I tried to save a couple bucks and cost myself hundreds. And why Office Depot will be out of business inside of 24 months.

I'll be the first one to say it. I got into a panic today and violated one of my life mottos: 

Professionalism and quality over speed and price

I am usually very willing to pay for good quality services and products. Unless a project is on a very tight budget, I will lean towards vendors and suppliers I know and trust and often don't even price check because I have learned over time, that reliable quality is priceless. 

I didn't do that today. And I paid for it.

Long story short... a client was planning a campaign and a portion of it got greatly accelerated. The digital portion easily adaptable, but the printing portion was not. I had a day to get some artwork printed... and there was no way I could use my printer of choice - Royle Printing.

Royle Printing is in Wisconsin. I am in Los Angeles.

That should tell you a) the lengths I'm willing to go for great quality printing service, and b) say something about how incredible their services and products are. [If you need an introduction - let me know. I'll have the greatest account manager in the world contact you.]

Anyway, I digress. I sort of panicked and since finding Royle, hadn't maintained my relationships with any of my local printers - many of whom are very good. This was a tiny job - we opted to only do a small run to get us through a few days. So I...

... ugh... I embarrassed to even type this. 

I send the job to Office Depot. Here's the thing. Office Depot is known, renowned even, for having the WORST printing services and quality in the entire country. But I panicked... and they were cheap and close to my office, and I didn't want to pay a premium for a "rush job" at a professional printer. 

Huge Mistake.

I uploaded the job last night and went to pick it up this morning. The guy pulled the postcards out for me and handed them to me.

I looked at them.

I looked at him. 

I thought he was joking. 


He looked at me blankly... and said in a deadpan voice, "you didn't put enough bleed".

I breathed... deeply. I replied... "Look, I've been doing design for 15 years. The first thing I do on a website is check the artwork requirements. It said 1/8" bleed. That's what I put. It's not the bleed, it's miscut."

I pointed to the bottom left and right corners and continued calmly, "See, it's white on the left edge and you cut off the phone and web address on the right side. It's miscut".

He looked over at who I assume was a manager (he was wearing a tie anyway)... the manager shrugged. Literally shrugged... and gave me a hapless smile.

I looked back at the guy speaking and just said, "You can't think I'm going to pay for this. I used 1/8" bleed like the website side and you guys miscut this."

And OhMySweetJesus... the GREATEST CUSTOMER SERVICE LINE EVER came next:

First, our website sucks. And second, you should probably use a real printer if you care that much.

I got a refund. Immediately.

But I realized something. That kid... that smug little **** of a kid... had given me the truth. He had given me a wakeup call. 

I had violated my own rule to save a little time and money, and was now paying for it.

I got in my car and called AK Printing, who I had used a few years before on a job.

What was a 24 hour job yesterday, was now down to a 6 hour job. I asked for the owner. I told him what I had been through. He laughed at me - rightly so. As if to say, "did you learn your lesson?" -- And I had. 

I emailed him the files right there. The same files with the 1/8" bleed. He said he'd have it for me by 4pm. 

At 3:30 I got a call - they were done. I raced over and found this:



So... what's the moral of this little tale? 

1) I was an idiot. I got panicked and in doing so, violated my own rule:

Professionalism and quality over speed and price... ANY DAY... ALL DAY... EVERY DAY!

2) There are good people in this world who care passionately about the work and service they provide. 

3) Time is my most valuable asset. By trying to save a few bucks... I spent most of the day scrambling... lost productivity, lost time. That literally cost me hundreds of dollars.

Hey... I try not to be too hard on myself. I make mistakes and screw up too. But to that little **** of a guy at Office Depot... thank you for giving me the best advice:

You should probably use a real printer if you care that much.