Some people seem to be under the misguided belief that when it comes to printing, price is the only consideration. After all, it’s just paper, ink and cutting, right?

It may surprise you that our company acknowledges we aren’t the least expensive, but more importantly, we aren’t trying to be. We are a custom print shop and the difference in price is largely due to the quality of the final product and our customer service. It is sort of like comparing a good meal at a steakhouse to a burger from a fast food joint. You want fries with your brochures?

You may think you’re saving a bundle by using an online, discount print service, but it is probably costing you much more than you realize. Gather round and let me tell you their dirty little secrets.


Almost every online seller tacks on ridiculous shipping charges (and in most cases you don’t see these until you actually place an order and upload your artwork), so customers fail to include this figure when comparing costs to using a local printer.

The seller is banking on the fact that you will only look at their $15 business card offer and ignore the $10 shipping charge. Or the cost of using your own logo. Or decent paper stock. Or any of the dozen or so add-on menu items. And if you want your business cards earlier than three weeks from now, you’re going to pay an additional $20 (again, you usually don’t see this until you’re ready to order). A few clicks and your bargain basement business cards are now more like $50 for 200, a job that you could get printed locally in a day or two for a lot less money.

This is why what you see advertised is rarely, if ever, the price you actually pay. You’ve been sucked in and bled dry by a hundred tiny paper cuts.


Another consideration is that if your cards don’t turn out as expected, you’re stuck using the same web based service to get help. Often, there is no human being to discuss the problem, just a web form, and likely, you’re the first person to really inspect your new business cards. It has to make you wonder how often this occurs when there is a dedicated menu option and form for complaining that your order is screwed up.

You may wonder how poor print quality or receiving the wrong order escapes their notice. That is because your business card was ganged up with dozens of others and run at one time on a massive press. No one is really checking that your logo is the correct shade of blue – and even if they notice it, they probably aren’t going to adjust the color at the risk of ruining every other job running at the same time.

Guess what happens when the box finally arrives and you open it to discover that what you’ve been sent isn’t even your business cards? Yeah, that happens.

If you have a problem with a local printer, it is difficult to dismiss the issue when you’re standing in front of them, holding in your hands the business card with a giant smudge across your name. The odds of this happening are extremely slim because there is a professional operator running only your cards and inspecting every few sheets that go through the press. These press operators take pride in their craft. A major catastrophe such as this doesn’t really happen with a decent shop.


Rarely will an online seller notify you in advance of problems in your artwork, and that the final product will not turn out as expected, simply because the human factor has been removed. Right, wrong or horribly set up, whatever you submit is going to be printed as is.

I can’t tell you the number of times a week we notify a customer of a glaring typo in their artwork and give them the opportunity to fix it before the job goes into production, or that their design won’t print as expected, long before they incur any costs. Most online sellers do not have human designers checking your artwork for problems and then calling you to make sure you really wanted your logo to have wavy gray lines running through it. If you set up the job wrong for online printing, even though it would be obvious to anyone that your card isn’t supposed to be a solid black square, it’s tough luck. You have to figure out what is wrong, hopefully fix it, and pay for the reprint.

What make your local printer great? It is the relationship you’re building with someone who is learning your business, understands your goals and can offer expert advice as your company grows. They can give you ideas that you simply won’t get from an online seller, like managing an EDDM mailing to target a specific neighborhood or creating a unique presentation folder.

This is why cheap is expensive in the world of printing.

© 2015 Shelly Fagan

Diversified Print Solutions