another method companies use to recoup equipment costs.
Avoid long-term service contracts that do not allow for adjustments or make it extremely costly to terminate the agreement before its expiration. In any relationship, you should have the power to cancel if terms aren’t met or aren’t delivered at an acceptable quality level.
Misleading Warranty Terms:
Carefully review the warranty terms offered with the copier. Some vendors may misrepresent the coverage or duration of warranties, leading to unexpected repair costs. Also check the toner conditions to make sure of your warranty terms with ad hoc toner.
Upfront Payment Scams:
Be cautious of vendors requiring a large upfront payment before delivering the copier. Legitimate companies typically invoice after the equipment is installed and operational.
Unfair Buyout Clauses:
If you’re leasing the copier, scrutinize the buyout clause. Some contracts make it expensive to purchase the copier at the end of the lease term.
Inadequate Training and Support:
Confirm that the contract includes provisions for proper training on how to use the copier and to receive technical support for set up and networking. Some vendors may neglect these aspects. Often complete IT support for copiers and perhaps all technological needs may be offered by the vendor.
Typically companies provide service (repair or IT help) agreements for an additional monthly fee. Complete IT support could be offered by technology company with a price/seat cost. It is very wise to have all your IT needs to be offered by one technology company. Looking for a complete vendor may really save you money.
To protect yourself from deceptive practices, it’s advisable to consult with a legal expert or contract professional before signing any copier purchasing or leasing agreement. At the least, carefully read and understand all terms and conditions in the contract, and don’t hesitate to negotiate changes if necessary. Ask questions, trust your guts.
Check the Reviews
Your copier company has reviews available just like anyone else. There is so much to learn from the people who have nothing to gain by sharing their experience. Bad ratings are a clear sign of buyer beware. Even if you like your account executive, the promises they may and don’t follow through on will be brought to light in the reviews. Your best partner will be everyone’s best partner.