After years of 80% and 90% satisfaction and renewal rates, the managed print services (MPS) industry appears to be going through something of a crisis, with research company Quocirca reporting that less than half (43%) of MPS customers are happy with their existing provider. There are a number of possible reasons for such low satisfaction levels. With some organisations now on their third MPS contract with the same supplier, it is possible this discontent reflcts a natural desire for change; alternatively, it could be that traditional print providers have been unable to meet customer demand for digital transformation and paperless business processes; or perhaps the MPS provided simply failed to deliver the benefis that were promised.
Another problem highlighted by theQuocirca Managed Print Services Landscape 2016 report is a lack of flxibility in contract terms. This is a particular concern at a time when MPS providers are targeting small and medium-sized businesses that may not have the time or expertise to scrutinise contracts as carefully as they should. New research by the Federation of Small Businesses reveals that 52% of small fims have been stung by unfair contract terms with suppliers, at a cost of nearly £4 billion over the last three years. Common pitfalls include auto-rollover clauses (24%), lengthy notice periods (22%) and early termination fees (20%).
MPS offers many benefis to small businesses but they are unlikely to be realised if the contract includes potentially damaging clauses hidden in the small print. On page 29, Paul Callow, CEO of Cartridge World, outlines the key questions small businesses should ask before signing an MPS contract; and on page 39, Dave Millett of telecoms broker Equinox highlights examples of sharp sales practice in the telecoms industry. You will still need to read any contract very carefully, but familiarising yourself with the tricks of the trade is a good starting point.
James Goulding, Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org