back to article Margin mugs: A bank paid how much for a 2m Ethernet cable? WTF!

A bank paid a rapacious reseller more than £40 for a two-metre Ethernet cable that cost just 32 pence at trade price or retailed for £4 on a popular online store, in the latest survey of UK margin mugging. The unnamed company actually coughed £42.32 for the cable, which represented a 12,347 per cent markup on the supplier's …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Where can I buy these items at the quoted trade prices?

    And how many would I have to buy to get that price?

    Ah, that explains it.

    BTW my farming neighbour's transport isn't a comfy Range Rover. It isn't even an uncomfortable Landrover. It's a battered old rust and white pickup.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      £1.25 for a 2 meter ethernet cable at CPC. I’m sure there’s cheaper elsewhere, but the cost of my time in finding something cheaper than that would be more than the cost of the cable.

      1. robidy

        There in lies the problem, they are 82 pence a unit for me, booted (source below), and that's online from a reputable UK supplier as opposed to Amazon's tat bizaar (now worse than a car boot sale).

        I'd hope your CPC account manager is treating you well....or is enjoying his regularly trips to the Bahamas to visit his luxury holiday home...it'll be the latter as I'm sure you have a robust bribery and corruption policy.

        https://www.comms-express.com/products/cat5e-rj45-ethernet-cable-patch-leads-booted/

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith Bronze badge

          Shocking!

          Shocking! CPC are ripping you right off, with their next day delivery for free, and a whopping 45p "profit". Why, how dare they pay their staff! Only *you* should get paid, right? That 45p is half a Mars bar off your £400 bill!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          humm those cables sure are cheap. I'm a bit suspicious that they may be made of copper clad aluminium though

          1. James 139

            CPC £1.25 2m cable IS CCA, so not CAT5/5e/6, just junk.

            However, for £1.26 they do sell a 2m CAT5e cable, albeit with right angle connectors.

            Its a whopping £1.39 if you want one with straight connectors.

            Ex. VAT that is.

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Oh farmer farmer was on the other day about the price of his sugar beet drill

      He reckoned he'd found the little green pound dont pay those big red bills

      And tho he's got a private yacht, a racehorse and three cars

      He'd always say the farm don't pay; that's how them farmers are

      But I never seen a farmer on a bike

      I've never seen a farmer on a bike

      Whereever I've been I never miss a thing but I've never seen a farmer on a bike

      He do complain about the rain, the greenfly or the drought

      He say blackspot have ruined his crop, but I can't make this out

      I seen him get on a jumbo jet, I've seen him on a train

      But that'll be the day I see him biking down the lane

      But I never seen a farmer on a bike

      I've never seen a farmer on a bike

      Whereever I've been I never miss a thing but I've never seen a farmer on a bike

      I work for Farmer till I wore my fingers to the bone

      But when I speak of another pound a week, you ought to see him moan

      And though his combine cost a bomb, I'm sure you'll agree

      I'm sure he could dispose of his volvos, and bike about like me

      But I never seen a farmer on a bike

      I've never seen a farmer on a bike

      Whereever I've been I never miss a thing but I've never seen a farmer on a bike

      Oooh, I've never seen a farmer on a bike

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        TBF farmer subsidies are dropping

        Well, the tories have ensured that the small farmers the farm subsidies the French organised them for no longer get them and slightly larger farmers get no-where near the money the large grow-grouse-to-kill-and-bury farmers get.

        1. Just Enough
          WTF?

          Re: TBF farmer subsidies are dropping

          What? Someone got a parser?

          1. Killfalcon Silver badge

            Re: TBF farmer subsidies are dropping

            The Tories (a daycare organisation for Oxbridge alumi who lack the drive to start their own business and the connections to crash someone else's) have 'right-sized' subsidies originally conceived by the French (I don't know the specifics, I assume someone needed to buy some rural votes and/or saw an opportunity to pay land-owners a crap-ton of money for doing nothing).

            The upshot is that bigger land-owners still get a lot of money, mid-sized ones do okay, and small farmers do not.

            I have no idea what this has to do with bicycles.

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Coat

        That Put Me In The Mind Of This

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeDk6ZeGNnU

  2. John Sager

    Not just business

    When I bought a new 4k TV from Curry's, the salesmen offered me 3 HDMI cables for £79! He even added them to the order on his screen before I insisted he remove them. Also, the offer was a 3 for 1 special. Who the hell would pay £79 for a HDMI cable?

    1. TwistedPsycho

      Re: Not just business

      I can think of a number of people that would spend that sort of money, they are not very off at with tech and would take everything at face value.

    2. Twanky Bronze badge

      Re: Not just business

      Or in Maplins (RIP) offering a basic optical cable for a soundbar or a much more expensive, higher quality one 'with gold-plated contacts' - I kid you not: it's still happening in Currys/PC World.

      Back on topic: Is there any office anywhere which does not have a drawer or cupboard with a couple of spare cables 'just in case'? It seems that could save a fortune. However, I fear the real reason is much more mundane - it's not just the supplier being rapacious, but also the buyer not giving a toss about spending the bank's money.

      1. Shady

        Re: Not just business

        I've got a "bag for life" bursting at the seams with ethernet, disk drive, kettle, micro USB cables and jiffy bags full of screws that didn't quite make it into a PC build.

        At these levels of mark up, that bag is probably worth more than the new beemer on my neighbour's driveway.

        1. RuffianXion
          Holmes

          Re: Not just business

          "At these levels of mark up, that bag is probably worth more than the new beemer on my neighbour's driveway." If you add consultancy fees, travel expenses and some random expenditure that no-one except a fellow IT 'consultant' can explain, you're probably about right.

          1. YetAnotherLocksmith Bronze badge

            Re: Not just business

            Yes, and without it, those 1000% markups won't feed your kids for a week, not when the total value is still under £50.

            Don't fall into the stupid percentage markup trap. 100% markup on a penny sweet only makes you 1p richer.

        2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Not just business

          I've got a "bag for life" bursting at the seams with ethernet, disk drive, kettle, micro USB cables and jiffy bags full of screws that didn't quite make it into a PC build.

          Amateur! I've got 3 crates , almost organised , and actually weeded out once for old analogue stuff like scart.

          1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Not just business

            Amateur! I've got 3 crates , almost organised , and actually weeded out once for old analogue stuff like scart.

            Yep, pulled all the boxes and drawers of cables into the garage and sorted through them, saving just enough of what I reasonable expect I'd ever need, plus a small margin. But what to do with all the 16v IBM/Lenovo power bricks (T20-T40 era) and assorted wall-warts.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not just business - "bag for life"

          Rumour has it that some armed fores technical teams have "bug-out bags" full of the little bits of hardware (like nuts and bolts, screwdrivers, spanners, pliers, shock absorbers, ballistic computers, Infrared scan-and-track heads, repair parts for the coolant jacket for a 120mm smoothbore cannon...) that cost peanuts* but are vital to keep a military vehicle moving and fighting effectively - and all somehow managed to fall off the back of the Air Force transport that took them on the last deployment. *for a given value of 'peanuts'.

          Of course, the reason such bags exist - sorry, allegedly exist - is because those are the same parts that tend to disappear quicker than Senior Ranks in times of serious bother.

          Contents of that bug-out bag down the local market - £500. Contents of that bug-out bag if you ask the Supplier - £5000. Contents of that bug-out bag when the REMFs decide a trip to the local war zone might not be in their immediate future - priceless.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not just business

          I bet they're not 'kettle' leads ;-)

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEC_60320#C13/C14_coupler

        5. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: I've got a "bag for life"

          > I've got a "bag for life"

          Careful -- those things only last 6mths.

      2. K Silver badge

        Re: Not just business

        They're kind of people who will soon be buying Perri-Air, canned fresh air!

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: Not just business

          Taken straight from Druidia!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just business

      >>>Who the hell would pay £79 for a HDMI cable?

      Morons.

