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A Printer's Nightmare : Unhappily Ever After

August 2012 By Erik Cagle, Senior editor
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At an early age, we are conditioned to hearing stories that wrap up nicely in the end. The good guy prevails, the evil doer is foiled and our hero gets the girl. The stock ending line, "and they lived happily ever after," adds a pretty bow to the wrapping of life's little travails. Yes, our work is done, and everyone gets to go home happy.

But shortly after the time we tuck away Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy into our cherished memories, we are confronted with—and apologies to Al Gore—an inconvenient truth; in fact, many of them. Not only is life sometimes unfair, it can be cruel, harsh and unforgiving. The black and white absolutes of right and wrong that were introduced to us begin to blur. No one said anything about a gray area, but lo and behold, look how big it has become.

The life of ink on paper can be an inexact, imperfect science in a world that demands perfection. Printers expect, hope and plead that their equipment can help deliver that perfection, as promised and on time. Breakdowns are inevitable, however, and it is the timely response of service technicians, dealers and manufacturers that gets the ball rolling to sort out the problems and enable a printer to punch the green button once more.

But, when is a machine “fixed?” Is someone responsible for the machine's malfunction, either through misuse or neglect? Does it fall under warranty—expressed or implied? Are parts AND labor covered? And what if that press you agreed to buy off another printer's shop floor arrives with bits and pieces broken or missing? Just when does the warranty kick in, and should you be on the hook for damage that happens to a piece of equipment before it arrives?

Welcome to the gray area. What follows is the tale of a printer whose story is still ongoing, but it is far too late to enjoy a happy ending. The white knight has been replaced by a legal team and a stack of invoices and contracts. In the end, the printer received no satisfaction from its manufacturer, dealer and technicians. And the printer is still on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars while saddled with gear that is the printing version of the automotive lemon.



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