Small business needs a reliable copier
October 1, 2010 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I work in a medium-small office (under 20 employees) in Toronto, and it's about time we looked for a new copier machine/contract. The problem is, I have never knows a copier dealer to maintain a good relationship with a small business. I've always attributed this to the fact that being a small and basically not-for-profit business, we have no leverage (I've had the same problem in other offices in the same line of work). The service people have always, in my experience, shown up late and not fixed underlying problems. Please recommend both machines and dealers (lease and service) in Toronto that will not drag its heels for a small business!

The requirements:
- Black and white is fine, even preferred
- We absolutely need a machine that does upwards of 40 pages per minute (current machine is 100), duplexing, scanning, network printing, and can handle up to 50000 pages per month.
- It must be able to track the copies (i.e. through user codes) and printing.
- It must also be able to handle cover stock, and legal and letter sized paper at minimum.
- It must be compatible with a variety of OS: mac, windows 7, various generations of xp

One major problem we seem to have is that our copy usage veers wildly from a few sheets per day to several hundred. The heavy usage days inevitably lead to overheating and constant jams.

Bonus points for a good scanner (maybe color?), and for the availability to scan to email, to fax/receive faxes, and to automatically send digital copies of received faxes (I've seen this once before so I don't know how common it is).

But the most important/difficult thing is general reliability, for both the machine and the service company. If the machine goes down in the middle of a deadline rush, we need someone to come in and look at it the first time we call, not the fourth, and within a day, not within a week. We know how to switch it on and off, and clear a paper jam, so it's not like we'll be calling all the time for no reason.
posted by sarahkeebs to Technology (3 answers total)
I've had the same nightmares, with both Xerox and the end, 100% surprisingly, we went with lexmark. For home use they are HORRENDOUS, for small SoHo businesses? AMAZING support, quality and reliability.

Get a good relationship with a vendor like or Ingram Micro and use them for leverage if you ever have a problem, and you're golden.

It seems odd, i know, but Lexmark won it for us (office of 30-40 rotating creative types, lots of colour repro, lots of copies, fax and storage)
posted by bobby_newmark at 11:13 AM on October 1, 2010

Hey there. My company did a very similar search here in Montreal, so maybe I can shed a little light. We're also a small company, but we were looking to internalize a bunch of functions that we previously did outside the company—especially things like printing our company brochures. We tried basically every one of the big vendors (in my experience, there weren't all that many vendors per city per printer company) and ended up with deal on a Xerox that they gave us secondhand. It's in their light-production range. We're pretty satisfied.

User codes, scanning, network scanning, duplexing, cover stock, letter and legal... this stuff you can practically take for granted. Your high black and white page count sounds like the real issue, so that's obviously going to be crux of your negotiations (and for God's sake, make those salespeople work, if for no other reason than that they'll respect you more). If you're getting constant jams and overheating, then you're probably simply overusing your printer, and you are going to need to get used to the idea of spending more for something better. No level of support is going to help you if the printer you get simply isn't up to the tasks you throw at it.

The only other thing I can think of offhand is to stay in a leasing agreement. It's tempting not to, considering that they will keep raising the price on you without even giving you the courtesy of ownership, but remember that a printer is like any other piece of heavy machinery that gets less reliable as it gets older. With a lease, you'll at least get a new printer every few years...

You might consider seeing if it would cost you less to somehow divide up your print jobs, such that all the production goes to printer A, and all the crazy whatever goes to printer B. We have a number of smaller laser printers printers scattered across different parts of the office, mostly for random b&w printouts. Then, we have our larger printer available for the hardcore large documents, client-facing stuff, brochures, and whatever needs better quality.

I don't know if I answered your question, but memail me if you like...
posted by cinoyter at 4:22 PM on October 1, 2010

In my experience, I don't care about the copier manufacturer experience- it's also about the company who's servicing the machine. As such, my recommendation is to ask for references so you can call other businesses to discuss how they've been treated with response time. As far as printer specs go, those can all be found on a the manufacturer's website- make sure whatever model you're giving, it does what you need.

One thing to watch out for scanning, at least on Canons, is ours have required additional software licenses for scanning. Nevermind that scanning is built into the copier and the first owner gets a trial license that works perfectly fine...

I wouldn't worry too much about Windows driver support. It's always been the Mac drivers, particularly since older 10.x drivers don't always work well with 10.5 and especially 10.6. Once again, make sure that whatever they're giving you, to double check the drivers work.
posted by jmd82 at 6:29 PM on October 1, 2010

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