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What’s included in your MFD’s Maintenance Agreement?

July 8, 2011

There are a variety of Maintenance Agreements available for your MFD \ Digital Copier.

There are MA’s (maintenance agreements) that cover parts & labor, and others that cover supplies (like toner) as well. Some are renewed yearly while others run the term of the lease. Some handle overages monthly, some quarterly, and some yearly.

Some companies (like Xerox) get cute with their maintenance agreements and they exclude CRU’s (customer replaceable units) which they say are “consumables”. They will spin this as a good thing for the customer because “you can replace them yourselves” (drums, and fuser units, etc.) What they don’t tell you is you will also pay extra for them because they are not included in your maintenance contract. So not only does Xerox NOT send out a service tech to replace these items, they charge you for them which drives up your total cost of ownership (TCO).

Besides the issue of CRUs, what about network support? Is it covered under your MA? Most maintenance agreements will cover a Network board in your MFD if it fails, but what if nothing failed on the MFD? What if you change email servers, is that covered by your MA? How about if you upgrade all of your PCs to Windows 7 or switch from a PC to a MAC, would your maintenance contract cover a Systems Engineer coming back on site to reconfigure your MFD? Should it?

The scenario described above is a common one. You come in one morning and your MFD no longer scans to email, so it must be broken right? So you call the Servicing Dealer who sold you the MFD and say “it’s broken” and I want to place a service call. But is “it” (the MFD) broken? Often the answer is no, nothing on the MFD is broken or even mis-configured. It has the same configuration that it had yesterday, and last week, and last month when it was scanning to email just fine. No boards have failed, no error codes have been generated or displayed. It just doesn’t do one function, scan to email. If you or your IT staff have changed a password that the MFD was using, or deleted an account that was thought to be no longer needed, or decommissioned the old (smtp) email server that “no one is using anymore”, does that mean that your MFD is broken? No, of course not! It simply needs to be reconfigured to reflect these changes.  This can be easily done by a trained and qualified System Engineer. The truth of the matter is networks are dynamic not static, what was in place one day is old hat next week. Servers, PCs, and infrastructure are constantly being upgraded, and replaced. But is reconfiguring the MFD to reflect these changes covered by the Maintenance Agreement, should it be covered by the Maintenance agreement (since it wasn’t the MFD that caused the scan to email to stop functioning)?

The Answer is yes, IF YOU PAY FOR NETWORK SUPPORT! Most Dealers & Direct Branches offer some kind of Network Support. This could be in the form of a block time contract ( ex: 10 hours/ per year of MFD Network support for X amount of dollars), or for an additional x amount of “mils” per click you can get phone or onsite support for you MFD’s network issues. or in some cases a flat monthly rate per MFD. And even though that nice sales person (that was for some strange reason only with the company for six months) told you that unlimited network support was included in the basic maintenance contract, the truth is if its not listed on the contract, then it is not included. New sales people are under tremendous pressure to win deals and show management that they can make it in sales. Sometimes they say things that are not necessarily true to give the appearance that they are offering more than their competition. The problem is by the time you need network support for your MFD in six months or 3 years after the sale, that “new sales person” has come and gone. and their management will fall back on what does the MA contract say. So let’s be honest with our customers and say if you want Network support for your MFD past the warranty period, in the event that something on your network changes and stops one of the functions of your Multi Functional Device (MFD) from functioning you can get it, but it is not part of the basic break-fix contract (because nothing on the MFD is broken) unless it is plainly stated on the contract, no matter what that nice young sales person said).

So ask about network support when you buy your MFD.

Does the Dealer or Branch that you wish to buy your MFD from offer Network support after the basic warranty?

Do they offer onsite support by a Systems Engineer (or does the same guy who changes the heat roller work on your Print Server)?

Do they even have a team of System Engineers on staff? Where are these SEs based out of? Are they local? Or do they come out of NJ (could be a problem in response time).

Do they offer phone support, or remote support (like Web-Ex or TeamViewer)?

What does it cost for onsite support compared to remote support? If the nice young salesman says it is free, or included get him to put it in writing and have his manager or better yet the service manager sign off on it. Because the time to find out that he lied to you is not when you have an emergency and you can’t scan to email.

Don’t penalize the sales person who is being honest with you, and telling you up front that we can include network support for a modest additional fee. And if you catch a sales person lying to you about what is and isn’t included don’t reward them by giving them another chance. There was a time when lying to win business was considered dishonorable and those that got caught where considered unfit to earn your business. Let’s not be afraid to have an honest and open discussion so that six months from now when something on your network changes (and it will), you will know who to call and whether or not it is really included in your Maintenance Agreement.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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