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Senior Editor, Printing Impressions Magazine

Printers’ Pulse

By Erik Cagle

About Erik

Erik Cagle is senior editor for Printing Impressions magazine. He has reported on the graphics arts industry for 11 years.

 

The Trash is in the Mail

 
OK, this story would fall in the “funny as hell” category, as long as it doesn’t happen to you. Or maybe not. Regardless, this tale is brutal, and more than a little puzzling.

If you check out the story on our home page, South Jersey printer Hamilton Press saw more than 3,300 envelopes from a $15K print, $6K postage job destroyed and returned three weeks after it was “mailed,” accompanied by the following items: a withered orange, a bottle of joint ointment, a wall rack for videotapes, books, trash and unrelated mail.

The materials were random enough for MacGyver to possibly form some kind of small explosive from them, but how in the hell did this crap get tossed in together? More importantly, from the printer’s perspective, now what?

I won’t rehash the entire Philadelphia Daily News article, but in summary, the printer will have to go back to press and mail out the entire job again, since it's unknown who actually received the health care plan packets. The printer says its mailing was up to code, but a postal investigator blamed weak envelopes.

Going forward, Hamilton Press and the U.S. Postal Service are exploring whether the shipments can go through fewer processing centers. Meanwhile, the printer and the USPS are now hashing out a reimbursement.  Since Hamilton has to go back to press, it’s looking to get reimbursed for printing plus postage, which is $21K. The USPS, naturally, only wants to pay for the postage and cost of the 1,500 packets that were returned damaged.

How would you handle this situation? The print customer, other than being ticked off, really has no involvement with what happened. But what if the time sensitivity of the mailing cost the client thousands of dollars? Who eats that loss? And how do you deal with the USPS?

I’d be interested in knowing how printers deal with catastrophes that happen through no fault of their own. Someone has to pay, and it sure as hell shouldn’t be you.

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