Cost Per Page and Free Cartridges? Not really.

September 2, 2011

The latest trend for offices is to sign up for MPS or Manage Print Services.  The claim is that MPS will lower the cost for printing for that office, because it is based on a cost per page basis instead of a cost by cartridge basis.  Usually, the service runs like this.  Instead of paying for a cartridge, you are paying on the number of pages printed.  It usually also includes a service agreement, monitoring service, and another fee.

Here is an example:

Printer 1 – Black only, uses the HP Q2612A cartridge.  Monthly service fee $5, monitoring fee $9 (this includes making sure you have the cartridge and noticing any problems your printer has), misc fee (they usually have a name for this, but I don’t) $6.  Per page you pay (using an OEM Cartridge) 5.5 cents for example. But the Cartridge is free.

Now the HP 12A cartridge is rated for 2000 pages at 5% coverage, however, real life, no one prints at 5% coverage.  It is closer to 7-10% average.

Now let’s say it takes the customer 3 months to use that cartridge, and they printed 1200 pages during those 3 months.  So they have $15 in service, $27 in monitoring, $18 in the misc, and $66 in pages, for a grand total of $126 or $42 a month.  But remember the cartridge is free.

HP currently sells the HP 12A for $77.99.  So the question is that cartridge free?  Not really.  Any charge for monitoring is stupid in my mind.  They charge you to let you know your out of a cartridge and get one ordered, shouldn’t you already know that?  And they let you know if there is a problem with your printer, once again, shouldn’t you know if there is a problem.  You still pay for the cartridge, but you are paying for it in the pages you print as well as the fees that are added on.

While some MPS’s are good for businesses, the key is to watch for the nickle and dimes.  I prefer our method of an inventory control program partnered with a service agreement.

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