      1. mark l 2 Silver badge

        Re: Not just business

        My dad fell for the scam of selling him a £30 HDMI cable when they upgraded their old CRT to a LED TV around 6 years ago

        Luckily I spotted it this rip off and marched back to the shop and got him a refund and bought one for about £2 from another shop which is the one that he is still using to this day.

        1. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Re: Not just business

          My parents old Sony LED TV died recently, and they got a stipend for a replacement off the yearly insurance they'd paid for many years. The insurance they paid was far more than the cost of a new TV, but they are not morons, they are just old and overly trusting.

          So they bought this new £350 TV, and the salesman conned them into about £150 of extras, such as HDMI cables (which they already had), fitting and insurance.

          I visited just in time and marched the TV back to Curry's/PC World and demanded a refund. Which I got, so they kept the TV but lost the scam expenses.

          This will amuse you. At one point I told the store manager that I was a bronze badge poster on The Register forum and they wouldn't want to deal with the sort of negative publicity I could generate unless my parents were refunded - and it worked! I doubt they have ever heard of The Register, no offence, but being a bronze badge member here obviously impressed/scared them.

          I highly recommend any silver or gold badge posters here try to blag free stuff and report back if it works.

          1. Marco Fontani

            Re: Not just business

            You've since been promoted to being a SILVER badge holder. That'll tell them!

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: Not just business

              I’m a black belt in hari-kiri.

              1. David 45

                Re: Not just business

                More like b*llsh*t! :-)

              2. Rol Silver badge

                Re: Not just business

                I'm studying for my Tufty badge in Padlockigarmi.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnjRVxxyAjw

              3. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                Re: Not just business

                I’m a black belt in hari-kiri.

                Better survivable than a red belt in harakiri (for which the correct term is seppuku).

              4. Spanners Silver badge
                Go

                Re: Not just business

                And I'm a brown belt in origami.

                1. Q.Werty

                  Re: Not just business

                  I had an origami business but it folded

              5. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: Not just business

                I'm a 5th dan in The Archers

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not just business

              I've been promoted to silver badge 4 times, then I just clear my account and start from square 1 because there's nowhere else to go and anyway I look back at my posts and think "what an idiot". So currently I have no standing.

              But some time ago a salesman tried to tell me that our house voltage was too high and we needed a regulator to stop our solar panel inverter being damaged, and I had the pleasure of stopping him right there, going and getting the delegate list for an EU harmonisation meeting and saying, "look, that's me. We were discussing mains voltage upper and lower limits. My mains voltage is within tolerance. Are you telling me the inverter isn't fit for purpose?"

              1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: Not just business

                > But some time ago a salesman tried to tell me that our house voltage was too high...

                Well, if you will mount your solar panels on the roof...

              2. ivan5

                Re: Not just business

                You do realise that home solar voltages have to be higher than the mains voltage if you are selling your output back to the grid so the salesman may have been correct if you had a stand alone inverter.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Not just business

                  Are you an electrical engineer?

                  Let's assume I have a 4kVA panel and that on a rare sunny say I am feeding 3.45kVA back into the grid at 230V nominal (for obvious reasons of convenience).

                  15A. How much excess voltage do you think that produces on your local cabling? Short circuit capability is likely to be in excess of 1500A, so worst case you might add 2.3V. In reality, it's very much less. At the time of which I wrote, when generation conditions were practically ideal, the actual voltage at the inverter terminals was 345V. The maximum allowed by spec is 357.7.

                  1. Measurer

                    Re: Not just business

                    You realise you've just blown their tiny I.T minds by talking RMS inverted A.C, then peak D.C terminal voltages, in the same sentence!

                    I salute you fellow sparky!

                  2. Tom 7 Silver badge

                    Re: Not just business

                    We are in the sticks and are fed by three phase to a pole and transformer that leans over by 15degrees and feeds our house* by armoured cable to a pole in our garden 30 ft from the explosive** fuse box and meter. It feeds by armoured cable because the pole that leans over snapped the last cable but they dont seem to want to ix it properly until the cows start chewing on the three phase.

                    The max in house I've measure is 235v when the PV is going flat out and everything I could find was turned off. We often get lulls where the LED lights cut out and the filament ones glow a dull orange which is romantic. Or would be it the PC would stay up which it wont!

                    * next door is off the same transformer on another phase I guess.

                    **we have a spare explosive fuse in case lightning takes out the installed one though I cant remember where that came from honest guv it was here when we moved in.

                    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

                      Re: Not just business

                      Those explosive fuses are cool.

                      For one thing, they don't actually have anything explosive in them. - I believe it's just graphite, which doesn't react well to "too much" power going through it. - but that's actually just a small physical effect, it's the compression inside the housing that causes it to "blow" apart - the same way a pipe bomb works.

                      Out in the open, it doesn't do much at all.

                      1. Benson's Cycle

                        Re: Not just business

                        You are wrong, it is explosive - I have been in the factory, I have seen the "munition store" and the certificates for explosive handling.

                        The way it works is that there is a resistance wire in parallel with the fuse, embedded in the explosive. When the main element blows, the current tries to pass through the resistance wire, causing rapid melting, arcing and detonation.

                        The reason it is needed is that in a 3 phase star installation, if one phase is lost the difference current now travels down the neutral wire, which isn't designed to take it. So loss of one phase causes the equipment to open all three phases to prevent this happening.

                        Many years ago I worked briefly for a company that had some quite large conveyor furnaces that had been wired by a less than competent electrician. Over a weekend one phase was lost. Fortunately there was no fire, but the entire feeder cables had to be replaced due to the overheating caused by the neutral current.

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: Not just business

                          Watch the big clive video on it.

                      2. Benson's Cycle

                        Re: Not just business

                        Oh - omitted something. Most explosives don't do much at all out in the open. You can set fire to guncotton and it will burn quietly. Yukon miners in the absence of anything cheaper would apparently cook over an open fire made from dynamite. You can make a fuze from a trail of black powder and it will just burn along the trail - till the flame ignites the powder in an enclosed space and the pressure builds up.

                2. EveryTime

                  Re: Not just business

                  > "You do realise that home solar voltages have to be higher than the mains voltage if you are selling your output back to the grid"

                  No, the voltage doesn't have to be higher. That's not how the AC power grid works.

                  You don't feed power into the system by trying to raise the voltage. You feed power into the system by trying to increase the frequency at the same voltage.

                  More accurately, you are advancing the phase which is roughly trying to increase the frequency and failing. The main system operators are detecting the very slight frequency increase and use that info to supply very slightly less power.

            3. Danny 2 Silver badge

              Re: Not just business

              I honestly hadn't noticed the upgrade!

              I got an email informing me I was awarded the bronze badge on the day I was heading to prison, and I mentioned that to the reporter and they splurged it on the front page. My case was dropped that day. Even the courts don't mess with Bronze badge El Reg punters.

              I have no idea what new super-powers my silver badge will bring me. I assume I'll instantly be more attractive to women techies, and might be able to italicise here.

              1. Mephistro Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: Not just business

                < i > cough... < / i >

                1. FIA

                  Re: Not just business

                  Gazes in awe at the awsome badge powers!

              2. Trixr Bronze badge

                Re: Not just business

                I'm afraid that this woman techie is failing to succumb to your charms.

                Perhaps the bronze badge confers immunity to them and they are only effective on the unbadged?

                1. Danny 2 Silver badge

                  Re: Not just business

                  Trixr, stop playing hard to get. We can swap badges. We can write letters. Stop failing to succumb to my charms, start succeeding in succumbing to my charm.

                  Please note how carefully I avoided #MeToo entrendres there. I am so 'woke' I never understood object oriented. I am so half asleep I'm hoping you realise this is meant to be funny.

              3. Tom Paine Silver badge

                Re: Not just business

                I assume I'll instantly be more attractive to women techies,

                Maybe so, but in my experience it's important to remember you're starting from a very low base...

          2. Persona Bronze badge

            Re: Not just business

            " …… any silver or gold badge posters ……."

