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Zazzle T-Shirt Review – Take II: Color Blind Printing

Almost two weeks ago I posted a Zazzle t-shirt review and expressed my disappointment with the print quality after spending over $40 for a t-shirt. After making my post I contacted Zazzle about returning the shirt for a refund (a Friday) and the following day I received my RMA number and was told to send the t-shirt back to receive the refund. Monday morning I received a call from a Zazzle representative who asked me what was wrong with the shirt and I explained just what I had said in my post about the misprinted white edges and very light ink. The rep then offered me my money back and a free replacement and of course I said yes. I am not sure if I got a call from the Zazzle rep about returning the shirt because of my blog post or if this is a standard procedure for some orders. Either way it was nice to have someone at Zazzle to take the time to find out what the problem was with the shirt and propose a solution. The rep informed me that he would make sure it would get printed correctly without the white edges.

The free replacement t-shirt arrived a few days later and it was much different than the first. The ink was much thicker and cleaner and there was no ghosting white outlines around the arrows. As you can see it still has the film that washes off that gives it a slightly shiny appearance gave a little glare in the picture. Check out the t-shirt design below.

The shirt looked really good for dark printing except for one problem. The colors that were printed on the shirt were not those in the preview. Below is an image with the preview on Zazzle on the left, the original shirt I received in the middle and the replacement on the right.

Below is a view of the first order then the second order results compared to the high resolution preview on Zazzle.

Zazzle T-Shirt Order #1

Zazzle T-Shirt Order #2

It really is strange that the grey turned completely blue, not a shade of grey but actually blue. The shirt looks okay because it is just arrows and there is no reason that the arrows can’t be blue. BUT the obvious problem is that I didn’t know I was buying a shirt with blue arrows. What if this was a graphic that required that colors be correct. This is not a complex graphic, it is only three colors with no gradients! Unfortunately this replacement order was also a disappointment.

Written by T-Shirt Talk


  1. Kevin · July 18, 2008

    That is really strange. At least they replaced it for free.

  2. Fat Pigeon · July 18, 2008

    Both of those prints are really poor quality. I can’t believe they would ship something out that looks like that. Not only is the color of on the second one but it still looks like crap.

  3. Digger · July 18, 2008

    The fundamental question: When Zazzle production people chug out a shirt, so they actually compare it the on-screen preview mock-up?

    I understand leaving some latitude for color variations as well as the placement of the design, but come on. Can’t they look at the preview image, and then look at what they just printed, and be like, “Okay, we need to do this over, it’d not close enough to what is represented on-screen…”

    They need to tighten up their quality control.

    Unfortunately (and per my previous post), I think most consumers are too lazy to jump through all the hoops to make a return or an exchange, so their could be significantly more people out their unhappy with Zazzle, than Zazzle knows about…

    …as POD shopkeepers, we have much more at stake and want these products to be great, and thusly we’re much more vocal when things aren’t. Again, it’s not about returns, it’s about not getting repeat customers and / or positive word-of-mouth. Very important things.


  4. T-Shirt Talk · July 18, 2008

    I agree Digger. It is a joke to ask your customer to go to the post office to mail the faulty t-shirt back to get a refund or an exchange.


  5. jeremy · July 19, 2008

    These problems are why I started to screenprint my own t-shirts. It’s definitely a lot harder, but the product quality comes out better.

  6. Steve Vera · July 23, 2008

    At least Zazzle put in the effort to print a t-shirt without the bizarre white outlines and “ghosting.” However, it really is difficult to get the colors on the shirt to look like the colors on the screen! The t-shirt printing process is a completely different process compared to the screen display process. However, that said, Zazzle should have done a better job of approximating the gray of the screen!

  7. derek · August 1, 2008

    I’m glad they tried to make it right. As long as you’re happy in the end. I mean mistakes will happen…its inevitable…

  8. Sarika@Corporate T shirt · August 3, 2008

    Perhaps it is the power of the press (or as in this case the power of teh blog) that prompted the company to behave in such a responsible fashion 😉

  9. Brenda Ginnett · August 4, 2008

    Hi, you have a digital print…..Zazzle doesn’t offer screen printing. The digital process since it’s start-up has issues with printing on anything other than white shirts. Zazzle makes a big deal out of explaining this on their “intro benefits” page. There statement is that they don’t charge you for printing more colors like other printers do. The digital process allows the multi color print without additional work but as you see, it produces an inferior product.

