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Maintenance Contracts

The language of elevator maintenance contracts is often out of tune with building owners and managers. Below are some issues to consider with an elevator maintenance agreement:

Schedule of Maintenance
As the building owner or manager, how often does the elevator need maintenance performed?  This is where a true elevator consultant can make or break the real requirements.  Avoid such terms in your contract as systematic, periodic, routine or as needed.  If the equipment needs monthly maintenance, the elevator maintenance contract should stipulate a minimum of monthly maintenance with credits applicable if not performed.  Many elevator maintenance contractors prefer quarterly or even semi-annual maintenance.  Typically, in a commercial application quarterly or semi-annual maintenance is questionable.  Door equipment regularly needs adjustments and cleaning of electrical contacts for proper and safe operation.  The adjustments and maintenance required for proper and safe operation of door equipment may not be suitable for quarterly or semi-annual maintenance.  Without monthly maintenance, the door equipment may be subject to additional breakdowns and/or unsafe door operation.
Covered Parts
There are a number of elevator maintenance contractors stipulating that equipment over 15 years old is obsolete.  The definition of obsolete is: no longer in use or no longer useful <an obsolete word> b: of a kind or style no longer current: OLD-FASHIONED <an obsolete technology>.  Maybe from the service contractor’s perspective it is a fitting definition if the contract terms state obsolete parts are not covered under the maintenance agreement.  Does the contractor want to sell new equipment rather than cover the older equipment under the terms of the service contract?  The contract should define parts not covered by the maintenance agreement due to availability problems of parts and components for purchase or repair.

The section stipulating covered parts should clearly define the applicable components or even groupings of equipment.  Example: drive machine (this should mean that all subparts including the entire assembly of the drive machine should be included) Unfortunately, most contractors’ maintenance agreements go to great lengths to stipulate what is not covered with little description of services or components of the equipment which could be covered.

Contract Renewal
Most maintenance contracts include automatic renewal terms.  If the maintenance contract includes a cancelation clause which requires a minimum of 90 days notice prior to the end of the term of the contract for cancelation, do not wait.  Cancel the contract now.  There is absolutely no advantage to wait.  The myth that the company will no longer be interested in properly maintaining the elevators is false.  Actually, the service contractor will be more interested in properly maintaining the equipment.

If the contractor knows the maintenance contract has an automatic renewal policy (most contractors keep computer data that alerts sales personnel), the contractor will may not volunteer information on the renewal dates.  Amazingly, required upgrades of the equipment gets presented to the building owners by elevator maintenance contractors shortly after the contract has automatically renewed for another 5 years or more.  Cancel the contract in advance.  Typically, the contractor will start courting building owners and representatives all over again.

Maintenance Personnel
For states which have provisions for licensed personnel, include a provision in the contract that all personnel employed by the maintenance contractor performing all maintenance and adjustments on the equipment  must show proof of valid licensing.  This policy will provide additional assurance that the personnel has the experience and training required for working on the equipment.   Each time personnel are changed, require and request copies of the technicians’ licenses.  Seasoned and properly licensed elevator personnel are proud to show licenses and qualifications.
Work Tickets
Each time service is performed, get a copy of the work performed in writing.  Many contractors have computerized devices which log time and other data.  Most of these devices automatically log every time service personnel come to the building to maintain or repair the elevators.  Actual maintenance performed is defined and recorded with corporate code numbers without clear definitions to the work actually performed.  This is fine for the contractors’ tracking of employed personnel.  However, the building owner should require time sheets filled out for each visit defining the actual work performed. The time sheets should be presented to the building owner for each visit including times in and out.
Extra charges:  Quotes for "code required" modifications to the equipment should always be confirmed with the building’s consultant.  Most contractors use the latest code modifications to up-sell customers on a regular basis.  This is not to say that some of these code modifications are not beneficial for safety and performance such as adding guard rails to an elevator car top as required for elevators installed after the acceptance by the authority having jurisdiction of the 2000 Edition of the Elevator and Escalator Safety Code.  However, elevators  installed prior to acceptance of that code would probably not require car top guard rails.  Some elevators installed after the enforcement of 2000 Edition of the Elevator and Escalator Safety Code may not require car top guard rails as well.  Yet, building owners receive “code required” modification notices in the mail by the thousands and regularly authorize the orders without seeking advice from an elevator consultant.  By seeking advice from an elevator consultant, building owners can more than pay for the consultant’s fees by qualifying what actual “code required” modifications are required for each specific elevator.

Consider charges for overtime service when the service call was requested early in the day.  Should the building owner be responsible for the overtime charge?

Check the elevator service contract to see if the parts are covered by your the maintenance contract already.  When Elevator CSI monitors client costs, Elevator CSI’s consultant advises the client to delete charges for items already covered by the service contract on a monthly basis.

Annual Testing and Inspections
Elevator testing and inspections are too complicated an issue to cover in a brief write up.  If your jurisdiction (like most of Florida) allows or requires private elevator inspectors, hire your own.  The inspector should be inspecting the work by the elevator contractor as well as issues which are the responsibility of the building owner.  When elevator contractors’ issue contracts to an inspection company to inspect thousands of elevators annually, it is Elevator CSI’s opinion that this practice typically clouds the inspection process and may not be in the building owner’s best interest.  Typically, Elevator CSI does not perform annual inspections except for some large consulting clients.  Elevator CSI will be happy to recommend inspectors not affiliated with the building’s elevator contractor at no charge.
Indemnification
This is a term to limit or direct liability to responsible parties.  Indemnification of the party directly working on or adjusting the equipment should not be done without legal advice.  Standard contractors’ agreements include this language.  Some building owners do not thoroughly read the agreements or seek legal counsel and sign these agreements anyway.  This practice leads the building owner to own full responsibility for all the work performed.
Accidents
Hopefully, this section will never apply to you.  Before an elevator accident does occur, does the building owner have a plan?  Select an elevator consultant and call the consultant immediately.  Confirm in writing that the consultant selected does not have any contractual or other affiliation with the building’s elevator contractor.  DO NOT ALLOW ANY REPAIR WORK, ADJUSTMENTS OR ERASING OF CONTROL SYSTEM SOFTWARE BY THE ELEVATOR CONTRACTOR.  ONLY ALLOW SUPERVISED EMERGENCY REMOVAL OF ENTRAPPED PERSONNEL.  Regardless of how small of an injury or incident, inform the consultant of the injury or incident immediately.   Request a site review and finding by the consultant as soon as possible.
Elevator Consulting Services
Elevator CSI can provide performance based maintenance specifications tailored to the requirements of the building’s elevators.  Elevator CSI can assist with sending out Request For Quotations (RFQ) to qualified elevator maintenance contractors per the performance based specifications and award of the maintenance contract.  Elevator CSI can also assist with the drafting of maintenance contracts for review by the building owner’s legal counsel.
The above information is general information and is not intended to be all inclusive or directed at all elevator contractors or all building owners.  Every project is different and requires specific direction and contract language to best serve the building requirements.  Elevator CSI encourages all building owners to seek professional elevator consulting and legal counsel prior to signing any maintenance contract or equipment upgrades.
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