I often hear about customers that are considering buying from a local vendor because that vendor will be able to manufacture t-shirts for a lower cost without following the laws affecting that purchase. These vendors often try to include their clients by convincing them that it’s a perfectly ok thing to do because they won’t be caught. The worst of these are the vendors that have no knowledge of the law. We’ve been in this industry for about 30 years and unfortunately many of these vendors are disreputable. They usually work around regulations as a form of cutting expenses.
Based on my experience, I believe that once a company is willing to skirt a few laws, they are most likely breaking as many as they can without getting caught. If you do chose to go with a local vendor, please ask the following 4 questions:
Do you have systems in place to handle and dispose of screen printing chemicals properly?
You would think no one would knowingly break the law when it comes to health and safety. There are many laws and regulations covering these areas. Proper handling and disposal of chemicals is one of the most important concerns for screen printers. There are laws in place to protect worker safety and waste water systems. Many of the chemicals that are available in our industry are dangerous to people and ecosystems. As a vendor, I know it costs a lot of money to ensure that our chemicals are handled safely and responsibly
Have you done the testing and labeling required by CPSIA on all your products and inks?
Product testing is crucial to YOU and your group’s personal safety. It’s the law that companies do some basic testing on their t-shirts and inks. The tests that are required are specified in the federal law CPSIA
. Dangerous chemicals like lead and phthalates
are illegal, but unfortunately these chemicals are still found in screenprinting inks across the country. Companies demonstrate their compliance and testing with a special label. All products must have this label if they could be worn by a child. Most of the dangerous chemicals that companies use are harmful to kids and adults are mostly unaffected. Therefore, labeling is optional on adult products. If a local company offers to not label the product according to the law, you can bet they are protecting themselves and not you. They are skipping the testing
in order to conceal something or to avoid the costs of testing, in the hopes that when something goes wrong, no one can trace it back to them.
Yes, we find this frustrating. I have heard many callous comments from other screen printers about needing to provide safe products. The big companies usually understand, but there are so many small local operators that feel that if the customer wants a low price that using inexpensive but dangerous chemicals is ok. Grrrrr!
What are your policies regarding tax exempt status?
I don’t know every state’s tax laws, but I do know Florida’s. Please see my comments here
. I am of the opinion that if you do not strictly qualify for tax exemption, do not take the place of the people that truly deserve it. I believe in paying your fair share. Sometimes a local vendor will accept a tax exempt certificate from some other organization. No state allows lending out tax exempt status.
What are your rules regarding reproducing copyrighted logos?
All screen printers are faced with making intellectual property decisions where the law is not clear. Sometimes a logo or image is not properly labeled or not recognized. Sometimes a customer claims to have the rights but they are wrong, either due to a misunderstanding or a false claim. We face these decisions every day. We get letters of permission from property holders to protect both the property owner and our customer. If we require you to get a letter telling us it’s ok to print a logo, it’s to make sure both of us do not break the law. Sometimes local vendors skip this step. They totally ignore the ownership of people’s property. To further help our customers we’ve paid to be able to legally print many logos. Some of these logos are protected by specific federal laws and general copyright law. Some local vendors feel they have the right to steal the logos from the owners because they need the sale. If a local vendor tells you they can print a BSA
, GSUSA, or other type logo and they do not need permission from those organizations, they are misleading you. They may say as long as you take responsibility, they they can do it. They are wrong and attempting to include you into the legal scenario that they see in the future. When the lawsuit comes, and it probably will, they will point the finger at you. If they are willing to cheat the scouts or other youth organizations, they are also cheating the corporations. It’s corporations like universal studios, disney, or the NFL that usually catches them.
If you have a local vendor that refuses to dump chemicals, enforces tax laws, labels and tests properly, and respects other peoples intellectual property they will tell you when they cannot manufacture an order and tell you to use another vendor. Please thank them by ordering from them whenever they can print for you. We have known some companies like this and they’re usually very professional and fair. I hope that you take these issues under consideration when you choose which screen printer is right for you.