Posted by: Paul Millican
Even in a world governed by new technology and digital communications, the photocopier has remained a staple in the modern day office for businesses the world over. The need for this particular type of equipment has sadly left businesses open to unscrupulous suppliers and their sales people, and it’s unfortunate that I’m hearing of more and more companies being ripped off by this industry in particular.
In recent months, one particular client project drove home the truth about the darker side of suppliers and honestly shocked all involved. For the first time in my experience as a cost management consultant, I came across a project where every common complaint companies have against photocopier suppliers (and there are many) was present; the business had been left with a far greater liability than expected, the equipment was outdated, some equipment was not even supplied – despite being paid for – and the ongoing copy costs were way in excess of expectations. To add insult to injury, over the last 3 years they had been over-billed to the tune of £75,000 on just 25 machines.
But how did this happen? My clients aren’t fools, before you think that – but they were fooled by the supplier. It has a lot to do with the sales process. The generally accepted process for photocopier sales involves a sales person visiting a business and closing the deal before they leave the office – which means a small amount of time to think, and a whole lot of pressure to sign up. It’s important, however, to not let this get to you.
But it’s not just the time restraints. I’d like to impart some advice on you – whether you’re thinking of renewing your photocopier lease, exploring options ahead of a decision or just want a sense check of your current arrangements – as it’s important to protect your business and its bottom line from dodgy suppliers:
- Don’t let the sales person dictate your solution.
- Understand why you are changing – is it just for the sake of new equipment or do you have a genuine operational or commercial reason to do so – always ask ‘Why am I doing this Deal?’
- Check the terms of the overall deal being presented to you. If need be, ask someone with the right knowledge base to investigate for you.
- Take some time out to research the value of the equipment being offered to ensure you’re paying the right amount for it.
- When checking equipment out, ensure it correlates to your business’ needs and stick to that decision. When it arrives, check that it’s what you ordered.
- Beware of split financing and rolling agreements together – both will give you a nasty surprise further down the line, with no long-term benefit to you.
- Always check what those inclusive copies actually amount to.
- Finally, always check that maintenance and ongoing costs are provided on a ‘per copy’ basis, not ‘per development’. This is sadly a very common mistake, and it often leads to businesses paying up to nine times more than they thought they would be.
Although we’d like to promote a harmonious relationship between suppliers and customers, there are some occasions where one will take advantage of the other; all too often businesses are fooled by photocopier suppliers, and I’d like to see it stop.
Don’t be like those businesses forking out thousands for very little – get in touch instead and let me help you identify a more appropriate photocopier deal for you that is driven by your business needs not those of an unscrupulous supplier.