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Copiers and printers: Getting photocopier lease and photocopier rental plans right

Reading time: 6 mins

In the UK, thousands of businesses small and large choose to rent or lease their photocopiers.

At a time when the price of copiers has come down significantly, especially with the introduction of small multifunction printers, the old leasing vs. buying vs. renting debate has to be reconsidered.

And there are no easy, universal answers. Each business customer should carefully look into the details of each option, each contract, and understand which solution works best for his or her specific needs.

So what are these configurations when a photocopier hire, or a photocopier lease represent the best strategy? What are the valid reasons for preferring these systems and their benefits? What are the expected costs of each option, and what contractual conditions should be more carefully reviewed before making one’s final choice?

Why rent – or lease – a photocopier?

Companies of all sizes may consider renting or leasing a photocopier for a variety of reasons. Although these systems indeed bring many benefits, several factors need to be considered before making a decision.

Reasons for preferring photocopier rental or copier lease

Reasons for preferring copier hire or copier lease are usually pretty straightforward:

Cost. The upfront investment required to buy an office photocopier is just not bearable for many companies. Renting or leasing a copier helps spread the cost over monthly instalments.

Flexibility. The need for a copier is just a temporary one and rentals are available for any duration from a few days to a few years, for such occasions as exhibitions, trade shows, charitable events, seminars, contract work, conferences, or just because the company is a start-up.

Convenience. Busy company executives don’t want to spend time and efforts choosing a photocopier, buying and replacing consumables, dealing with maintenance issues. Photocopier suppliers propose rental or lease plans with comprehensive service plans, and users just have to pay one monthly bill and stop thinking about their copier issues altogether.

While in theory, both renting plans and lease plans are fine solutions for these issues, these two types of plans have some differences.

Benefits of office printer lease and rental

Photocopier lease and photocopier rental indeed do bring many benefits to users selecting these financing plans.

Copier rentals offer:

Cheap monthly bills compared with the initial investment required to buy the same copier,

-  Included service plans potentially covering maintenance, supplies and technical interventions,

Custom payment plans – nearly everything can be negotiated.

Copier leases add to these benefits:

-  The possibility to acquire the printer at a discounted rate at the end of the leasing agreement,

-  The possibility to change the model for a more modern one, or one more suited to the needs of the customer, at almost any point during the contract (some rental plans may include that possibility too).

Factors to consider in the rental vs. hire vs. purchase debate

However, some important factors need to be considered carefully before choosing to buy, rent or lease a photocopier:

-  The most important factor is definitely the planned usage of the machine. If thousands of pages need to be printed every month, a large, heavy-duty photocopier is needed to save on costs per page, and because these copiers are more expensive, renting or leasing are often the only options. However, prices of small multifunction printers which are fine for many small business copying needs are now low and renting a machine over several months may prove more expensive in the end.

-  Also, it’s important to remember that purchasing options include that of purchasing used or refurbished equipment, which may significantly bring the price down.

-  If a printer is needed for a series of distinct occasions, users may not want to repeat spending the time and effort needed to install the machine in the office and set it up as often as these needs for a copier resurface.

Leasing a photocopier usually comes with longer (generally 3 to 5 years), but less flexible contracts than renting one. So if savings are the prime objective, leasing is the better option. And if a copier is just needed for a short time, renting one is better. Also, the option to change hardware to upgrade it during a rental agreement is more often a free one than in leasing plans, and fees are applied when backing out early in a lease contract.

-  Finally, the price of supplies needs to be taken into account. While all-inclusive equipment rental, servicing, supplies and maintenance makes one save on maintenance costs, supplies like ink toners are often more expensive than if purchased independently.

All in all, each of these factors comes down to one single concern: keeping the cost per page as low as possible.

Photocopier lease

Cost and conditions

Costs of photocopier lease and photocopier rentals vary depending on copier model. But copier prices are not the whole story, as fees may or may not include other costs. Understanding the total cost of photocopier lease therefore requires precise understanding of key contractual provisions.

Photocopier rental prices and photocopier lease costs

Copier-related costs in a lease or rental contract include the monthly instalments for the machine, as well as servicing, supplies and maintenance costs, which may or may not be included in the monthly fee.

Considering costs related to the hardware only, the following approximate monthly fees are usually observed:

£25 per month for a black-and-white, basic, cheap photocopier with a scanner, matching copying needs of under 800 pages per month,

-  £35 per month for a colour copier good for 1,000 copies per month,

£50 per month for a mid-range colour copier with fax, large paper trays, A3 printing, good for a monthly volume of more than 10,000 copies,

£200 and upwards for the best copiers with stapling, binding and advanced document management features.

It’s important to bear in mind that the total duration of these lease contracts is usually longer than rental contracts, and monthly fees are therefore incrementally lower in the case of a lease.

When not included, fees for maintenance and supplies usually add £10 to £20 to the monthly bill. And sometimes, these fees make all the difference in long run costs between buying and renting – sometimes in favour of buying, sometimes in favour of renting.

It’s therefore really important to understand how these maintenance and supplies fees work, what they do and don’t include.

Understanding copier rental or copier lease conditions which make a difference

Carefully reading and understanding the rental or lease contract is indeed an absolute must.

Conditions worth extra scrutiny include:

Usage fees. Especially in rental plans, the monthly usage fee may be tiered in relation with recorded use (as number of prints or copied made recorded by the built-in metre). But this is always only a one-way street, as some minimum monthly fee may be applied even in months when the copier has not been used at all.

Termination conditions. In the case of a photocopier lease, fees are often applied in case of early termination – but what exactly “early” means differ on every contract. In the case of a photocopier rental, comparable fees may also apply.

Deposit. Rental contracts often require the customer to make a deposit, as one would pay a deposit to rent a flat. The amount required can be so large that it actually makes the difference in initial investment between renting and buying irrelevant.

Tax aspectsLeasing a photocopier makes monthly instalments 100% tax-deductible, while buying one engages the amortisement-depreciation tax deduction system – so it’s never 100% deductible. Rentals fees are not tax-deductible.

Cost vs. price. Models with the cheapest rental fees may be those with the highest relative maintenance and supplies fees.

More information on Copiers and Printers

What finance options are available for printer-photocopiers?How much can I save by purchasing a reconditioned photocopier?Is professional installation included in the cost of acquisition a printer-photocopier?