In graphic design as with any profession mistakes cost money. I am often envious of web designers, if they make a minor mistake it just takes a few minutes to put right, but print, when something is printed that’s it, there’s only one shot (after proofing) to get it right.
As a freelancer if you are handling print most designers will take standard precautions and give their client an approval form to sign off a wet or digital proof stating that the liability beyond that point for any mistakes not spotted rests with the client. Of course you would generally build in some sort of margin for error so that in the worst case scenario and you have to run another set of proofs, you are not too out of pocket.
What about the grey area though? What about the work you design, but provide artwork on disk, who does the responsibility lie with then?
Take for instance you design a brochure, the budget is tight for both design and print and the client wants to use their own printer. You supply the disk but inadvertently forget to change one of the photos to CMYK. The client orders proofs and of course the image does not print correctly. So who pays for the reproofing, it’s the designers mistake, but of course you haven’t handled the proofing or print and so have not been able to build in a margin for error. The cost for reproofing could be nearly as much as the design (especially if they have wet proofs) so if the designer was to cover the cost in effect they have done the job for free.
Worse still would be if the client didn’t notice the image problem and went ahead and printed 20,000 brochures. In my opinion this would not be the liability of the designer, at most liability should only lie at proofing stage.
Perhaps the answer is to build a margin in for possible problems, but on a tight budget I doubt if a lot of design only jobs would allow for this.
Fortunately I have never (touch wood) been in this situation, but I have often debated what I would do if I was. What do you think?