Maintenance contracts: should you read the small print?


    When a UPS fails, a quick response is required but many enterprises find that, when it comes to their maintenance contract, what constitutes a ‘response’ is unclear. Riello UPS general manager Leo Craig warns companies to read the small print 

    Leo Craig wants to shake up the mission critical power industry and is warning organisations to scrutinise suppliers on their response times to failures of UPS systems. “A lot of ‘weasel words’ are used in maintenance contracts like ‘four-hour response’, but often it is not defined what this response will actually be,” he comments.

    “Is this simply a phone call or is it a visit? If it is the latter, is it by a qualified person who is able to fix the equipment? We are aware of one instance in which a plumber was sent by the supplier!”

    He adds that organisations need to ask what happens once their supplier has ‘responded’. Will there be a guaranteed ‘fix’ and what is the timeframe? If they don’t fix the UPS, what is the penalty?

    “Often these maintenance contracts benefit the supplier and not the customer,” says Craig. “This is unacceptable. There are many contracts in the sector that tie in clients and cost them dearly. I believe this is unethical practice.”

    To address the issue, Riello’s premium Platinum Elite contracts will offer a four-hour response – 24 hours a day, seven days per week – with an engineer on site, and a guaranteed fix within eight hours. Craig explains that there will be financial penalties that benefit the client if these targets are not met. In addition, the client can then decide if they wish Riello to continue to attempt a repair or to replace the equipment.

    “It is about putting the control back in the hands of the client and not the supplier. The contracts will be fair, transparent and crystal clear,” he says.

    Also, there will be no auto-renewal – clients will be asked whether they wish to continue, instead of finding themselves locked into a contract for another year, because they simply omitted to cancel it.

    “We are looking to give the ultimate customer experience with maintenance contracts.. There are too many get-out clauses and ‘ifs and buts’ in contracts today. Often they have 90-day notice periods and are very restrictive; we hear of some horrendous horror stories, and we want to expose this in the industry and take a different approach,” comments Craig.

    He points out that some businesses believe they are getting a good deal from their supplier as they claim to offer a two-hour response rate, but on closer inspection of the contract, the ‘response’ may be just a phone call. “We believe that response times need to be realistic, but we want to set the gold standard for the industry and encourage enterprises to look at the small print,” Craig continues.

    In addition to a choice of packages, with various response times to suit the needs of the client, Riello can offer bespoke maintenance contracts.

    “A UPS is an electronic device and it will go wrong at some point in its life. Businesses need to decide what their expectations are and what they want to happen. Predictive maintenance is limited in what it can anticipate and the best way to avert disaster is to ensure that the system is designed to be resilient, in the first place. If things go wrong, you need to have the right maintenance contract and right expectations to ensure that the equipment is back up and running quickly, so that if the other system fails, you are still covered.”

    Ultimately, maintenance is just one piece of the puzzle. Craig says that he has found some businesses that have had one UPS supporting their entire global infrastructure putting their operations at serious risk. There needs to be due diligence, a risk assessment and a business continuity plan. “Businesses need to look at the ‘what ifs’. For critical environments and where the financial losses can be high, it is not enough to install a single UPS – some organisations make this first step and don’t get any further; what happens if the UPS fails? For some businesses an outage may cost millions.”


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