Should this print job be rejected?

Answered by Suzanne Morgan, founder, Print Buyers

I’m having problems with a recent print project and would like your advice. Originally, I had ordered 15,000, five-and-a-half-inch raised panel fold-over cards with matching envelopes. The artwork for the cards was a four color process graphic image; the envelope art only had our logo in four color process -- no other images.

After all the cards were printed, the printer’s sales rep asked to meet with me. He showed me smooth, bright white paper press sheets that were different from the other fold-over panel cards we've always printed (Those pre-cut cards usually have a "balanced white," vellum finish). At that meeting, the rep told me that because there were problems with the artwork butting up to the pre-fab cards they had ordered, they decided to print it flat, then emboss and score/fold the cards themselves.

Originally they'd ordered Park Avenue stock, a pre-embossed and diecut sheet. The rep said there were several types of Park Avenue finishes, smooth and vellum and I didn't have a sample book to compare it to. I wasn't aware that they had switched to Cougar Opaque stock until after the job was completed. After our meeting, the sales rep said that he too thought he was showing me another Park Avenue stock, not Cougar. But he learned afterwards that his company had switched to Cougar because Park Avenue, a mill item, would take too long to get.

Furthermore, the printer made the envelopes square flap. Whenever I've ordered a thank you or invitation fold-over card like Park Avenue, it has ALWAYS had the pointed, more formal flap. (I think that the pointed flap is the "etiquette-correct" way.) The sales rep later explained that his company decided to print the envelopes flat and convert them, rather than to try to register pre-folded envelopes. He said they chose a square flap die because it was readily available and they wouldn't incur more costs by creating a new die. Again, I didn't find out about this until the change was already made.

Interestingly, my customers are satisfied with the quality of this job. Though I told them that the envelopes are usually pointed flap, the square flap didn't seem to bother them. Neither did the fact that the paper stock is a much brighter white and much smoother than similar cards we had done previously. However, in my opinion, the flap is not correct, and I am still annoyed that the printer made all these decisions without me. So I haven't okayed these to ship yet.

What would you do in this situation? Request a discount? Reject the envelopes and have them redone? Or, not worry about it and "let it go"? Would you work with this printer again? Their prices are really good. They did one other job for us which turned out okay, although they had numerous problems with artwork that other printers have run problem-free.

Thanks so much. I appreciate your advice and insight!

K. N.

Well, this is an interesting scenario. Though it sounds as if this printer had good intentions and focused on meeting the project deadline, I must say that I'm in your camp. Like you, I'm concerned about the number and types of decisions that this supplier made without consulting you -- or in the case of the paper sample they brought you -- without providing adequate information to make the decision. (A sidenote about the paper stock: It is very important that you know the brand of paper stock because if you aren't familiar with the brand when the rep brings you an unprinted sheet, you won't know how it will hold up with ink holdout, etc.)

I also agree that the printer's using a square flap instead of the pointed flap you ordered was not acceptable. I’m sure from the printer’s point of view they thought they were doing their best to meet your deadline. However, it bothers me that they proceeded with the project without your consent to these changes.

What what I would do? I'd have a frank discussion with the sales rep to let him know that you find his company or him making decisions about the project without first getting your approval unacceptable. In fact, you are considering not using them again because you don't trust the communication process. While it's tempting to penalize them by asking for a discount, they've probably lost money already on this job because of the modifications and adjustments they've made. Plus, your customers are happy with the end result. Therefore, I'd accept the job as is, but I strongly encourage you to put in writing your dissatisfaction with the process and their lack of communication with you. If it were me, I might give them another chance, but I'd probably have a queasy tummy worrying about the project the entire time it was in production.

Good luck with this,

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