Acceptable Industry Practice?

Printed promotional pens

Printed promotional pens

The industry my business operates in, the ‘Promotional Gifts Market’ has been around for over a hundred years, and there’s one industry practice that irritates me so much, I feel the need to write about it. It’s a practice that must surely date back to the Ark.

The industry has a weird policy over things called ‘overs and unders’. Let me explain:

Promotional Gift Distributors are basically middle men. The manufacturers, wholesalers and overprinters don’t want to deal with the public, they want to deal with trade customers who come back time and time again, have a good credit record, and who know their way around the business, we know what type of artwork will and wont fit onto the barrel of a pen for example.

So the way it works is this. Our customers choose a product they’d like branded, and place the order with my company (RT Promotions – shameless plug).  I place the order for the pens with my pen printer/suppler, and they are duly delivered to my customer. Easy?

Well yes, in many ways it is, but there’s this industry practice thats driving me nuts. Let me tell you about it.

Practically ALL of the UK suppliers have this small print or clause which states that they reserve the right to produce and deliver anything between 5-10% over or under. In other words, you order 1,000 pens, and you may get 1,100, or 900.

Now, they have been doing this for as long as anyone can remember, and for the most part, we are talking 5%’s here, 20 or 30 pens either way. They charge pro-rata whatevers delivered, But….. what am I meant to charge? My customers get fed up with it. They ordered 1,000 pens, they want 1,000 delivered, not 1,050. They don’t want to pay for the extra pens.

Why is this practice allowed to continue? There are a brave few suppliers who deliver the exact quantity, every time. When asked, they’ll tell you its not a problem, they’ll even ask why we allow the other supliers to get away with it.

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