Company is considering changing printer brands

I work at a company that has about 60 networked laser printers.  They are all Lexmark and have been for years.  We have electronic forms design software and it is more convenient to have all the same brand printer.  HP and Lexmark use different PCL codes for their input trays and I have to create different definitions for them if I mix the printer manufacturers.  We generally use two sizes of printer--one that is an enterprise class--about 40 pages a minutes with at least 2 drawers--and one that is a smaller model.  Currently we are buying Optra T640tn for the enterprise class model, and Optra E342 for the smaller one.  The E342s, however, are proving to be very problematic.  On top of that, our printing repairman has told us that there are almost no spare parts for the E342 printers.  Lexmark expects you to send it in for service when it is under warranty.  After the warranty runs out--youi're in trouble because of the lack of spare parts.  Sending it in is a problem because we either have to have spare printers sitting around or have the user go without until the printer comes back.  On top of that, we have to keep packing materials around to package the printer up to be returned.

So, I am considering changing our printers to HP.  The change will be painful, but when it is complete, things will be simple again.  My problem is that on HPs website their warranty terms don't seem any better than Lexmark's.  They have statements like, "One-year return-to-bench limited warranty", and "One-year, return to HP authorized service center warranty".  So, that doesn't sound any better than Lexmark.  However, if spare parts are available to fix HPs printers on-site without sending them off somewhere, that would be a plus.

I am interested in anyone's experience with corporate printing and Lexmark and HP printers.  I will split points between multiple answers because I want to hear from multiple people.
Who is Participating?
David523Connect With a Mentor Commented:
I have been the sole contractor at two separate Corporations supporting over 5000 employees each doing all the repair actions for Printers and their computer equipment - to include assistance with Servers.  In both instances HP was the printer of choice and while Lexmark made sales attempts, they failed.  (Shield and Cross of Blue   Quack Quack :-)

1.  Repair options to consider may be to find a local company that does warranty work on printers and have them support your warranty needs.  When the equipment goes out of warranty then a cost will be incured and that would have to be negotiated.  
2.  Another option might be to become a Self Maintainer and do all the printer work yourself.  Depending on the total number of printers an additional employee certified to do your printer and possiblly hardware/software repairs on your computers also would be desirable.  An additional employee could prove to be Cost Effective.

Either of the above solution would eliminate your equipment being shipped out for repairs and provide a much quicker solution to your problems.  

Hope this Helps
cbecker001Author Commented:
David523, we have a very competent printer repairman who does warranty and non-warranty work on our printers.  The problem is, once these E342s are out of warranty there are very few parts that are available to buy to repair them.  (And, of course when they are under warranty, we have to send the printer back which is the big problem.)

I want to continue to have a local person work on our printers--be they HP or Lexmark--however, these service people can't work on printers whose manufacturers don't make spare parts available.

So, part of my dilemma is finding out whether HP has an adequate supply of spare parts.  And I don't mean whether they have enough spare parts in stock--I mean whether they make parts available to fix most of the things that will wear out on a printer.
For the most part I have not had any major problem obtaining repair parts over the almost 7 years I have been doing this.  Exceptions have existed.  If you are a Self Maintainer with all the required certifications any required support can be obtained from HP with fewer challenges.  

I'm certified in all of HP and Lexmark stuff but due to the Corporations I have supported Lexmark is almost never used.  What contact I have with Lexmark has been non-warranty and that seemed to be okay.  HP however I have on occasions made claims for some type of part daily with almost perfect results.  My biggest issue with HP has been that sometimes they can be a bit difficult to work with and you will need to be a bit forceful.  A LARGE Account can be VERY Helpful in these situations.

Warranty Parts should run very smooth with normally next day delivery.
Sales parts can vary but multiple third part venders are available if problems arise.  (I believe HP States 5 working days but I have almost always recieved parts in 1 to 3 days.)

Hope this Helps!!!
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cbecker001Author Commented:
Thanks, David523, it does help.  

I am still hoping to hear from a few other people, though, before I close this case.
Great and others experiences may not be like mine.  HP is by far the company I would go with for normal printer business needs.  As with any product, lemons do exist and evaluating your product prior to purchase is critical.  In fact if you talk to an HP Sales Rep you might be able to obtain a demo printer or several models you are interested in for say 30 days prior to purchase.  One last Item, HP supports their printers for 7 years following the end of production and as a general rule, production seems to be about 2 years on most models.  

Again, Hope this Helps and others provide a view!!!      :-)
foocharConnect With a Mentor Commented:
The company I work for uses HP Printers almost exclusivley.  One thing to keep in mind is that HP offers additional support contracts on their printers, so if you want to get an onsite service contract for your printers you can normally do that.  I have printers that are 7 or 8 years old, and the company we use to service our printers is still able to get parts for them.  Also on some larger printer models the basic warranty is an onsite warranty.  It just depends on the printer.
printerguyConnect With a Mentor Commented:

I agree with David523. After 15 years on HP repairs, I always recommend HP. There is one important aspect to consider. If you stay with HP (the market leader), you will have numerous companies that provide service for these printers. This means that you have 'competition'. This keeps the price of parts, labor and supplies down. I usually don't recommend 'extended' maintenance contracts. You may never need to use it, depending on your volume of printing. Companies typically use maintenance contracts because it helps them control their budget. So what you really have is an insurance policy to help with expenses. None of my clients use a maintenance contact.

The key for your decision would be the 'duty cycle'. How many copies are you anticipating per month. People typically buy more of a machine than they really need. Each machine has a 'maintenance' interval. Usually 200,000 to 350,000 copies depending on the model you purchase. The interval is a 'recommended' count, but you can exceed this if your print quality is acceptable and paper jams are at a minimum. You can change your own maintenance kits and save yourself some $$.

Tlhe number one reason for printer service is 'paper'. The lint from 'cheap' paper collects on the rollers and will manifest problems relating to 'intermittant' paper jams. The same applies to your copiers. You should be spending a minimum of 30 to 35 dollars a case for 20lb. copy paper. Stay away from the extra brite and donot purchase 'laser' paper, it's too expensive (75 to 100 dollars a case)

Yes, remanufactured toners will work, provided you find a company that changes 'all' the parts. Some companies don't, which gives you intermittant print quality problems and it is reflected on the pricing. (If it's cheap, don't use it.) The savings on remanufactured toners will help supplement the cost of printer maintenance. Hope this helps.

Good luck

While Parts can be obtained from HP one source which appears to be a bit of a Pain for HP at times by providing competition is:

A couple of years ago an apparent battle was going on between HP and Depot America with refurbished fusers which seems to have won Depot America some concessions and recognition from HP.  GREAT   LOL  

Refurbished Toner Cartridges can provide some cost savings but I have experienced some nasty problems with their use.  Of significant interest is if toner spills and is not addressed quickly, the toner can travel to and collect in the fuser destroying the fuser.  As printerguy indicates above be careful of your source.  

Hope this Helps!!!
Thank You  :-)
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