Prepaid Phone Card printing production can be amazingly deceiving. Many printers have looked at a prepaid card and said to themselves "This is a cinch to produce, our company should get into phone card printing."
As a result, there is a plethora of printing companies and agencies in the phone card printing production business.
Determining which companies are good and which ones should be avoided is a challenge to even the most seasoned print production buyer.
This article is the first in a series designed to help educate buyers on the basics of phone card printing.
Subsequent articles will cover topics such as the design process, proofing and press checks, the printing process, die-cutting, variable data application, finishing methods, assembly options, packaging choices and shipping.
Each article will outline the basics, how-to's, what to look for, things to avoid and other helpful tips and suggestions. A fundamental understanding of phone card printing design and production is critical information to have in order to help distinguish between the seemingly endless choices. The design and production of a prepaid phone card is a carefully choreographed process that involves managing hundreds of minute details. Overlooking even one miniscule detail can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in materials and delays.
Knowledge of the design and production process can benefit the end customer, the agency in the middle, or the long distance time provider. Regardless of what company design and produces the prepaid phone cards, basic production knowledge helps to manage expectations-from customers and the production agency or vendor. Companies that are veterans at designing and producing prepaid cards know the importance of not just meeting, but also managing customer expectations.
The most important thing to remember about designing and phone card printing is that nothing replaces good planning and management. Everyone wants their job done quickly-they are in a hurry and they needed it yesterday. However, as with other manufacturing processes, quality counts in the design and printing of prepaids.
The age-old question of "How come you never have time to do it right, but have time to do it over?" is very true about the phone card printing industry. Due to advances in technology, it is actually possible to get a product that is good, fast and cheap- but even technology has its limits.
When looking for a company to design and produce prepaid phone cards, take time to research thoroughly. Ask for referrals and shop a few different companies. Creating a standardized request for proposal form can provide you with non-biased, objective criteria to compare services provided by the companies being reviewed. Don't hesitate to ask questions, check references or ask for samples. Another more subjective criterion is the professionalism of the staff- how quickly do they return phone calls, do they submit information when promised, are they responsive?
Unfortunately, when customers have a bad experience with the design and production of phone card printing, they sometimes don't separate the mechanics of producing prepaid phone cards from the functionalities of prepaid cards, and they draw the conclusion that prepaid cards don't work or are too much hassle. Especially in the early days of phone card printing, poor management of design and production tarnished the prepaid card industry with cards in the market that didn't work due to production errors. The combination of researching, planning and basic knowledge of design and production can help avoid some costly and embarrassing mistakes.