Do you have a contract or a “con” tract?
Atomik.biz provides Business printers and scanners to our customers as well as multifunctional devices. We have access to brands such as Xerox, Sharp & Toshiba. The difference is we will only provide on the basis of our high ethical standards.
During a recent meeting, we investigated unfair clauses in contracts from many other document solution providers.
These “Con” tracts have three main aims.
- To sell by appearing cheaper than other suppliers.
- To then maximise profit with hidden or unfair charges
- To tie the customer in for an extended period where they can use their contractual clauses to take full advantage of a customer
They can get away with this as very few people read these contracts before signing them. People generally assume they are fair, they are much too long, and the print is always too small. Our advice is read them very carefully or ideally get a legal professional to look at them.
All too often clients will look at what appears to be the ‘headline price’, but that is all it is ‘a headline’. The basis of the simple trick is why would you pay someone more for the same product. The truth is that we all buy the product at more or less the same price so significant differences should ring alarm bells.
Look Out For These Tricks
Please beware of other tricks in the market (There may be some we don’t know about, so be careful – NONE OF THESE APPLY TO OUR CONTRACTS):
Multiple clicks per colour print
i.e. one for Cyan, one for Magenta, one for Yellow and one added to the Black meter – They often pose a cheap price and then catch you with this one making the print cost very high – it’s often hidden in the terms and conditions which most people don’t even read including Solicitors believe it or not! They often use the word per colour, not per colour print.
Many suppliers are now heading down this route, again they’ll make the click costs look cheap and then sting you for coverage in excess of 5% on black and then over 20% coverage (some are only 10% coverage) in colour! It’s a real money spinner for them (& frankly how on earth do you know if they’re being truthful about your page coverage & do you have any idea at all about how much coverage of toner will be on the next page you print? We certainly don’t).
Unscrupulous suppliers now get you to sign up, and after the first twelve months, they start charging you for a parts warranty. It’s just a made-up term for we’re going to help ourselves to an extra £ 50 or £100 of your money each quarter! (typically hidden in the small print on the back of their agreement and it doesn’t even tell you what the charges are as they only put ‘at our then current rate’ which means they can charge you whatever they want to).
A large increase in cost per page
We’ve seen client’s charges treble inside two years & they had the cheek to remove toner from being included so charged for it in addition to the copy charges!
Delivery charges for toner and other consumables
This has become a lot more popular in recent times as companies look to make a few extra ££££ – Often the delivery charges for items like waste toner units are higher than the cost of buying the item yourself!
Avoid any tie to a volume as your business WILL change over the coming years, it’s only ever in the interests of the supplier to tie you in, and it gives them leverage over you and if you tie yourself to expensive colour volumes it’s almost pointless cutting costs by printing black when you have to print those colour prints or you’ll pay for them anyway – Bad idea!
The most common catch of all. We’ve seen clients tied into a five-year service agreement even though they’ve only signed up to a three-year lease agreement. The law offers no protection as Limited companies and LLP’s are not protected in any way; if you sign, you pay. The other reason for the lengthy contracts is if you want to leave early you’re faced with huge penalties to wave goodbye. Many contracts now have a minimum of twelve months’ notice to terminate. When you’re looking to change something you don’t want to change it in twelve months, you want to change it now, but on this basis, you’re ‘handcuffed’ to the supplier, and they know that. Many even have dubious ‘admin charges’ top terminate the contracts and massive machine collection charges.
Charges for Scanned Pages
Very popular now as many suppliers are looking to create sneaky revenue streams, and they’re very crafty as they can set-up the devices to record them against the meter!
Misleading cancellation clauses
Clients are getting caught out more and more by careful wording that is deliberately set up to catch you; wording such as; if we increase by more than 5% per annum then you may cancel this agreement/contract. Not entirely what it appears as if you do cancel then they will charge you heavy penalties for cancelling leaving you forced into paying massive increases or the penalty to get out neither of which is palatable.
We have examples of these types of contracts and are happy to pass them on, we are only interested in fair business for both parties.
REMEMBER THAT NONE OF THESE ITEMS IN BOLD ARE CHARGED BY US
Printing is probably the network service that causes the most emotion among network users.
It is also a service that if planned and implemented correctly will work better, and save the business time and money.
In the past printers were connected directly to a PC using a parallel or more recently a USB cable. It was common for offices to have large numbers of printers with little or no sharing.
Later it became the norm to connect printers to a few workstations and “share” them over the network. Sharing was a much better solution but still had some limitations. The printer would only work if the PC it was connected to was switched on. If large amounts of print jobs went to a printer, the PC had to service those tasks, which affected the performance of that machine. Each printer was administered from a different computer.
Today the best solution for attaching printers to the office network is to use printers that have built-in network cards that attach directly to the network. This has many benefits, firstly the printer need only be connected to the nearest network point and then patched into the network at the patch panel. To configure the printer, it will need a network address and then can be connected to by any machine on the network. It is good practice to connect to each network printer from a server and then share it from the server. This gives the network administrator better control of the printing system and minimises the support required.
It is usually better to have a smaller number of better quality printers and share them than to have numerous basic printers. Having some standardisation is also sensible as fewer printer supplies need to be purchased and stored, saving money. Having fewer better printers saves space on users desks and minimises users exposure to the ozone created by laser printers.
If specialist printing is required, a colour printer or plotter can be shared by whoever needs it. The use of expensive printers can be controlled to minimise costs. Modern network printers usually have a web interface so an administrator can centrally monitor toner levels and usage.
All quality printers are now available with built-in network cards. Sometimes this means buying the “n” version of a printer. The extra cost is minimal and should be considered a “must have” in all but the smallest networks.
External print servers are available so that existing printers can be networked. The HP Jetdirect print servers are generally considered the standard and best.
Atomik.biz will ensure the best use out of existing investment in printers as well as planning for the future and maximise efficiency while minimising costs.
Choosing a printer or multifunction device
Selecting any equipment is becoming harder and printers are just about the most difficult of all hardware. There are so many manufacturers, and some of them have an almost endless number of models.
What features do you need?
- What size of paper do you need to print on?
- Do I need multiple paper trays, for different sizes or headed paper?
- What thicknesses of paper do you use?
- Do you print on other media like transparencies?
- How many pages per month do you print?
- Do you need double sided printing?
- Do you need to print colour?
- Will it reliably print envelopes?
- Do I need it to be networked?
- Do you want to print from smartphones and tablets?
- If choosing a multifunction device with a scanner do you need double sided scanning and a multi-sheet feeder?
- If scanning how do you want to receive the scans, by email, to a network share or to a memory stick?
- Do I need a built-in fax?
These are the easy things as they are listed on the product specification.
Other things to consider which are more difficult, include.
- How easy is it to use?
- How much will it cost to buy?
- How much will it cost to run?
- Are low-cost compatible inks and toners available? Be very careful with this one.
- Where will it be installed?
- How difficult will it be to get it there?
- How reliable is it going to be?
- If it breaks will it be expensive to fix?
- Will, the manufacturer supply device drivers for future operating systems or for older computers you currently have.
- Will the manufacturer give technical support if you have problems?
- Will the manufacturer provide firmware upgrades throughout the life of the product?
Making the right choice is very difficult and the more you investigate, the more complicated it becomes as invariably compromises have to be made.
In reality, some of those things will only be found out over the life of the unit but research will avoid nasty surprises. Our general advice is only to buy from a reputable manufacturer as they will give better products and better support for longer. Don’t buy on price, you will get what you pay for.
For advice on printers and scanners
Please use the Contact us page or call us on 01525540041 or 02033271747