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After a period of reflection, research and finally purchasing, you are nearly at the end of the cycle of buying a new printer, welcome to your printer leasing contract guide. Tacked on the end of most purchasing processes comes the negotiation of the service contract. Therefore this can make or break the deal. At its worst, the service contract can end up costing you a lot more money than planned. At its best, it’s the support you can count on for the life expectancy of the machine. This all depends on you knowing what to look out for.

 Download Full PDF Best practice guide to printer leasing & service contracts

Let’s assume this is your first printer contract.

But let’s also not assume that all salespeople want to scam you?

The service contract needs to be clear and fair to both parties, not just the buyer; negotiation is necessary, but it’s also why you need to have your wits about you. To make it easier for you, we’ve collated and listed all the major pitfalls and obstacles you may face in your search for service contract peace of mind.

Small print. Nobody likes the small print.

On the one hand, it’s a little reminder that our eyes aren’t what they used to be. On the other, it is often densely packed onto the page, designed to turn people off reading it. However, this is where it all happens. Therefore if you are lucky enough to have a legal team, they can take charge. If you’re a small outfit, you need to ensure that the small print does not hang you out to dry. This goes both ways. The small print protects the service provider as much as it does the client.

Bear in mind that there is no such thing as a “standard” contract. The service contract is a significant part of your investment and needs due diligence in its review. Being vigilant at the outset will stand you in good stead throughout the duration of your contract. This is the basis for a long and prosperous relationship with your supplier.

Multi-function printers can drive you crazy.

The service contract doesn’t have to.




Before signing, it is critical to gauge your potential printing output accurately. Once you have signed up for a minimum volume commitment, simply put, you use it or lose it, which means you might end up paying for printing you are not doing. Should you exceed your minimum commitment, be careful that your supplier does not hike up the minimum volume commitment to reflect this increase leaving you stuck with outrageously high payments on printing you don’t do.

If your volume is over 2000 prints per month (colour and mono), there should be no need for a minimum commitment. Below that, it depends on the level of service you are looking for.


Be clear about the level of service you want, your estimated output and be vigilant in checking that one month’s high print run does not become the new minimum commitment.


“I fear the Greeks, especially when they are bearing gifts”!

This famous Virgil quote is particularly relevant to service providers offering compensation for missed Service Levels. Providers often offer compensation when they don’t put resources into problem resolution, meaning that you may be unable to use your printer for weeks, but at least you’ll get some money back! The inconvenience is never 100% “compensated”.

It also pays to note that some suppliers will send out an engineer within the timeframe defined by the SLA, but this does not mean that they will repair it there and then. It has become an increasingly common practice for engineers to show up to meet the terms of the SLA but to have to return at a later date with a spare part. Therefore this leaves you with the inconvenience and no compensation.


Avoid compensation clauses over problem resolution. Also, ensure your contract has a penalty-free breach of contract pullout option in case it all goes wrong and can’t be rectified!


Additional toner costs

Most service contracts are designed to replace your toner after a defined number of print runs. This is better practice than replacing them after a specified period. Ensure that your toner needs replacing and avoid unnecessary and costly replacements, this will also help you be more ecologically friendly.

An exceptionally grizzly experience includes toner but charges a high rate of >5% coverage on an A4 page. For most companies where marketing teams, design teams, sales proposals, and detailed projects are all printed. Therefore you risk getting levied with some very significant toner fees on top of the agreed service charges, should this be lurking in the small print.

“Consumables are included”

Check the list of included consumables from your supplier as all too frequently, toner and drums can fall outside this definition. If you are a high volume user, these additional costs can soon rack up.

Delivery charges

The more you print, the more you need new cartridges and new paper. Every order comes with a delivery charge which can quickly ramp up if you are printing high volumes. Deliveries need to be optimised to reduce the number and agreed with the client. The supplier must not be allowed to make separate deliveries to double the charges.


Check the policy on toner charges and delivery costs. Ensure it corresponds with your output. Or even better, find a supplier that doesn’t charge for delivery.


Non-standard format: double-clicking

The standard contract takes into account a minimum volume commitment based on standard A4 paper. Suppose you want to print in A3? This can be marked up as twice the cost, and the client may not even know it. In some cases, A4 landscape printing incurs a click charge of an A3 price which is plain unfair. Therefore charging for non-standard print sizes needs to be written up in the contract.

Scanning fees

If you are using your multi-function printer to scan and electronically send documents by email, there should be no scanning fee at all. Many contracts charge a fee for scanning and the charges can add up.


Clarify your click charge policy and ensure double-clicking does not apply. Take the time to evaluate your printing needs; have them written up in the contract, including non-standard format and scans.

Download Full PDF Best practice guide to printer leasing & service contracts

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Thuy Nguyen

Author Thuy Nguyen

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