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Sabine Lenz

Making the Grade

By Sabine Lenz

About Sabine

Sabine Lenz is the founder of, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 


Warm Wine and Making Things Right

I felt my friend’s hand on my arm. “Let it go,” she whispered. But...“No, really, let it go.”

We were enjoying a nice summer evening at a local Italian restaurant (I don’t want to mention any names, but it’s a chain beginning with “il...” if you get my drift.)

I had ordered a light Chardonnay. When our drinks arrived, I took a much anticipated and well-deserved sip only to find my wine was anything but cool. It was, to be blunt, disgustingly warm.

It took me some time to catch our server’s attention on this busy night. She promised to rectify the situation immediately. Fifteen minutes later, I received a fresh glass of wine, which was warm. Again.

Believe me, I’m no wine snob, but this was an insult to the Chardonnay. And twice! Really.

Now, I’ve been around the printing block long enough to know this can happen in any industry. Sometimes things just go wrong. A typo sneaks in after the proofing process. The PMS color doesn’t match perfectly. The binding is out of sorts.

And just like the waitress, a printer should have the opportunity to fix these mistakes.

But—and this is where I need your help—when is enough enough?
How many times do you have to reprint a project because of legitimate errors? How many times do you offer a discount to a client who agrees to keep the piece as is (and everyone is happy)? And how many times does the project seem jinxed (you fix the first mistake and a new one pops up)?

In my case, it was just a glass of wine—not the cheap kind, but still below the cost of any print project. I admit I bit my tongue grudgingly. But will I gladly go to that restaurant again. Nope. Not if I can help it. The experience and the way it was handled left a bad taste in my mouth, and that’s definitely not what you want with your clients.

So, please, do share. How do you handle clients that are not happy with their printed piece? (Even if it might be exactly what they specified.)

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