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Awkward customer.. What would you do?

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Post Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:48 pm

Awkward customer.. What would you do?

Hi all,

Just wondering what others would do in this situation:

We were asked to quote for & new front for a light box sign (5900x720mm)for a new customer. Went out to view & discuss needs with customer. Perspex appeared to be in good condition & decided that best option for customer was removal of old vinyl lettering & application of new graphic printed onto translucent vinyl, (keeping cost down by avoiding new perspex).

Artwork was then drawn up & pdf's sent to choose from, they duly made their choice & approved the artwork via email.

The graphics were then outsourced to a very reliable printers, arrived with us & we went out to fit.

(by the way we were initially contacted on a Tuesday & they asked if the sign could be fitted by the following Monday, we said we'd do our best, artwork was not signed off till Monday morning, we had sign fitted by Wednesday Morning)

3 hours of vinyl removal & fitting later we stood back & admired the sign, then went to get the customer from within. I said "your sign is finished, would you like to come out to view it & make sure your happy before we go?" He did & we stood chatting for about 5 minutes more outside regarding some other small bits of signage he was contemplating having done. We then said goodbye & went on our merry way, another job done & a happy customer :D

Then about 2hours later I had a call from the design office, saying that the customer had called to say they weren't happy with the colours on the sign, that it looked different to the proof that they had viewed on their laptop & that they had asked several other people what they thought & they all agreed the sign looked like it had been there about 10 yrs & had faded badly & therefore they wanted it replacing.

We explained that the colours on their pc screen would obviously not match the finished print exactly & as they had not specified that they wanted a specific colour matched to pantone refs etc. We offered to go over the matt finished vinyl with a gloss laminate, but that wouldn't do.
I contacted the printers to double check everything their sided was working ok, i.e. colour profile for printing onto translucent vinyl etc, & all was well.

The margin was small enough on this, as new customer & recession & all, If I agree to change the sign & re do it with cut vinyl (probably the cheapest option & we can do that in house) in principal I feel we would be admitting the sign was not right, when in fact it is as the pdf. & I would end up slightly out of pocket but at least paid. Or should I go & remove the vinyl & tell him where to go (Very tempting but, not good for business or my bank balance)

Let me know what you think

Thanks
Regards
Myles
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Post Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:04 pm

Myles, sorry can't really give you an answer but I was wondering why you didn't do the job in Translucent vinyl to start with, I am not a great lover of graphics printed on to clear or translucent vinyl as I think they can often give the impression that they are dull and faded, I know it doesn't help you but I have a sample that I take with me when I go to do jobs like this for that very reason. I also explain to customers that screen colours and printed visual colours can vary from the actual finished sign.
Like I say I'm not sure what the best way forward for you would really be but hope you can resolve this fairly painlessly.
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Post Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:26 pm

So why did they say they were happy when they viewed it? Are the colours way out? I think it's just another attempt not to pay mate. Others would argue this but I'd be there next day and remove the sign. No pay...no sign.
Problems like this caused me much damage last year due to unpaid bills. If they don't pay you then you can't pay them then you run out of money. As soon as that happens you are the biggest dirty businessman in your suppliers eyes and believe me it takes along time to gain their trust and respect again. Don't let him do this to you. :wink:
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Post Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:29 pm

Not sure what I would do in this case.
But I wondered if the translucent had been double-printed?
When I ordered a print from my wholesaler for use on translucent they told me they always print it twice so the colors remain vivid when the sign is lit.
And they did look just the same as the sketch.
(I think this was with a Versacamm)
Do you think this client is just complaining so they don't have to pay in full? I've had that happen but not for years thankfully.
And you certainly gave them good service from the sounds of it.
Love....Jill
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Post Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:32 pm

hi, you said light box didn't you?
So the colours are now backlit? so is the colours correct when the lights are off?

two things:-

1: Lights alter the colours, if they are not cool white tubes then you may have a 'yellow' look to the light box, so your vinyls change colour as you look at it. Noticable at night mainly.
2: My colours are normally darkened down, but I simulate this with a small lightbox I got here to get customer approval and explain it to them especailly when pantones are specified.

doesn't help you too much , but just thought i mention it.

