There has been quite a bit of coverage in the media recently regarding lease agreements. It has been reported that some charities and schools have been left with six figure sums to pay out for copier contracts after signing mis-sold lease agreements. Unfortunately in the copier trade this can happen all too often and rogue photocopier salesmen have built a reputation similar to that of timeshare or double-glazing salesman, tarring us all with the same brush in the process.
In reality, a lease agreement is actually a fair, legitimate and sensible way to go about sourcing equipment for your business. The challenge is to spot the difference between someone who is genuine and someone who is trying to stitch you up.
What to look for
- Beware of complicated lease forms and salesman who skip past the small print and don't go into the details of the lease. Honest photocopier suppliers will use lease forms that are simple and straightforward to understand and will break down, in plain English, exactly how much you will be paying, how often you will be making payments and for how long.
- An old trick used by many a rogue salesman would be to leave parts of the lease form blank so he could later fill in inflated figures or lease terms. Make sure all of the form has been completed in pen before you sign.
- Businesses can be caught out by long lease terms of 7 or more years. Leases can even roll over continuously, leaving you continuing to pay for worthless equipment. A lease should be a fixed term of no more than 5 years for a new photocopier and 3 years for a reconditioned machine.
- Beware of leases that include copies built into the price or offered "for free". These "copy inclusive" deals may see you paying for copies you will never use or resulting in maintenance agreements that end prematurely. Always make sure the lease agreement is dealt with separately from the maintenance contract.
Thankfully, copier suppliers who try to pull a fast one on their customers aren't usually around for long as their reputation soon spreads. A good indication of an honest photocopier supplier is one that has been trading for a long time. Also, try speaking to other companies in your area to get recommendations.
Ultimately, you should make sure you read and fully understand any financial agreement before you sign. If you have any doubt whatsoever, ask a trained legal advisor to check over the lease terms and conditions.