N-tiered billing or color coverage are terms used where the cost of a print job varies depending on the amount of color toner used. Some MFD copier manufactures offer this as an option in their device “click count” billing models. Unusually this coverage analysis is broken down into tiers/levels based on internal device metrics of toner use.
Q Does PaperCut support color coverage billing?
PaperCut is always carefully assessing market need and this topic has been hotly debated both internally and externally with our customers. Even though implementing tiered color charging is not technically difficult, at the current time we’ve decided to keep with our standard model for the following reasons:
PaperCut is an end-user charging system as opposed to a meter collection and device billing system. Hence our objective is to present charging models that end-users understand (e.g. students, and non-technical staff). Coverage based systems make it hard for end-users to predict and understand job costs.
How Coverage/Tier analysis is handled varies from manufacture to manufacture and is not an option in many device types (in fact the majority of devices used by our customers don’t support this). This means that costs models need to vary from device to device across the organization. The lack of consistence over the fleet again causes end-user confusion. Simple models such as a black and white cost, color cost and duplex discount is very consistent and can be applied to any device.
Coverage/Tier based analysis is reported by devices after the job has finished printing. This means that accurate costs can’t be determined before the job starts. If a user is on the edge of their balance/quota, post analysis information is too late. This may mean that either:
A user’s job needs to be stopped part way through. (It would be much better to inform the user upfront before the job starts so they could say select n-up printing or an appropriate subset of pages).
The user may run into a negative balance bypassing the limits set.
Many of PaperCut’s advanced features rely on knowing the cost of a job before it starts. For example, many organizations will display confirmation dialogs for all or expensive jobs given users the ability to accept and confirm a cost before the job starts. Conditional routing logic (least cost routing) also often needs to costs up front.
If you would like to contribute your thoughts and ideas to this debate, please feel free to contact us at support or comment below.