Monday, November 24, 2008

Tales from Cuboria...

Some people in this world are just destined to have a job where you get to say, "Do you want fries with that?" Some of those people work for one of our vendors, a national office supply company that shall be nameless....

We're working on a long-standing project that is a departure for us in terms of manufacturing methods and packaging. It's both a cool and very complex device, which after long hours of hard work, has nearly come together. Sadly for us, one of the last bits of detail, labels for the outside of the device and a switch panel just couldn't come together in the required amount of time. I was assigned the task of creating substitutes for these labels and the switch panel. The vendor who will be making these items sent me the artwork they are using for the panels. I took the artwork and went to my local vendor on Thursday afternoon to see what they could do to help.

What they had was an amazing color printer that prints with solid inks on fairly heavy card-stock. I got a sample and found out what I needed to supply for file types, sizes and that I could submit my documents online to save myself a trip. I went back to my office to figure out how I could make this work. After some looking around, I discovered that we have some adhesive films and plastic sheets for the outer layer and I resolved to laminate some labels and cut them out by hand. No big deal, I thought - maybe about a 4 hour job for all that this entailed.


On Friday morning, I tried to email the files that I had received to their print center only to be told by their web page, that this was not possible.

Okay. Nothing is insurmountable.

I drove down with a thumb-drive loaded with the images that I needed to have printed. I figured on about 5 copies of each to give me a chance to try things out and make mistakes. This was a total of 25 pages of printing. I brought black-and-white full size copies of the images with me to the store along with a specific set of instructions:

5 copies of each file
Color print onto heavy, matte finish card stock
Print all images full size

Simple, right?

"I'll have those ready for you by 5:00 PM tonight, sir - 8:00 PM at the latest."

"Well, we're under some pressure here - can you expedite the order?"

"I'll see what I can do. We'll call you at 5:00 or sooner to let you know how things are going and we'll call if we have any questions."


5:00 PM came and went. No phone call. 5:15 came. I called them to enquire how the print job was going.

"We're just about to start it - why don't you stop by about 6:30?"

( #$(%*$!!! ) "Sure. See you then."

I killed some time running some errands and arrived at the store to find the print job done. Still, it wasn't quite right. Two of the labels were much too small. I pointed the fact out to the woman working at the counter and she re-printed them in the correct size while I waited. On the surface, the others appeared to be correct. I finally left the vendor's store at about 7:10 PM on a Friday evening when I'd really rather be at home with my family.

This morning (Monday), I arrived at work and started to assemble the labels.

*Uh oh...* Yup. They're a little small...

I return to the vendor's store with the files and tell the woman at the counter (A different person than the one I dealt with on Friday) that the files weren't properly printed and pointed out the clear instructions on the envelope the labels were given to me in. She told me that she'd fix that - no charge. (Darn tootin'!) After a few minutes, she prints two pages. They're exactly the same as the one I have. She spends another few minutes looking through options for the printer, looking confused. She finally calls me over behind the counter and tells me that she can't figure out what the problem is. She selects her way through print options including "FIT TO PRINTER MARGINS" and hits "PRINT". A warning screen comes up that reads, "OUTPUT WILL NOT BE FULL SCALE" and she clicks "OK"!!!


She passes me the mouse and I manage to turn the scale to "NONE" and print, getting full scale prints of my labels. (I hope) It's not every day that the customer has to come in and show the employees how to operate their equipment!

Some days, you just can't win.

Oh, and one parting shot - just remember that Murphy was an optimist!

Images from Go look at their demotivators. You'll laugh yourself silly.

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