So do you not want us to maintain the document feeder/scanner!
One of the strangest trends that seems to have traction in support pricing for MFP printers is pressure to provide scans on the device for Free.
In our work here in Burlington ON we are constantly asked by clients why they have a scan charge as part of their support contract. Immediately the question above pops into my mind. Scanning is not just a free action. It uses software and all of the electronic boards that are in the device. It obviously puts wear on the document feeder's components. It leads to support calls as documents get jammed and can't be cleared, or images get skewed and a support technician needs to adjust the document feeder.
Unfortunately in this cost conscious world, people have been taught to ask for the lowest price on everything. Some of our competitors have taken this to mean that they should offer the lowest click charge, the traditional means to price MFP support, imaginable. Purchasers start to expect extremely low support prices without any means to measure the related support delivery.
Since there is no universal public standard for measuring the quality and efficiency of support on MFP devices, you can easily get enticed into a support plan by price, only to find out that your resulting experience is less than the best. We've even had potential clients complain about the level of support they have received in the past and then ask us to match a new quote from that company for support....I always think, "so you want me to deliver support to you at that low rate so you can complain about my support next"...makes no sense to me.
Am I arguing that you should always pay a higher rate for support...not necessarily, just you should be cautious if the support offer looks too good to be true. In the end labour costs, costly transportation, parts, toner, emergency response, inventory costs, dispatch, IT expertise, product training are all necessary for any vendor to be able to provide good MFP printer support. These all add into the amount of the click charge that is required to adequately support devices.
Modern MFP equipment offers many more functions and complications than the traditional copier did. Their integration into the IT network and the workflow of the organzation mean that downtime is much more disruptive than in the past.
So what about scanning? Why is it an issue?
Using an mfp as a feed to your document management system or for feeding e-mail communication are a couple of the key functions that scanning supplies. If this is an incidental use which is blended into a strong print use means that there may be enough dollars generated in the contract to fully support the device.
However, I have seen accounts where the scan volume easily exceeds the print volume by double or more each month, month after month. This clearly indicates a support issue as the revenue generated by the print is being overwhelmed by the scan volumes.
So what is the answer?
I suggest that you should think carefully about support plans that do not including scanning as a specifically supported area. Just like the IT connection which is necessary to keep your device running, it takes specialized knowledge to support scanning and its integration to your workflow. Excluding this from the support program is risky.
As price pressure continues in the print market place support levels will be forced to decline. The bonus activities you have taken for granted will get decreased. Response levels will slip. We are seeing support terms in the industry referencing response times of 24 hours or more. Response time is often not defined, which means it could be a phone call saying the technician will see you tomorrow.
If you are not sure about what is offered, then ask to see the real support contract. Look for the terms and conditions. We have seen many where maintenance kits (a common and costly support component for devices) are excluded from the click charge. This can substantially increase the cost of support if you hit the maintenance kit replacement point. This is often not defined up front on the quote but left to the boiler plate at the back of the actual contract.
In the end there is an old adage that says you get what you pay for. This certainly applies when you look at all of the components that need to be supported on your MFP printer.
Does your support plan include scans? Do you use scanning extensively with your MFP? Is it reasonable to have a scan charge as part of the mfp support plan?
Your thoughts please....
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