It used to be, back when I first, in 1997, most companies had a set-up charge when you placed your first order. 

Now, let me give you a little insight here.  Each different item you order (coffee mug, calendars, pens, shirts, mouse pads, notebooks, etc) requires a set up charge.  Even though you may be ordering all of these items from one person (me wink) or one company, the factory(s) that are producing these promotional products use different machines to print different items.  Coffee mugs aren't printed on the same machine that pens are.  Mouse pads aren’t printed on the same machines that coffee mugs are.  Imprint areas (sizes) vary and different drying process may be required.

So, when you are told there’s a set-up charge for each item…….it’s not a scam to get more money.  Serious.  That’s the way it is whether you order from me or JoeSchmoeinCocoMoe! Makes no difference. Now, JoeSchmoe may say there is no set-up charge and just be hiding it in the selling price. 

On to the next variation in set-up charges. 

Set-up charges are completely different than artwork charges.  A set-up charge is NOT an artwork charge.  If the item states a $40.00 set-up charge, that has nothing to do with creating/working/revising/fixing, etc your artwork.  Nothing.  That money is for the factory which is setting up the machine to produce your order for the first time.  The silk screen has to be created and placed on the printing maching….juuuuuuuuuuust right, so your image comes out perfect.  If not, it has to be re-adjusted.  That’s the true essence of the set-up/silk screen charge – setting up the machine to print your order for the first time….with me?

Now, what looks to be a double dip on taking more of your money, really isn’t.

As I started this blog post off, I mentioned the year 1997.  Ok.  Back then, most every company, except BIC, charged a set-up/silk screen charge.  Then round about 2006 or so, a factory (of about 5,000) started charging RE-ORDER set-up charges.  I was infuriated and refused to use that company because my customers would have to pay a re-order when and if they re-ordered that particular promotional item.

Round about 2007, a few other promotional products suppliers decided to follow suit.  Are you seeing where this is heading? Then, around about 2008, well, ………………………………………… now everybody’s doing it.

BIC still doesn't charge a set up charge, and currently Javalina (Javelin) Pens come with a ONE TIME set-up charge of $10.00, but for the most part every other promotional custom imprinted prodcut has an initial, and re-rder set-up charge.

So, if your promotional products distributor says “we’ve got a re-order set-up charge,” unfortunately it’s not a joke, and they’re not trying to milk ya for more money.

And that’s the TRUTH!

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Here's a video showing the printing, silk screen process and itintial steps (set-up) to producing promotional notebooks: