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Colour Copiers Buyer's Guide

Despite the overall decreases in prices for digital photocopiers, there are still significant discrepancies in pricing even for identical models - for several reasons. Some vendors mark up their price on the basis of value added services provided, whereas others cut their initial price with the aim of rebuilding profits by selling you consumables. Whatever the case, it is essential to understand all of the current and future costs before signing any agreement.

Pricing for a professional-grade digital photocopier can start at as low as £500 for an entry-level machine with a performance of 18 ppm and a monthly volume of 10,000 copies. For higher monthly volumes, increase your budget to £2,000 to £10,000.

High-end copiers may cost as much as £100,000. However, these machines with performances of up to 100 ppm and 800,000 copies per month are typically aimed at very large or specialist organisations.

Price is also affected by the options that you select and the choice of colour or black and white. Some machines will include all the functionality that is of interest to you, whereas others will charge an additional fee for each add-on. As an example, network printing may cost an additional £500 or more if it is not standard on the model of your choice.

Naturally, when looking at these figures, one is tempted to ask why an ink-jet printer with scanning capability would not also do the job. The answer is that even though the initial purchase price can be attractive - £100, for example - the speed and reliability simply do not match the requirements of a professional organisation. In addition, the consumables for ink-jet copiers have a far higher per-unit cost - 5 to 10 times as much per page. It is possible that if you have a very limited use for colour copying, a dual solution of a black and white digital photocopier and a standalone inkjet colour printer may suit you.

Although list prices may be quoted at first, it is very common to find reductions of 10% to 20% off the manufacturer's recommended retail price. Pricing for the same model may vary considerably according to what options and accessories you choose, and whether or not you agree to an extended service contract.

If the competition is fierce, or if you are buying an older, discontinued or demonstration model, you'll have even greater negotiating leverage.

Buying a photocopier has a lot in common with buying a car. Remember that any discussion about trading in your existing model should wait until the end of the negotiation. This avoids being unduly influenced by a higher trade-in offer, which in fact disguises a mediocre deal.

Buy or lease?
Leasing is a popular solution for business photocopiers. One of the big advantages is to avoid tying up capital. Lease agreements may also include possibilities to upgrade the model to a newer machine, without having to pay the total amount again. Given the rapid rate of change of technology, this is a point worth remembering.

Naturally, leasing is more expensive over time because of the built-in interest payments. There may also be per-copy charges, which may in turn be subject to monthly minimums. Take great care to read and understand leasing agreements before signing. Some may be very restrictive, whereas others may allow you to opt out easily if you do not want to or cannot afford the monthly payments.

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