have they paid?
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Post Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:56 pm

sorry if this sounds harsh, very few customers try to find fault to avoid paying, most are genuinely unhappy with the product if they complain.
It doesn't necessarily mean the product is wrong though.
just that the client wasnt shown a sample of what to expect.
This is a case where you appear to be it a no win situation.
you have tried to save the client money by using the the original substate.
Three hours of stripping would be equal to a new piece of perspex, not that its relevant,
You have subbed out the print, so the trade supplier will just turn round and tell you it was done to the artwork and format you specified.
So lessons to be learnt.
and I have been there,
if you take on a job, best know how to do it, and provide a sample of the expected results for the client to sign off, not just assume all will fine.

Peter
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Post Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:09 pm

At first I thought this just sounds like the customer was trying it on. But on reflection it would appear the customer became dissatisfied after you left. Was this because he hadn't seen the sign lit up? And if so - how does it look to you when lit up? Being a print, it may well look "washed out" in comparison to translucent vinyl which is what the customer had before.

Ask yourself if you were in his position - would you be satisfied with the work that was done? And what would you like to see the outcome if you were in his shoes.

Sometimes when a job goes wrong - it's an opportunity to show your integrity and put things right.

On the other hand - he may just be trying it on. And if that is the case you will probably know if that is the case or not.
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Post Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:24 pm

Miles,

Tell them the colours look exactly like on your PC, so obviously the problem must lie with his laptop, and he should demand compensation from the manufacturers of his laptop!

Seriously, though, if he did not specify colours from a regognised source, or give you proper colour samples, he's got no foot to stand on. I had a case where the client specified a pantone reference for a blue that had to be printed on 24 windows, 1800 x 700 mm. The blue was a flood coat background, with only 4 lines of 50mm text in it. This was EXPENSIVE to print, since it drank ink like a sailor does rum, and I had to use 3.6 metres of 1350mm wide vinyl per window (1.6 clear, backed by 1.6m white) When we fitted about 4 windows, the client complained, and said the blue had a "greenish tint" in it which was not right. (ALL 24 widows were printed and backed by white by then...)

Being a patient fellow, I put a sock in it, went back to the workshop, and matched a sample he gave me, and reprinted the lot. While fitting the new batch, a delivery van from their South African headquarters showed up. The colours on that was exactly like the first batch printed. When I took the client outside and pointed this out to him, he became rather flustered. Turns out they changed their colour scheme, and he accidentally gave me the Pantone reference for the old colour.....

Moral of the story - Colour becomes an easy scape-goat come payment time if the client made a mistake. Tell the client that you would charge him at cost for the original work done (including labour) and charge the full price for the re-do.
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Post Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:27 pm

Jillbeans wrote:Not sure what I would do in this case.
But I wondered if the translucent had been double-printed?
When I ordered a print from my wholesaler for use on translucent they told me they always print it twice so the colors remain vivid when the sign is lit.
And they did look just the same as the sketch.
(I think this was with a Versacamm)
Do you think this client is just complaining so they don't have to pay in full? I've had that happen but not for years thankfully.
And you certainly gave them good service from the sounds of it.
Love....Jill


You are in a no win situation here I think. If it was not double layers of ink, I find clients are always disappointed with the pic when lit.

I always stress that the pic may seem washed out when lit at night, and make them very aware of it before we proceed. I always print double strike on translucent though, and I've never had a complaint.

As phil says though, it is a good opportunity to show your business ethics and replace it FOC. That sort of thing will only help your reputation.

An expensive lesson to learn, but you still have an opportunity to salvage the client and leave him on good terms.
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Post Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:39 pm

Myles,

I am a one man band. I am therefore in a weak position if this sort of thing crops up with a corporation or the like.

I would try to go and put my cards on the table before it becomes a stand off situation. I would try and meet with them, appeal to their better nature and try and resolve this on a more personal level rather than a cold business level.

That's what I would do. Probably not the best help though...
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Post Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:57 pm

Peter Normington wrote:if you take on a job, best know how to do it, and provide a sample of the expected results for the client to sign off, not just assume all will fine.

Not much help in this instance Myles, but absolutely correct. Whatever the outcome of this job, if you only learn that it will have been worthwhile.

