back to article This local council paid HOW MUCH for an SD card?!

An unnamed local council has entered the hall of shame for making the most eye-watering tech purchase of 2015 - coughing up a 1095 per cent margin on an SD memory card. This is according to the annual poll of 200 procurement heads from 24 industries by pricing bench markers KnowledgeBus, which found average margins paid had …

Silver badge

I bet this happens when an engineer is out on a job, needs something and their only option is PC World or Maplins.

22
2
Silver badge
Gimp

I thought I was the only one that applied to - cheers!

On the other hand, if you work for one of these councils the pay is so crap your time is effectively worthless, so whatever bungs you can get really do count.

7
0
Bronze badge

Indeed. Like HDMI cables that cost £79 where they're only £2 in the real world

15
0
Silver badge

Maplins and PCworld will pale in comparison to your average purchasing department for outrageous cost. You'd often save money , and weeks of 'lead time' if you could pop down the road to maplins and buy stuff.

Obviously this excludes the comedy items like £79 HDMI leads , and optical speaker cables with gold connectors for "conductivity".

16
0
Silver badge

Or a cheap part [accidentally] ordered via expensive courier.

I've seen such a case - $20 part arrived from China with a $240 shipment cost attached. Ouch.

13
0
g e

Or paying £130 for a 1TB hard disk

cos you have a supply contract with HP

8
1
Silver badge

No it's when an engineer is out on a job and isn't allowed to buy something from PC world but must purchase it through the internal supplier.

What it also doesn't account for is that although they paid 50quid for a 5quid card - they also had to spend an hour filling in the paperwork, and various levels of manager spent an hour authorising and processing it. That wasted time cost 10x as much as the 50quid

18
0

"Obviously this excludes the comedy items like £79 HDMI leads , and optical speaker cables with gold connectors for "conductivity"."

I've yet to see a "speaker cable" that uses optical technology to deliver sound from a stereo or AV system.

Admittedly, gold-plating the tips of audio based (ie SPDIF) TosLink cables doesn't make sense...

4
0
Silver badge

@ Timbo

"I've yet to see a "speaker cable" that uses optical technology"

Optical fibre "sound cables" are quite common. Not sure about 'speaker cables', though.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

No, these things may cost bit more at the retail suppliers, that's what retail means; but in my experience the real mega-markups are when they buy from an authorised supplier who has a captive market and makes up any (small ) discount they have given on specified items by charging stupid money for anything else.

5
0
Silver badge

Or a cheap part [accidentally] ordered via expensive courier.

Or 20 expensive parts ordered from RS Components. Only on delivery was it noticed that they shipped in bags of 10, of which purchasing had ordered 20...

11
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Or paying £130 for a 1TB hard disk

I worked with a council that had outsourced their IT to Fujitsu. Said council were running out of space on one of their servers but couldn't afford a new disk. Because Fujitsu were quoting them £5k.

7
0

Re: Or paying £130 for a 1TB hard disk

That's £30 for the disk and £100 for the pallet it will be delivered on.

9
0

When I were a lad...

... working in the stores of a company that was then part of the Ministry of Defence....

The head of stores was told to order 144 boxes of Bic biros (medium, black). He duly ordered 144 *cartons* of Bic biros (medium, black) not knowing that a carton of Bic biros contained 144 boxes...

A couple of weeks later - 4 articulated trucks showed up, direct from Bic in France with his biros...

144 cartons of 144 boxes of 100 biros. All black medium. A lot of biros.

They were still using them 10 years later.

17
0
Anonymous Coward

Re:

I dream of paper work. Our place uses an online, inflexible and impenetrable system.

5
0
Silver badge

A carpenter friend did this once, asked to make a new board room table for a local business, he ordered what he THOUGHT was eight lengths of oak wood; what he ACTUALLY ordered was eight TONNES!!

He didnt realise until the low loader tried to drop the lot in his tiny workshop a few days later; luckily they took it back.

SWMBOS boss does this all the time, SWMBO asks for eight of something and the boss orders eight boxes.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Or paying £130 for a 1TB hard disk

"That's £30 for the disk and £100 for the pallet it will be delivered on."

Nah, the wooden pallet only costs about £4.

It's the labour and materials, anti-static bag the drive's in, the bubble wrap bag that's in, the box that's in, the Styrofoam peanuts around that in the box that's in, The final box filled with expanded foam that's in, the 60 metres of cling film that wraps that to the pallet, and the plastic straps around everything to secure it.

Then there's the packaging for the manual, warranty, and other paperwork when that arrives 6 months later. :/

3
0
Mushroom

How much?!

Sounds like somebody went to Worst Buy here in the states... One time I needed a printer cable and didn't want to drive 20 miles to Fry's, so I went to Worst Buy a couple of miles away... Cost me five times as much at Worst Buy... never again. And Fry's cable was actually better quality.

Is it Wine O'clock yet?

1
0

PC World

I was in Currys PC World recently, looking at Tumble Dryers, when there were two elderly ladies purchasing something, I have forgotten exactly what, probably a DVD player. The sales assistant tried desperately to sell these two ladies an HDMI cable for the ridiculous price of a shade less than £80.00. He came up with every stupid reason you could think of, even down to losing electrons. I just could not let him get away with it, I told them to go to TESCO's just up the road for £4.00.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Oddly for the NHS at least they were banned from PC world. They purchase through an NHS purchasing sudo arm that all the organisations were tied to. They had a markup of about 200 - 400%

My IT Director had no control of it as it was meant to make things cheaper through collective bargaining.

However 135 for a printer when PC worl flogged same model for 35 and you can see the problems, when PC world are considered the cheap option.

We used to get round it by paying for it and claiming back on expenses. Saved the tax payer a fortune.

So 900% markups are not uncommon. I was once involved in a service purchase that was 90000. I questioned basics like "is there a Tendor" and was met with utter shock as they don't tender, they also don't consider what they pay for. 40000 grand on a licence they didn't consider they needed and 25000 on support they didn't actually need as they had IT staff capable of doing it. The actual worth of the contract was a 2000 server and 12000 licence. 14000 from a 90000 cost.

What is that as a markup. It's not their money and they don't consider the basics you would if you made it for your self. And they are tied by stupid rules from parliament.

2
0
Happy

Re: When I were a lad...

Good buy then, bet they saved upteen pounds in admin fees and re-ordering costs over the years - where one LPO could cost £90 before you add on the cost of the item

1
0

Re: @ Timbo

"Optical fibre "sound cables" are quite common. Not sure about 'speaker cables', though."

It's a physical impossibility. The job of speaker cable is to carry electrical current, quite a lot of it in some cases, in order to energise the speaker's drive unit(s).

It's hard to see how you could achieve that by shining a red LED down a fibre optic cable!

2
0
Bronze badge

Overpriced cables

A local store carries products that include a $40 wall socket that's silver plated and 'cryogenically treated'. These parts are around $1 at Home Depot.

Audio should be excluded from this thread -- there's more than a sucker born a minute in that trade!

1
0
N2

Re: When I were a lad...

Same happened with rubber bands, we received about 4 million because someone doofed a nought or two & it got multiplied up.

But best of all, was the time some digits got swapped around as the order was keyed in. Three weeks later, the base came to a halt as a low loader arrived under escort bearing two enournous kedge anchors. Having explained that we really did not need or order them the driver cheerfully said "so you wont be wanting the other four then?" The initial order was for just 6 light bulbs.

2
0
Silver badge

"Or 20 expensive parts ordered from RS Components. Only on delivery was it noticed that they shipped in bags of 10, of which purchasing had ordered 20"

Once upon a time, RS used to recycle their six digit order codes. This explains how we managed to order 25 small signal NPN transistors the day after a catalogue change, and be told there was a crate waiting for us in stores. 25 off woofers. How we laughed...and thereafter used it as an example of why you should never, ever reuse unique identifiers.

2
0
Silver badge
Holmes

Re: @ Timbo

"Optical fibre "sound cables" are quite common. Not sure about 'speaker cables', though."

It's a physical impossibility. The job of speaker cable is to carry electrical current, quite a lot of it in some cases, in order to energise the speaker's drive unit(s).

Friend of mine has a nearly 10yr old Panasonic surround system that uses a Wireless system to connect the rear speakers. No cabling between the unit and the speakers at all.

1
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: When I were a lad...

Write on

1
0
Silver badge

Re: @ Timbo

But still needs a bit of wire between the wireless receiver and amplifier thingy in the remote box and the speaker in that box.

2
0
Silver badge

@ Inventor of the Marmite Laser

Yup..

'Course, there's those units that've been around for decades where the amp and the speaker are all conveniently in the same box, only needing a source of signal. Which could be fibre, wireless, IR (don't think anyone ever got round to marketing those).....

1
0

Re: @ Timbo

"Friend of mine has a nearly 10yr old Panasonic surround system that uses a Wireless system to connect the rear speakers. No cabling between the unit and the speakers at all."

I've seen systems like that. I guess a system could also use a digital toslink cable in a similar way. That wouldn't really make it a speaker cable though, in both cases the speaker cable would be the wires connecting the wireless receiver/amplifier electronics to the actual drive units.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: @ Timbo

Isn't the optical cable from my Airport Express to my active speakers a speaker cable? Just sayin'.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: When I were a lad...

When I were a lad in t'NHS some administrator worked out that we used a lot of glass microscope slides and decided to spend an awkward year-end budget surplus on buying a lot of microscope slides. I think they also added an extra order of magnitude by accident. The optical glass company salesman was delighted. The factory recruited more workers and bought more machinery to make the slides. They went onto 24 hour shifts to complete the order. Soon all the available storage was full of glass slides. The warehouse chosen permitted trucks to drive onto the warehouse floor to be unloaded.

For about five years no one really noticed any problems. Requisition a box of slides, get them delivered, get working. Then bit by bit tests started to fail, elaborately prepared specimens wouldn't stick to the slides, stains failed to stain, or stained far too much and cover slips fell off even when glued with Canada balsam. Eventually someone found out about the warehouse and worked out that oily diesel fumes had coated all the slides making them useless. People started to buy new slides direct from the maker. This was banned by the administrators because "we have a warehouse full of them".

The only way to use the slides was to elaborately wash and dry them using some nasty and expensive chemicals. The process took about three days of labour - some labs had a technician whose only job was to clean and prepare slides. It cost a fortune in cleaning solvents and detergents.

Eventually the SlidePile(tm) was used up and another purchase order was raised. But sadly the glass factory was long gone. One brief burst of riches followed by a fifteen year drought of orders had left them with huge loans and wage bills and no income.

1
0
Silver badge

Procurement always works this wonder

I haven't seen a Procurement Department yet that did not opt for the more expensive supplier. Perhaps they justify it on the basis of paying more for reliability. I have suspected either incompetence or bungs or both. Sometimes popping out to Maplins was the cheaper option.

10
1
Coat

Re: Procurement always works this wonder

"I haven't seen a Procurement Department yet that did not opt for the more expensive supplier. Perhaps they justify it on the basis of paying more for reliability."

Well if you haven't spent a huge amount on expensive IT this year, how on earth can you justify next year's massive budget request to maintain your empire? *

Mine is the one bought under a PFI agreement that I'll be making payments on for the next 35 years.

* Only half joking after years of working with government departments.

15
0
Silver badge

Re: Procurement always works this wonder

The expensive supplier is often chosen because it delivers on account and invoices.

It might be cheaper and quicker to pop out to Maplin, but it creates issues like "Why isn't X at his desk?" and then there's the faff of drawing petty cash or paying with your own money and claiming on expenses. The solution is a company charge card, but the PHB doesn't like allowing minions to spend company money.

13
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Procurement always works this wonder

I work for the government of a country that shall remain unnamed.

Some years go I got funds to buy a server. I had X doubloons and decided to configure a server from a maker I know that would cost 0.98 X doubloons. Our procurement department said that I could not do that because the server configuration I wanted was not on a list of Approved Purchases. Long story, with me at one point screaming with the idiots that I wanted to get the best deal within the budget, and they repeating that "not an approved purchase, not an approved purchase, notanapprovedpurchase, notanapprovedpurchase, notanapprovedpurchase!! (sound of hoofs hitting the floor)". Of course they didn't want to add my configuration (again -- same maker!) to the list of approved purchases unless a committee of a dozen notables, some of those already dead, meet and discuss it.

At the end I gave up and get one of the Approved servers -- half the capacity and memory, for the low, low price of 0.85 X doubloons.

Now you know how governments spend money -- stupidly.

22
0
Bronze badge

Re: Procurement always works this wonder

"Now you know how governments spend money -- stupidly."

No different in many larger businesses I'm afraid.

13
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Procurement always works this wonder

My one stint in the public sector was at an Irish University, where the purchasing department was referred to as the "someone's cousin department."

11
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Procurement always works this wonder

When my bit of the local authority got tied in to the corporate IT section we had to start using their preferred supplier.Previously I had been able to spend a few minutes researching what we needed and then phoning around to get teh best price.

The corporate approved supplier turned out to be about 20% more expensive than what we could have bought the same bits for, often only seemed to have only much higher spec than the ones we needed and in some ways the worst part of this, we had to order larger items through corporate IT and pay corporate's admin cost. But the supplier they always used (never any alternative/cheaper/better supplier) was actually part of one of the same companies that I had been using, but was now banned from because it wasn't the " right" brand of that company. I think I'd have been less angry if they had dome any research. But no it was just buy the standard (often expensive) item from the usual (usually expensive) supplier. And when ever I asked them for advice about a product, such as TCO for a printer, they couldn't ever tell me.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Procurement always works this wonder

"I haven't seen a Procurement Department yet that did not opt for the more expensive supplier. Perhaps they justify it on the basis of paying more for reliability. "

My Procurement Department always opts for the cheapest supplier possible, but "possible" is defined by Quality (parts have to meet spec), Supplier Quality (can't hire uncertified or blacklisted firms), Engineering (sets the specs), and Production Planning (must have parts by date X) Departments so the selected supplier is rarely the actual cheapest.

