My printer closed its doors and my job is being held hostage! What should I do?

Answered by Suzanne Morgan, founder, Print Buyers

Help! My printer has been printing our quarterly newsletter for the past few years. My designer and I sent the most recent edition to the printer as usual – actually we got the job to them well ahead of schedule. After an unusually long period of time – and with our deadline fast approaching -- I still hadn’t received a proof from the printer, even though I tried to contact them several times. Finally I got a hold of one of the owners and he told me that his company closed its doors! He said that he is brokering printing now and that he would be happy to make sure that my job was taken care, but that his “pricing was a bit different.” I found out that this “different” printing meant a 25% increase for my job! I told him that I felt that I didn’t have time to find another printer because my deadline was days away. (This quarterly is extremely time sensitive.) I told him I was very unhappy about this, but he wouldn’t budge on the price increase. I ended up agreeing to this, but I’m so upset. I felt that he took advantage of me and my company. I’m hoping the job will come out okay. Is there any way for me to avoid paying that extra 25%?

This printer was a fairly large printing company in MD and had been in business for decades!

I hate to hear a story like yours. Not only was the owner’s behavior unethical, it was extremely nervy. In a time when many printers are struggling, it’s unusual for someone to this and then demand that type of price increase. And the owner(s) had an ethical responsibility to tell you about the closing of their shop as quickly as possible so that you had time to find another supplier. I’m sorry to hear that any printer has gone out of business, but it looks like this owner is trying to personally benefit from the situation. Not only is this reprehensible, but it also doesn’t make good business sense – he’ll never be able to sustain any clients by acting in this way. I also wonder if legally he has the right to assume these jobs – I bet not.

I’m not optimistic that you’ll be able to avoid the price increase, but here are a couple of tips:

  1. The best time to negotiate is while the job is still in the works. Once it gets delivered, it’s hard to contest the price. Go back again to this owner and express your dismay and the hardship this causes you and your company. I would suggest putting your grievance in writing.

  2. Contact your local Printing Industries of America. (Go to to find your state’s PIA.) Explain the situation. Often they can advise you – and sometimes even act as a go between, particularly if the printer is a member of their organization.

  3. You could just not pay the additional price difference. However, that puts you in the same club as him. (You gave him a verbal.) Some industry analysts have predicted that over 4,000 printers have gone out of business in the past year. Let this be a lesson to all of us to periodically ask about and check the financial stability of our print suppliers.

But to be fair to other printers, there are very, very few printers, owners, or reps that would behave in this manner.


To both our print buyer and printer members: I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and other related stories. If you’d like to comment on this Q&A, please e-mail me at and title your e-mail "hostage."
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