            You had me up to the point of having to go into Curry's/PC World.

          3. The other JJ

            Re: Not just business

            Some fifteen years ago when my son was a teenager he saved up to buy a DVD player so we went off to a popular high street electricals superstore that's possibly been mentioned above. The salesman offered a regular HDMI cable for £9.99 or a premium one for £29.99. He pointed out two TVs on display, one with a noticeably better picture than the other, explaining that one with the better picture was through a premium cable. I repeatedly declined both (having a drawerful at home) until he gave up and while he was getting the DVD player I took a quick look round the back, confirming my suspicion that the good one was on a vanilla HDMI cable and the bad one on an RF output.

            1. Def Silver badge

              Re: Not just business

              Isn't that basically grounds for a visit from the local fraud squad?

            2. AlbertH
              FAIL

              Re: Not just business

              Do you remember when the large electrical stores mentioned above wouldn't have the CRT TVs close to the LCD and Plasma ones? The newer TVs looked appallingly bad next to an "old tech" CRT set. On one occasion I demanded that they put a cheap (~£250) CRT TV next to the same sized £1500 LCD TV, so that I could compare the "improvement" provided by the wonderful new technology..... They were very embarrassed!

          4. Tom Paine Silver badge

            Re: Not just business

            Can't see it working until the Vultures introduce Blue Peter style plastic badges. Individually numbered, of course, with a certificate of authenticity so we can flog the to pay the gas bill when we're poverty-striken OAPs.

        2. Paul

          Re: Not just business

          LED TV? You mean an LCD TV with LED backlight?

          don't fall for the marketing scam.

          1. Baldrickk Silver badge

            Re: Not just business

            Still generally known as an LED TV though.

            Personally, waiting for microLED panels over here.

        3. Dave Bell

          Re: Not just business

          There might be a quality difference between the two cables, but that is excessive...

          The old rule of thumb was that the guy who sells you something bought it for about half the price, and has to pay all his costs from the difference. One of the things the wholesalers did was "breaking bulk". They'd buy a big consignment of something, and sell small packages to retailers.

          A 10% margin is tight, but possible. It's what's left after all the costs. I am not sure if this source understands the difference between margin and mark-up, but it doesn't excuse some of the crazy purchasing decisions reported.

          Incidentally, there are other cases where prices at the other end of the chain are used. One obvious instance is reporting the value of drugs seizures as "street value". When the stuff was hidden in that container intercepted at the border, nobody paid anything like that much.

          1. Tom Paine Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Not just business

            One obvious instance is reporting the value of drugs seizures as "street value". When the stuff was hidden in that container intercepted at the border, nobody paid anything like that much.

            Yes. That's why they generally say something like "police estimate the street value as £megabucks" rather than "drugs that the smuggler would have paid £NotSoMuch".

      2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        Re: Not just business

        What's even funnier is when you ask the droid trying to sell you said £40 HDMI lead as to why it is better than the stock one that comes with the device...

        1. Tom Paine Silver badge

          Re: Not just business

          My favourite was when assisting my partner's xmas shopping. Her teenage daughter had her heart set on what was basically a Dancette turnable with a little amp and a couple of tinny speakers in a chipboard box with "retro" styling plastics applied. (PLease don't ask what they get away with charging for such a device...) Chatting to the young lady on the til -only a couple of years older than the daughter -- my better half, who is of similarly historic vintage to me (born in the 60s) drew attention to the USB socket pictured on the packaging.

          "Oh yes", the assistant assured her, "that's so you can play music in from your phone and record it."

          $better half and I managed to avoid catching each other's eye.

          "Oh, you can record onto this, too, can you?"

          "Yes, that's right, but we don't sell the blank vinyl, you might have to buy those online."

      3. Evil Scot

        Re: Not just business

        I am sure I spent £30 on an hdmi cable.

        At £2.50 /m it was half the price per metre tha a 2m cable off the high street.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not just business

        >>>Who the hell would pay £79 for a HDMI cable?

        Morons.

        Mac-heads. Oh, sorry, that would be redundant.

    4. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Not just business

      When I bought my 56 inch TV the salesman through in a tablet, I added a blu-ray player, a soundbar and a three year warranty and the final price came to £200 less than the cost of the TV.

      Two days later I cancelled the warranty and got my money back on that too.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Not just business

        Threw, not through.

        Bloody illiterate peasants.

        1. RegGuy1

          Re: Not just business

          But numerate.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Not just business

        I bought something in Curry's a good while ago and the sale PFY started to try to sell me insurance, looked at the expression on my face and bottled it.

        1. Benson's Cycle

          Re: Not just business

          I bought something there once. The sales person tried 4 times to sell me insurance, even after I had told him every time I had it in my comprehensive household insurance.

        2. 9Rune5

          Re: Not just business

          The salesdrone could probably tell from your expression that you're a silver badge poster over at the register's forums, so...

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Happy

            Re: Not just business

            I'm going to have to start using my El Reg golden-boy status for financial gain. Do I just walk into PC World, announce myself, and accept all the free stuff from the kneeling denizens? Or am I required to perform some kind of heroic feat first? Or is it only the Registrans who truly earned their silverware that have these mystical powers?

            1. robidy

              Re: Not just business

              You'll get youself arrested for willy waving....

              1. Measurer

                Re: Not just business

                It's when you start naming other peoples willies you're in trouble.

          2. Allonymous Coward
            Joke

            Re: Not just business

            I tried this with the bloke fitting our new kitchen. You should've seen the expression on his face.

            Perhaps I should get a silver badge before trying that stunt again. Clearly not enough of an IT God.

          3. joshimitsu

            Re: Not just business

            So far in this thread there have been two people march back to the store for a refund, at some point we'll find out about the guy who marched out in protest over the installation / insurance / accessories upsell.

        3. Peter Ford

          Re: Not just business

          My response to them selling me insurance is something along the lines of

          "So you want me to bet £X/month that this (TV|PC|Toaster) will break in the next two years? If the product is really that bad why do you sell it?"

          If they can work out what I've just said then they stop trying to sell it to me. Otherwise I find that repeating the word 'NO' eventually soaks in.

          And in any case, the (TV|PC|Toaster) will break just after the warranty has (would have) expired.

        4. Stu_The_Jock

          Re: Not just business

          Last attempt to sell me insurance was on my phone . . a Samsung Xcover 4, with extra tough glass, reinforced frame, and totally water and dust resistand (per specs in store) . . so with a straight face I asked him exactly what circumstances he thought I might need the extended warranty (given Norwegian concumer law is rather better in favour of the customer than is many countries) where the guarantee (2 yrs), the phone's own defences, or existing household policies wouldn't help, and given the excess + cost of 2 years cover was 40% more than the cash price of the phone he reluctantly frowned and agreed.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Not just business

            Hey, don't worry about the hardware... they'll break it in software.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Not just business

            eBay is in on the insurance scam. I'll buy something for $3 and a popup will ask if I want to add a two year warranty for $1.50. Good grief, if the $3 item fails right away, I'll ask for a return. If it fails some months down the road, I'll bin it and get another one. Trying to extract any sort of compensation from the insurance will mean at least 20 emails and a half day on hold while being told that they can't find my registration or they don't cover whatever issue came up. I may also have to send the thing back at my expense which will exceed the cost of the item.

    5. AlbertH
      Facepalm

      Re: Not just business

      Who the hell would pay £79 for a HDMI cable?

      The answer to that is the clueless "hi-fi" purchasers who buy "speaker cable" for £165/m (actually it's just 10A rated twin flex!) and "oxygen-free" interconnecting "digital" cables from companies like R****r S****s and Currys for £25.99 each (the same thing from CPC costs 65p +VAT - they're just generic RCA - RCA twin leads) - there's no fool like an audiophool!