Like Peter, and most others, I have learned some similar expensive lessons throughout my career.
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Post Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:07 am

If you feel the job is fine both lit and unlit id stick to your guns and demand payment.

What customers expect/anticipate/picture in there heads can be way out from what it will actually look like.

Like Peter though don't understand how you think 3 hours labour is worth less than a piece of perspex. We never clean boards or vinyl. We always say - it would be more expensive, - but feel free to clean it your self if you want to save money!

Hope you resolve things.

Nigel
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Post Tue Oct 13, 2009 6:47 am

Gotta say I feel for you mate.

It does bring the matter up again about receiving a deposit for a job, especially rush jobs because once they've got the sign up it's not important to them.

If you can see where you've let yourself down on procedures, then like some of the other guys here have said, bite the bullet and replace FOC.

I've made $000's of mistakes where I've had to replace stuff but it all goes to my education fund :-) - The price of learning a trade on the job.
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Post Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:43 am

I meant to add, just so that you know you're not alone, we are doing a job at the moment that is, how can I put it, "adding to our knowledge base". :D

While I understand the adage about learning from your own mistakes, I think it much better to learn from somebody else's. Which is why I think your post is valuable, it might save somebody else, maybe me, falling into the same trap. So thanks for putting it up.
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Post Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:33 am

Hi All,
Thanks very much for all your comments,

Here is a pic of the offending job, I left out their name to save any hassle.

The original sign they had was cut trans. vinyl & I thought I was doing the right thing by using printed trans vinyl which was also required due to fades in the design. I hadn't actually used it before but sought independant advice before we went that route, & it seemed to be the correct product for the job in hand & the printers used a colour profile called Max Impact which puts down 2 or 3 strikes to give good saturation apparently. Both the printers, the designer & ourselves were very satisfied that the job was done correctly & to the agreed proof.

I agree that a sample of the colours on the suggested substrate may be a good idea to show the customer & a note to them stating that screen colours may not match the actual printed product. but if they want an exact colour match to something then they should either say so, or provide a pantone ref. No mention was made of this during the whole process, & considering this clients job (KODAK shop) he should have a good understanding of colours etc.

You all made very valid points regarding the whole situation thanks & the most important is about learning from situations I think, It all helps us develop our businesses hopefully in a positive way in the end.

I am going to see the client shortly to see how we can resolve the problem & will post the outcome later[/img]
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Post Tue Oct 13, 2009 1:41 pm

Hi Myles,
Can't see a pic, but I see you have said it is a Kodak shop?
I used to do all of the kodak shops nation wide a good few years back, not sure if the procedure has changed, but we had to get approval from Kodak's design and legal department for every sign. We had a 200 page manual of design layouts specs etc to make sure every sign was laid out correctly
We did everything in translucent vinyl, all colours had been approved by Kodak.
Kodak are a massive company with a huge legal department, and TBH there is no chance of getting paid if the sign doesn't conform to there exacting standards.
Only two options really Either redo in trans or remove, and put it down to experience..
Having said that, if the franchisee ordered the sign without consulting Kodak it would be down to him, but i'm not sure how they work it now, as Kodak would normally pay for any branded signage, and be in from the start?
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Post Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:47 pm

Don't seem to be able to attach an image for some reason,

Anyway, went to see them today & after a calm discussion about screen colours all being different, our failure to supply a sample print on the suggested material & their failure to specify a particular colour we agreed to re do the sign without the colour gradients, with cut vinyl & left them a swatch to pick the colours from, I offered to do this at cost price & they seemed to be happy with that, as far as I could tell. They then asked me to measure up & price for another couple of small signs, so hopefully all Will end well... providing they pay!! :o

Myles[/right]
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Post Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:09 pm

Don't forget to take a deposit before you start .
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Post Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:32 pm

I HAD EXACTLY THE SAME PROBLEM. BUT LUCKILY CUSTOMER WAS HAPPY. IF YOU HAVEN'T REMOVED ALREADT A CHEAP WHITE VINYL APPLIED INSIDE OF THE WINDOW WILL BRING OUT THE COLORS DRASTICALLY.

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