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Why currency / unit based print accounting is better than counting pages


In general, using a currency model for print accounting or quotas is a much better option than a page based system. There are several reasons this is the case.

If you don’t like the idea of using currency (because it implies charging or real money), consider removing the currency sign in PaperCut. See the bottom of this page for details.

Currency charging models lead to less waste, and promote responsibility

In a page based system you might say “users can print 100 grayscale pages and 10 color pages”. But when a user has used up all their grayscale printing, they will probably print the last 10 in color, even though they may not require it. This leads to a waste of toner / resources.

A currency based system (proportional cost system) leaves the choice in the users’ hands. For example if printing in grayscale and duplex on the laser printer is the cheapest way to print, that’s what the users will do; saving color printing for only when it is needed.

Currency charging models are simple

At first, a page based accounting / quota model might sound quite simple, such as “users can print 100 pages”. However this can quickly get very complicated and inflexible - enough to make it unmanageable.

Take the example of factoring in color printing - the page based system might be updated to say “users can print 100 grayscale pages and 10 color pages”. If you were to then factor in duplex mode and different page sizes, it might then be “users can print 40 Letter/A4 grayscale pages single sided, 1 large color page double sided, etc.”

A currency based model is simple: Costs are defined like items in a shop and if a user has enough credit, they can print.

For example when a grayscale page costs $0.10, and a user has $10.00, they can print 100 pages.

This system allows for charging more for large page sizes or expensive printers, or offering discounts for using grayscale or duplex printing.

Currency charging models are flexible

A currency based system can easily be extended when new printers are introduced. If a new printer costs slightly less per page than an existing printer, no problem - charge slightly less for using it. If the price of color toner goes up, increase the price of color printing.

Currency charging models are familiar

We are used to dealing with currency and performing transactions in our everyday lives. The concept of comparing items and their relative costs is familiar to us, so is easy to understand.

How do I set up unit based accounting?

First, make sure that you’ve got your printers configured with print costs (page costs). Once you’ve got your costs configured, then you can set up quota allocations for your users. You can do this based on individual users, or groups. You can also set quotas to automatically renew on a monthly or other scheduled frequency.

But I really, really want a page based system!

There may be some situations where a page based system is still desired. For example, if a printing environment is really simple, it might be enough to track by pages alone.

No problems - it’s easy to turn displayed currency into a simple counter: simply disable the currency sign, and remove any decimal places.

When configuring PaperCut to use a page based system, remember to update your printer charging to reflect a page based charge, as removal of the decimal places will turn a charge of .05 with two decimal places to 0 with no decimal places.

It’s also worth noting that this would not be appropriate for systems that integrate with a Payment Gateway or external payment/fund system. There is no ‘currency conversion’ in PaperCut, so you would be forced into charging 1 unit of your currency for 1 page of printing - e.g. $1 = 1 page. By staying with the currency based system as above, you’ll be able to specify that e.g. 1 page = $0.10, and the user can print 10 pages for $1.

If you do want to continue to convert PaperCut to a page based system, the instructions are as follows:

In PaperCut NG and PaperCut ChargeBack, this can be done as follows:

  1. From the administration interface, navigate to OptionsGeneralDisplay Options.
  2. Uncheck Display currency sign
  3. Check Change number of decimal places
  4. Enter 0 in the decimal places boxes to display no decimal places.
  5. Press Apply.

Alternatively, you can also display “pages” next to the number by doing this:

  1. From the administration interface, navigate to OptionsGeneralDisplay Options.
  2. Check Use custom currency sign (you’ll also want to make sure you check the box Display currency sign if you unchecked this testing the above scenario).
  3. Under Custom sign enter “ pages”
  4. From the Display drop-down select “after number”
  5. Check Change number of decimal places
  6. Enter 0 in the decimal places boxes to display no decimal places.
  7. Press Apply.

Categories: Reference Articles , Charging and Billing

Keywords: page quota , pages quotes , page-level limits , differential , black and white quotas , b&w quota , color quota , page count , page cost


Last updated June 13, 2024