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Copier jams

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Question: Does anyone have an effective, politically correct method of getting people to clear their own copier jams? Not a day goes by that I don't find someone else's unattended jam that I have to clear.

The copier has very specific, fully illustrated instructions on how to clear the jam, yet everyone seems to leave it for the next person to clear.

It's not difficult to figure out which admins are doing this (and it's the same ones who spend literally hours at a time chatting with co-workers while the rest of us slave away). What is a good way to address this?  -- Anonymous


If you have staff meetings, bring up the subject (and you have to do this more than once). Explain to them that it is a very easy procedure and you are willing to show them. But every time you have to clear jams, it is time you don't have to do your work. Explain to them that since they use the copier part of their responsibility is to leave it in ready-to-use condition for the next person. You may have to address each person individually but persistence usually wins out!

Just a thought, but perhaps you should call your copier technician to come in and figure out why your copier is jamming every day? If that doesn't work, try posting a sign above the copier that says something like this:

"Please do not leave the copier jammed. If you do not know how to clear the jam, please contact ____ for help."

Good luck, and seriously, think about getting some maintenance done on that copier.

Here's how my folks clear copier jams: Come get Pat. That's also the most popular solution when a machine runs out of toner. (Our machines are in a media center and are used by everyone on the floor -- I'm the only admin.)

Unfortunately, I think this problem falls into the same category as getting people to remove their week-old lunches from the break room fridge.

Begging, threatening, suggesting -- I've tried them all...I don't know that there is a long-term method to get adults to behave like adults when it comes to things like this!

Ask your office manager to consider leasing a new copier. Call the technical support of the company proving your current machine and ask for guidance (or maintenance). You may also need to look into using a different kind of paper - some very cheap kinds of paper cause jams a lot. Is your paper being stored in a basement or a damp area? I don't think it is normal for any copier (unles it's very old) to jam on a daily basis.

You could try an interoffice memo (should come from someone with authority) followed up by a sign posted by the copy machine to clear your own jams. Whatever method used, it will have to be "repeated as necessary" which might be a lot!

I was often called upon to "help" clear jams on the copier under the guise of being the "expert" even though I had to follow the instructions just like everyone else to figure it out. After awhile, I just started telling them to read the instructions. People will take advantage as long as you let them. If you have access to another copy machine, leave the jam and hopefully the person responsible for it will come back and find they have to clear it to get THEIR copies.

I have the same problem and it extends into the fax machines, printers, and any other equipment that my team uses. I've even offered a class in basic maintenance of the equipment and received 3 responses out of 21 people. Next step is to prepare a proposal to management in hopes to get their support in makng these training sessions mandatory in order to put a stop to these types of interuptions to my work day.

As an administrative assistant you always want to come across with a "helping" attitude. However, this doesn't mean you have to always pick the pieces of someone else's mess. The best rule of thumb I go by is The Golden Rule: "Do unto others as they would do unto you." My department is made up of 35 people and each person owns their own jam so to speak. Lastly, we do have a resident "jam" expert who knows are copier mechanics the best and who rely upon often.
P.S. He is a manager!

I agree with some of the other comments. Posting a sign is where I would start. Leaving your name could be good just make sure that you show them how to do it and not fix it for them. Otherwise, it will be never ending. We had this problem at my old job and people would even go to a different copier in the building if it was jammed.

I also wonder if you need an upgraded machine. Maybe the one you are using in not equipped to handle as many copies that are being made.

Yes, it's a dinosaur that's been used by too many people for too long. We've tried for a year to have it replaced. Upgrading the paper would be a whole other nightmare in corporate red tape. Most of us don't even use the top-feeder, and when we do most of us clear their own jams. But I like the idea of posting an "Own Your Jam" sign, or perhaps rubber stamping it on the removed copies and slapping it down on the offenders' desks! :)

I would prefer to be anonymous.

I don't understand why you can't get better paper or get your machine repaired. Does your management realize how much time & money they waste by having you stop work & fix everybody else's jams, and how much paper they waste?
But, if nothing can be done to fix the problem at the source this is my suggestion: Make a diagram of how to fix jams (info is probably in the manual for the copier), post one copy at the machine , give additional copies to everybody in the office, schedule a short hands on demonstration, and then let everybody fend for themselves. I work in a small office, and some people fix their own copy jams, others come to the so-called expert (me), I show them what to do once, and they leave me alone until they encounter a situation that they are unfamiliar with. As a result, I rarely have to fix other people's jams.

Once the jam is cleared, if it is possible to tell to whom the papers belong, bring the papers to that person. Simply state you found them at the copy machine. Perhaps once the person realizes they aren't anonymous, they will act differently.

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