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President, Print Oasis Print Buyers Conference

Connecting with Print Buyers

By Suzanne Morgan

About Suzanne

Suzanne Morgan is president of the annual Print Oasis Print Buyers Conference ( and Print Buyers, a free educational e-community for print buyers and their print suppliers ( PBO has more than 11,000 members who buy $13 billion a year in printing. PBO conducts weekly research on buying trends and teaches organizations how to work more effectively with their print suppliers.


Print Buyers Say It Is Not Acceptable When Printers Pay Hidden Commissions to Agencies

In a recent Print Buyers quick poll, 95 print buyers spoke out clearly against hidden commissions when asked: “Is it okay for a printer to markup the price of a print job to the end customer with a ‘kick-back’ or hidden commission that will be paid to the designer/agency who created the work?” While 79% of the print buyers said “no”, one has to wonder why that percentage wasn’t 100%. Perhaps the respondents that said yes are on the receiving end of the commissions or don’t realize the implications of those actions.

Speaking for the 18% minority, one print buyer supported the acceptance of a hidden commission with this comment, “It doesn’t matter to me what the printer does with the money he gets from the project. As long as the printer is competitive and reliable, then I’m paying for all of the services provided.”

However, most print buyers were critical—one even cautioning, “I’ll be very curious to find out if anyone in a publicly traded company does this. If they do, I’d advise them to talk to their CFO/executive management person who is responsible for Sarbannes-Oxley compliance if they haven’t already.” Another print buyer communicated the common view of unfairness saying, ”The designer/ad agency has been compensated by the person purchasing their service. I would not use a printer if I knew it was doing this.”

Times have changed. Commissions and fees need to be clearly stated. And certainly any appearance of paying hidden commissions to outside companies can be very dangerous.

What are your thoughts?

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