10 things you did not know about click charges - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

One of the accruals of digital printing was cost-per-sheet arrangement or what is known as click charge. Is it all going wrong?

21 Nov 2014 | By Noel D'Cunha

When MGI’s DP60 made its entry into India sometime in 2010, it came without any click charges, raising a minor hackle about the click model. And the Meteor was not the first to do it. Xeikon did it. Meanwhile Kodak and Heidelberg offered separate consumables and service contracts when they introduced the NexPress.
The MGI model did not become a trendsetter, nor did it push against the tide. The click charge still holds sway.
But there are ten things perhaps you do not know about FSMA. They are:
1.For MGI’s then Indian distributor, Aura Print Services, it was an offset-style cost model, a forceful pitch to print houses. Unfortunately, MGI did not sell in loads.
2.The main reason for investing in digital kit is the FSMA (full service maintenance agreement), or what in popular parlance is click-rate. Quality is just a word. The lower the click-rate, the more digital boxes will be sold.
3.The general impression one gets during discussion with digital print firms is that “with click charges, we are working for the digital press manufacturer, not for our company's P&L. It happens only in India. Why does the printer even have to pay for the press, when we are paying click-charges to the company?”
4.For as low an investment as Rs 16-lakh, one can start a digital print shop, and to top it, a low click charge. The result: more competition for established digital print firms with much higher investments.
5.Last Diwali, there was a print shop in Surat, which had this advertisement to boost print demand: Diwali Dhamaka: Rs 4 per print copy.
6.Did you know that digital print shops who sell print sheet at lower than the breakeven cost, actually cheat? There’s a rumour this is done by selling toners, spare parts and that money earned is channelled as compensation for the loss in print.
7.For commercial printers, there are many advantages to being click charge free. No minimum print volume charges, no monthly contracts, it allows for variable print volume, it enables printers to maintain profitability whatever the page coverage, and it’s designed to resemble an offset print process. The printer purchases ink and consumables as required.
8.On many sheetfed digital machines, both A4 and A3 sheets count as one click and some users place two A4s on one A3.
9.When embellishing certain jobs, maximising click charges is not the best model. Printers typically gang the maximum number of business cards on one sheet to minimise click charges. But dies are much more expensive. It’s more cost-effective to gang fewer cards and reduce the number of dies needed.
10.And finally, lower ‘click rates’ has literally demolished the once dominant Xerox from Ahmedabad and other cities of Gujarat.
With a lot of small time offset-only businesses entering the digital domain; will we see their offset-selling philosophies with them? Only time and digital print equipment manufacturing selling their kit in India can answer ...


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