How would handle this matter?

About three weeks ago a customer that had done a few jobs for asked me for a quote.

(4) 8.5x11 (60 lb offset book) printed 1,000 sheets each, print both sides with blue logo on top of each sheet with full page of text in black.

And staple two sheets together, total of 1,000 sets of 2 sheets.

I gave them a price, that was fair I felt.

They came back it was to high, Price was only $400.

Could I use cheaper paper.

I told them the paper would not lower the price more than $25.

They did want a price for 1,000 set, they wanted a price per set of two sheets printed two sides two colors.

So, I gave them a price per set.

While I was busy one day, they emailed that they only want 250 sets of 4 pages and send them a invoice now.

I wasn’t thinking my per price was based on 1,000 sets.

The cost of paper, plates and ink is $50 over what I billed them.

Now, many would just print the job and make up on another order from them.

But, here the problem, this job will be an on going order with new copy each time.

Do, I tell them I miss quoted? Do I tell them I quoted on 1,000 sets and that the order of 250 is below my cost?

Yes, I screwed up!

I checked with other prices, my first quote on the 1,000 sets, was $125 less than the going price

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I suspect the client already knows that they are getting something for nothing.

Re-quote. The client should respect you for being honest. If not, the relationship is doomed and you might as well cut your losses now.

That’s my 2 cents worth.

They took advantage of you. Give them back their money and give them a fair quote. If they don’t like it you don’t have to take the job. Learn to say no!

He misquoted- he said it himself.

Clients don’t know ass from elbow most of the time with regard to print.

Why should we expect them to know point from pica, or page from pile?

If you cashed the check and took the job, you’re kind of up shit creek unless you know the client well. You can refund their money immediately and explain, but you’ll likely damage the relationship.

Nevertheless, I would do that over print the job and take a loss if you don’t think they’ll be a long term beneficial client.

My 2 cents.

I think it’s a little of both - they got him to give them a per-piece price and then got him to quote a smaller quantity based on that price. There are buyers and brokers out there who use these tactics. If this is one of those clients, MAYBE Aaron will learn from this mistake.

Yes, been very depressed over it. As all business people, a customer comes to you, you are busy, so, you try to give them a fair price for both sides.

It started out as a great job, wasn’t going to get rich over this one job, but I was going to make $150 over cost, for printing 8 sheets two colors and stapling into set of two.

I felt that after 4 years of no business I had a good customer. Now, do not know how to feel.

“Do you have minimums?”

I guess I going to have a base price that I will not go below.

I never had this type of customer, before. I have done three others jobs for him.

Is this the way things in printing are going, customers ask for a price on 1,000 printed sheets. And, after you give to them they want the per sheet cost, only to come back and order only a small amount sheets to get it below cost?

When the jobs was going to bill out at $600, I was happy for their business, now the job bills out at $180.

Even Digital/Inkjet, where in theory you could have one print and then save your settings and then just ‘make more’ on demand- among the small guys, digital printing businesses even usually have a minimum.

Always have the setup price separate from the materials and printing prices. That way no matter the quantity you will not loose out on your setup costs, which should include engravings or hand set type, however you do the job.

Right- we have a ‘setup’ for the mechanical of the plate, a line item for every aspect of the job. Including ink “color”, and also stock fees (which I usually insert as the min quantity of a paper to get what I need), and then a per impression charge.

So, a job for one custom color gets-
1X setup, (includes minimum quantity of pieces to be printed, this is noted)

1X color mix fee (special ink? add to this fee),

then the per impression charge multiplied times the quantity of prints is it’s own line item. The per impression charge changes amount per impression based on color runs or double hits, etc.

The paper fees follow this if I’m providing, and they equal an overage. I don’t tell them the cost per sheet, I give them the cost for the desired quantity they are requesting, for me to successfully run the job and obtain it with a safety overage.
I also typically mark paper prices up at least 20-30% and include any shipping charges AND a prep fee (pre-press guillotine trimming for example)

After this, there are line items for any special considerations post press, and trim is it’s own line item “per stack”.
Ordered enough for 10 stacks? qty of trim is “10”.

