Did This Really Happen?
The other day, I saw yet another course on how wonderful life can be as a print broker.
Yes, it’s true, with the right clients and great vendors, you can make a decent living, even without the hassle of staff or equipment.
But just like any other profession, brokers will tell you it’s not always that rosy. You can have decades of experience and yet details will fall through the cracks. Chalk it up to not enough time, complacency, whatever.
You can get seriously dinged. And as a broker, there is no big company backing you up.
One of the biggest reasons is relying on the reputation or your problem-free history with a vendor.
I’ve been doing this since 1980 and I am not immune. Thankfully, these situations are few and far between. However, here are several of the more memorable ones:
Several years ago, I did a run of over 500,000 4-color brochures on a coated stock. As usual, artwork was supplied at the last minute and so the job was run over a weekend when I was not available. However, it was a pretty straight-forward job and it was run by one of my regular vendors who specialized in color work.
The job was folded and delivered in a couple of days. When I received my samples, I was struck by the brittleness of the stock. My vendor agreed that it was not right and it appeared that the stock had spent too much time in the dryer as it came out of the press. Because of the lack of time, I had to let it go.
The vendor did however agree to a re-run if the client requested it. Luckily, it all went through with no complaint. On the other, it could’ve been a disaster. (The vendor did give me some credit on subsequent jobs.)
A few years ago, we had to do a label job that required a special perforation. It was a special perf because it was only used so the labels could be fan-folded. It could not separate when running on the mail shop equipment. The first run of labels did not work and the vendor created custom perforation blades in order to get it to work.
Recently, the client wanted to re-run the particular program and we went back to the same vendor. After reviewing the first run from a few years back, what was done and what had to be duplicated this time, the job was left with the vendor. Again, time was of the essence and a press approval was not requested.
When the labels came in and to our surprise, a regular perforation had been applied to the stock, and not surprisingly, the perf came apart. The end result was that 50,000 labels had to be hand-applied and another 70,000 had to be re-run elsewhere. This was after carefully reviewing with the vendor on what was required. It was not like they hadn’t done it before.
This was a recent situation and a broker’s worst nightmare.
As a broker, you are in the middle between vendor and client, and it’s your job to make sure that the client gets what they are paying for. If they don’t, it’s your responsibility to find out why not. And then correct it.
This becomes even more difficult when YOUR product is being sent to the CLIENT’S other vendor.
If something goes wrong, you may truly feel like you are trapped in a no-win situation. A little like being in The Twilight Zone.
On this job, I ordered 500,000 laser-friendly letters to be sent to the client’s mail shop.
Three weeks after delivery, I get a call late Friday afternoon (would it be any other time?) from the mail shop telling me they were 50,000 sheets short!
Are you kidding?
No kidding, they said.
5,000, okay, I can understand. But 50,000?
Well, that kind of a quantity must be sitting around somewhere and easy to find. It’s either been misplaced at the mail shop or still at the printer, in which case, it was missed by the shipper.
To make a long story short, neither the printer or the mail shop would would take responsibility for the missing stock.
And the whole job was on hold. Going to the client was definitely not an option.
The only choice was to go back on press – and pay for the additional stock.
I was able to get the additional stock back to the mail shop in a couple of days and the job was finished.
The missing stock was never found, at least not to MY knowledge.
Remind me again why I am a print broker.