Welcome to our free guide on ‘exposing the hoodwinking’, which uncovers unbelievable practises from unscrupulous suppliers of office equipment like photocopiers, printing technology & telephones.

This guide brings to your attention clauses (usually hidden deep) within service agreement terms & conditions, which could cause much pain and extra unforeseen charges in the future.

    1. Pricing clauses

If you are about to sign (or have already signed) a service agreement to cover printing technology, a photocopier or a telephone system, check the charges or pricing clause within the agreements terms & conditions

And if you find a clause that says something like: ‘Pricing will be reviewed throughout the term of this agreement & may be subject to an increase’ or ‘we will notify you of any changes to prices by giving you no less than 30 days written notice’. Beware…

Clauses like these allow the supplier to increase their prices whenever they feel like it, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

We’ve had instances of customers paying nearly twice the amount they originally agreed, by the time they got to the end of their original agreement. Increasing their costs by up to 100%.

Our advice is to thoroughly check your T&C’s before you sign. And if you spot a pricing clause that worries you, ask your supplier to replace it with a fixed priced guarantee.

    1. Termination clause part 1

Here we’ll start to cover the dreaded termination clause. Some suppliers make this a very complex area, mainly to baffle the life out of you.

And it can be so complex we’re going to split it into parts.

Before you sign a service agreement to cover printing technology, a photocopier or a telephone system, check the termination clause within the agreements T&C’s.

And if you find a clause that says something like: ‘Should you terminate this agreement you must pay any outstanding sums owed (including the balance that would have been payable) if this agreement had not been terminated early’. Beware…

This clause allows the supplier to charge you for the remaining years left on the service agreement. Even if you cancel due to poor service.

The supplier takes your average monthly printing spend & multiplies it by the remaining months you had left on the agreement, before you cancelled it.

So, on average. If your monthly printing spend is £200 & you had 2 years (or 24 months) left on your service agreement, when you cancelled it. The supplier will invoice you for £4,800. And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

We’ve had instances of customers being forced to pay over £10,000 just to get out of their service agreement, because they cancelled. Even though it was due to the suppliers very poor service.

As always. Our advice is to thoroughly check your T&C’s before you sign. And if you spot a termination clause that worries you, ask your supplier to remove it & replace it with a clause that allows you to leave without high charges if their service is poor.

    1. Termination charge part 2

In part 1 we discussed how some unscrupulous suppliers can make you pay the whole remaining balance of the service agreement, if you want to cancel due to their poor service. Which can lead to many £1,000’s in immediate charges.

Here we’ll cover average billing levels & what can happen if you drop below them.

Somewhere in your agreement could be a clause that says something like. ‘The service agreement will be considered to have been terminated by you, if the equipment is used at monthly levels below 50% of your average monthly usage over the previous 12 months’.

This clause means. If your usage halves. Your supplier has the right to terminate the agreement & charge you the full remaining months left on your agreement, which they will calculate using your previous higher usage volumes & not your current reduced amounts.

As an example…

If there is 3 years remaining on your agreement & your average monthly spend for the previous 12 months was £200, but your current needs have reduced it to £100 a month or less. Your supplier has the right to terminate the agreement & charge you immediately for the remaining 3 years, at the previous higher rate of £200 a month. Which in this instance, is a mind boggling £7,200.

As always. Our advice is to thoroughly check your T&C’s before you sign. And if you spot a termination clause that worries you, ask your supplier to remove or change it.

    1. Automatic contract extensions

Next, we’re going to cover automatic contract extensions, what they are & the impact they can have.

Somewhere in your agreement could be a clause that says something like. ‘This agreement shall run for the minimum term of 60 months and will automatically continue for a further 24 months, unless not less than 6 months written notice is given by you, such notice to expire not earlier than the expiration of the minimum term’.

This clause means….

If you fail to terminate your service contract in writing, exactly six months before the end of the original contract start date. The supplier has the right to automatically extend your contract for a further 24 months.

And what’s worse. If you’re not happy about it & stop paying them. They will terminate the contract and request immediate payment in full for the extended 24 months period. Based on your average monthly billing amount over the previous 12 months.

As an example…

If you fall fowl of this clause & you’re so unhappy, you decide to stop paying the supplier (and your average monthly spend for the previous 12 months was £400). The supplier will just terminate your contract & request immediate payment of £9,600 to cover the extra 24-month period.

This extension clause can vary in length too. We’ve seen 6-month periods right up to a 3-year periods, and anything in between. It simply comes down to what the individual supplier decides.

As always. Our advice is to thoroughly check your T&C’s before you sign. And if you spot an extension clause that worries you, ask your supplier to remove or change it.

