Service agreements can be very complex and lacking in transparency. If you’re not an expert in this area, it can be pretty confusing… this means it’s not always easy to understand what you’re signing up for, or to compare offers from different companies. Here are a few things you should know before signing on the dotted line.
What’s included in my service agreement?
If you have a multifunction device with a service agreement and your machine breaks down, what repairs will be covered?
There are a variety of service maintenance agreements available for your multifunction device. Depending on your contract, you might have:
- a service maintenance agreement that covers parts and labour; or
- a service maintenance agreement that covers parts, labour and toner.
Some contracts are renewed yearly, while others run within the term of the lease. Some handle overages monthly, some quarterly, and some yearly.
At True Copy, we don’t advocate building your support cost into your equipment lease. Some companies will try to charge you for items even when you have a maintenance agreement that should cover them. These items are sometimes described as ‘consumables’ (hence the charge). But we’ve come across items such as drums or fuser units being described as ‘consumables’ and being charged for separately. This is completely unreasonable; if you have a service agreement and it covers, parts, labour and toner then everything required to keep that machine operational – with the exception of electricity and paper – should be covered! At True Copy, it is. No exceptions!
Is network support covered in the service agreement?
Another issue to consider is network support and callout charges. Most service maintenance agreements will cover all the hardware in your machine, such as your (NIC) Network Interface Card, but what happens when the issue isn’t with the device itself?
There are lots of seemingly unrelated IT changes that can impact on your machine. For example, if you change email servers, or upgrade any or all of your PCs to a new version of Windows. What if someone switched from using a PC to a Mac, would your service contract cover the engineer coming back on site to reconfigure your multifunction device or troubleshoot your network?
The fact is most service agreements do not allow for IT-related support and you will need to pay for any service call deemed to be an IT-related callout. At True Copy, we offer full print and scan IT network support within our support packages, so you can have the peace of mind that you are completely covered. We always advise our customers to ask about this type of support pre-purchase. We also advise you to get a full explanation of what your service agreement covers before any equipment purchase.
When comparing costs between suppliers, take into account that a slightly higher service agreement price that includes network support will almost certainly work out cheaper in the end, because you will avoid extra fees for callouts and network support. Always ask about this kind of support, and if you’re told it is included, get that in writing! Make sure you read the service agreement before committing, because six months later when you have a network issue and will have to pay to get it sorted out is too late!
What about network-related service charges?
Most small business do not have internal IT support staff, so what happens if your support call falls somewhere between a network IT fault and a device fault?
Sometimes when you log a service call with the company who sold you the multifunction device, it turns out that there isn’t a physical fault with your machine. For instance, if your scan to email function has stopped working. No configurations have changed since it last performed this task successfully, there are no error codes displayed… it simply doesn’t work.
Reasons this might have happened could be, for example, that someone in the office changed a password that the device was using, or deleted an account that appeared to no longer be needed, or decommissioned the (SMTP) email server. But your multifunction device isn’t broken, it simply needs to be reconfigured to reflect the change. This can be easily done by a qualified engineer.
Networks are dynamic, not static. Servers, PCs, and infrastructure are constantly being upgraded or replaced. But is re-configuring the multifunction device to reflect these changes covered by the service agreement? The answer is yes, provided that network support is included in your agreement! No matter what the sales person told you at the outset, if network support isn’t mentioned in the contract, then it is not included.
Always check your contract when it is first issued and check that you are covered for everything you need. No matter what assurances you receive over the phone during a sales call, you will have no recourse three, six, nine months later when you inevitably need this support and find out you will have to pay extra for it. Make sure it’s in black and white before you sign!
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At True Copy, we offer full print and scan IT network support as part of our support packages. It’s great value and gives you complete peace of mind.