Problematic Printers

Update: Over the past year 2009-2010, Stern PR™ has found several online printers with great prices, great products & excellent customer service. Namely, www.smartpress.com, www.123print.com, www.overnightprints.com among several others.

42-15928058(Omaha, NE)  — This marketing practitioner is – FED UP – with low-quality, promise-me-the-world online printers who guarantee delivery, but don’t deliver on time nor produce quality product. Those who tack on unneccessary “art” fees. Printers who don’t proof. Ug. Standard stuff. Some online printers – shall suffice. But for the bulky promotional stuff – I go local, local, local.

THE WORST:  Full Color America, Check Inn Company of America, LLC.,  Printing error on bizcards due to failure on their part to properly communicate regarding Proof 2. Reprinted 500 cards incorrectly in November 2008. A total of 1,000 incorrect cards. I placed a stern order re-do request in January 2009. The manager David York claimed he would reprint the product, but he never did.  Con job? Maybe. fullcoloramerica.com a.k.a., Check Inn Company of America – no good!

AVERAGE PRINTER:  – vistaprint.com – No proofing for any of their products via printing dept. I sent them a high-quality CMYK colored vector graphic bizcard, yet they produced different colors. The bizcards had a white trim cut – that was not cool, nor my fault. Magnets – cheap and off-color. The pen I ordered was a mess, with logo layer mushed into the phone number. UPDATE: However, I ordered labels with my logo on it, and they arrived on-time and the colors turned out perfectly. I may give this low-cost printer another try especially for a client with an extremely small budget. On the plus side, depending on how you view it, expect loads of email offers. 2009 UPDATE: vistaprint.com redeemed itself on several occasions, printing great quality postcard mailers & 3-fold brochures at low prices. If you ask customer service via telephone, you can negotiate discount rates, as I successfully did on several occasions. There is alot of wiggle room on prices.

GOOD BUT PRICEY: nationalpen.com This online printer redeemed itself after making a few mistakes with my order, but the company made good later. My first complaint is that they failed to pass on artwork to the Printing Dept. for several days after the order was placed. Their excuse – “we don’t guarantee a delivery date.”  Yet  their website claims delivery will occur within 7-10 days. Then, via email they stated 15 days. Inconsistency. I encountered poor “customer service.” I received unprofessional, snide/rude comments via email. I CANCELLED THE ORDER. Of course, I sent them a note…reminding them that they need to improve their public relations skills, & remove extraneous “art work charges for graphic design that I provided them,  and refrain from making promises – that they can’t keep.  Update – Despite cancelling the entire order – they sent/billed me 150 pens. That I did not authorize. However, I ended up needing them for a client’s business fair. Everything worked out. The pens turned out GREAT. I may reconsider doing more business w/National Pen due to its ease of uploading art work online, provided that I place the order weeks in advance of deadline. Jan. ’09 Update: They periodically send me free pens with my logo on it – without charge. Impressive. I may give them another chance, especially after talking to others who have had “a lot of luck” with nationalpen.com. Advice: order earlier than your deadline, to make certain delivery is per client specifications. April ’09 Update: nationalpen.com periodically sends me free merchandise with my company logo on it including a metal key chain & several pens. Wow! Nice customer relations. Yes, I may do business with nationalpen.com again. February 2010 Update: Customer service communicated well with me when I placed an extensive order. However, they attached several unnecessary “art set up fees” which made zero sense since I created my designs -ready for print. Secondly, prices seemed high and it took several days of communicating back-and-forth combined with firmness on my part – to get the order placed. Thirdly, they kept sending me an invoice for product that was paid-in-full. So, I wasted valuable time sorting it all out.

GREAT SO FAR: PSPrint.com. They actually called to alert me to a low-resolution logo. EXCELLENT Customer Service!  Standard stuff that most online printers – don’t bother to do, namely the sometimes mediocre printer – vistaprint.com.  Another positive review is 123print.com. Decent bizcard product –  a low price. Problem – their high-end bizcard w/ UV coating is thin and not premium, as claimed . Yet, they deliver product – on time.  However, there are no weekend deliveries. So an order on Wed. may not arrive ’til Monday.

GREAT   – International Minute Press @ 76th & Cass- a local printer in Omaha. A salesman friend of mine referred this company to me based on a contact made  at a tips group in Omaha.  Despite my tight deadline obstacle, IMP came through great. On two occasions, I ordered several hundred ice scrapers & pens. The owner, Tom, took his time to communicate with me, sending me prompt email quotes, as well as offering me imput on the quality of the product I ordered. I shall return to International Minute Press.

USE ONLY IN A PINCH. Fed Ex Kinkos. Horrible initially – No Printing Proofing. Yet Excellent Re-Do Efforts U must see the proofs yourself! Email or fax proofs generally DO NOT DO, from my experience. Namely, 140th and West Center Road, Omaha, NE Fed Ex (Kinkos – name dropped –  buyout transition.) On several occasions, I experienced no printer proofing – on their end including Misaligned copy.  But, on a POSITIVE NOTE, at the drop of a hat, they’ll reprint 4 free the documents that they goofed up. However, u must schlep over there & dictate fixes. Price tends to be higher than most local & online printers. UPDATE: If you’re pinched for time, FED EX is an ideal local printer. If you are printing for a school or other non-profit, even if you don’t have an account, you can negotiate an inexpensive price. UPDATE: FED EX has redeemed itself after continued use by me. I purchased an oversized photograph print, and while it was 2 times more expensive compared to an online printer that I use, the turn-around time was near immediate unlike the online printer which would take a week to ship.

Summary: Oh my goodness. The hassles. The headaches. The stress 4 me. Sooner or later – I will find the best  printer/printers 4 – my clients.Keeping them happy with high quality product- my top goals, as is saving clients money!

May 2010 Update: By far, www.smartpress.com out of Minnesota is one of my favorite printers. The firm offers a designer’s discount, and high quality oversized postcard mailers at a significantly reduced rate compared to other printers. I am completely impressed. In fact, the staff there even initiated a conference call with me to discuss a quote, to express their appreciation of my business, and to explain how their system runs. WOW! Very professional.

Editor’s Note: The Headline, “Problematic Printers – A P.R. Practitioner’s Predicament is an alliteration. Webster’s Defined:  the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables.

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