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CLICK CHARGES — KNOW YOUR USAGE

April 2006 BY ERIK CAGLE
Senior Editor
WEIGHING THE differences between click charge plans in service contracts offered by providers of digital printing equipment is an apples-to-apples comparison.

There’s just one problem. For apples, there are Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Cameo, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious and Jonagold, among countless other varieties. And where do they hail from? Vermont? Washington state? New England?

So, in that regard, yes, click charge plans offered by manufacturers A, B and C constitute an apples-to-apples comparison when you factor in the high amount of variables influencing what may be the appropriate plan for a given digital printing operation. Which is to say that a direct comparison is not that easy.

Come to think of it, who needs click charges? This is offset country, damn it, commercial printers...not a copy shop or a high-volume black-and-white digital imaging environment. They don’t need anyone meddling in their lithography business. Well, there are plans for rogue printers who want to keep the digital device manufacturer at arm’s length.

From the equipment manufacturer’s viewpoint, the click charge provides customers flexibility and a variable cost base. While not everyone is on board with that concept, the explosive world of variable data digital printing and the need to diversify product offerings are drawing in a lot of old school offset mentalities.

“Click charges allow us to create a lower cost entry point for our customers in addition to helping them manage cash flow by aligning revenue and expenses,” notes Steve Kneeland, vice president of service, sales and marketing for Xerox Corp.

From Xerox’s perspective, base and click charges have to be matched to customer requirements. Xerox will customize the service plans from one shift, five days to three shifts, seven days coverage (with holiday coverage, if required).

Check Your Contract

The click charge is generated by the level of service contract purchased by the end user, according to Kneeland, and is a function of the service contract. All customers who lease equipment are required to carry a service contract; while he didn’t have hard numbers, Kneeland says that a lion’s share of digital users are leasing their gear.

A flat click charge rate, Kneeland points out, would punish—and discourage—those at the low end of the digital printing spectrum, who could not substantiate a high benchmark volume. The most obvious analogy is that of the automotive lease, with allowances of 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 miles per year. Someone who drives 8,000 miles per year would not want the rates built into a 20,000-mile-a-year lease.
 

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