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SoBeGraphics.com – Bad Business Practices

:: Friday, June 4th, 2004 @ 4:48:17 pm

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This is really annoying. I recently printed 5000 6×9″ flyers through SoBeGraphics.com, and they did a couple of things that seemed really shady. I found SoBeGraphics in the back of Photoshop User magazine.

First, I was promised delivery by a certain date, which would not have happened had it not been for a circumstantial call verifying the shipping address. So I had to upgrade my shipping, costing me $40 extra (they refused to pay for it, despite the fact that it was their broken promise).

Second, they stamp each flyer they make with a blurb that says “SoBeGraphics.com – 1.877.ASK.SOBE”. Upon later perusal of their website, I discovered this fact in the fine print on a page that you would never read when placing the order. This sort of thing is fine if they make it explicit that it is their policy, but I’ll bet that most people are thorougly surprised after receiving the product (as I was). I would gladly have paid the $50 extra to remove their stamp from my flyer, anyway — had I known.

On the other hand, the quality of the work is good. So my summary after working with them for the first time: good product, broken promises, and the shady practice of getting you to inadvertently market their business for free. I will never use them again.

| San Francisco, CA | link | trackback | Jun 4, 2004 16:48:17
  • http://aspragg.blogspot.com AdamS

    I strongly disagree with a company using customers as an explicit vehicle for advertising. I think a good company shouldn’t have to rely on this. That said…

    “Upon later perusal of their website, I discovered this fact in the fine print on a page that you would never read when placing the order.”

    On a whim, I checked out their page. I understand you’re upset, but let’s be fair here: The name of the page was “Terms and Conditions”, it’s linked from nearly every page in their main navigation panel, and the font size was consistent with the rest of the site. Those seem like relevant facts.

    Maybe you would never read this page before placing an order, but I certainly would.

    I don’t meant to be rude by offering a dissenting opinion, and I’m sympathetic that you didn’t get what you were expecting. I’m not trying to pick a fight or anything, but I don’t think your post was entirely fair.

    Adam

  • http://www.margaritobustos.com/blog Margarito Bustos

    Geeze, with service like that I would’ve used some markers, post-its, and a lot of creative thinking to make my own.

  • http://SoBeGraphics.com SoBeGraphics

    Hi not exactly sure who this client was but yes it is explicit in our terms and conditions page and also it is printed on the invoice you receive by mail. Delivery times are posted normal delivery times. we deliver on time 99% of the time if you make it by the posted cuoff times. See terms and conditions. Although we rarely miss production schedules, the printing and pre-press process involves equipment which is subject to malfunctions and/or equipment failure. We will always do everything in our power to make sure that any production problems do not delay your job. However, please note that ALL production and delivery times ARE NOT CONTRACTUAL and no turnaround time can be guaranteed. No verbal or written correspondence by anyone at SoBeGraphics.com can change that. Please try to plan date sensitive materials timely. Sad to stumble on this while doing a search. We have one the fastest turnaround and best pricing in the country. Alex.

  • http://SoBeGraphics.com SoBeGraphics

    OK I pulled the file because this is very rare. I like facts.
    Order was placed online on Wed. 05.26.04 at 8pm. Job goes to press on Thurs. 05.27.04. The 27 is the Thursday before memorial day weekend. HUGE AMOUNT OF WORK. especially here in south beach miami with all the clubs. Nevertheless – memorial weekend, nobody works. Cards we’re completed on the first business day back from the weekend which is tuesday 06.01.04 and due to a error in the shipping address and a needed phone call to confirm the address, the order missed the daily UPS pick-up around noon. Package was then shipped on the following day wednesday 06.02.04. Cheng upgraded his shipping to 2-day to make his deadline. We did everything humanly possible. Cheng failed to plan accordingly especially with the Memorial Day weekend. We are printers not miracle workers. Hope your next order goes a bit more smoothly.
    Alex.
    PS: please do not delete my post as i should have the right to defend your accusations with facts of the matter.
    Thanks.

  • http://aspragg.blogspot.com AdamS

    Well this has turned out to be pretty interesting! :)

    Where did the error in the shipping address come from?

  • echeng

    Alex – don’t worry.. I don’t pull comments that are not rude. I do appreciate your comments and your time.

    The bottom line for me is that I would have placed the order with another company if I had known that the shipping date would be missed without even a courtesy call. I called and said, “I absolutely need this by next Friday. Is that possible?” The answer was, “no problem.” So I placed the order.

    I received a call to verify the order and called back promptly. However, it was Wednesday when we had the conversation about the address — not Tuesday

    Also, there was no error in the shipping address. If you verify the address the order was shipped to, it is the same as the address I put in originally on the form when I placed the order. The address just happens not to be found in the UPS database, which does happen occasionally when I ship out packages myself. The UPS database cannot be assumed to be complete.

    In any case, I stand by my original statement. You should have explicit pricing options listed on your website with the marketing blurb laid out there for users to see. I even called in and talked to someone, and at no time was told “we will advertise on your flyers.” Hiding it in fine print is not a good business move, and at least people will now be able to find out by doing a google search instead of finding out another way. When I order something from an online store, for example, I expect the product to arrive as advertised. If I happened to miss something in the fine print, it may be my fault, but I can still bitch about the practice being shady.

    And I do think the end result was very nice. I have no complaints about quality.

  • echeng

    Sorry to drag this out.

    I guess I should clarify on why I’m bitching (re: the inserted advertising). SoBe is provides a way to order their services online. They also have an option to not modify your flyers with their advertisement. But nowhere in the ordering process do they give you an option to add the $40 removal fee. As you are placing an order, it’s simply nowhere except in the fine print. All I expected was to be confronted with the option explicitly, since it does involve modification of my submission.

    If SoBe’s ordering process changes to explicitly list the inserted advertising, I will remove this post.

  • http://SoBeGraphics.com SoBeGraphics

    OK… so we have just completed rebuilding our website based on Erics recommendations… NOT.

    Come on Eric. Your not being fair.
    1.When you completed the order on the screen you were displayed your invoice with the warning about the “tag”.
    2. You received a copy of the same invoice via email with the warning.
    3. When you uploaded your files you also received another confirmation email which also has the warning about the “tag”.

    ??

    I don’t know about you but anytime i see any contractual type print i read it. Especially when you receive it 3 times.
    99% of our customers do not even mind the microscopic 5pt 50% opacity tag.
    I think we’re beating a dead horse here and we are very sorry you did not take the time to read your invoice.
    Thanks and have a great day.

    Alex

    PS: Please do not remove this post as I am getting great hits from it.

    June Hits: 106 http://www.echeng.com/journal/

  • echeng

    Alex – I guess I’m among the 1%. I prefer to read about shady, hidden practices BEFORE I receive an invoice for the order I have just placed. I also like to have things shipped when promised.

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