    6. NLCSGRV

      Re: Not just business

      They were probably Ultra High Definition HDMI cables ;) They have to couch those ludicrous prices in some kind of BS to get people to buy them.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Not just business

        And yet you wouldn't use a cat 5 patch lead and expect 10Gb/s performance?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: you wouldn't use a cat 5 patch lead and expect 10Gb/s performance

          "And yet you wouldn't use a cat 5 patch lead and expect 10Gb/s performance?"

          What, even though Ethernet's got error detection capability, plus layers above and below which typically add correction and/or retries, with the result that poor signal quality may slow it down a bit but mostly you don't see it. (PoE is a different matter).

          HDMI, last time i looked, doesn't even have error detection never mind correction or retries, so if the data is wrongly received it stays that way.

          So better make sure you use a decent cable. Or maybe not.

          1. Steve Todd

            Re: you wouldn't use a cat 5 patch lead and expect 10Gb/s performance

            HDMI is a digital standard. Either it’s good enough or it isn’t. You shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a cheap but good enough and your super-duper, oxygen free copper gold plated version. It runs over short distances and has little chance of being interfered with by external signals.

            1. Electronics'R'Us Bronze badge
              Holmes

              Re: you wouldn't use a cat 5 patch lead and expect 10Gb/s performance

              HDMI is a digital* protocol and the performance of the link can be (and often is) measured in the analog domain**. Different materials will yield 'good enough' for various lengths of 'good enough'.

              * One of my favourite sigs from many years ago (and still valid today) is "There is no such thing as a digital signal; EMC testing proves this daily".

              ** A signal is only really 'digital' at the protocol / determination layer (Signal above / below some set of thresholds).

          2. FIA

            Re: you wouldn't use a cat 5 patch lead and expect 10Gb/s performance

            HDMI, last time i looked, doesn't even have error detection never mind correction or retries, so if the data is wrongly received it stays that way.

            Which you can see, with your eyes....

            So better make sure you use a decent cable. Or maybe not.

            True, but 'Decent' just means 'up to the job', and the cheap 2 quid HDMI cables are up to the job.

            I have a friend who works for an A/V place, and have stopped asking him for free HDMI cables as he always gives me some super thick braided mostrosoty, which I find generally worse than the cheap 2 quid amazon basics ones I buy. They're too thick so don't stand a lot of flexing and break quite easly, and in some instances are so heavy that they slowly work their way out of any verticle HDMI ports I have.

            Cheapo amazon basics tend to just work.

            1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

              Re: you wouldn't use a cat 5 patch lead and expect 10Gb/s performance

              I have had problems with HDMI-CEC when using very cheap cables.

    7. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Not just business

      Who the hell would pay £79 for a HDMI cable?

      You are someone who is obviously not aware of home entertainment systems and how much they cost. To have various connections (Sky box, XBox, Apple TV etc.) in a side cupboard all linked up to an HDMI hub which then links to the TV - all concealed behind the wall - costs a lot of money. Naturally you do not want Maplin's cheapest cabling so the cables they install are fabric-sheathed gold-plated 5 metre ones. Cost per cable is way above £79.00 - more like £130.00 each.

      1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
        Meh

        You do notice the cheap cables..

        ..when you have a long cable run. I've found this myself with HDMI cables, especially at work, connecting to displays in conference rooms. Not all are created alike. That said, If you're paying more than $5-$7 (I'm in the US) for a 6' (or 2M) HDMI, you've been taken for a ride. Personally, I find the el-cheapo Amazon branded cables work just fine.

        1. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: You do notice the cheap cables..

          The truth is, there is signal loss at each connector, and more signal loss per meter of cable. Since it is digital it either works or it doesn’t (there’s a very small area where the signal breaks up).

          For two meters any old cable should do. For five meters you want good connectors. To get 100 meters working, that’s expensive because you need a good quality cable with much lower loss per meter.

          1. DJV Silver badge

            Re: You do notice the cheap cables..

            To lower power loss just sellotape 2 or more cables in parallel!

          2. TRT Silver badge

            Re: You do notice the cheap cables..

            100m with HDMI??!! You'll be lucky! Best off using a convertor HDMI to Cat6 and back.

            1. Baldrickk Silver badge

              Re: You do notice the cheap cables..

              or a fiber-optic cable

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Re: You do notice the cheap cables..

                Good point, fibre's probably better, in fact.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: You do notice the cheap cables..

              or HDBaseT natively.

        2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

          Re: You do notice the cheap cables..

          Our rule of thumb at work is a maximum distance of 5m for HDMI. Over that and we use a powered extender.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: You do notice the cheap cables..

            Yep. I had to get a 15m plenum rated HDMI to go up to the overhead projector because the suspended ceiling is about 3m below the real ceiling, and we weren't allowed to run the cable in a tray lower down because of something or other. Even the best HDMI cable (the ones that Kramer use) still ended up needing a signal regenerator after about 12 months of the cable being in place (dirt accumulating perhaps, or shielding starting to spread after a year's thermal cycling, who knows?). Without the regenerator, about a quarter of the computers that people tried to use ended up with picture breakup and loss of communication.

            1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

              Re: You do notice the cheap cables..

              > the best HDMI cable...still ended up needing a signal regenerator after about 12 months

              This is where Gold Connectors actually have a point. The connectors are the only part exposed to air, and the chosen metals all oxidise and/or react with the connection. Over time, the connection degrades. Unless it's gold -- inert.

      2. Dabooka Silver badge

        Re: Not just business

        Hang on.

        I have a dual zone setup using a Denon receiver that allows me to interdependently choose which HDMI input I output to Zone 2; in my case the conservatory.

        This setup (posted about sometime ago here) works perfectly well using a bog standard 12m HDMI cable from....

        CPC.

        I tried the all singing active version and the signal would not go through and used to break up. This runs through the wall behind my unit, along the garage wall, into my dining room (now under the flooring) and finally through another wall into the conservatory where it connects an unput inot my single zone receiver. I even have a length of CAT5 running parallel for similar reasons.

        Absolutely no reason to spend silly money on these cables.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just business

      The Saudi Royal Family would.

    9. Ian Johnston

      Re: Not just business

      Who the hell would pay £79 for a HDMI cable?

      I know someone who paid £20,000 for a pair of turntable to amp interconnects (ie wires with a phono plug at each end) twenty years ago. Like everything else bought by hi-fi loonies, it did wonders for the "soundstage", apparently.

      1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        Re: Not just business

        Audiophiles are a funny bunch. Apparently if you pay even slightly premium cost for all of your hi-fi equipment then you can hear things on the Dark side of the moon "soundstage" that aren't actually even there.

        It must be some kind of miracle or something.

        1. SonofRojBlake
          Joke

          Audiophiles are DISGUSTING

          The things they do to audio... eugh.

          (c) 2019, Richard Herring. RHLSTP!

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Audiophiles are DISGUSTING

            Peter and Audrey File.

    10. Lazlo Woodbine

      Re: Not just business

      You want to see the price of the kettle leads in the HiFi world, Naim have a budget one for £99, the Pro version sells for Apple monitor bracket money...

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just business

      I am betting those ethernet cables came from Dixons Pissy Weird.

      Years ago they wanted £18 for a 0.75m scanner cable, I bought a 3m one elsewhere for £4.

  3. Lee D Silver badge

    NHS worker in my family once was forced to pay £10 for a single AA Duracell battery.

    They weren't allowed to buy their own and charge to expenses.

    They were only allowed to go through procurement "to get the best deal".

    And at least 50% of the time the ordered items literally never arrived because even if they made it to the hospital in question, every other department that was desperate for equipment would just pinch them before they could get dished out.

    It was/is the biggest scam I ever heard of - posited around the supposition that because the companies involved give discounts on the big stuff, it's "expected" that they over-charge on the small stuff without which those companies won't do business. You buy one MRI machine a year at a slight discount and end up paying 20 times the cost on EVERY purchase - plus delivery - on thousands of everyday items in every hospital in the trust. And then forcibly told to never use anyone else by an entire department of people whose purpose is supposed to be to centrally purchasing and save money by collating purchases but who actually spend their entire (paid) working lives cocking up everything and ordering £10 batteries in £20 single deliveries that then go missing, but have been signed as having been received, and thus have to be re-ordered again and again and again.

