The only thing worse than having a slow, faulty photocopier at school is a photocopier company that overpromises and under-delivers. So, how are schools supposed to choose the right photocopier and avoid dodgy suppliers?

We got input from office automation experts, MPU Group, who explain why the cheapest photocopier is the most expensive, how to identify a dodgy supplier, and more…

Q1: How can someone tell that their printer is right for their school?

The age-old analogy of an ice-berg is relevant when having this discussion. Because it was the two thirds below the water that sank the titanic. In the same way, schools need to consider their printing needs and not just look at the cost. Just looking at the price is like looking at ⅓ of the problem. 

The other ⅔ consists of what is most important to your school. What must the photocopier be able to do? Before buying the cheapest photocopier you see, you need to ask yourself specific questions like these:

  • What is your speed requirement and what is your average monthly volume? 
  • How much are service costs? 
  • What are the volume limitations?
  • Is the supplier reliable? 
  • How much power is used? (Almost all photocopiers create heat and you need to cool down the working environment whereas a Riso COMCOLOR photocopier is a cold-process machine which means lower power usage and no need to cool down the room).
  • Do you need a mono or colour photocopier? 
  • Do you need the photocopier to have scan functionality? 
  • What is the scan speed or capacity and can it scan in colour? 
  • Can it connect to the Wi-Fi network? 
  • Does it have a user-friendly touch-screen? 
  • Is double-sided printing standard? Can you secure it with the use of pin codes? 

Q2: Generally, what types of printers do schools need?

Although each school is unique, there are generally 3 core areas within a school environment. Each of these areas requires a different solution. Here are the typical areas in a school and which solution we recommend for each:

  1. A Print room: This area requires a high speed, reliable solution with low running cost due to volumes. Typically, we suggest a Rizo (e.g. FW1230).
  2. Reception: We normally suggest an A3 colour device, locked down with a pin code to control your colour expenditure and handle the majority of scanning volumes. 
  3. Principal/HOD/Finance: For this area, we usually recommend desktop printers which work well for practicality and confidentiality reasons.

Q3: Can you provide us with a ballpark figure of average printing costs? 

Yes. Printing costs can range anywhere from 1.5c to 99c per page depending on the photocopier model and whether it is a colour or black and white machine. 

A Riso photocopier (which we stock) will typically cost 2.5c per mono click with a fully included service level agreement (SLA) and 15c upwards, depending on the model.

Desktop printers – a unique concept. We will place one on your table at 18c per mono click with no rental on a month-to-month and the benefit of that for the school is that if they don’t print, they don’t pay e.g. school holidays. 

Think of photocopiers as being a diesel vs a petrol vehicle – with regards to fuel economy. It might be slightly more expensive to buy the more expensive one upfront (diesel) but you’ll save more in the long run. 

Q4: What hidden costs should a school look out for?

  • Minimum Billing: This is when you’re offered ‘free copies’ included in the monthly cost of the machine. You’re still actually paying for this. Whether you use the full quantity of free copies or not, you still pay the fixed amount (even if it is a school holiday and you haven’t used the machine).
  • Excess Billing: When the school needs more volume but is under-specced by the supplier. This often happens when the supplier sells the school a cheaper printing solution that allows for lower amounts of printing. The issue is that the school will then go over the amount and then have to pay the excess.
  • Items excluded from the SLA (service level agreement). These could include things like a fuser or developer unit for example.

Q5: People often say that you can’t use cheap paper in a machine. Is this true?

Would you use cheap fuel in your vehicle if you had the opportunity? Generally, there is no issue using cheap paper. Although, extremely cheap (unfamiliar brands) are cheap for a reason. They might be cut with a blunt blade, for instance. This could cause burn marks to appear on the paper which may lead to paper jams in your machine.

Q6: What should a school look for when appointing an office automation company?

Schools need to look at the company’s service reputation. Once again, similar to the “iceberg” analogy, there is more to consider than just price. One of the most important things to look for is a company’s ability to cover a comprehensive printing solution and not just a photocopier. 

A desktop printer brought from Macro or Game might be cheap but a replacement cartridge is almost the same price as a new machine. This works out to cost between 55-65c for a black and white page whereas with our solution, at 18c per page, it is more than 50% less! 

Q7: Downtime affects a school. If a printer goes down, what is your realistic response time? Is this service free?

Yes, we offer this service at no charge to our clients. Even though it’s difficult to give an accurate response time due to the technician not being in the area, we have a general rule of thumb. Our rule of thumb is ‘before 12 the same day, after 12 the next day’. 

During high volume periods (e.g. exam times), we do preventative maintenance scheduling. We will go out to service the machine and check for any components that might need to be replaced and then preorder these components. Urgent call-outs are also available at no additional cost. This is all included in the SLA (service level agreement).


From SchoolAdvisor’s side, we find is very easy to recommend a supplier with a proven track record and a lot of experience in their industry. MPU Group is one such company. They offer comprehensive solutions for schools to not only suit your unique requirements but also do their best to ensure you never have any photocopier-related headaches.

If you would like more info or would just like to have an initial conversation with MPU Group, simply fill in your details below and they will get back to you asap.