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Buyer...Beware! Comparing Custom Label Quotes

Recently, I had a customer call and ask if we printed weatherproof decals. She had used an online label printing company to print some decals for her because they had the lowest price quote from the list of companies she had contacted. After she received the decals she placed them on the windows of the trucks the company used for service calls. When she placed them on the windows, she noticed that the colors looked dull and transparent, but figured that was the way they should be. After a couple of weeks in the hot Arizona sun, the reds in the decal began to fade and appear pink, after another couple weeks they became almost unreadable and she had to take the time to scrape off the decals and start from scratch looking for a different company to print the decals - the other company told her once they are printed there was nothing they could do to fix the problem since that was what she had approved.

Every week I get calls like this from frustrated business owners who think they are getting a good deal because the price was low, however they end up with results like Sue. In Sue’s case, the discount printer quoted her on a weatherproof outdoor vinyl decal, however they did not ask how they were going to be used or applied. When she got the decals and noticed they were dull and looked transparent, that was because the company did not print a white opaque ink behind the other ink colors in order to prevent the inks from looking transparent. They also did not use UV resistant inks so after a few weeks in the sun the inks on the decals began to fade from being in the sun most of the day. Sue had gotten what she thought was a great deal - a cheap price on weatherproof decals that would last for years on her trucks, however that was not the case.

In this economy many consumers only look at the bottom line - the cost of a product. But if they do not look at the details they may end up spending more money and time in the long run. In Sue’s case she thought she was getting weatherproof decals, however, even though the vinyl material the decals was printed on is weatherproof, she did not realize that this discount printer was using regular inks , instead of UV inks, which would fade in the sun. She also did not find out until it was too late that if you do not print a white opaque ink behind the other inks on a clear decal that the colors would look dull and washed out. This company was able to offer a cheaper price then the other printing companies she got quotes from, but because they cut corners and did not ask Sue about how the labels would be used, she ended up spending more money and time in the long run because she had to start over with another company to get the proper decals she needed.

I remind people of the adage - you get what you pay for...a used 1988 Pontiac Sunfire and a 2011 Mercedes Benz are both cars but they are not the same. The same applies to labels... not all labels are the same - in some cases the cheaper alternative is all you may need but if you need a specialized label that will last longer, or be outdoors, or be applied to frozen food for example, be sure that you get what you need. To prevent yourself from getting a label that will not work for your situation be sure to keep the following points in mind:

• If you get a quote from one company that is significantly cheaper than every other company be careful, - ask them why their quote is so much cheaper. If they cannot provide specifics and answer your questions - buyer beware. Also if in doubt always ask for samples - if a company will not send out samples of the label material and how they will be printed - buyer beware.

• Always ask questions - give as much detail as possible to the printing company to insure you get the proper quote on the decal you need. In Sue’s case if the company had asked what the decals were going on and if they would be in a lot of sunlight then they could have quoted with the white ink backup and the UV inks. Always get a detailed quote to compare with other companies to be sure you are comparing apples to apples.

• Ask about the company as well - how long have they been in business? Do they offer refunds or reprints if the order is printed incorrectly? What services are provided - free proofs, design services, etc?

• When you get quotes ask if everything is included in the quote - many companies provide a cheap quote up front but when it is time to place an order they add on additional fees for color matches, proofs, graphic design services,plate fees ,processing fees or unwarranted shipping charges. If you get a quote and then a company starts to add on extra charges without any changes to the original request/artwork - buyer beware.

• Does the company provide an electronic or paper proof with all the specifications for you to review before proceeding with your order. This is an important step as a final proof and order recap insures that everything is being provided as you were quoted and gives you a chance to be sure the final artwork is correct. This provides you something to fall back on if something gets printed wrong and gives you a way to prove it was done differently then what was specified.

• Does the company have an email address and phone number to contact them with questions? When you email does it take hours or weeks for them to reply back? When you call do you get a person who can answer your questions or do you get into a maze of recorded messages? Many companies only care about the large money orders - if you cannot get answers by phone or by email within 24-48hours on business days then buyer beware.

At Elite Design we offer quality products and always ask questions about how your label will be used and be applied and what you are wanting out of the label. We try to form a relationship with our customers and try to find out about their company and what their real needs are. We do not assume anything - if we have a doubt on a quote request or an order we will contact you to get the answers. We want to get things done right the first time and have you be satisfied with your order. We get back to our customers usually within minutes or hours, not days or weeks - we started as a small company and understand that business owners need answers fast, a quality product and good prices. At Elite Design we excel at these things and offer more - including free email proofs, free unliimited graphic design services and even free shipping on our short run labels program. We produce labels in days not months - we do not keep you waiting while you lose time and money. Most importantly we are honest - if we do not feel like we can provide the service or product you need we will not try to sell you something you do not need - in fact if we do not have a product then we can usually point you to another company that can provide it for you. At Elite Design we are not a blank face, big market, cardboard box type company that only cares about sales and profits - we care about your business and want to form a relationship and a trust with you in order to provide you with quality products and services for years to come.

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