Most companies that purchase or rent printers opt for a service level agreement because of the benefits and peace of mind they offer. But what are the benefits of signing a service agreement, and what should you know?
Whenever you purchase or rent business electronics that you cannot fix or maintain yourself, a service level agreement is vital. Such an agreement clearly sets out what you can expect from your provider in terms of maintaining your machines and what happens if a device breaks down or does not perform to expectations.
Most service level agreement fees are not charged at a flat rate, but on a per print/copy basis, so you only pay for the consumables (such as toners, drums, and spares) that your business uses. Each machine usually comes with its own service level agreement. Unless your business produces less than 2,000 printed copies a month, a service level agreement is the most cost-effective option.
However, even companies with low volumes also often opt for service level agreements to avoid the burden of servicing machines themselves or finding technicians at short notice.
There are two main aspects to identifying a good service level agreement:
Checking that everything that should be in a service level agreement is indeed there
The reputation of the business.
The first is a promise to offer the best service available, and the second is checking that the provider delivers on this promise. All good service level agreements must guarantee on-site technical support from a certified technical after-sales service provider. The following should also be covered:
The service level agreement must kick in on the day you rent or buy your photocopiers or printers, because it should cover the basic network setup of each device.
This setup differs according to the features available on each machine and includes scan-to-email, scan-to-folder, employee access, and enabling printouts from mobile devices.
This is the most crucial aspect, and the one where you can see most clearly whether your service provider can deliver on its commitments. Regular, as well as break-fix maintenance are necessary to ensure that your devices run as optimally as possible and to limit breakdowns as much as possible.
The agreement must outline how often office equipment maintenance must take place and the provider must stick to these commitments.
Not having to worry about finding, buying, and installing spare parts and consumables (toner and imaging drums), is one of the joys of a service level agreement.
This is one area where the size and experience of your service provider really makes a difference, as their purchasing power enables them to offer you supplies at the best possible rate, driving down your monthly costs. Certain parts that are not often replaced are normally excluded from the service level agreement, such as a fuser unit.
Since printer or copier downtime impacts business productivity, the service level agreement must commit to a timeframe to repair the device from the time you log the service call.
Where the provider cannot repair the machine quickly enough, the agreement must also guarantee loan units during the downtime. Finally, ensure that your service level agreement covers call-out fees, technician transport, and overtime.
Fortunately, not all technical problems require a call-out. Often, our qualified technicians can solve the problem via a phone call and your devices can run smoothly with minor tweaks. With current remote diagnostic technology, it is possible to identify and solve a substantial number of problems remotely.
It is therefore important to ensure that reliable remote technical support is part of the service level agreement, and that you are dealing with a provider that responds fast.
Given the capabilities of the modern multifunction printer, having the right software in place can be a further boost to productivity. For instance, our PrintFleet automatic software enables remote meter reading and low toner alerts.
Printer and photocopier service level agreements may look like they cover all the bases on paper, but there is also the important aspect of whether your service provider will perform to your expectations.
To gauge this, there is no better measure than their reputation in the industry. Compare the ratings of different providers and also look at what other businesses say about after-sales service. Some red flags to look out for include:
Do they respond promptly to service calls?
Do they answer their phones?
Did customers realise too late that basics weren’t covered in the service level agreement?
Did they run out of spare parts/consumables?
Did they perform servicing/maintenance as often as agreed?
Can they perform repairs in a reasonable time?
service level agreement fees are calculated on a per-print/copy basis. In South Africa, you can expect to pay between 8c and 18c for black-and-white printed pages and between 50c and R1,20 for colour pages. *
Most service providers do charge a minimum monthly fee to ensure they are able to offer the services you require, which is why service level agreements become cost effective at 2,000 copies a month.
Most reputable service providers will send an example of their service level agreement to prospective clients if you ask them.
These documents contain many variables that make them difficult to compare, which is why we are always available to answer your questions when you compare industry service level agreements.