  10. Lorie · August 19, 2008


    Typical Zazzle!! I’ll never order another shirt from them – free or not. I now only use for t-shirts.

  11. Teri · September 6, 2008

    It’s a digital print, and also the “art” loaded by whomever made the shirt may not have been a CMYK or four color file. Zazzle will only upload fairly small files, and will take an RGB which may look great on the computer screen with all that light shining through, but it doesn’t print like that. The digital system then has to interpret what the four colors are for a three color graphic. I don’t know if that was the case here, but it does come into play. Also, the files they allow don’t hold all the color information say a .tif would. It’s a jpg. It’s like taking a Wordpad document instead of Word.

  12. Teri · September 6, 2008

    Oh, and it is customary for them to call

  13. KissMeIm · March 20, 2009

    RE: Posted by T-Shirt Talk July 18, 2008

    I am glad to hear that your shirt was replaced for free, but the questions are:
    1) Were you satisfied with your product?
    2) Has anyone ordered a product since then?
    3) TO: T-Shirt Talk, have you ordered again?

    I have only started to create a gallery and I hope, like all others that I can pull in some new cash flow.


  14. Greenthumb · March 21, 2009

    Hey t-shirt disillusioned one,

    That’s too bad that you had to go through all of that! At least you got your money back. Well, I am glad to say that I think this is an opportunity to think about your t-shirt and where it comes from….I guess you have to see if you like digital prints on your t-shirts or screen-printed ones. I guess that’s what happens to some DGT printing on dark colored shirts when the printer is low. We tried that on one of our mock ups and it came out with a low quality like your picture. I am very excited to plan my organic t-shirt company that exclusively have original prints with eco-friendly dyes and inks. I am so grateful to launch in May 09! I must admit that when we were printing to test the mock ups, I always ask myself, why would anyone want this kind of printing….I guess it’s a matter of taste.

  15. funny tees @ no star · May 14, 2009

    It’s also interesting to note that second printed is oriented differently than the first. It’s rotated about 90 degrees clockwise.

  16. Anthony Chapman · July 12, 2009

    Well, well, well,
    There I was looking for ways to promote my zazzle shirts when I came across this. Now I’m wondering if I should leave them. I’m an artist by trade and zazzle is a side line, but I want to be able to stand over what I’ve created. Is Redbubble really better?

    If there’s a t-shirt company that wants to use my designs, get in touch and I’ll create something for you.

  17. Armand Audrey · December 19, 2009

    I’ve only bought three of my own shirts to date, but the first I bought was fine until I washed it. After that, the red on the design peeled off pretty badly. If it ever happens again, I’ll get a replacement or refund.

    Zazzle sometimes screws up, but their customer service reps are usually pretty nice and very helpful. Also, they’re an okay company to start with for designers if you don’t wanna handle inventory, but I’ll be leaving them the second I find someone better.

    They censor their shirts. They will delete an item if it “glorifies drug use”, whatever the hell that means exactly, which could be many things.

    I don’t make drug related items, but any serious business owner can’t afford to depend on a company that’s gonna limit their potential designs.

    Anyone know of any companies like Zazzle that don’t censor items?

  18. Benji · April 20, 2010

    I hate t-shirt sites that use ‘fake’ preview images for their shirts.
    I think they should all have a real photo with someone wearing the shirt, or user submitted ones, like many sites do.

  19. kevin · October 1, 2010

    i have ordered 8 custom shirts from Zazzle and ive had to have 5 reprinted because they were off center, wrong colors, wrong location etc.

  20. Jim · May 31, 2011

    Thanks for this thread. I just created and placed in my cart 3 t-shirts for my son & I for a total of $108. Before checking out I thought I better Google a quality review for Zazzle products. It seems that hardly anyone has something good to ay about them. Thanks for saving me a huge headache and disappointment.

    Does anyone know a t-shirt company that can produce a good quality t-shirt from your own images?

  21. craig · September 6, 2011

    I’ve heard good things about and am very pleased with their flex print shirts that I’ve ordered. Havn’t tried digital printed shirts yet. I just have trouble figuring out how it will fit. So far they are bigger or smaller than I’ve expected, but then again, I didnt completely read the product description either 😛

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