WSJ: Financial Printers Pad Bills

NEW YORK—Financial printers periodically pad their bills, which can be vague and difficult to decipher, according to a feature in the September 11 edition of The Wall Street Journal. The business publication cited examples in which Merrill Corp., Bowne & Co. and RR Donnelley sometimes overshoot their estimates by hundreds of thousands of dollars and periodically resist third-party auditing efforts prior to reducing their charges.

The story noted that the difference between printer estimates and the final bill result from unanticipated overages or services not anticipated in the estimates.

Generally, the WSJ reported, the disputed amounts are only tens of thousands of dollars, but it adds up for publicly traded companies. Still, the paper noted, few customers challenge their bills.

In citing one challenge, the report noted that the aggrieved company—which received a $110,000 discount following a job audit—still does business with that printer. Printers are often selected based on the gifts they offer clients, such as sporting event and concert tickets, as well as free vacations, the WSJ article noted.

Kate O’Brien, director of corporate communications for New York-based Bowne, said her company’s billing practices are accurate and appropriate.

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