The point is your quotation/estimate should be able to scale easily.

But, you should also be able to give evidence of cost per piece.
Add the line items up and you get your total, divide your total by the amount of pieces and you get your customer’s price per piece- but never sell them less than the minimum.

I just explain, “it goes up in project fees from here, but the price per piece drops as the minimum is spread out over a larger order- the more you order, the more you profit per piece you sell”.

Many of my customers are actually selling the individual things I make them, sometimes for hundreds of dollars as collectible items (the most I’ve seen prints I helped to make go for were over several thousand dollars an impression, when I know it cost less than 30.00 per print total labor).
Others are giving them away or sending them out as invitations or whatever stationery related stuff. But you have to be able to give them a cost and stand behind that cost, explain what the minimums are, and don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Otherwise you won’t be in business long.

Almost all buyers, especially frequent buyers, know that the unit price goes up when the quantity goes down. My guess is that they took advantage of you.

But there is your reputation to think of. If you have committed to the job, do so but only do the first printing at that price.

Tell them any future printings will need to be at a higher, more correct price. You can try explaining but I wouldn’t expect much understanding. Likely they will try to bully you and tell you they have already passed the numbers on to their client. Stand by your guns. Point out you are honoring your original price at a loss but it can’t go on like that.

And, in the future, never, ever let a customer rush you into getting a new or revised price. Honest mistakes happen that way but so do ones the customer tricks you into. Mutli-tasking is dangerous in the printing business. Losing $50 is better than a finger or an arm!

That’s my 40’s years of selling experience.

I feel sick over it, as I purchase two AB Dick press to print the job, and both seller didn’t ship me the press.

I couldn’t print the job in the time frame needed, so I sent the job to another printer. Cost $500. Order the press a month ago, the seller took the money and ran.

So, I only out $2,000, no big deal to people that have money. I do not.

I learned a lot this past month.

Never get pushed into giving a customer a price, until you have time to look over all the detail and cost.

And, just because someone has a press on ebay for sale, doesn’t mean you will get it.

Did you pay with Paypal? You should be able to open a dispute to recover your funds.

Sorry to be giving unsolicited advice, but I would encourage you to stop buying stuff. If you can’t make a business with what you have, you probably can’t make a business.


You are so right. But, I purchased the AB Dick to do work that has screen artwork.

I have wasted hours working with artwork with screens that will not print correctly. I tried of telling customer I will set their job for free and print, only to have them give me the pdf of they poorly design job and asking me to print it on my letterpress equipment.

Offset is the answer for screen work. I looked into digital and it a joke. I would have upgrade my computer and upgrade all my programs do purchase a high end digital printer.

I know everyone on this website thinks I am a fool, by all my post.

I might be, but, I am so tried of get printing handed to me that that looks like a 5 year did it. At my doctors office the type is so small (5 point for his phone number s, you can’t read it. But, it cheap and he happy. I told him I do the cards for him, he no, I like the cheap cards.

I am at my end of life, and would like to be able to have something to show for all the years of people walking over me.

What you are doing is not healthy give it up or get a table top and do some nice work as a hobby,

Thanks for your feedback.

Once I sell off my Ludlow and mats, I will feel a lot better.

Aaron’s attempted purchase of presses off ebay may not be the place to look for reputable sellers. There are several sources, like Boggs Equipment, that are reliable and have been around for years. One on the West coast is Hicks Brothers in San Jose. Another on the web is Wired Bids and their latest list has several letterpress related items:

Small format offset presses are being offered at fairly low prices these days from dealers. Another option on specialty work, rather than buying a press, is to set up an account with a trade printer like Ennis Business Forms who have a number of plants around the country that can do a job like Aaron described at reasonable prices. I use Ennis often for a number of items that make no sense for me to even attempt to print letterpress—they are fast, turn out excellent work, and the profit margin is excellent. The name of the game is to put dollars in the bank, not to break your back attempting the impossible.

quoted your orignal job specs. my offset price,for 1m each of 4 -2/2 stapled was over $220.00 a set of1m. my digital $1,000.00 out the door. Yikes I’m high!