In this article, “Why Are My Billing Meters So High This Month?” we tackle an unpopular question that comes up quite frequently. It is usually in response to a higher-than-expected copier bill, which causes the customer to question the meter count.
We have had tens of thousands of copiers under contract and have had to answer a question like “Why is my bill so high this month?” probably 10,000 times in 30 years.
In this article, we explain how it got so high and how you can make sure your copier company isn’t artificially adding copies and cost to your bill.
Issue: Billing Meters Aren’t Reported Consistently
This is by far the most common cause of the “surprise high bill.” What happens in this situation is a client doesn’t report their meters for three, four, or even six months. When they finally do, the bill reflects six months of usage, not one month. They see this amount, and it can be jolting. Of course, we did not get a similar call in the last five months when the cost was way too low.
Another potential source of a big bill as it pertains to meters is the high cost that can come from our estimated usage. (We do this on some accounts when meters are not being reported to help avoid the buildup of costs we alluded to in the previous paragraph.)
We normally get the feedback, “Why didn’t you ask?” With that, there are normally multiple calls and requests, and the person we are contacting is busy and can’t or doesn’t call us back. We understand how this happens, because we all get busy. When we go over how it happens, most clients realize the bill is correct and they did get a few cheap months, and now they are making up the difference.
The easiest fix to the meter-caused issues is automation.
NSIGHT Avoids Intervention
Maybe you don’t have the time to report meters or look at error codes when you are putting in service requests. Our easiest solution is to install a program which will automatically report your meters and let us know when the device is having issues. Our solution is called NSIGHT.
This program quietly sits on your network and reports your meters and supplies levels to us in one-way communication (meaning it doesn’t give us a portal into your network.) What happens is the program reports and organizes the data, so you no longer have to think about grabbing meter reads again.
We Just Didn’t Use the Copier That Much!
When we bill based on the monthly meter, there are times a client believes they really didn’t print that much. These situations are a bit trickier. Let’s look at what can cause these scenarios for the client.
Check the Meter
You can always go into the copier interface and get a current meter read. Each model is different on how to find this data, but we are happy to help anyone who is thinking it is wrong.
What you can do is look at the meter read right now, print 10 pages, and see if the meter goes up 10 pages. Then you know the copier is counting correctly. Once you see it, you can compare the meter with your bill and see if you are getting charged for the number of prints you are making. For most clients, this is the issue, and once they know how to check the meters and see it isn’t some scheme or trick, they get comfortable and just do occasional checks for their own peace of mind.
Where Billing Meters Can Go Wrong
For some copiers, there are pages and prints you would think are black and white, but are actually using color. We have seen this with PDFs especially, where they seem like a black-and-white print, but are actually using composite gray (mixed colors to make gray.) This will count as a color print and increase the bill.
If this is the case for you, it is important to learn about how to set your print driver to black-and-white, so you aren’t charged for the composite gray as color. This is a battle that has existed for all printer manufacturers, and the issue is quality of print vs cost of print. When they use just black, clients are concerned about print quality; when they use color, it makes it a color print, and then clients express frustration about the costs.
Different companies want this problem approached differently than the manufacturers who have universally set the default solution (favoring print quality over cost savings). If your color printing seems too high, this is a good place to start checking.
You can do the same exercise. Print something you believe should be black and white and then when you check the meter, see if the color meter or the black-and-white meter went up with that print. If the color meter went up when you expected the black-and-white to go up, you likely need to set your print driver to be black-and-white by default. (You may have got a new computer since the copier was leased and set up, and your IT department may have forgotten to set your driver to black-and-white… or you never asked.)
Novatech doesn’t set policies on how software and hardware interact unless we have been asked to by the client. This is part of the initial install, but your team could change their priorities or computers over the years, so it may need to be changed to reflect your new priorities or hardware. If HP or Xerox or Canon sets the default a particular way, we have to set exceptions, and these need to be communicated, so we can help your team have the copier set up as you wish.
11″ x 17″ Printing
Most printer equipment models will bill 11″ x 17″ as two clicks rather than 1. (11″ x 17″ is two normal-sized pieces of paper side by side.)
It is possible you are counting 11″ x 17″ as one print when it should be counted as two prints.
Another possibility is if you have employees printing a lot of color flyers for personal use (for their yard sales or Boy Scout troops) and this adds to the amount of prints you are seeing. You know there was no need for 1,000 color prints, yet it is on the bill. This can happen when people treat company resources like personal resources.
The best way to limit this behavior is to use job accounting or set usage limits per employee if you suspect this is what is going on and making your bill too high.
We Can Help!
Ultimately, we are here to help. We would highly suggest NSIGHT and looking at your driver settings and usage rights if you feel your bill is higher than it should be.
We are here to help you get all of this set perfectly, so you can be confident. With Novatech, your bill is always fair and accurate!