Getting prices online

Answered by Suzanne Morgan

I'm trying to get comparative prices for prepress services because I'm currently dissatisfied with our current prepress house. I want to know if they overcharge for providing both film and digital proofs.

Is there a place on the Web where I can access costs for prepress work or should I just contact suppliers that I've dealt with before to get their prices?

Over the past few years, several online bidding sites were created where a buyer could obtain quotes from printers. Most of the ones that I am aware of have either gone out of business or have become private bidding sites. Although I hate to see any company go out of business or at least not succeed as planned, I am not a proponent of getting bids online. I'm a firm believer that a prepress or printing company has to understand a buying company's full specifications, workflow, and business expectations to give an accurate bid. Those are things learned as the relationship develops. Buying from virtual strangers is like going out on a blind date every time. The other problem with bidding online is that printers know that they are competing with many, many suppliers. So in order to win a bid, a printer might be tempted to "low-ball" or give a "stripped" price -- otherwise they might not get the job.

While general pricing information might be all you want, some of the online bidding sites discourage submitting bids without the intention of purchasing. One of the more well known reverse auction/bidding sites,, actually rates print buyers on the number of times they submit bids vs. times they buy services. This information is shared with the printers quoting on the project.

I would recommend sticking with your current suppliers for pricing and maybe adding a few more prospective suppliers that have come recommended from trusted sources, such as other print buyers.

You may also want to have a "cost-containment" meeting with your current supplier. Tell them you don't want to switch, but need to look for ways to reduce costs. They may be able to suggest some ways to make you both winners. If price is the only issue, they deserve a shot at getting things to where you need them to be.

If you still want to try to get some general prices online, try I am in no way recommending them, but they are one of the sites that are still open.
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