Two Wrongs Won’t Make It Right

Hello PIworld and welcome to the maiden voyage of my blog! I want to thank Dave Leskusky for inviting me over from PrintMediaCentrOpens in a new window to mix things up a bit, so let’s get right to it.

As a self-proclaimed TV junkie, I must admit the first spark of a post topic often comes through the broadcast airwaves. Thanks to my DVR, while catching up on Parks and Recreation, an episode titled “Sweet Sixteen”Opens in a new window provided more of a zap than a spark.

To briefly recap, Amy Poeler’s character Leslie Knope is running for city council. Leslie was driving to a party and along the way noticed her campaign signage on someone’s lawn. Screeching to a halt, she cries out, “THEY screwed up my campaign signs!”


Leslie grabs a poster from a lawn and rushes over to “Sign-Tology” and complains to Walter behind the counter that she “would never have ordered a sign with all that complicated nonsense, because we’re not insane.” Walter then pulls out the order form and proceeds to read the URL address that was printed.

Leslie agrees that was on the form, but adds, “using basic logic and human intelligence, one can surmise that is a link to an image. This isn’t what we wanted printed on the signs.”

Walter replies, “What ever is on the order form is what I print, and in this case it was a long string of letters and numbers.”

Leslie reaches behind the counter to a computer and clicks on the actual poster file. Walter says, “Now that’s a nice sign, you should have used that.”

This scenario was, of course, included in a sit-com, but it’s a good time to remember that in order for a show to be relatable, it has to touch upon some common experience of the masses. Whether it’s a jab at customer service or one of the chains that offer “printing” services, only the writers know. But there is a very good lesson for us to learn from this exchange: the customer is NOT always right.

Deborah is the Principal and Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse at PrintMediaCentr which provides topical information and resources to the Print & Integrated Marketing community, with some fun in the mix! She also is the founder of the Print Production Professionals Group on LinkedIN and works behind the scenes with several print organizations and companies helping with their marketing and social media efforts. With more than 24 years of experience in print production, print buying and project management, Corn has worked for some of the largest and most influential ad agencies and has played an integral role in projects that have won ADDY, CA and other advertising award honors.
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  • gordon rivera

    Excellent example Deborah on the episode of Parks & Rec, I laughed so hard when I saw this because its reality- for those that did not see it you have to see the whole episode buts it worthwhile. Last night in my GRC class I talked to my students about proper printer speak in writing up a quotation, hopefully some of them grasped its importance.

    Good first blog! Congrats!

  • Bellevue Fine Art Repro

    We catch client mistakes all the time. It’s part of the process. Although it’s annoying when clients throw garbage at us and expect us to make it right. Usually though we’ll ask for a setup fee, and they’re put off by us charging for fixing their work then we’ll refer them to somewhere else. Clients do make mistakes, and that’s OK, but we respectfully ask to be paid for our time.

  • Emily O’Shea

    I do expect clients to give me files with challenges and appreciate it when they recognize that eveyone at my company is trying to make them look good by helping with the most efficient fix. It’s great if that ellicits some measure of loyalty through trust.

  • John

    So let me understand the message here.. You triple bid everything- presumably going with the lowest price although you profess not to and then you EXPECT someone to make sure they cover your backside as part of the reward of being the lowest bid..

  • sha

    I did not see the episode and I guess I’d need to see the actual completed form to be sure, but I did NOT learn from your anecdote about the character’s printing woes the "the customer is NOT always right".

    What I learned was that that printer did not have the brains to notice that the "string of letters and numbers" ended in .jpeg, and therefore was probably an image. While that string of letters and numbers was on the print request, in this digital age, why would anyone assume that it was NOT a link to an image? If anyone in my company had made that error I would NOT have thought it was the customer’s fault.


    If I did not have customers that screwed up specs or art, I would not be in business. I depend on excellent customer service and helping my customers to get the most from their money, run wise, art wise and final goal.

  • Scott Baker

    Loved the blog, Deborah… I agree that common sense should dictate that all parties in the transaction — you, the CSR, the estimator, the printer, and ultimately the customer — want errors to be caught before the mistakes manifest in the final product. Mistakes get made, but errors cost everyone. When will people figure out that we are all in this together, trying to produce the best result at a price we all can live with, hopefully making a margin along the way. While you may triple bid everything, people that you can trust and people who you can work with will always be the preferred vendor.