Printing Overrun / Underrun Policy Allowance Explained

September 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Folks unfamiliar with the printing industry often get confused about the process of overruns / underruns when it comes time to billing.   Essentially, an overrun is the additional calendars that are printed above and beyond what quantity the customer has ordered.   Conversely, an underrun is the number of calendars printed short of what was ordered.   Occasionally, this process is also referred to as “shortages” or “overages.”

So, why does this situation exist?   Printing is different than simply pulling widgets from a bin and boxing them to complete an order.   Printing involves creating something unique to the customer so it requires machinery to produce the goods.

Certainly, depending on the printing equipment being used, it is not always possible or practical to produce a fixed number of goods.   In fact, stopping the press is a process that will sometimes produce more or sometimes less just by virtue of how the equipment works.   Another way to think of it as like a car doing a hard brake.   If the car is driving faster or on a wet cement surface it might stop longer than it would if it was driving slower and stopping on dry blacktop.   “Stopping on a dime,” is virtually impossible in reality.

That is why the printing industry has long adopted a policy that allows for a + or – 10% factor when it comes to printing.   It is up to the consumer to find out how this matter is handled for billing.   Here at, our policy has always been a + or – 5% overrage / underrage allowance and we bill accordingly to the product that is produced and shipped.   Every effort is made to only produce the quantity of goods that has been ordered to the best of our abilities.

Why bill for the extras when they were not ordered?   Simple.   We want to keep customer costs down and furthermore we want our customers to get what they pay for.   For instance, if a customer orders 300 calendars and our production actually produces 310…do you think most customers would rather we recycle those 10 “extra” calendars and simply build that product cost into the price of the order?   Or, do you think the customer would prefer, within certain allowances, to get everything they had paid for?   Fact is, those printers who don’t have an overrage / underrage policy are simply building this aspect of the printing job into the cost of the printing job one way or another.   We like to treat our customers fair giving them everything that they pay for.

Yet here’s another situation.   When a customer orders 500 calendars they don’t like to receive only 485 units, and we understand that, too.   It is for that reason most often during production there are overrages instead of underrages, but still underrages do sometimes occur.

At our policy is to charge for what gets produced.   That means if you only receive 485 calendars (out of the 500 ordered) that is what you pay for.   Of course, all of this is done within the + or – 5% allowance which is spelled out in our Terms and Conditions of Sale, on our downloaded order form, and it is reaffirmed once a calendar order has been entered into our system (via an order confirmation sent to customer).   We try to be very clear and upfront about this policy.

We do accept orders from customers who state “Absolutely No Overruns.”   When this request is made, we then must tell customers that they will be accepting of an underrun of up to 10%, which is still within industry standards.

Honestly, this entire matter of production overruns / underruns can be a great source for customer confusion.   No matter how it is explained the concept is not always easy to grasp unless you can be at the factory and see how the equipment functions for each individual order.

As things continue to advance in the printing world with digital printing and other more computerized processes, these longstanding printing policies will eventually change as they become outdated.   However, some of the finest printing still to be done today is derived from equipment from an era 30-50 years ago when a human, not a computer must manually stop the press.

As always, if this blog post does not clear up your understanding of overrages / underrages as they apply to our printed calendar products, we ask you to kindly give our customer sales representatives a call to further discuss the matter.   We want you to completely understand how billing with this policy means keeping costs down and for the customer to fully get (from each order) what they are paying for.

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