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Using pantone refs for digital printers [May. 8th, 2006|01:54 pm]
UK Designers

A branch of printing.com has just opened locally and, enticed by their bargain basement prices, I decided to give them a try.

Their digital (obviously) and have their own process colour chart which they 'encourage' you to use when sending work to print. Like most old-skool designers, I always supply a pantone ref with CMYK jobs to avoid slip-ups and am used to digital printers doing their darndest to match their colour with my ref.

Imagine my surprise then when one of my client's jobs came back today bright yellow instead of bright green. The reference I gave them was Pantone 802C, what they printed looks closer to 809C. The artwork I sent them contained an Illustrator EPS with all the spots turned to process, the green mix in that was: C35 M0 Y65 K0. It was a rush job, so they never got to see a hard copy, but I sent them all the artwork, InDesign files and a print res PDF as well as the refs, so they have no excuse imo.

But that's not the worst of it. They told her that its my fault, because I "used pantone references which are meaningless because they're digital printers". The client is understandably furious and refusing to pay either them or me.

So what do I do? Stand my ground and call them assholes? Does everyone agree that the mistake is theirs and not mine? And how can I avoid this bollocks with them in the future as everyone seems to want to use them?!!!

From: (Anonymous)
2006-05-08 02:15 pm (UTC)

PNC: Polite, Nasty, Court


Sadly you pay your money, you take your chance. A good relationship with a reputable printer will always save you money in the end. Don't fall in to the trap of constantly chasing the lowest quote as you pay for service. In this case I would expect a printer to look at the screen and the print and ring you to say they think there is a problem.
The fact you didn't give them a hard copy is a problem here - never, ever, expect a printer to do a job without a clear indication of what it should look like.

From what you've said, they are in the wrong and should give you a refund, an apology and either a discount on a reprint or a freebie.

Quick way: go to a solicitor, pay them £30 to send a nasty letter and have done.
This is particularly useful if they libelled you to your client. Your professional reputation is worth a lot of money.
Incidentally, if you are in business it's a good idea to get a solicitor anyway and discuss your needs with them. You may never use them, but it's handy to have their card ready and know what services they will provide (e.g. a free phone consultation)

Longer way:

Send a polite but firm letter outlining the steps you took and reinforcing the fact that Pantone refs are internationally recognised standards no matter whether they are digital or not.
Include in your letter a simple request for a response within seven working days or a full explanation of why they are unable to use Pantones as a guide, and why the colour split you did came out wrong.
Keep it polite and amicable but spell out in clear terms what you require from them by way of explanation. Send it recorded delivery.

Copy the letter (and make sure they know you are doing this) to their head office (get a name to send it to) and to your client.

That's the first step.

The second step after seven days would be to send another letter, firmer this time, expressing disappointment either in their explanation or lack of it. Say you will take the matter further if you do not receive a satisfactory response within seven days. Again, send it recorded delivery and copy it.

The third step is to warn them about the fourth step

The fourth step is to initiate proceedings in the small claims court. Claim your costs and the client's if possible, including loss of revenue and administration costs (e.g. your time spent chasing the payment.) It'll cost around £30 if the amount in dispute is small, more for larger amounts.

Chances are they will send a solicitors letter warning you off. Stick to your guns but send a letter offering mediation. (you could go to a solicitor before doing the court action thing)

Your client's beef is probably with the printer, not you, depending on whether you acted as the agent or not. In that case they should still pay you for your work and sue the printer themselves. Whether you take formal action or not is up to you but I'd hold off on that first.
You should also approach another printer and ask them if printing.com's explanation is correct. You say they 'encourage' you to use their process chart, but don't make it a condition. Check their terms and conditions carefully - if you have ignored any, even stupid ones, you might fail in court. However, they could be deemed what are called 'unfair clauses' rendering the contract useless. Contact trading standards for advice.

Another thing you could do is send me the file and if I think you're being diddled I'll blog about it - my blog is read by a lot of designers and in the past I got money from a company just to take a post down (they were in the wrong).

http://jonathanbaldwin.blogspot.com, email artistryNOSPAM@mac.com (take out the NOSPAM!)

Getting someone with some authority to ring up as though they are a journalist or something can help too. (Don't let them lie, though - suggest...)

Another thing you could do is contact 'Capital Letters' in the Guardian (Saturday's Money section) as they might take up the case on your behalf.

Finally, you could stand outside their shop with a sandwich board on...

Bear in mind I am not a solicitor so don't take this advice as anything other than advice.

Hope that helps

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