I just received an email from the Treasurer of a local church asking me to review some suggestions he had for replacing their current mfp at the end of its lease. He knows I have experience in the business but no stake in the decision he is making. There are a couple of interesting components to his request for some advice on what might be his best choice of device.
The basis of his choices
The first thing is that he no longer wants to lease the device. His sense is that they are better to just buy outright the device they choose to acquire. This treasurer is an accountant and in his thinking paying interest on a lease does not make sense for the church. I am not going to argue with him as this was not a discussable point with him, he just wants to purchase. I can give him all kinds of reasons why most mfp or copier acquisitions are done using leases, but these are arguments he does not want to hear. He also is not interested in just renting a unit to meet their needs.
The second thing is that their needs have changed since they leased the current device five years ago. Their volume of printing has been reduced substantially. They no longer print a regular monthly paper newsletter having gone to an emailed newsletter with only a few paper copies. The type of device they need has also changed. Their current device supports paper up to ledger (11 x 17) size but they don't actually print anything over legal size. This means they can easily work with a device which is letter/legal sized format.
In the option list that he provided, coming with pricing from two suppliers, he showed three lease return (used) units and one new smaller format device. All of the lease return units supported ledger paper as these are the size units that are more common on leases. Interestingly, the price for an outright purchase of these units was low for two of them and about double for the third. They were all under $1800 which is a low price for a ledger sized unit in good shape. His spreadsheet did not show mileage on them so I have to assume one was quite a bit lower than the other two.
The small format (in industry language, A4) was a new Samsung unit which was the fastest proposed. It is a desktop unit rather than a console which the others would be. It is a model which I have personal experience with and have found that when placed in the right environment (volume less than 3000 pages per month, low number of users) can provide a super reliable long term solution. It is feasible for the church to use this for five years and perhaps stretch it a bit beyond that with good maintenance habits. As a new unit the price was a bit higher than for the other three although only a slight bit more than the most expensive alternative.
One comment he made was that the current unit has been giving them some problems in the recent past so he was not very inclined to purchase this unit. I would suggest that the experience he has had is not uncommon for units coming to end of lease. Even with excellent support and constant maintenance devices get somewhat less reliable as they age simply because there are more components which are getting closer to end of life. Think about a new car versus a used car. The same experience is found as a car ages and more parts need replacement due to end of life situations. Copiers are much the same no matter what brand and how well they are maintained.
What did I recommend?
In the end I suggested that if they could afford it, the performance gain from the new device along with the potential for less to go wrong would make it a better choice than the used devices. In the case of churches, their work tends to be very time constrained as each week they have a service demanding printing be done, but as in many volunteer driven organizations, the material to be printed is always prepared close to deadline. Having a newer, more reliable tool in these situations will lead to fewer issues for all. Moving from a full sized, full frame mfp to a desktop unit can seem like a trade down for many people but in this case the changes in their requirements means that the solution choice is changed as well.
I will bet that in the end if they go with the smaller A4 device they will be happy with the result and save some dollars along the way.
What criteria do you apply to your copier decision? Is the historical mfp format right for you?
Share your thoughts below.