A Distributor Asks: Several weeks after a client received their order, they decided to purchase more of the same product. Even though it’s been less than a month since the first order, the supplier will charge me a second setup fee. I’m not comfortable charging my client this fee, but I don’t really want to absorb it, either. Has anyone else found a good solution to this problem?

While we distributors dislike the oftentimes heavy set-up charge (and reset-up charge), we understand that there is a certain amount of labor involved to make ready a logo/copy for printing. Speak with your supplier rep and politely ask if they will allow a reduced reset-up charge for this order. If your rep is unable to accommodate your request, split the cost of a reset-up charge with your customer. Most frequent buyers of promotional products are aware of a set-up charge. They understand that this is a labor fee to set up the printing press to print your order. If you still feel uncomfortable about asking your customer for a reset-up fee, then you absorb it. Consider it as a cost of doing business and move on.

Joy Nero Ferguson, CAS   |   President   |   Sterling Ideas Unlimited!


This sounds like an educating-your-client type of question. Another point you have not mentioned are the initial or reorder quantities. A client needs to understand there are real costs to reset a machine to produce more of a product. I have found clients understand the cost if you explain why it is necessary. A corollary issue that often arises is that the client may expect the same or lower pricing, given they are ordering more of the product. This too needs to be explained, in that pricing covers each order and that there is no way to extend combined quantity pricing unless you have planned for it.

On this reorder, regardless of its size, offer to absorb the reset charge if you feel it is warranted based on your relationship with this client. However, explain in detail what reset charges are for, and that you will have to charge for these in the future. Explain that when they order any items in the future, either get a pre-production proof if they really want to see their actual logoed product or order more than what they consider they need. If you feel the product has a wider use within their organization, explain that and you might end up with a larger order and they may qualify for better pricing. Base quantity requirements upon how the product will be used. A good guide to determine the quantity needed is to consider how interesting the product is, how well the logo appears and how likely others may want to use the same item for other applications.

For instance, if the product is being used to launch a new logo, you would be wise to order more than you have in mind for the current application, as immediate recipients and others may also wish to associate with the new brand. On the other hand, if the product will be used for a one-off event, you might plan for a five- to 10-percent larger quantity to cover those who may not have been in attendance [at the planning meeting] or those who love the product so much that they want another piece for a spouse, fellow employee or whomever. I recall producing a custom Swiss Army knife that had a really limited use, but the design was so in tune with the client’s branding that I talked them into ordering 15 percent more than they needed. In fact, we were still too light on the quantity, but it whet their interest for another event the following year.

Keith McKenzieAccount ExecutiveHALO Branded SolutionsPPAI 106462


A Distributor Asks: What is the best way to determine if an order is legitimate? I recently had a request from a caller in California, but they requested that the product be delivered to a courier company in Texas. The prospective client confirmed the order and imprint information, and also emailed a credit card authorization form right away. But I’m very skeptical about this order. What should I do to verify its authenticity?

Only accept prepayment in full by EFT/ACH bank wire, then you are covered. If the customer refuses, do not trust the credit card payment, nor check, both of which can be disputed later, and you would then be out the payment.

Neil GoldbergerPresidentProduct-Envy, Inc.PPAI 657436


In the old days this was pretty simple. If we doubted the solvency of a prospective customer, the first purchase order was typically shipped COD. In your case, I suggest that you call your prospective customer. Thank them for their purchase order then explain that all your customers pay for their initial purchase order with a credit card. After their credit card has been approved, proceed with the P.O.   

David J. Hawes, MAS+Brand ArchitectGeigerPPAI 105182


Regardless of your hesitation, we would merely share the concerns with the client first and see how they might respond to this request. Also, if this is the first time you’ve engaged in a business activity with this client, you might ask them for money up front to settle any outstanding questions or concerns. Establish a blueprint for taking orders for both parties concerned.

Gary M. Murphy, CASCEO, Creative DirectorImage West


Tina Berres Filipski is editor of PPB.