PLEASE READ ADDENDUM AT THE END OF THIS GUIDE.
Buying a high end digital copier is a minefield and if the buyer is not very careful they could end up seriously out of pocket.
There are several options available, each has both merits and pitfalls. It is entirely up to the individual to decide which is best for them.
Before we go into too much detail about which way to get your copier, we must first provide you with some essential information.
We will start with definitions of some words:
Click Charges: Please see my separate review of this but suffice it to say that a click charge is the price per A4 sheet.
Consumables: These are parts which the end user (you) fit yourself. In most modern copiers they include: Toner, Drum Cartridge, Waste Toner bottle, Fuser/Fuser parts (Cleaning Web Web, Fuser Oil) on some machines there will be a separate waste developer bottle. Some machines have 1 drum cartridge and others have 4.
HFSI (High Frequency Service Interval) Items: These are parts that must be fitted by a qualified service technician. Once they have been correctly fitted the service technician must hook up a computer to your copier and reset the HFSI count for the part that has been replaced. Failure to do this will result in parts being replaced un-necessarily in the event of a failure where a professional technician is called.
Each HFSI item has a threshold. For instance; the tray feed/nudge roll for the standard paper trays has a life expectancy of 200,000 feeds. The copier records each time that the paper is fed from a certain tray and records that as a count on the HFSI counter for that particular tray.
When you call out an engineer, he/she should be able to hook up a laptop to the copier and find out if the parts are reaching the end of their life and if so, they can either change them before they fail or, in the case of failure, diagnose the fault much more quickly.
Some HFSI’s are not physical parts for instance the ‘2nd BTR Trim’ requires cleaning every 170,000. If it is not cleaned then a build up of toner over time will cause physical damage to expensive components.
There are several ways in which you can get hold of a copier.
1. Buy a quality assured copier:
A quality assured copier will be the most expensive initial layout. This is because it will have been checked by a service technician and any HFSI items which are nearing their threshold will have been replaced. As an example, you should expect to pay up to £5,000.00 for a quality assured Docucolor 12.
2. Lease a copier:
While I cannot speak for every company out there, when leasing copiers, we always ensure that they are of the same standard as a quality assured copier. The reason for this is that time is money and we would rather carry out any major work in our workshops so that we keep site visits to a minimum.
3. Purchase a copier off an ebay dealer:
There are a few dealers on ebay that seem to be selling machines that are guaranteed to be working. They are considerably cheaper than a quality assured machine, but you are taking the risk that there may be many HFSI’s that are over threshold and well on their way to failure. You can expect to pay up to £2,500.00 for a Docucolor 12.
4. Purchase a copier in a private sale: SEE ADDENDUM
This is usually the cheapest option, but also the most risky as most private sellers do not provide a guarantee that the copier will work.
It is often the case that you have to arrange your own transport and it is very easy to damage a copier during transit.
Once you have purchased your copier, you then have to decide how to run it. Again there are several options available.
1. Full Service Maintenance Agreement:
With this option you get no unexpected expenses. You pay a usage, or click charge and a monthly service contract charge. All consumables, engineer calls and engineer parts are included in this charge. With a full service maintenance agreement there are no unexpected charges.
2. Time and Materials Service contract:
With this option, all engineer parts including HFSI’s are included, but you have to buy your own consumables. Again, you do not have any unexpected expenses and you pay a usage or click charge and a monthy service contract charge.
3. Pay as you go:
While this can sometimes be the cheapest option, it can also be the most expensive and it is not always the best. There are parts that may cost in excess of £1,000.00 and if you choose this option then you could easily be hit with a large bill. With this option it is up to you to book services and monitor machine usage yourself. Consumers do not have the ability to monitor HFSI items and without regular servicing your copier will fail.
4. Run to failure:
This has to be the most ill advised option as it will almost certainly be the most expensive option in the long term. If you choose this option, you are most likely to be hit with large unexpected bills when you do have to call for service.
5. Lease with Full Service Maintenance Agreement:
This is exactly the same as a standard Full Service Maintenance Agreement except the monthly contract charge is slightly higher. The advantage of this option is that there is no initial outlay and no devaluation associated with the purchase of computerised equipment.
6. Lease with Time and Materials Service Contract:
Once again this is exactly the same as a standard Time and Materials Service Contract except that the monthly contract charge is slightly higher.
Before we, or I believe, any other company will take out a Full Service Maintenance Agreement or a Time and Materials service contract, your machine must be of quality assured standard.
We will be happy to cover any copier that has been purchased in a private sale or off ebay either from a dealer or an end user, but first it must be serviced by one of our engineers and any HFSI parts that are nearing failure must be replaced at your expense. As I mentioned previously, this can sometimes be considerably cheaper than purchasing a quality assured machine, but also it may be more expensive. This is the risk that you take and the choice that you have to make at the time of purchase.
Recently we have noticed a downturn in the quality of second user DocuColor machines. While this is certainly not always the case, in many more cases now, we are buying in DocuColors that require a large amount of work and parts.
This usually relates to the condition of the fuser unit and oiler systems and we believe it is being caused by people purchasing machines, running them to failure and then selling them on. By the time they get to us, the fusers usually need a rebuild.
There are heat and pressure rollers available on ebay.
END USERS CANNOT FIT THESE PARTS.
After a new heat roller or pressure roller have been fitted the engineer needs to perform the fuser nip adjustment and the fuser breakin procedure. Failure to strictly follow these 2 procedures WILL cause early failure of the fuser. In addition, chances are that if the heat or pressure rollers need replacing, the oiler system will also need replacement parts and a service.
A damaged external heat roller, defective temperature sensors, poor oiling, contaminated or mis-aligned stripper fingers will also quickly cause damage to the new heat roller that you have just replaced.
While a degree of smugness can gained from fitting a new roller and getting the machine working, it will be short lived (About 10K copies if you're lucky, 1 copy if you're not).
A properly rebuilt fuser should last up to 80,000 copies.
In short: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!
By all means buy cheap rollers off ebay, but make sure that you have them professionally fitted.
Some may say that the addendum to this guide is scaremongering, but if you contact us either directly or through ebay, we will be happy to put you in contact with a number of customers who have first hand experience.
PS. If an engineer does not have a laptop that hooks up to the copier then send him packing.