by Keith McPherson
DISCLAIMER: A lot of this report is based on opinion and observation. Absolute proof of a printer ripping you off is a legal matter and any comments contained in this report do not pertain to any particular dealer. DO NOT go off half-cocked and accuse any printer of ripping you off as you could possibly get into legal problems. This report deals with "danger signs". A printer having any or all of these danger signs my or may not be dishonest... you be the judge. This report does not intend to call anybody a crook ... just to inform you of shady practices. If you feel a printer has ripped you off for a couple bucks...be mature and chalk it off to experience. On bigger amounts...you make the decision.
If you've been in mail order for more than a month...chances are you've been ripped off by one or more ad sheet printers. This report won't make you a mail order genius but might keep you from loosing your shirt prematurely.
The impossible dream...You've seen the ads...get 5,000 8.5 x 11 printed both sides and mailed for only $25.00. Who's kidding who. The paper alone would cost about $4/1,000 or $20. Then there's 2 photo plates and ink and postage. Unless the people offering this type offer are Santa, it's impossible. People that fall for this type of ad are the ones that search through every publication to find the cheapest there is...and there's always someone waiting to take their money. If they'll lie to you about the numbers printed...what else would they do to you?
Crooked ad sheet printers fully realize that most of the ads they receive will be from mail order beginners and won't pull no matter where they are printed so they sort of do the crooked rationalization bit and become what I call ... 'THE COPY MACHINE BANDITS."
The modern photo-copy machine is a great invention for the office but in the hands of the unscrupulous becomes a tool for printing phony ad sheets, etc. The copy machines of yesterday made a copy that was easy to tell it was a copy. The new ones are not so easy. BUT, there are ways to tell...at least part of the time.. The real expensive machines are tough to tell...the cheaper ones much more easy. Thank heavens most crooks use the cheaper machines.
How do you tell...USE YOUR SENSES! Sight, touch and yes, smell are the important ones here...
Look at your checking copy. An old fashioned copy is easy to tell with the smeary copy look. Did the "publisher" really make 1,000 photo copies? Even if they stole the copies from their employers photo-copy machine...how could they really print 1,000 copies?
Photo-copies of some machines have a really glossy look to the ink. A photo-copy machine that has been used a lot often has a dark smudge or line across the copy if the drum needs cleaning. Also, a photo-copy machine has a "wider latitude" than a photo-offset printer and will show things the offset copy won't ...for example the chris-cross lines of paste-up paper and a shadow around all the ads if they have just been laid on the paper and not really glued to the sheet.
Touch...quite often the photo copy sheet has a different feel to it than one that has been "printed."
SMELL. The smell of fresh printers ink has a distinctive "kerosene like" fragrance. Newer type copy machine copies have almost no odor... stick your nose into the envelope and smell! If you're a heavy smoker it probably won't work...also older copies loose this distinctive smell. Older copy machines often made copies with a strong solvent or chemical odor. However, the latest high-tech photo-offset prints have little or no smell to them...especially if a high quality non-diluted ink is used.
REMEMBER, the photo-offset printing process that we "mail order" people use so much of is much like a photo-copy EXCEPT a plate is made and ink is used which is transferred by roller to the paper.
The "Round Robin" rip-off... A publisher offers to print your ad in several thousand copies if you mail a few. I got one in which I received 10 copies to mail. There were 24 advertisers...if they all got 10 to mail, it would make 240 circulation...not the many thousands they claim.
The RETURN MAIL PLOY. It pays to be suspicious of dealers that send you a checking copy by return mail. While this might happen now and then, mail order publishing is just not that fast. Even if you do your own printing...I can't believe that they fill out sheets on a daily basis. A few honest dealers do send a mockup by return mail showing what your ad will look like in their publication, however, this practice is strange indeed. It is designed so that their repeat orders come back faster. Awhile back I received a checking copy from a dealer and later saw an ad sheet that looked familiar. I took out my checking copy from a dealer and later was exactly the same except a different ad was in the place of mine. A polite letter to the printer got back a reply saying it was a coincidence (barf).
So how does one avoid being ripped off...or perhaps, ripped off less?
The answer is awfully cruel to new ad sheet publishers that are high on hope but haven't got out an issue yet, but I advice to advertise ONLY and you'll soon be getting ad sheets in the mail on a daily basis. After a short time, you'll realize which ad sheets really get around. However, some dealers do ALL their own mailing (which is commendable). If you see ad ad sheet or publication you think you'd like to use but haven't seen a copy, usually a stamp sent to the publisher gets you an issue.
It is rare indeed to receive a mailing from one of the copy machine bandits other than a photo-copy checking copy. Remember, couple dollars is a good price to run an ad but darned high price to pay for a photocopy.
If you are interested in reading about similar mail order topics, why not send: P.F. Skeberdis, P.O. Box 27, Fremont, MI 49412 $1.00 a sample copy of his report series.
In conclusion, use your senses to determine if the ad sheet you're interested in is for real or poorly done photo copy.
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