When I was young, I’d tag along with dad on grocery store runs when we ran short of supplies for Sunday’s family dinner - a tradition not to be messed with. I’d re-route my dad to the cereal aisle hoping to get him to buy a box advertising a free toy inside. One of many teaching opportunities, he’d say “Son, TANSTAAFL, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Nothing worthwhile is free. If they’re giving it away, it’s for a reason, and that reason is never good.” Still, I’d persist, only to learn that the toy inside the box bore little semblance of the picture. I’d soon toss it aside, hoping for a better outcome next time. Like most stubborn kids, it took time to learn that he was right. I had to experience my own joy of receiving that big box of 24 free cassette music tapes for just $0.01 before choking on the cost of those “reasonably priced” extra 24 tapes over the next 12 months that included shipping and handling charges large enough to ship furniture halfway across the country. TANSTAAFL learned.
Free deals just never go away. In the traffic sign industry, it’s the second time for yet another “free” new digital printer. With many sign shops still experiencing the sour taste of the first free printer, the same cast of characters is pushing another free printer with the same old pitch: “you’re going to buy sheeting from us anyway, why not make your volume commitment official and get a free printer?”
Personally, I like saying no, it’s very empowering. But I also place a high value on independence and have a preference for doing things the right way. If you’re tempted by the bait, try not to act shocked when reality doesn’t match expectations, or when your supplier feigns surprise if you complain about something you got for free. From where I sit, many of the same problems that recipients of free printer number 1 experienced appear to accompany printer number 2 (I know most of you aren’t counting, but technically this is printer number 4, the first two didn’t go far with their free giveaway scheme).
Ultimately this is your decision to make since my competition appears uninterested in extending this offer to me personally. Before you decide, you deserve reliable answers to these questions:
Who provides operator training for the printer?
Don’t believe anyone who tells you that the printer they are selling (or giving you…) is” plug and play” like your desktop office printer. Digital printing is new to this industry, A learning curve for shop employees not experienced in digital traffic sign printing is real. Don’t forget that we are not printing banners, car wraps or window promotions - we are producing government regulated safety devices upon which the safety of roadway users depend. Does your supplier truly understand this?
Who provides technical support when I have questions or problems?
Will it be the printer manufacturer or their distributor? The sheeting manufacturer? The ink supplier? Who is responsible for your satisfaction as a printer owner? Diagnosing print issues can be difficult, and with the possibility of four parties involved, time-delaying and frustrating finger pointing might drive you mad. Try telling your local police department to wait a week or two to receive a new STOP sign that was knocked down while you figure out who’s responsible for your printer being down.
Who provides the warranty on the printed signs, and what is it?
With ever-changing recommendations on printers and inks in a short period of time, what is really known about outdoor durability over an extended period of time? Government agency specifications call for long-term performance warranties that can be as long as 15 years. Who is providing the warranty? Forget the hopeful thinking - what is documented in writing? If you experience early color fading, don’t be left holding the bag when one of these various parties starts pointing the finger elsewhere.
Do printed signs meet government specifications?
Assurances that signs meet color and reflectivity requirements. This helps protect you against your production being rejected by an agency that performs incoming sign inspections, and helps shield you from liability associated with supplying non-compliant signs. Check if signs produced on this printer have undergone extended outdoor weathering to prove the durability claims. Is there a certification program? Who administers the program? Don’t forget, it’s common for State transportation agencies to require that the printing method be approved - with the manufacturers’ system listed on an Approved Products List.
While some sheeting manufacturers keep switching printers, unable to figure out which platform will work, Avery Dennison’s TrafficJet™ continues to be the industry’s leading selling digital printer for specification compliant, and fully warranted traffic signs. Importantly for you, Avery Dennison backs the entire system starting with the award-winning Mutoh 1638X digital printer built to our specifications. Avery Dennison’s team of certified, professional technicians who are stationed around the world, personally install your printer and provide operator training. You’ll know how to print and maintain the printer before he or she leaves. We manufacturer our own digital inks and our own reflective sheeting - giving you the ONLY system completely supported by the sheeting manufacturer. Any questions of problems which arise are addressed with a single telephone call for support. No delays, and no finger pointing.
Beyond the TrafficJet printer, our finished sign durability warranties are longer than all of our competitors. Remember, there’s no use trading the convenience of digital printing for a sign that is less durable. And if graffiti is a problem for your agency - you’ll love our built-in cleanability using our protective overlay. Our warranties, Certified Digital Traffic Converter Program, and our Clear ✓ Maintenance Program, are all in black and white - no misdirection - clear language you can understand. This is how you create and maintain the industry’s best selling digital print system for specification compliant and fully warranted traffic signs, and generate customer satisfaction.
And no, we didn’t need to resort to giving away free printers to achieve success. For your own digital print demonstration, a printed sample, or a quote on the TrafficJet Print System, please contact us at your earliest convenience here.
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