Ron Leve of Columbia says black smudges are always finding their way onto his suits.

James McGregor of Northwest says he went to work one day and a secretary asked if he'd joined some Far Eastern religion. When he asked what in the world she was talking about, she informed him that he had a huge, black streak on his forehead.

Karen McIntyre of Laurel says it must be a conspiracy. The Post must own lots of stock in a soap company.

The burr in their saddles: inking of the pages in The Washington Post.

Why is it sometimes so uneven? Why are pages sometimes unreadable? And why does reading The Post mean that readers frequently must wash their hands immediately afterward?

Next to circulation problems, no aspect of The Post's performance seems to bother readers of this column as much as ink. Never does a week go by without at least one complaint of too little or too much. And nowhere in The Post building is there anyone who knows less about the production process than I.

So I asked Andy Harteveld about ink. Andy supervises plant and press operations at our 15th Street building, where 60 percent of each day's papers are produced. If ink isn't his middle name, it's certainly his business.

Here's what Andy says:

"We periodically experience problems with press ink control, primarily due to mechanical malfunctions, and on occasion press operator error.

"Ideally, our goal is for every paper leaving the building to be perfect. Printing quality is controlled to a large extent by the press operators, who constantly check through the paper while the press is running. The frustrating part is, given the high running speed of the presses and the number of pages within the product when a malfunction does occur, despite the responsiveness of the press personnel, some papers containing less than legible pages might be distributed.

"Bob, not by way of excuse, but given the large number of papers we produce daily, the number of poor quality papers distributed is very small . . .

"Back in late 1980 and early 1981, we were in the throes of starting up our new Springfield Va. offset plant . . . More recently, during the last half of 1981, since the demise of the Star, we have had a dramatic increase in circulation, which required that many new inexperienced personnel be hired and trained.

"With these major events behind us and an emphasis on preventive maintenance and continued personnel training, our printing quality has already improved dramatically and I'm confident will continue to improve."