Seal of approval for NPO printer suppliers
Over the past decade non-profit organisations (NPOs) have found it increasingly difficult to raise funds, and this is going to become even more challenging in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Failing economies, reduced profit margins and existing funds being re-directed to health programmes and relief funding will shrink the availability of funds substantially. If organisations are to survive, they will need to identify new and innovative sources of revenue.
However, what they will also need to do is look for ways to reduce operational costs. Whilst most NPOs believe they are getting fair deals from suppliers, even special NPO rates, this is not always the case. A group of independent technical experts have been reviewing a broad mandate of processes, contracts and costs for a number of national NPOs over the past two years, with some startling results. Whilst savings and improvements could be identified for almost every mandate, from banking fees to bread purchases, the one common contentious item was printer contracts and costs.
Analysing the results of all the reviews performed over the past two years revealed that there is no standardisation or set industry norms for printer and printing contracts, leaving NPOs vulnerable to unscrupulous contracts and unfair and unreasonable inclusions within these contracts. In addition, numerous instances of overcharging – sometimes by as much as 400%, duplicated charges and charges for actions already covered by the contract, were found.
There are around eight mainstream brands that offer printers and printer services within their product range. Each of these have independent dealers that sell and service the products of each brand, and are expected to comply to the ethos and practices of that brand. Discussing concerns about service provision and costing with the principal brand custodians has led to the concept of a “seal of approval”, with the aim of standardising parameters at national level, and which is then cascaded down to dealers so as to safeguards customers.
Selecting a supplier that has subscribed to the seal will offer NPOs a level of assurance that the dealer complies to a defined set of parameters. These cover rental of equipment, buy outs and ownership transfer, fixed mono and colour costs per copy, maintenance, cartridge supply, minimum billing, and escalation costs.
To date two of the major brands have indicated their willingness to subscribe to the Seal, and more are likely to follow. It is envisioned that eventually the Seal will extend beyond just printers to encompass more sectors, offering a range of preferred supplies whose contracts and charges fall within parameters deemed to be fair and reasonable.