    Lucky it's not for anything important, eh, like critical lab fridge sensors, lab equipment, cleaning stuff, chemicals, medicines, gloves, ...

    BIGGEST CON in the world and along with tons of unnecessary management layers is costing us all that "missing" money that the NHS receives but never makes it to the patient.

    Obviously someone high-up exists only to skim 50% of the cost of everything to their friend with a small warehouse and an Amazon Business account.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Paying more for ethernet cables

      I get some stuff at aliexpress if I want it delivered and don't mind to wait a couple of weeks.

      At work we have a whole department that handles buying stuff and they like prefered suppliers.

      Everyday things like stationary and stuff is a lot more expensive than the local Action (a chain which get merchandize by the container load from China) Coffee cost a lot more than the local Lidl.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Paying more for ethernet cables

        Preferred suppliers are just the ones with the best backhanders.

        1. Evil_Goblin

          Re: Paying more for ethernet cables

          But but, they have ISO eleventymillionandfour so they must be good, anyone else clearly can't be trusted...

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge
      Flame

      I've been through this with education tech spending. We couldn't source our own small or consumable items, we can only use the authorised suppliers - not shop around, nor pop into a local shop and talk them into a good price. And absolutely not the supplier we used to use most often, who are owned by the same company as the authorised company but actually charged less.

      And when we asked the IT buyer for purchasing advice on bigger items it was pretty obvious he hadn't a clue about TCO or even the qualities of other brands than the ones he always ordered. It was always Brand Y and one of three models (big medium and small, in effect) whether this met our use needs or not.

      AND ( screams) we had to pay the buyer's department a percentage on top of the cost, so to our budget it was even more expensive and to the public a total waste of cash that was meant to be used for us to serve them.

      1. Chunky Munky

        Selling education tech seems to be a license to print money. A few years back my school had a new science block built costing multiple millions. When I looked at the IT specs I was astounded - £195,000 budget. cheap generic wireless access points (which wouldn't have connected to our Cisco controllers) placed where they could do the least good, a 24 port switch in a cupboard to link the 18 data ports to the network (still can't figure out what they were going to connect the 30+ access points to) - all linked to our comms suite 150 metres away by a single length of CAT5e! This was a joint cockup between the achitect who designed it and the council who took the purchase list and handed it to their procurement people.

        I spoke to the project manager about the inadequate resources and he said that if I could find it cheaper I was welcome to try. 12 months later we had 8 an core multimode fibre backbone to the block. Cisco airlap access points everywhere, a new WAP controller, 40+ access points, more data sockets than you could shake a big stick at, all running from a dedicated, air conditioned comms room with plenty of room for expansion. Total cost - £85,000 but I did have to install the hardware myself.

        1. Evil_Goblin

          Good on you for stepping up to the plate!

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      It's the way the system works. Sales droid takes purchasing person to lunch, maybe plays a few rounds golf with them. They have a "trusted relationship" and everyone paying for the items out of their budget gets screwed. At end of year... bonuses for all those up high.

    4. John Sager

      That's pretty standard in big business. We had to go through the approved supplier for business travel (not Thomas Cook!), even if we could organise it cheaper ourselves. The reason being that the business unit that negotiated the travel contract got a rebate on volume, which accrued to their bottom line (so improving their bonuses), not ours in the business units that did real work. Obviously our project budgets didn't allow for this.

      1. vogon00

        As you say, pretty standard.... however if I guessed at E///, would I be correct?

    5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Ironically the supplier is probably losing money on the £10 battery as well.

      It's a medical device so I have to have traceability with the manufacturer and supplier. They have to inform me of any change in the supply chain, I have to document that I have received those updates. I have to be able to prove that when I received, stocked, sold and delivered that particular battery I was upto date on all those change docs and document that, and store those documents.....

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        Indeed

        Ironically the supplier is probably losing money on the £10 battery as well.

        Sounds credible to me. Decades ago I was a fly-on-the-wall observer of a group of middle managers in a major US defense contractor discussing whether they could profitably manufacture and deliver an aircraft toilet seat for $600 under the existing US government procurement rules. Their conclusion -- almost certainly not.

        1. Nutria

          Re: Indeed

          Back in 1990, I learned that the price US government contracts was based of the height of the RFP in inches.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Back in my NHS days I once had to get a DVI-to-VGA cable. It cost something like £20 via the approved route and got delivered to Birmingham.

      I didn't even know we had an office in Birmingham. It certainly wasn't anywhere near our office in West Yorkshire.

    7. Ian Johnston

      NHS worker in my family once was forced to pay £10 for a single AA Duracell battery.

      Every NHS worker I have ever met has had similar tales of money wasting.

    8. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      IMHO, in the public sector, procurement departments are the biggest money wasters. They have no concept of "value for money" or TCO. All they look at is the bottom line. (And that's assuming they're actually looking at the correct bottom line)

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      NHS - can confirm.

      Recently bought some AAAA batteries for a surface pro pen thing when ours ran out as they were going to cost the department a fortune and I could get them off the internet for a fraction of the price. Paid out of my own pocket rather than cost the NHS 8x as much. I can't claim on expenses, I don't care either - I'm a tax payer and I'd rather pay than throw money down the nonsense procurement route for supplies like this.

  4. Contrex

    Central Govt - Atos wanted to charge us £450 to move an HP laser printer from one end of the office to the other. I nipped round to Maplin next door and got a 10M ethernet cable and some sticky hooks, and put the printer on the stationery trolley. Total cost £12. On the other hand, Banner is dead cheap, but no returns.

    1. Paul

      at a previous job, there was an IBM server that needed to be moved from one computer room to another. It could have been unracked, lifted onto a trolley by a few people, and re-racked in half an hour. IBM's charge? over £2k.

      we couldn't move it ourselves as it would have invalidated the support contract.

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        IBM aren't the only ones to run that scam. Providing your bit of kit isn't too niche, they won't remember where they installed it so you can easily move it yourself.

        I did ask my boss for a cut of the savings, but all I got was a "thanks".

    2. OssianScotland Silver badge
      Holmes

      Moving kit

      Nothing to do with expensive purchases, but I once had a fairly hefty rack-mounted (6 or 8U) UPS delivered to my 1st floor server room. 3 guys arrived and very slowly humped the thing up the stairs, cursing about the weight all the time, and eventually got it into the server room. Then they waited to see what I would do with this overweight monster...

      ...the looks on their faces, when I removed the batteries and gently lifted the chassis into the rack, were a sight to behold.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: Moving kit

        Been there did that after a nasty heavy UPS slipped from our grasps & nearly took a colleagues finger off.

        Batteries out every time now.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Long story short: through the actions of a consultant and his company, a place I once worked bought a 'new' HP server, actually, an old refurbed model no longer supported, at a greater price (try a whole number multiplier greater..) than that of the current variant of that particular server family, and he charged them well over £70 per hour to install it.

    Charities and the congenital idiots they nepotistically put in charge of IT, the gift that loves to keep giving...

  6. razorfishsl

    3%.... how can you run a business on 3%?

    For any business to be viable 30% is the norm........

    1. Rol Silver badge

      You're forgetting the yearly retro, which can kick 10,20 even 30% back to the buyer.

      If you're in business to sell on merchandise you will most probably have negotiated a volume deal with your suppliers. that deal would usually equate to a yearly lump sum cash back once you have met the agreed volume.

      That's why all purchases get funnelled through central so they can focus their buying on the company who's volumes they are trying to meet.

      Thing is, you only ever hear the immediate cost and markup moan, they never let on the retro payment will practically quadruple their profit margins.

      It's the same thing that Tesco got a hiding for. They factored in retro payments to their profitability months ahead of ever qualifying for them, and then failed to meet the volumes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Retail margins are typically 5% or less.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      3%.... how can you run a business on 3%?

