Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Hidden Cost of Hardware; Enterprise for London

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Hidden Cost of Hardware; Enterprise for London

Article excerpt

Byline: GUY CLAPPERTON

The true cost of technology is far higher than the initial price paid, so look long term before you part with any cash, says Guy Clapperton

WHEN you start up a new business, you want to run it as cheaply as possible.

You buy an inexpensive PC and printer for accounts, correspondence and surfing the internet. After a year, however, so much has been spent on toner cartridges and repairs that you might as well have bought something more expensive in the first place.

"Small businesses look at the hardware but not the software - the consumables, toner and inkjet cartridges, even paper - it all adds up," says Richard Burton, IT adviser at Business Link for London.

Some manufacturers feel strongly enough about this issue to offer free extra information on the subject.

For example, the web site www.kyoceramita.co.uk, operated by printer manufacturer Kyocera Mita, raises some valid issues about maintenance costs and other hidden expenses.

Another company, Tally, offers customers free consultancy on the same issues, believing customers can get a raw deal. "Total cost of ownership (TCO) has to be linked to the right technology for the particular customer application," says managing director Robin Edwardes. "There is currently no industry standard on TCO and, as such, there are often hidden costs."

Chris Hinds, printer product manager at Brother UK, advises: "Find out the cost of a drum, toner or inkjet cartridge and how long they are likely to last. A simple division of these two factors should give you a rough idea of the ongoing running costs and you can compare how much it might cost you in the long run." Therefore, a higher price product might end up costing you less.

It is not just printers that have hidden costs. Research company the Gartner Group tested computers - designed with low total cost in mind - from Compaq and Hewlett-Packard. …

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