Monday, May 18, 2015

Five Of My Worst Print Experiences

We have just received a courier delivery for some printed and laminated posters. 
Opening up the cardboard tube we pulled out some very high quality matt laminated wedding posters for an event that was taking place the following day. 
Unfortunately, these were not what we had ordered.  We were expecting a completely different set of printed posters.
Somewhere there will be an unhappy couple on their wedding day waiting around for their printing to arrive for their big day tomorrow.
This got me thinking of all the times these type of things happen and consider which are the five worst things that I can remember going wrong in the last twenty or so years of being in the print business.

The Print Disaster
Within the first month of starting in the print business back in 1992 we won a large order for a posh Chinese Restaurant.  The printing was for two spot colours onto a very expensive textured paper and card. 
Each page had to have two different metal plates for the press.
After being printed they would then need to be drilled to insert into large leather menu holders.
Our patched up Rotaprint press at the time had seen better days and this was going to be a tough task.
My printer (who lasted all of another month or so!) was not the best and was about to go away on a two week holiday and his head was already ahead of him. 
So the equipment and the personnel didn’t help.
On the night before we started printing there was a severe electrical storm and the paper seemed to absorb all the static in the air.
Apparently this was a common problem with this particular paper and when we attempted to run the job it caused damage to both the stock and the press. 
We had to run the press at such a slow speed it would have been almost easier to draw the ink onto the paper!
In the end we had to order extra stock and eventually a freelance printer to complete the task. 
To cap everything, when the job was eventually sent out for the drilling – it was returned drilled on the wrong side of the page. 
In the end we had to re-print everything and ended up losing more than twice the revenue we earned from the client. 
This was a very early lesson that making money from printing is not as easy as we thought!

The Encapsulation Disaster
A pouch laminator was an essential part of any print or copy shop in the early 1990’s and we got plenty of business from pubs, restaurants and local business. 
One day a couple called in after a visit to the local maternity hospital.  They asked us to encapsulate the scan of their unborn child for posterity and protection.
We had no idea it wouldn’t work and looked in horror as the pouch passed through the machine.
The whole image turned into a solid black colour.
Apparently this is caused by the chemicals used in creating the scan going through a heat process. 
The couple were distraught. 
What had been destroyed was irreplaceable.
As a result of this, we always now warn customers of the risks involved when laminating or binding any originals and sometimes even offer a free copy service to avoid the problem happening in the future.

The Customer Disaster
On Friday 13th April this year the heavens had opened and the sky was black. 
As rivers flooded down the sides of the road the traffic was heavy on the main road outside.
An elderly gentleman was trying to cross the road and dodge the storm and the traffic. 
Half way across some of the contents of a tube he was carrying fell into the road without him noticing.
When he came into our retail shop we told him that something had fallen and he immediately turned round and made a dash back towards the busy road.
Standing by the side he could only watch as cars and trucks ran over some original plans he had been sent to copy.
Apparently they were drawn up many years ago by hand and contained the layout of a certain local graveyard. 
As no other copies existed – he had to return to the office with the news that a good number of them were torn to shreds and even the best jigsaw solvers would not be able to put them back together.
We always try to bag and protect the copies we produce at our production sites – sometimes it is better being wise after events like this.

The Delivery Disaster(s)
There are quite a number of these.  But as a proportion of the parcels we send it is a relatively minor problem – until it is the one job that just has to be delivered on time!
Delayed deliveries are the worst type of problem for an online business like Direct2Print because they are totally outside of our control.
As often happens some people leave printing to the very last minute and can be waiting for the courier before the start of a training course, or going to catch a plane or any other event that was probably planned many months before.
We have had printing delayed by accident, road closures, agency drivers and even by customs in a number of countries – Brazil and China providing two of the worst culprits.
However, it was a delay when 10 training manuals were held by Swiss customs that we had to pull out all the stops.
With the actual training course starting on Monday morning we had to get a local printing company in Geneva to desperately help us out by printing and delivering manuals within a couple of hours late on the  Friday afternoon.
We are now extra cautious when sending parcels abroad.

The Wrong Artwork
Another potentially very expensive mistake can be made if the wrong file is sent to print in error. 
It has been known that we printed an old file rather than the latest amended file because of failure to back up over an old file. 
On one occasion we even had two files from two completely different customers that by an amazing co-incidence had the same file name.
We now try and adopt the “FOUR EYES” policy so that at least two of us check the job before sending through to production. 
This helps because it sometimes identifies a small issue or a mistake and we can rectify before a small problem becomes a big problem.
Despite new procedures being introduced you somehow know that something will get missed at some time.
Fortunately, these events are becoming rarer. 
As we move up the “Learning Curve” and spot the simple errors you can be sure there are a few that will happen in the future and we will sadly be able to add to this list.
However, the benefit of dealing with Direct2Print is that we offer a total quality guarantee with every job we provide. 
If the fault lies with the customer we will re-print at either half the cost or the stock cost only.
In some cases this is even if the fault has nothing to do with us directly. 
It may not be perfect but it gives you some re-assurance.
The one thing we can say with all honesty is that it is better to work with experienced print companies. 
We may not have seen it all but we are better prepared due to problems experienced in the past.

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