How do you deal with this customer problem?

Now after three years of asking for printing, I am starting to get order(s).

I the three orders placed, I have run into trouble. One person, I told them I do not ship out of the USA. But, wouldn’t stop pushing me. And I told them in an email NO PMS colors. But, they keep asking me to do the job. I told them today, find another printer. Was I out of line of my reply.

And, another person, asked about business cards two sided. I told them about a week of more. So, he just now okay the proof, and asked if he could have the cards this Sunday.

I told him no. Was I out of line again.

I guess people think the two weeks is from the time they start asking about the job and you finishing it.

How do people handle these problems. Now, I getting work, but, I can’t do as fast as people want or colors they want.

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Hi Aaron,
Congrats on getting business. The best thing you can do is remind them. I would add a signature block to your email explaining the printing time. This way EVER time you send an email the customer will be reminded.

I also find its better not to say we can have it done within 10-15 days. The client is thinking 10 days and you are really thinking 15. So just say 15 days. Also make sure they know its business days, not calendar days.

If someone wants a unique PMS then charge them. I own a ink company which makes different PMS colors easy, but we get a lot of clients who charge their clients $50 more for a unique ink.

Do you have a process sheet that you send to your clients? If not, I can send you mine and you can use the content to create your own. Just send me an email: [email protected]

Happy Printing,


I bookmarked your ink page.

The fellow that pushed me over the edge today, Was a young man, who asked two weeks ago about two sided business cards. I told him give me the information and I give you a proof.

He send me the information last night, I designed the card today and cleaned up the logo (at no charge). Told him two weeks ago it would take a week or more.

He okay the proof after a few minor changes. Today, and asked if he could have my Sunday.

When I told him “NO” it would be in a week, he got upset.

In the back room of a shop I worked at, we had a sign that said
“Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on our part”
Like many shops, we would do a RUSH job at a higher cost.

My advice would be to give time-frames solely based on client milestones, such as receiving files or getting the formal sign-off on proofs.

Ex. from first email and again in emails concerning proofs,
“Please note: Production time is 10 working days from receipt of client’s expressed sign-off, in writing/email, on final proofs.”

had about the same thing years ago with a customer,she asked how long to print the cards, I told her a week after she okays the proof, she showed up and gave me the go ahead then asked if she could have the cards tomorrow. I walked her out in front of my shop to my sign, it read Kay Printing, Offset and Letterpress Printing. I asked her to take a good look at the sign, do you see anything about magic on my sign, she got very mad and stomed out of my yard.

I love what you said Dick. Printing and Magic do not go together.

I hate making people upset, but, they do not want to listen.

Back in the 70s I would rush orders and stay late to get the job done on the customer time frame.

But, I soon learned, customers are only your customers for that job. The next printing job might go to a cheaper place, or a old school friend etc.

After having problems with three customers in a few weeks, I thought see if they was a better way to handle the problem.

From everyones feedback, the answer is. I large letters, on our website, in your shop or any place you promote your business. These are MY rules for My shop, and state your rules.

I think these are all great ideas!

It sounds like you learned a valuable lesson on making printing expectations clear to a client. The funny thing is in like 5 years someone is going to post a question on this site about how to deal with a client who wants things rushed and you are going to laugh about the good ole days. ha.

Happy Printing!


10-15 days turnaround-really
These people down here in Tampa want it next day
Granted this is for trade/finishing type work but still
it gets a little hairy when you can’t get a work order filled out,
the little box they want the number is too close to the gripper
(after you have told them about this numerous times),
carbonless sets are separating big time just fanning them, let alone when the feed table blast hits them
They don’t want to hear any of that
That’s where the magic ostensibly comes in

I tell clients two weeks from receipt of all materials (plates and paper). In reality, I can do it faster, but I allow myself that time in case something goes wrong, etc.

Why don’t you offer PMS colors? I tell clients I’ll do my best to match the chip, but those are printed offset and letterpress will reproduce it slightly differently. Basically, I tell them I’ll get it close but it may not be perfect. That usually is enough.

Good question on the PMS colors, it my shop and I do not have more than 2 hours a day to work in the shop at any one time.

So, cleaning the press for PMS colors and getting it right, I just do not have the time.

A whole industry boomed up in printing several years ago.
It was called Quick Printing. It was offset. There were store front shops on every other corner. Too many for the amount of work available and they were cutting each other’s throats. Even had a trade magazine called Quick Printing. You could walk in and practically get a black ink job printed on white stock while you waited if they were hungry for work.
I don’t see many of these any more. Home digital printers have eliminated them.
A customer argued with me about his work when I was temporarily managing a shop. I suggested he go down the street and find another printer.
The other sign we had in the back room said
This would be a fun place to work if not for customers and the telephone.

I think you’re seriously limiting your customer base if you don’t offer PMS colors. Do you only print black?

First off the one out of the country is spam ignore it.
2nd, when you tell people a time line, (2weeks) they start counting even if you don’t have the copy yet.
So you have to be upfront in the very beginning.
They are use to quick turn around by the push button shops.

I just an email from the business card job. He cancelled, he took my art pdf proof to another printer.

I wrote him back, telling him, seeing he took my proof pdf and gave it to another printer, he still owes me for the design and layout work.

I know he going to say, he not going to pay.

I learned another lesson, keep time put the words in RED outline Proof, as we did in the 70 and 80s.

I always get a 50% deposit, particularly from new clients. That minimizes the risk in case they take a walk.

We live in a World of Push Button Patience People.

I make Film, Polymerplate inhouse but also cast Type on a Ludlow. Monday - a new Client walks in, they want 15 copies of a Chap book, Hard cover26 pages in (1/1) and 4 Line art Pictures in (4/0/), all Letterpress. I give them a Quote on Polymerplates and Time line (3 weeks or less). Today they come back and asked if instead I can use Ludlow for type and can I have it done by Friday (Tomorrow) as they want to give it to Family on the 4th. Harrumph - I gave her a Quote, she left in a Huff.

Christmas falls on the same Day and Month for centuries, and people always think I can do wonders 3 days before.

Business cards on a windmill is nothing, If you run without Fountain for small Runs, cleanup in less than half an hour is possible with color change. So not offering PMS is a mistake, Duplex is nothing complicated and this Type of Job is daily Bread Work.

In my day job as an estimator when asked for a turnaround/delivery date it is always x days from final proof aproval. We deal with a lot of brokers & designers and have to be firm otherwise the schedule for a two shift operation goes to hell quickly. Plain clear written quotes go a long way in stopping unreasonable demands.
Ted Lavin. Artificer Press

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