That supplier is rarely us, though. We outsource most components because even though our in-house shops can often do the work better and much more conveniently, they're 3x to 4x as expensive as a dedicated outside firm that does nothing but machine, forge, plate, paint, or wire up such components. Those guys have lots of customers while our shops only have a few, and high overhead (partly because they have so little work...).

As a result, we get what's superficially the cheapest possible component, at least until something goes wrong. Then a problem I could've debugged in an hour with a short walk over to the paint shop or machine shop and talking to the operator becomes a matter involving management, Supplier Quality, dozens of ineffective emails, and days of travel to some mom-n-pop supplier in BFE that eats up dozens or hundreds of labor hours.

But Procurement doesn't pay for engineering and Supplier Quality expenses, so the parts they purchased continue to look like the cheapest possible option. Management, of course, loves this "cost savings" and won't countenance in-sourcing as anything but a last resort.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Procurement always works this wonder

My experience in working for a US government contractor some years ago suggested that the government has excellent rules for getting a good deal on shovels, screwdrivers, and manual typewriters; applied to something changing at the rate of computer technology, they more or less guaranteed the purchase of obsolescent equipment.

5
0

Re: Procurement always works this wonder

While your configuration was most likely fine, it's government. Everything has to be approved so everybody has to feel important. And you're not allowed to have original ideas without prior-approval, which you can get in advance of thinking you'll need prior-approval by filling out form I-93-V3 in biro (medium, black).

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Procurement always works this wonder

I work as an on-site contractor for the NHS. I used to as a favour, detour into Maplins on the way home and pick up cheap things like batteries that was needed in a hurry, and get it back via petty cash. Then the IT dept weren't allowed to keep petty cash, and I had to use their expenses system. Still waiting for reimbursment from last year...

Now I can't be arsed and let them order through procurement - only took a month to get some rechargable AAA batteries.....

2
0
Anonymous Coward

No just products

And you wonder why motorways cost £1-million per metre to build, and HS2 is mega-billions, and they still pay their workers near minimum wage, and the Government and Councils still have to pay out benefits and pensions to make the shortfall. This is not "competition" and economy of scale.

6
0

Procurement departments are a waste of space

I needed to get a new Visual Studio license recently for a contractor in my team. Our procurement department quoted me £2500 for the exact same license level that I found for $900 on Microsoft's website. This is private sector as well! Of course I wasn't allowed to buy directly, and after several weeks I'm still waiting for the license.

I really don't get this as other companies I've worked in are similar. Are the waste of space "partners" for companies like Microsoft bribing procurement departments en masse? I appreciate there may be support agreements as well, but I've never been that impressed. We had an issue with a SQL Server DB recently and our very helpful partner eventually responded asking us to send them a copy. Yes sure, we'll send you our multi terabyte DB containing loads of customer data no worries!

14
0
Coat

Re: Procurement departments are a waste of space

$900 = £2500?

The way the pound is going this week, that's about right....

21
0
Silver badge
WTF?

Re: Procurement departments are a waste of space

Everyone is talking about the how the £££ has dropped - but have you taken a look at the charts for the Euro? Almost identical..

Pound vs Dollar

Euro vs Dollar

12
10
Silver badge

Re: Procurement departments are a waste of space

Virgin's share price also looks like that, as do -I suspect- a great many UK businesses.....a cliff face followed by much wobbling at a significantly lower level. Looks like a picture of the cliffs of Dover during a storm, so it's patriotic, I suppose....

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Procurement departments are a waste of space

"Almost" being the keyword here.

You forgot the one of Pound vs Euro - where the pound *also* falls:

http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=GBP&to=EUR&view=1W

So your currency is taking a much harder hit than ours - if you look at the numbers on the charts, instead of just comparing the shapes, you'll notice it's about 5× harder, 0,02 for the Euro against 0,1 for the pound.

Which is relevant for the article, which is also conveniently forgetting absolute numbers, privileging the shocking percentages. Because they bought one SD card at the price of £10 instead of 1 - yeah, it does make for a funky 900% surcharge, but for a budget, it doesn't matter. If they bought 1000, that's another matter, of course..

11
0

Re: Pound vs Dollar vs Euro

the charts may look identical, but the pound has still lost almost 10% against the euro from its pre-Brexit value, so it's clearly taken the bigger hit.

4
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017