SLAs – The Prenup of Printer and Copier Repair Contracts
Fri Dec 02, 2016 | Lasers Resource
A service level agreement (SLA) is the real meat of any contract. It specifies what will happen, when, and by who. It also explains how it will happen, and that can be a powerful difference between good and great service.
We’ve covered how to read your copier repair contract, which you can review here. Now it’s time to take a deeper look at the service side. Below are the common SLAs you should expect to see on a managed print service (MPS) contract and what they mean.
It is common in the managed print service world to see a four (4) hour response time. Let's say, for the sake of easy math, you place a service call on a broken copier at 12:00pm. Your MPS partner calls you at 3:59pm to gather information on the issue. Does this fit into the agreed-upon SLA? The answer is a definite . . . “maybe.” I know, I know; that's not really an answer. Let me explain.
The answer to the question, “does this meet the agreed-upon SLA?” depends on if the response time is for over the phone or on location. There are pros and cons to both phone response and location response. Many times the MPS partner calls to know what the problem is so they can send the correct rep with the right parts and tools, which means your copier is more likely to be fixed on the first visit. A location response time gets a body in your office fast, but often the tech has to come back, not always, but it’s a risk.
Make sure to think about what approach you are being offered and if that is the right one for you.
Within the many words of a printer repair contract, there should be a section called “Service Calls” or something of the sort. Give this section a read through because that is normally when you can find the service hours. Most will show the typical hours of 8:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday excluding holidays. Will that work for your business? Do you have weekend hours? 2nd and 3rd shifts?
See if the service partner offers those nonstandard business hours or if you will end up paying more to keep a tech on call. If you can’t get a weekend or after hours service agreement, then that service call at 2:00pm on Friday might not even get you a call back until 10:00am Monday, leaving your weekend and night shift workers without a printer.
Somewhere deep in the terms and conditions of the service contract are the obligations sections. Your obligations, our obligations – everyone has something to do. In the section that covers the service partner’s obligations there is normally a list of things they cover and the things they don’t. This is the real deal here, what we’ve all waited to read.
For the most part, the “what we don’t cover” is a lot larger than “what we cover.” That's just how it goes. Make a note of both sections, do two columns in a spreadsheet and make sure you can live with it. For the most part, these are simple. You will see a lot of “we will fix your printer” in the Do section and the dreadful “act of God” in the don’t, whatever that means, maybe locusts consuming a printer?
There is some important text in these sections that you really should know. This is where you find out too late that if you move a copier on your own without telling the service partner, they can drop your coverage. So make sure you fully understand all of these points. I know I’ve said that a lot, but learn it, for real. Once you sign the SLA, it is a legal document. So, again – read it, it matters.
Other Things to Look for
Good questions to ask:
- What is your first time fix percentage?
- Do your techs carry inventory with them?
- Are your techs certified?
- Do you leverage 3rd-party companies to help with heavy call volumes or remote locations?
The answers to these questions will tell you if the company is known to be able to fix the device on the first visit because the tech basically has every printer, printer part, and roller (you will go through a lot of rollers) in their van or truck and has the knowledge to get the job done. Seems silly, but many printer techs don’t carry parts and don’t require training sessions, find a partner that does.
Also remember that you can negotiate parts of the SLA. For more responsive service levels, there might be a higher contract cost (or for extended service hours per the example above), but if your business depends on the service then it could make sense for you to pay more. There are limits – no MPS partner is going to fix a copier shoved into a wall as the result of a hallway “sledding” incident caused by too much Holiday Cheer at the office Christmas party – but many elements can be tweaked to fit your specific needs. It never hurts to ask.
Need to make sure you have the right information for your conversation? Download our MPS Glossary of the most common printer and copier terms and verbiage used by the industry to keep the conversation on an even playing field.
Click here to download the MPS Glossary
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