    1. Replacement parts

Replacement parts should be supplied & replaced free for the full term of a service agreement. But some unscrupulous suppliers just don’t see it this way.

Somewhere in your agreement could be a clause that says something like. ‘Parts will be replaced under warranty for a period of 12 (or 24) months from the installation date of the equipment, thereafter parts will be charged at our standard rates.’

This clause means….

Even though you may have signed 5-year service agreement. Any parts which fail after 12 (or 24) months will be chargeable and is in addition to your normal monthly service charges.

And, if you’re not happy about it & decide not to pay the supplier for the replacement parts. They may terminate the agreement for breach of their terms & conditions. And request immediate payment in full for the remaining agreement period. Based on your average monthly billing.

As an example…

Replacement parts can be very expensive. A fuser or transfer belt can be £200£300 each. But if you decide to withhold payment (and have an average monthly billing of £200) with 2 years left on your agreement. You could be hit with an even bigger bill for £4,800 when they terminate the agreement.

As always. Our advice is to thoroughly check your service agreement T&C’s before you sign. And if you spot a clause that says you need to pay for replacement parts. Ask your supplier to remove it.

    1. Network peripheral charge

Next, it’s the turn of the fictitious ‘network peripheral charge’…

Somewhere in your agreement could be a clause that says something like. ‘Where the equipment is connected to a computer or network, we will invoice a quarterly network peripheral charge of £75 after the first 12 months of the agreement’.

This clause means….

Once the first 12 months has passed on your service agreement you will be charged an additional £75 in extra charges every quarter for the remaining agreement term.

This means. If you signed a 5-year service agreement. You will be charged an additional £1,200 extra. As these days every printer, photocopier or internet phone system is attached to a PC or network.

We couldn’t believe it when we first saw this clause. As it’s money for absolutely nothing in return. And it’s real & they charge it too. We know of at least 2 organisations who are currently suffering financially because of this fictitious charge.

And, if you’re not happy about it & decide not to pay the supplier. They have the right to terminate the agreement for breach of their terms & conditions. And request immediate payment in full for the remaining agreement period. Based on your average monthly billing. Which could be £1,000’s.

As always. Our advice is to thoroughly check your service agreement T&C’s before you sign. And if you spot a clause that relates to a network peripheral charge (if you still want to do business with them) ask the supplier to remove it.

    1. Firmware upgrade charging

Now we come on to suppliers who charge extra for ‘firmware upgrades’…

Somewhere in your agreement could be a clause that says something like. ‘Software of firmware enhancements or upgrades are not provided under this Agreement. But, may be purchased separately subject to our usual charges’.

Now. Before I go into what this clause means. I want to make it clear what is ‘firmware software’.

Firmware software is the operating system for a photocopier or printer. Like windows is for a PC or IOS is for Apple. And occasionally the manufacturer releases a firmware update to fix a problem or to release a new feature. Just like Apple & Microsoft do. And these are made available for free.

And if firmware in a photocopier or printer is not updated after a new release. Its highly likely the equipment will not function as it should or will simply stop working. Yes. It’s critical.

Back to the clause. What does it mean?

In its simplest term. The supplier will charge you for carrying out a firmware upgrade. Even though the software is free & the equipment is covered by their service agreement.

And I’m not talking about a few pounds either…

In a 3rd party agreement we were given. The suppliers ‘normal rates’ are £150 an hour. Which means. Including travelling time. Your firmware upgrade will cost you at least £300. For something which should be provided free as part of a service agreement.

And, if you’re not happy about it & decide not to pay. The supplier has the right to terminate the agreement for breach of their terms & conditions. And request immediate payment in full for the remaining agreement period. Based on your average monthly billing. Which could be £1,000’s.

As always. Our advice is to thoroughly check your service agreement T&C’s before you sign. And if you spot a clause that charges for ‘firmware updates’ ask the supplier to change or remove it.

    1. High charging rates for extra work

Some unscrupulous suppliers charge an extorionate amount of money for ‘extra work’…

Somewhere in your agreement could be a clause that says something like. ‘The installation of print drivers, scan locations & scan to email settings are not covered by this agreement, and any work you ask us to carry out will be charged at £150 per hour.’

So, what does this clause mean?

Well. If you have a new starter who needs to print & scan from your photocopier or MFD. Or an existing system has been replaced & needs to be set up for printing & scanning. Your supplier (based on an agreement passed to us) will charge you the vastly inflated price of £150 an hour.

To put this into context. Including traveling time. To install 1 – 2 systems for printing & scanning will take around 2 hours. Costing you a very hefty £300.

In our experience. This is a sure-fire way for unscrupulous suppliers to overcharge you. Listen though. The work should be chargeable. But not at this hefty price. It’s pure ove