      We've got contracts where the supplier margins are quoted as 1%. Clearly the reseller is getting massive kick-backs from the manufacturer.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They will also register a sale with a supplier for a big project which will give a much bigger discount from the supplier and the 3% will be on standard price. This could add another 10%-15% to a sale.

      It's why the first supplier you ask to quote should be able to get much better prices for a big enough project (or large quantity). Only one supplier can register a sale normally.

      It's also why suppliers try to encourage you to get demos or speak to suppliers via them and not direct.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    OTOH as a Civil Servant in the 70s & 80s we humble lab rats had charge of the day-to-day ordering of supplies. Just write out the order in NCR book and get the office to send it out. Amongst other thing I found a cut-price supplier for methylumbelliferyl phosphate, one of our common reagents, and discovered that discounted blood-in-urine test sticks were a good and more convenient scene test for blood than the three reagent test we handed out to SOCOs in place of the previous test involving a carcinogenic dye*. If you give the people at the coal face the chance to make purchasing decisions within a reasonable budget you'll find they can save money.

    * I wasn't pleased to discover years later that lab where my daughter was doing her PhD were using the same reagent as a labelling agent for an immunological marker.

  8. ReadyKilowatt

    I once worked for the now discredited cable company Adelphia communications. You might recall the executives were all convicted of fraud (and it was a family business, so father and sons went to jail. Made for one heck of a Christmas card). The wife of the founder owned a high end furniture store in New York City which was basically a money laundering operation. All office furniture was to be purchased through this store, at an incredible markup. No facilities manager ever bought furniture, since it would quickly put the kibosh to any office remodel. They did however buy a lot of "misc office equipment."

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "now discredited cable company"

      As opposed to not yet discredited.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Adelphia

      Ah yes, Adelphia. They were once the cable company in this particular part of the Vermont countryside. I recall that at one point back when 32K modems were premium devices, there was a bit of a hubub when tests showed that Adelphia cable internet service was somehow SLOWER than Bell-Atlantic dial-up. The Adelphia operation was subsequently bought out by Comcast which actually seemed like an improvement at the time.

      1. David Nash Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Adelphia

        Oh cable TV company...I thought it meant HDMI cable seller

  9. Danny 2 Silver badge

    District Council

    I worked for a corrupt, sectarian Scottish district council, my one public sector job. I was the only IT worker there who'd worked in the private sector and so knew the difference. I've always had complete control over my equipment/ expense budget, even there, but there was different. They didn't spend any money for 11 months out of the year, and then spent the lot in March before the start of the new fiscal year. You had 30 days to buy everything you needed for the past 11 months and everything you'd need for the next 11 months. Basically nothing much got done in March because everyone was looking up catalogues and filling in order forms.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: District Council

      It was just the same at Traffic for Losers (TfL) - procurement through a central department who were entirely clueless. The prices they paid for basic IT gear, for office equipment and basic office consumables were eye-watering. Nobody cared, though - if you didn't spend your annual stipend, it would be reduced the next year, so March was always a frenzy of buying wildly over-priced stuff that you "might" need in the next year.....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: District Council

        We needed some large monitors at TfL - the outsourced IT people refused to supply them at any price and refused to allow us to connect any such device we might procure through other means to their equipment ("we only support monitors up to 21").

        The only corporately-sanctioned means of having a larger monitor was to purchase your own monitor, your own PC, set up an entirely separate network infrastructure with its own separate internet connectivity and support it all yourself. Of course if you suggested you needed a budget for this it would immediately be refused for duplicating the services that had been outsourced to save money...

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: District Council

        "You can never have too many envelopes". It was a kind of budget mantra.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: District Council

      "They didn't spend any money for 11 months out of the year, and then spent the lot in March"

      It's a general thing in public sector. They have a fixed budget, don't know how much they might have to spend on emergency stuff during the year and won't be able to roll unspent cash over to next year. A local council will be particularly vulnerable to that because one of their big but unknowable expenditures will be winter road clearance.

      It was the same in NIO because there was an overall budget so the DoE winter reserve could be spread ou across other deptst. March was known as the spring sales. I used to buy stuff like microscope slides or any other consumables that weren't too bulky and had a long shelf life out of the windfall.

      1. John Sager

        Re: District Council

        Rolling over unspent budget is a total and overriding no-no in both public & large private sector. I dunno if small companies get away with it. It seems to be so much a no-no that if you did do it, it must be fraud, probably against HMRC.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: District Council

          There may or may not be a possibilty of fraud in rolling over budget. (Perhaps someone else can post a plausible scenario to enlighten the rest of us.) However, the problem here is that you don't appear to be allowed to roll over budget *entitlement*. That is, if you don't waste the full budget this year, you will be punished for this financial prudence by getting your budget cut next year. That is simply insane. I doubt whether *any* private citizen, *anywhere*, *ever* has ever imposed such discipline on themselves, which makes me doubt whether there possibly can be any financial justification for the idea.

          If only there were laws about deliberately wasting public money, we could have all the bean counters locked up.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: District Council

            The claw back thing isn't for once usually the beancounters fault. It's managers. Local authority managers wanting to find a way/reason to redistribute budgets between departments. Sometimes this is caused by beancounters. Mostly though it's politics and/or favouritism. Trying to find a way to take a budget from an established or simply older project to fund something new and fashionable or preferred by a new manager.

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: District Council

      Ironically, the end of year purchase scramble had to be much earlier than that, because by February some department ( with a friend at the top I assume) or sometimes even the council itself, would be running out of cash and our precious budget would be clawed back if not already spent. And then the following year we'd be cut because "You didn't spend all your budget last year.."

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        It was Hamilton District Council

        This is totally off topic but it's a slightly amusing anecdote so I hope you all forgive/indulge me. There was a music festival called T in The Park, and the first five were held in Strathclyde Park in Hamilton, the first one when I was working for the council so I could park there.

        By the end of the first night my mates had all disappeared to various gigs but I came across a wee guy I knew from five a side football stamping out camp fires. It was Gary from Environmental Control. He hadn't bought a ticket but had come along because he thought it was too loud, and he was intent on lowering the volume. At this point Rage Against the Machine were playing the finale, very loud, and the crowd were pumped. Gary was about to go onstage and tell them to quiet down. I persuaded him not to with the line, "You've got a wife at home. She maybe cannae sleep for the next hour, but do you want to risk her waking up a widow? Do you really want to be the Environmental Control officer that caused a riot?"

        He was 5'6", not an ounce of fear or any common sense, but I managed to talk him down.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: District Council

      ... and then spent the lot in March before the start of the new fiscal year ...

      In the rarefied heights of a Canadian crown corporation which used to be my abode, in order to get any item over $20K, and not on the approved purchase [1] list, delivered by April 1st [2] you had to start the process no later than December 1st - or you literally had no time to go through the tender and approval process. At least for the IT gear it apparently got considerably worse since that time: I hear that most of the individual departments are no longer allowed to specify and purchase their IT equipment at all: the procedure is to submit the functional requirements [3] to SSC [4], which in turn decides whether you actually need anything at all, what it's going to be, and how much it is going to cost you. After a year or three, if everything is going smoothly.

      [1] For the IT equipment, the normal lag between the vendor submitting the configuration (and its fixed price) to the government-wide procurement office and it appearing on the list was somewhere between 6 months and two years - so most of the list was made up from four-year-old models at two-year-old prices.

      [2] If whatever you've ordered wasn't delivered by April 1st, you effectively had to pay for it twice: the funds committed in your budget for the purchase reverted to the general revenue on April 1st, and the purchase got charged to the next year's budget. This led to rather a lot of broken hardware being shipped in time for April 1st, then immediately going back to the vendor for warranty repairs. A rumour has it that an empty crate was once shipped - by mistake, naturally - in lieu of a million-dollar supercomputer, and duly signed off with a few hours to spare before the deadline. The real thing allegedly arrived a week later, in a box labelled as "spare parts".

