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16 ProPrint March 2016
Stephen Lewis from Digital Print Australia is told the supplier of his seven-year-old
digital printer will no longer support the 'ageing machine'
My adventures in the graphic arts
industry began more than five
decades ago when there were
four Beatles and offset printing was
viewed with cautious scepticism. Let's
face it, the odds of ink and water
sharing the same platform were about
as farcical as believing that Australia
would ever have a female prime
My first design/print job was to
produce a small number of certificates
for a group. It necessitated using a 72pt
heading which, in the infancy of cold
type techniques, offered few solutions.
The most obvious, and popular, was to
purchase a sheet of Letraset, a dry
transfer method of rubbing the
required letters from a plasticised sheet
onto your artwork.
A 72pt sheet was not cheap and, by
accident or design, seemed to include a
very limited number of the characters
that one wanted to use in any given job.
The other problem was that Letraset
did not come with a spell-checker,
much to my disappointment when the
client pointed out that I had misspelt
the word honorary.
So, when re-creating the artwork I
found that I had run out of the letter 'o'
and not only had to bear the cost of
reprinting the job, but had to purchase
yet another sheet of Letraset, simply to
obtain one letter.
Thankfully, technology, stagnant for
almost 500 years (excluding
automation), was accelerating at a
pretty reasonable pace in the early
1970s and Letraset gave way to photo
typesetting which ultimately became
digitised before becoming
computerised, and ultimately no-one
needed Letraset, and you could not give
away the hundreds of partly used
alphabets that were once the backbone
of any design studio.
My journey since ha s included
significant financial contributions to
the resellers of Compugraphic,
Linotype, Apple, Canon, Xerox, Agfa
and Océ, not to mention the cost of
ancillary add-ons such as folders,
staplers, guillotines, slitters, drills
and binding devices -- and many
other names I cannot recall right now.
In the course of our evolution, trade
typesetting morphed into digital
printing. Eight imagesetters and a
myriad of digital presses later, we found
ourselves in 2014 in the peculiar
notice that it would no longer be able to
support the machine on a contracted
basis, 'due to the costs associated with
supporting ageing equipment'.
A bit rich I think, given that we are
talking about a heavy duty high cycle
machine which is still available from
the same supplier (albeit with an X or
something added to its name) and from
which they have profited exceptionally
well during the seven years of its
I too am in the category of 'ageing
equipment' -- a milestone three score
years and ten birthday approaching at
twice the speed of light -- and I have no
desire to re-enter the murky waters of
financing another press.
So I rang the 1300 number indicated
in the letter I received which suggested
I ask to speak to my account manager.
I am in Adelaide. The 1300 number
gets me in touch with someone in
Melbourne. In accordance with the
letter, I asked to speak to my account
manager, and he asked me who is my
account manager. Now, I rather
assumed that they might know the
answer to that one, because I don't.
After two silent minutes while he
attempted to find out who my account
manager is, I was told he will have to
get back to me. Two-seventeenths of my
allotted remaining time has passed,
and still I am without an account
manager. Perhaps something awful has
happened to him. Perhaps, like my
machine, the costs associated with an
account manager can no longer be
borne by the company?
Or perhaps I should have dialled
Whatever the ultimate outcome, I
suspect I am the loser, no longer privy
to maintenance and consumables
included in my click charge, and at the
mercy of a multi-national who can
charge me whatever they think is
profitable, rega rdless of my thoughts on
the matter. Which are pretty obvious.
Interestingly, they still have not
responded to my request for an account
manager to contact me so I can
ascertain what the new arrangement
will be, which all adds up to pretty
disgusting treatment of a loyal client.
Heaven help me if the supplier of the
colour press ever gets wind of this and
send me the same letter.
Although I do know who my account
manager is at that company.
Seven year itch:
supplier pulls pin
on service contract
Ageism in printing service
situation of having paid off all our
apparatus, a hitherto unknown
I could have been disappointed in
late 2015 when the supplier of our one
remaining (A1) imagesetter informed
us that their company would no longer
be supporting the maintenance of the
machine, though in all fairness, its 18
years of faithful service had seen it
produce enough film to stretch from
Sydney to Canberra -- and possibly
some of the way back. And while its
contribution to the bottom line is still
noticeable on the balance sheet, if we
had to send it out to pasture there
would be small cause for remorse.
The two mainstay machines of our
operation are a black and white digital
press which sits in parallel with a
monster of a colour press. For five
painstaking years, all of them during
the global financial crisis, we had to
find $20,000 each month in order to
ultimately own them. Add the
mandatory click charge to that and it
becomes pretty obvious why the
overdraft took an absolute battering,
along with personal savings and any
other means needed to survive in small
business in tough times.
Move forward two years to February
2016 and things are looking pretty
bright. No press payments and a steady
workflow has put the business on a
sound financial footing and the future
Well, it did until yesterday anyway,
when the supplier of the black and
white machine gave us 17 working days
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