Help! My printer is nickel and diming me to death with delivery and inventory charges!

Answered by Suzanne Morgan, founder, Print Buyers

We have purchased printing for a long time from a local vendor. During this time, we’ve arranged for our supplier to store our product at their plants. We ask them to make local deliveries as needed. Occasionally we will ask them to Fed Ex materials to one of our customers.

But now this printer has explained that they are going to charge for storage, fulfillment, and even local deliveries... at $50 a pop! They have set up a web site where we can go to request deliveries, but we find their explanation of it and the use of it confusing. When I recently got a quote and learned that none of this was included, I requested a quote for this and the price went up over $1,000!

This particular project, involves just two versions of sales collateral folders with quantities of 5,000 and 15,000. There is no way to know the number of deliveries per month. It could be two or none. However, they want to charge for each job.

Though we were originally told that storage costs would be minimal -- perhaps $10 per month – the estimate then increased to $60/$70 per month, per item, plus deliveries. I buy printing for my client who is now very disturbed by all this and feels she is being "nickel & dimed" to death for her business.

We have never encountered this situation before and are now forced to find new suppliers. Can you tell me if this is something that is becoming common in the industry and if so, what is considered reasonable?


I can definitely understand your frustration with this printer. Being "nickel and dimed to death" is one of my pet peeves with printing companies. When I first bought printing, I placed a $30,000 print order with a printer, yet they charged me $30 to pick up the art work! I really hated that. Therefore, I can understand your wanting to pull the work from the printer and give it to someone else.

So, not only are these extra charges frustrating, but the strange cost increase of $1,000 also seems questionable.

Here’s what may be happening with this printer: In the past, shipping, fulfillment and inventory were a small part of many printers’ businesses. They didn't mind doing a customer a "favor" every once in a while by offering these services at no charge on a very limited basis. THEN printers realized not only how much labor these services required, but also that they were losing money on this, particularly with customers that need this service more than on an occasional basis.

Printers are often poor at figuring out how to appropriately charge for NON-EQUIPMENT driven services. This sounds as if it is the case with your printer, because they have vacillated between $10 and $70 for storage costs. It seems that they haven’t figured out the balance between not losing money and not over-burdening the customer. Frankly, they really need your feedback. If you are inclined to discuss these frustrations with them, instead of simply walking away, then ask for a meeting with your sales rep AND either the company president or the sales manager. You need to have the discussion with someone who is empowered to help you - or at least get the rules straight.

In summary, most printers are now charging for shipping, fulfillment and inventory, but there really isn’t any standard pricing. Some printers seem to get the pricing on this right, but I think many really struggle with this and end up irritating some customers in the meantime. But one thing that has stayed the same is that one local delivery is included in the price of the job. Printers have the right to charge for extra deliveries and fulfillment or inventory services, BUT they need to do a much better job of communicating the costs and setting expectations with the customer.

I agree with your wanting to see the “total price” in the price quote and abhor unexpected miscellaneous costs that show up on the invoice. However, you have to give the printer the proper specifications and direction on your bid sheet so that they can quote this accurately. Or if you don't know how many shipments, etc., then ask for a set price list per item - and make them stick to it.

I hope this helps.

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