Print Contract Negotiation In-Depth
Inspection of All Materials
If you’re working from the printer’s boilerplate agreement, it’s likely it never touches on the printer’s obligations to inspect materials the publisher supplies. Printers are justifiably concerned about making inspections that amount to warranties regarding the suitability of third-party materials. The receiving dock doesn’t want to take responsibility for your other suppliers, but because you have no opportunity to verify shipments yourself, you must rely on the printer to check fundamental attributes.
Assign the printer only practical responsibilities, and be specific. For page files, for example, a typical PDF workflow means the publisher must solve all the pesky problems of color content, bleed and trim, fonts and trapping. If you want the printer to provide preflight inspection, state your requirements and add the cost to the price schedule. If not, the printer’s obligation begins and ends with telling you he’s missing page 36.
Binding materials and publisher-supplied paper are another matter. In both instances, the printer should be obligated to inspect and report receipt within a defined period of time, perhaps as promptly as 24 hours, perhaps a more generous 72, depending on your publishing schedule and paper-ordering practices.
The printer will need reasonable limits on the scope of inspections. For binding materials, ask for a check for gross transit damage, a rough weighing to verify quantity against the bill of lading, and conformance to samples or identification of the inserts you provide. Accept the fact that the printer is not going to dig through an entire skid to ascertain that the perfume smells as sweet on each scent strip, or that every blow-in card is trimmed squarely. Your insert printer or advertiser has to accept responsibility for the quality of the work; the printer has to determine that the right inserts arrived in suitable condition.