      [3] I.e. "this is the thing I want to do". You can't say "this is the computer system I need" - not even to specify the specific CPU architecture. This makes for some really interesting specs.

      [4] Shared Services Canada, created to provide government-wide IT services to all departments and Crown Agencies lacking sufficient clout with the PM office to get themselves exempted. Apparently, for the first two years after it was formed, SSC had to process all work time recording and travel requests manually, on paper - because they weren't able to get their computerized HR system to work.

      1. Evil_Goblin

        Re: District Council

        "Magic crates" are common in a lot of industries, particularly where time limited funding exists...

  10. jason 7 Silver badge

    Very large Insurance Company

    I worked there and I can remember we used to pay a fortune for all our IT. We were a FTSE 100 firm and yet for some reason got the worst deal imaginable for our IT. Our buying power was massive but didn't seem to count for anything.

    If we wanted 64MB of ram we would be charged say £100 for it with 4 weeks delivery when Crucial could do it for £20 with free next day delivery.

    I went and challenged this several times to the IT procurement folks and got the brush off. I felt something wasn't right. I then challenged the head guy about it and he blew his top, especially when I mentioned if brown envelopes/kick backs were involved. "Shut the fuck up!" I remember.

    I guess they were.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Very large Insurance Company

      You're probably right. One place I worked for, every two years it seemed the purchasing department would be fired in it's entirety for things like "kickbacks". After 4 or 5 rounds of this, the owner's kid who was an engineer there, suggested to this dad that "perhaps" the VP in charge of purchasing was the problem. After he was fired (the VP), they didn't have to have anymore mass purges in that department. The new VP was actually an honest person.

    2. Trixr Bronze badge

      Re: Very large Insurance Company

      Ah yes, I worked for a REinsurer's company up the road from the Lloyds building in the City around the turn of the millennium and mentioned to the Finance Director that we needed a new server to migrate file shares to as the main workhorse was running out of space. Our total server fleet was 4 x 5U HPs and something else (maybe a Dell), and the Wang that did all the financials.

      Cut to around 3 weeks later, when an entire rack of 6 IBM-badged servers in deep charcoal shades that would admirably suit Hotblack Desiato's decor is wheeled into the server room.

      I go to the boss and say "so what are these for?" New fancy database? Some clustered app?

      "Oh," he says. "I was chatting to the IBM rep and he said we could get a deal on all 6 plus the rack. I thought it'd be nice if all the servers matched. You can migrate everything onto those - there should be enough room now for the extra storage."

      I don't recall what the "deal" was but I do recall it was multiples of my annual pay at the time. Given the ridiculously overspecced nature of the new units, we could have migrated the contents of the current 4 servers and provisioned the extra capacity we needed onto precisely two of the Black Beasts.

      Since I'd been hired as a contractor in the first place to effectively play "telephone" between the IT manager and the lead tech (1), I should not have been surprised that throwing money away on matching boxes was not even worthy of comment. If anyone was wondering why their insurance premiums jumped circa 1999, there you go.

      (1) Said lead tech was vastly more experienced than me, but he and the IT manager literally did not speak to each other. IT manager had been chucked in the deep end knowing very little about IT ops, but was willing to authorise work if you explained things in teeny-tiny words. Lead tech had had the shts with thick-headed manager and was basically on a "work-to-rule" system, but was happy to load me up with the donkey work. I was hired "because" I had an MCSE (whoopdedoo) and he, having loads of experience, hadn't bothered. But as I say, my job was really to ask him what needed to be done and then butter up the manager for authorisation. Lead tech had also been overloaded with grunt work, and I was happy to help him out (I knew I needed training!), say things like "wow, I really like the way you set up blah blah, that's so nice to manage compared to the usual way" and listen to his fulsome rants about the Hammers every Monday morning. So everyone was content.

  11. LDS Silver badge

    "procurement professionals in the legal sector that won"

    Well, whoever sells anything overpriced to lawyers, just adopt the way lawyers sell their services to others.

    1. Benson's Cycle

      Re: "procurement professionals in the legal sector that won"

      The difference is that a gold plated fibre optic cable won't make the slightest difference to anything, whereas paying for the right QC can make an entire government look very, very stupid.

      Lawyers and footballers - I'm afraid when it comes to interpersonal skills, there is a reason for the telephone number fees at the top.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "procurement professionals in the legal sector that won"

        yes, but, as I know from having to hire a solicitor to handle probate, the partner level people charge £250 to £300 an hour, but most of the work is done by experienced secretaries.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "whereas paying for the right QC"

        Just because the system became dysfunctional and the phrase "Equality before the law" became even a bigger joke. When money can buy sentences, what you get is the actual mayhem. Tell people screwed by Equifax, for example.

        Anyway, far from big legal issues, we are often forced to hire a lawyer for silly stuff just because the system became even more dysfunctional, and lawyers understood they can profit greatly from it. Having a lot of lawyers among politicians does help. There are people that are ruined by legal expenses because someone with bigger pockets can bully them easily.

        So if anybody can profit from stupid lawyers, they just work the same way lawyers do. It's just a pity they can't establish minimum fees and prices like many lawyers associations do.

  12. El Kapitan

    Bargain

    Um, IT people. let's not prolong the "stupid client" mockery too far. If a "bank" or other multinational corporation is running a business that depends on that Ethernet cable, or some other hardware, how much money do you think they want to lose? In my case, such a client may be making $1 million per day. They pay me $1,000 for a morning's work, so if I have to jump on my bike and cycle to the local computer store, that's maybe a 400 quid cable. Better than a $900,000 loss, don't you think ..... ?

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Bargain

      If you are getting $1000 for a morning's work why isn't there a box of the most popular cables near your desk?

      1. 9Rune5

        Re: Bargain

        My guess is he needs the exercise.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Bargain

          and on the other hand just taking the money and running, then I for one could do with the exercise," said Frankie.

      2. Mike007

        Re: Bargain

        Billing $400 for reaching in to a box and grabbing a cable might result in questions that are difficult to answer...

        Sounds like the sort of client where you check you haven't accidentally got a spare USB stick in your pocket before heading on-site. A billable expense of "Travel to Australia to collect critical component" every time you need to reinstall an OS.

      3. El Kapitan

        Re: Bargain

        There is a box of cables. It's the less popular ones that cause the bike rides, such as a NUC that needs Micro-HDMI by lunchtime.

  13. Dedobot

    So the bank brought an cheap audiofille cable. 80 pounds is bargain for a patch that will speed good electrons and flush the bad ones :-)

    1. Allonymous Coward

      I read all my bank statements on a monitor connected via an oxygen-free HDMI cable. Makes the numbers look warmer.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        I read all my bank statements on a monitor connected via an oxygen-free HDMI cable. Makes the numbers look warmer.

        Red hot you mean?

  14. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Civil service

    Self inflicted wounds-

    R&D lab I used to work at would have to buy electronics parts, and we got them from commercial distributors at competitive prices, and could take advantage of price splits on quantity. So far so good. A typical circuit board bill of materials would be about 150 line items at an avg cost of around $1 each.

    But some genius reworked our entire organization with SAP ERP, and every single part gets individually entered into ERP, tracked independently, inventoried, and has to be issued from a warehouse - using electronic forms with multiple signatures. ERP labor per line item (or if you're really screwed, per part) is 15min. At an avg burdened rate of $100 per hour for everyone touching these, you burn $3750 just feeding the EEP database. Add in the back end warehouse ops and this doubles. And that's how your $1 part goes to $51. On a good day. For no value added.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Civil service

      And that's how your $1 part goes to $51. On a good day. For no value added.

      I think of that as 'value addled'.

