The birth, life and death of the click charge.

xe·rog·ra·phy-noun.  A dry copying process in which black or colored powder adheres to parts of a surface remaining electrically charged after being exposed to light from an image of the document to be copied.

Ah, xerography. Good ol’ Chester Carlson, right around 1938, is the guy that invented the concept of xerography.  That in itself is a rather interesting story but we won’t get into that here.  So, who do you think took that ball and ran with it and where did the click charge ever come from?

The click charge and service contracts are an incredibly successful business model that helped build the entire digital print industry.  It was never planned that way though.  At first, they were a necessity in order to deal with a new, and not yet fully understood product and industry.  It didn’t take long before certain companies began to realize that the true cash cow was not the hardware, but the almighty click charge and a mandatory service contract…and they’ve been milking that cow ever since.   

It’s mind boggling and amazing how much our industry has changed over the decades and yet this business model remains in place.  Change is in the wind though. The technology has been there for quite some time in terms of knowing exact digital print costs but certain companies have gone to great lengths to keep that technology out of your shops.  Why?  Because it would negatively impact their business models. 

True costs to print digitally are really no longer a big secret despite the efforts of some companies to keep a lid on such information.  So what’s the hang-up?  Old habits are hard to break.  That’s the hang-up.  That and fear of the unknown.  Think of it like this…that big press you have in back…how do you know how to cost that out?  You know your supply costs and productivity, etc.  You did some math and now you have it figured out.  In fact, you have EVERY piece of equipment in your shop figured out in terms of costs to operate.  Your digital print engine should be no different!

MGI and OKI are two digital print solutions that have no click charges or maintenance contracts.  We know the costs to print on these machines.  In time, more manufacturers will be going this route.  The clock is ticking on the click charge business model!