Invitation to a Beheading
September 18, 2012 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Help me assess how much of a problem these not-so-nicely printed wedding invitations are.

So, my (professional, recommended) printing house printed my wedding invitations off-centre and slightly crooked (1/4" crooked, to be exact). In response to my "WTF?", they said that the digital printer naturally sways and thus anything not printed on press will never line up correctly.* Is this true? If so, would a better printer warn clients about this in advance? If not, can you give me ammunition for getting them to at least partially refund me?

*note that said invitations are printed on both sides and folded (i.e. the entire card is covered in text/images), which makes the crookedness more obvious than for a typical invitation
posted by Mrs. Rattery to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would be asking for a complete refund and finding a new printer. If their printer naturally sways and messes up print jobs that badly, they need a new printer.
posted by amapolaroja at 3:35 PM on September 18, 2012 [29 favorites]

What ammunition do you need? The product didn't come as described. Ask for a refund.
posted by Picklegnome at 3:36 PM on September 18, 2012

Pictures would help. I personally have witnessed some insane yelling episodes with printers.
posted by phaedon at 3:36 PM on September 18, 2012

Yeah, this isn't normal. Imagine all the folks who have invitation designs that go all the way to the edge of the card/paper? I've never seen an invite print off-kilter. (Been to weddings and am married myself.) Ask for a refund and find someone new. I hope it's not too late!
posted by two lights above the sea at 3:38 PM on September 18, 2012

Yeah, this excuse sounds so BOGUS!

If it would make you feel better that you had gone the extra mile, you might take your original file to a different printer and ask for a "sample" you could have to "make sure that this is really what you and the groom really want".

Take it back to Printer #1 and ask for a correct job or refund.
posted by John Borrowman at 3:39 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

i'm a designer and regularly deal with printers. what they're feeding you is a big bowl of a term that we in the business use a lot: bullshit. i've seen beautiful stuff come off digital printers that aren't all crooked and off-centre. either have them reprint to your satisfaction or do not pay them (or if you have, demand a refund). if all digital prints came out that way, digital printing would not be a viable printing option.
posted by violetk at 3:41 PM on September 18, 2012 [7 favorites]

Did they send you a proof and, if so, was it printed off-center? Because that's the only situation in which it would make sense for them to refuse a refund. The time to explain this supposed limitation of the printer itself (which I think is nonsense, but whatever, maybe they have crummy equipment) was before they did the whole print job, not after.
posted by Meg_Murry at 3:49 PM on September 18, 2012

Yeah - I didn't get a proof (long story on that, but let's just blame my laziness). Thanks for the confirmation that I'm not crazy.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 4:03 PM on September 18, 2012

No this is not normal but at the same time, catching shit like this is the purpose of the proof. If you opted out of the proof, were I this business I wouldn't give you a refund either. (But I'm not this business so don't hate me!)
posted by DarlingBri at 4:24 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe off by a sixteenth of an inch, due to the mechanical handling of the paper as it's pulled through the machine, but certainly not a quarter inch!
posted by DandyRandy at 4:25 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I used to print stuff for-profit and 1/4" off is well into "We're so sorry, where was the stock from so we can buy you more?" territory. Maybe their machines legitimately can't do it, sure, but it's simply not true that it's impossible.
posted by teremala at 4:28 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

ah…just read your update. yeah, the purpose of the proof (or proofs) is so that you can a) make sure there aren't any mistakes and/or make adjustments, and b) go back to it/them and say, this is what i signed off on and it does not look like this, so it's your job to make it look like this regardless of how that gets done.

so yes, if you didn't proof it, that's your bad. that still doesn't negate the fact that this is how "all" digital proofs print out. that's still bullshit.
posted by violetk at 4:31 PM on September 18, 2012

To be fair, they didn't offer to give me a proof and while I should have asked for one, I was pressed for time pardon the pun) and opted to trust them. Bad idea.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 4:35 PM on September 18, 2012

if i was you then, i'd go back to them and just state that you know for a fact that digital prints don't all print out like the crap they're trying to get you to pay for because if they did, why would anyone get them (much more nicely worded of course). i would ask the person you deal with if they personally thought that was an acceptable level of jankiness if that was their own personal wedding invitation. you can point out that you never saw a proof and if you had, if that was what it was going to look like, then you would have made sure that a) you would not have been satisfied til you saw a proof that wasn't going to look so obviously janky, or b) taken your business elsewhere if that was the best they could do. then ask what you can both do to come to a fair resolution for both of you.
posted by violetk at 4:43 PM on September 18, 2012

I used to fabricate this sort of thing for the prop department of a TV show you have definitely heard of and probably seen.

If I handed in something printed 1/4 crooked and then justified it with "printers, amirite?", I would have been fired.

I came into this question based on what you wrote above the fold, prepared to tell you that it was probably fine and in ten years nobody is going to remember that there was a teensy glitch in the print job on your wedding invitations.

Then I read what went wrong. Ew. No. That is not right, and they should reprint them for you correctly, for free.

FWIW, a fricking Kinko's could have done a better job than your printer did. Seriously, for deep background bulk props like programs or flyers, we used to just send them to a copy shop and while they weren't perfect, they were better than what you got.
posted by Sara C. at 4:46 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Adding another voice to the chorus of "They are lying, and they should redo it for free ASAP."
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:59 PM on September 18, 2012

I printed my sister's wedding invitations on my own definitely-not-professional home printer and they came out better than you describe.

If their printer is regularly doing this to people's invitations they need to get a new printer or get out of the business.
posted by BlueJae at 7:00 PM on September 18, 2012

You surely have enough people telling you this isn't right, but....

I worked for years at Kinko's in the mid-'90s and did DTP on the side for a while, and even *I* could guarantee better results than that...or deliver a warning to the customer soon enough to avoid waste & disappointment, even if they didn't ask for a proof.

I think that's a crucial part of this - once they saw the first piece come out, they should have stopped, recalibrated everything and tried again, verified again, and called you if the stock or machine were unavoidably incapable of delivering good results.

Especially for wedding invites. Everyone in the business knows the stakes on those.
posted by batmonkey at 10:54 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

They didn't give you a proof, but did they show a set of samples to help you choose stationary, fonts and get some phrasing inspiration? Were those samples nicely centered or were they haphazard? I'm guessing they were fine and you are not out of line to expect your finished product to be the same level of finish as the samples they used to entice your business.
posted by dgran at 5:58 AM on September 19, 2012

I used to work with printers (press and digital) all the time when I worked in marketing. This is unacceptable and I would raise holy hell. I don't care if they didn't offer you a proof; it's like if a mechanic put the wrong tires on your car. It might still drive, but it ain't going to be right. They should be double-checking that shit, not you.

If it's a chain like Kinko's, escalate up to corporate if need be. If it's a franchisee, talk to the owner. Ignore the counter person. No offense to anyone reading this, but the Kinko's employees I've dealt with were barely able to tie their shoes. Tell the owner that you WILL NOT recommend this place to anyone if this is not fixed.
posted by desjardins at 9:34 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

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