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An Industry of Wild And Crazy Cowboys

15 May, 2002 By: Jim Intravia imageSource

An Industry of Wild And Crazy Cowboys

Are a Bunch of Copier Cowboys. People who ignore rules and traditions and go
their own way are sometimes described as “cowboys.” It is kind of hard to
think of something as unexciting (to the rest of the world anyway) as a copier
professional as a wild and crazy guy, but I guess we all are.


than professional superiors and the people who pay us (employers and/or
customers,) none of us has to answer to anyone. If you want to make a policy of
placing polka dots, American flags or peace symbols on the front door of all
your machines, there is no one to stop you (except for your boss or customer).
If you decide that every machine gets a 10K PM or a 100K PM, even though the
manufacturer recommends a 50K, you can do that. Maybe the machine will not work
right, or maybe the customer will have something to say, but that is another



are no governing bodies in the copier business. There is no higher authority.
There is no “Board of Technicians” to set standards, establish guidelines,
and gather expert opinions. Other industries may have such agencies, which
ostensibly serve the public, but most of what they do is self-serving. I see no
problem with it, because this is capitalism. If the public needs to police any
of these industries, it is done with tax dollars.


small independent dealer reports to nobody. Although they may belong to an
association, it is purely voluntary, and is not likely to govern their
performance. Authorized dealers have signed contracts with manufacturers. 
These will sometimes specify response times, areas of responsibility,
training requirements, sales quotas, etc… “Indy’s” have no such thing.


independent dealers had a governing association, it would be interesting to see
what standards or rules would exist.


It Were a Technician's Association, It Might Include Some of the Following
Standards and Rules:

  • Always
    change fuser pawls, bushings, and bearings when changing the upper fuser

  • Always
    change the drum blade when changing the drum.

  • Always
    include the cabinet in the price of the machine (so the technicians can roll
    the machine, instead of lifting or sliding).

  • Include
    all manufacturer-suggested items in a PM kit.

It Were a Salesman's Association, It Might Include These:

  • Always
    supply and charge for a case of toner with a machine sale.

  • Always
    get the customer to buy extra developer with a machine sale.

  • Always
    get the customer to purchase a service contract with a new machine or
    include the first year service free with new machine sales. (One makes for a
    bigger commission, while the other makes for an easier sale, at the expense
    of the service department.)

  • Always
    offer leasing instead of outright purchasing.

  • Package
    the machine as a full system, unless specifically instructed otherwise.

  • Raise
    the service contract price after three years.

More Broad-Based Association Might Include These.

  • Standards
    for machine ratings.

  • Standardized
    terminology and nomenclature.

  • Toner
    yields based on standard 6percent test pattern.

  • Standards
    for descriptions of mini-PM, full PM, etc…

  • Standardized
    manufacturer warranty policies and procedures.

  • Methods
    of complaint about manufacturers and suppliers.

  • Standards
    of ethics for manufacturers, suppliers and dealers.

  • Standardized
    service contracts, sales contracts and bid responsibility.


not think that this industry does not have responsibilities. For example,
consider rules from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), whether you agree
with them or not, their purpose is to make the world a safer place. To my
knowledge, the only way the EPA has affected the copier industry, is to make
some unenforceable rules about the disposing of selenium and cadmium sulfide
drums. Although those items were deemed to be dangerous to the environment, no
one that I know has ever been prosecuted for doing so.


dealers have completely ignored the EPA warnings. Why? “Because it was easier
and cheaper to damage the environment, than to do things the right way.” The
EPA created and also requires MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) certificates.
Every dealer is required to have these on hand for every type of toner and
developer that they sell.



have never bothered to read any. I do remember having trouble finding one before
shipping toner to a school because they requested it. Months later, I noticed
that the MSDS request was automatically printed on every invoice and purchase
order that they printed. I found it quite difficult to supply one whenever they
requested an estimate on a repair! MSDS requests are overkill


is so much raw data buried in “boiler plate” information. There are so few
people who can know what to look for if there is a problem. This is a typical
example of bureaucratic wasted effort. On the other hand, every selenium or Cds
drum is a legitimate health hazard if it winds up leaching into a water supply,
or the food chain (which is exactly what happens when it is thrown away with
regular garbage).



environment would be better served if the EPA put more effort into drum disposal
and just a little bit less into MSDS. Assuming that you believe that an industry
can best police itself, the office products industry has had it pretty easy. The
EPA and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Hazards Agency) have pretty much ignored
us. That does not mean they always will. There may come a day when
manufacturers, dealers, and end-users will be called on the carpet for all the
ravaging of the environment that has been done in the past. It will be very
tough to find all those old drums, but they will still be doing damage to the



one tells us what to do. No one can complain about us to anyone. 
Sometimes they complain to a local Better Business Bureau or Consumer
Affairs. However, if you are ethical, their complaint won't hold up under
scrutiny. For the most part, in this business, you make your own rules. You can
then bend them or break them as you see fit. What could be easier than that?

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