4 Replies Latest reply on Jul 25, 2013 2:34 PM by Richard Post

    Account balance/billing format

    Lacy Turner Adventurer

      Students receive a number of free pages (quota) each semester. Print/copy transactions are automatically applied to the quota (purse 1). Once the quota balance reaches $0.00, students must pay and print/copy transactions are applied to purse 2. Since the students are given a number of pages instead of a dollar amount for their quota, we would like account balances to display as the number of remaining pages instead of currency. Is this possible via a script or system setting?


      Obliviously, the easiest way to address this would be to provide students with a dollar amount instead of a number of pages for their quotas. Quotas are set high and most students will not exhaust them, therefore, most students will not have to apply additional funds to their Pharos accounts.



        • Re: Account balance/billing format

          All terminals communicate with EDI to get user details except Pharos Station so depending on the terminals you have; here are couple options to consider: 

          1. Assign one dollar value per page in charging and if you are using Pharos Station clients, you can change the “Balance” prompt to “Number of Pages” and change the purse name through the System Setting context.
          2. Possibly request a terminal software change to display the balances as number of pages if the terminal doesn’t offer prompt configurations, but definitely this will require a lot of effort
            • Re: Account balance/billing format
              David Marcinkowski Scout

              Humm .. ... perhaps I am misunderstanding you but won't that charge $1 per page printed after they run out of the allocated funds?

              My understanding is students can not choose their purse, but it charges based on the purse order .... once the first purse is out of funds, the second will be charged, so on and so on ...


              We also allocate "sheets" and I would love to display the sheets remaining at the release station, but students often run out of allocated funds here - we then charge their Cbord accounts. 

              With this method, it will .... but with this method it will charge them $1 per page .... which is high for some printers and low for others ......


              Did I miss something?


              David Marcinkowski

              Associate Director of Computing Services

              Pratt Institute

                • Re: Account balance/billing format
                  Lacy Turner Adventurer

                  I agree, that method would apply the $1 charge to a student's purse. My understanding of purses is the same as David mentioned, charges are applied to a purse based on purse order and availability of funds. What we are looking to do is to basically change the format of the account balance/purse fields from currency to an integer.

                    • Re: Re: Account balance/billing format
                      Richard Post Guide

                      The best practice if you are ever actually charging is to use dollar amounts (and I'm not just saying that because it is how the product currently works).  It was defined in this way to accommodate all the different attributes that might be charged.  Sites may have Letter and Legal, Mono and Color, and/or Simplex and Duplex as possible attributes.  The product was designed so that you could give a certain dollar amount equivalent for "Printing Credits" or "Print allocation" or whatever terminology you would like to use to indicate that this is not real money and will not be refunded if not used.  This is usually the hardest part about any deployment is the communication to the users about how it all works.


                      To make numbers easy, assume a $0.05 mono/page cost and a $0.25/page color cost


                      School A wants to give 1000 pages per year.  Students could print all color pages at a cost to the school of $250.00, whereas the same printing in mono would be $50.00.  With this policy, there is no benefit or motivation for the student to be wise and make intelligent print decisions as it doesn't cost them until they run out of pages.  It actually motivates to print color as they get more for their allotment if they do this.


                      School B also wants to give an equivalent of 1000 mono pages per year.  To break even they set a cost of $0.05/mono page and $0.25/page color cost to their students and give an allotment of $50.00 each year.  If a student prints all mono pages, they get 1000 pages.  If they print all color, they will only be able to print 200 pages, then they will have to pay with "real" money.  This encourages responsible, environmental, and intelligent printing for all.  The same sort of math applies to duplex (double-sided printing) as some schools want to encourage this behavior and different paper sizes as legal and ledger paper cost more as well as their click charges are often double.


                      Your school or organization may only have letter, mono, simplex printing so the solution may not be as obvious, but the usage of funds for attribute based charging works for the great majority of our customers and is why it is difficult to change.  There are other solutions like the original response described earlier, but they all have limited feasibility as they require customization which has up front costs for scripting as well as additional cost and complication when it comes to upgrades or modifications to your environment.


                      The recommendation from Pharos and where I personally have seen the most success, is when organizations get a good communication plan to describe how the system is going to work and that if any free print allocation funds are going to be given, that money is non-refundable, will be set or reset each period (semester, year, or other), etc..  Also, apply a quota that is high enough that most users will not exhaust it, but not so high that makes printing a thoughtless event.  There are all kinds of strategies with regards to free printing credits and what to charge after that and what kids of behavior that drives, but that will be for another day. 

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