      1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Civil service

        @Stoneshop, aye! "Value addled" ... A lovely turn of phrase that I shall hide in my viewgraphs going forward ... Have a pint

    2. Trixr Bronze badge

      Re: Civil service

      I detest SAP and all its works, but in that instance, some numpty doesn't know about multiple unit items. It's not even rocket science to set it up.

      https://www.greytrix.com/blogs/sageaccpacerp/2013/06/04/item-pricing-based-on-multiple-unit-of-measurement/

      Definitely an ID10T error for the systems integrator there rather than the actual product (for a change).

      1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

        Re: Civil service

        Understand completely, but I'd say the ID10T is much more likely to be in my senior leadership than the system integrator. The integrator for govt work will generally be a third party contractor working a cost plus fixed fee contract... And there is probably language that allows a fixed percentage surcharge of 'other direct cost' language. Driving up costs by buying the base SAP crap on the main document and the charging ODC for every module and nitinoid license entitlement is pure profit. Sowing the seeds of future work packages through an incomplete deployment radically increases profit - especially if the integrator has to buy more licenses or add more bodies to the team in the out years. The integrator typically gets the contract to run the piece of SAP on behalf of the govt.

        Unethical as hell, but standard operating procedure for the integrator. No wonder we are trillions in the hole. Bastards.

    3. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Civil service

      Repeat from last year:

      I was witness to the "Calibration Equipment Department Tech" putting his foot (Very painfully - He fractured it if I recall) into a filing cabinet (Which didn't feel a thing) out of sheer frustration at the conclusion of a phone call, talking to Bracknell\Reading purchasing clerks, who were waiting for a fraction of a penny drop on a certain transistor for a product line before they put in a super large bulk order.

      By extension his urgent equipment repair (using the same 20p transistor) used to build & test another product line could go f**k itself, despite the entire assembly line staff & testing techs were stood around happily twiddling their thumbs, which he was expressly forbidden from ordering from RS\Farnell off his own back.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Incidentally

    Put "medical grade" on a gold plated HDMI purchased wholesale and you can easily get 10* its mark price or even 20* if insurance pays.

    To be fair the difference between a good quality cable and a crappy one can be quite small, same with speaker cables and Cat5E though with other items like shielded cable for Sky/ Freesat it pays to get proper cable unless you like ripping out and replacing every 3 years.

    The last sample of OFC purchased used from some audiophool or other got used for a spot welder and is still working now!!

    I've used industrial grade AA batteries for things like blood pressure meters instead of the rubbish that comes with them and it does help a bit however you need to be aware that with any medical device there is the potential for inconsistent readings if the battery voltage starts to drop.

    I also heard that the hospitals now dispose of their waste via a bonded contractor now, because criminals were going round fishing items like single use SpO2 probes out of the bin bags and cleaning up then reselling them. Some even skipped the cleaning step!!!!

    1. Huw D Silver badge

      Re: Incidentally

      Never mind "Medical Grade". You want that AND Anti-virus.

      https://www.zdnet.com/article/this-xbox-hdmi-cable-has-anti-virus-protection/

  16. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Wee Bang Theory

    My local Maplins (RIP) had a teenage girl floor manager more akin to Mayim Bailik than Kaley Cuoco. I used to buy components there, and I'd look around the expensive stuff, and the lass would always ask if she could help me. I told her it was all just too expensive, and she replied, "I know! Right!"

    I felt sorry for her because the next month she was out of a job she never suited. In my era, when I was her age, she would have been a trainee software engineer, or an apprentice electronics engineer. She knew her stuff, to the limit her job permitted. I hope she is in a better place now.

    A neighbour's child very respectfully came up to ask me, "I know you had a successful apprenticeship when you were my age, can you tell me how to get one?"

    I had to tell him he couldn't, those opportunities were rare then and non-existent now.

    It would be nice to see some kids getting good starter jobs sometime soon. A few of you must still be in a position to train up a youngster. Even, especially, if you don't need to.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wee Bang Theory

      There are lots of opportunities for IT apprenticeships, in all areas and at all levels.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wee Bang Theory

        Here is one I saw recently, IT support apprentice in the Computer Science Department of Oxford University shows that they are out there

        https://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/news/1732-full.html

      2. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: Wee Bang Theory

        My IT technician was an IT apprentice.

        However, we had an unofficial deal - he would work for a year as an apprentice, then I would personally make sure his salary the year after reflected the sacrifice made on his apprenticeship minimum wage for that time.

        It was literally that ridiculous that it may as well have been unpaid. There's no way that most apprentice-age people can survive that without mummy or daddy covering the cost of their living for the entire apprenticeship. Which kills the point of the apprenticeship as those kinds could just go to university or something anyway.

    2. Cowboy Bob

      Re: Wee Bang Theory

      "It would be nice to see some kids getting good starter jobs sometime soon. A few of you must still be in a position to train up a youngster. Even, especially, if you don't need to."

      In the software services company I work for our current internal apprentice "graduates" in a couple of weeks, and the next one starts soon after. Not to mention the multiple people we hired from bootcamps last year.

      And I'm soon to embark on delivering an internal course that offers cross-training for non-IT related staff into a more tech driven career so they have a career path too.

      I'm sure we're not the only company to offer stuff like this. Maybe the "big boys" don't, but who would want to work for them anyway, the youngsters are dodging several bullets

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: Wee Bang Theory

        It's heartening to hear this, and the two others, testimony. It just no longer happens where I live.

  17. razorfishsl

    When that cable supports a banks network it is NOTHING, as regards price...... I can supply you cables for less than a pound....

    That does not make them good or even reliable cables..........

    hell they might not even be copper inside......

    The plastics might be from recycled medical waste........

  18. Hans 1 Silver badge
    IT Angle

    In this respect, perhaps the IT channel is a bit like the farming industry. Farmers are often moaning about falling subsidies and struggling to make ends meet while sat on the comfy, heated seat of their Range Rover.

    Wow, el reg, this is evil ... it might be so that big farmers are complaining, too, smaller farmers are committing suicide, so, yeah, that paragraph is superfluous and revolting, kind request to remove it, thanks!

    https://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/17469199.desperate-cumbrian-farmers-on-suicide-watch-after-being-driven-to-the-brink-by-late-payments-weather-woes-and-brexit/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've known farmers at both ends of the scale (i.e. the ones who live hand to mouth and one bad harvest is a tragedy vs. the ones who moan about things yet can fork out £400k on a new toy come harvest time).

      It's a bit like contractors - I've met ones who charge the earth for doing bugger-all and those who work all the hours possible for pitiful day rate.

      IMO generalisations are only permissable if they are funny :P

  19. HarryBl

    I joined a tiny company as the installation man when they had enough business to require a full timer to go out and install their kit. Before I arrived the 'Sales Manager' would go to PC World and pay fifteen quid for each 2 metre Ethernet cable they needed for an install.

  20. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Mushroom

    I could buy it cheaper

    Works fine as long as you support it as well for the lifetime of the kit.

    You will have a budget for that next year, won't you? Including software licences?

    Oh, once you have bought it out of the petty cash it is ITs job to support it for the next five years?

    Talk to me again about how much money you are saving the business!

    Been there, suffered that, cheap deal always wins over TCO then its SEP.

  21. vaporland

    hard to beat the Denon AK-DL1

    $500 Ethernet cable

    1. Andytug Bronze badge

      Re: hard to beat the Denon AK-DL1

      Not really....try $10k!

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/02/09/perfect_your_mp3_listening_pleasure_with_this_bonkers_ethernet_cable/

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: hard to beat the Denon AK-DL1

      Ever since I looked up the price of silly cables I've been sent adverts offering $1500 loudspeaker cables, $700 audio cables and the like. There's an air of desperation about these adverts...

  22. Ptol

    Bit pedantic, but with HDMI cables, there is an electrical standard that needs to be met at both ends of the cable, but nothing about the cable length. Cable length is one of the more important things that effect a cables ability to meet the HDMI standards...

    A well manufactured and quality (an is built in a reliable, repeatable and tested way) using some exotic materials is the secret to getting a 10-15m HDMI cable that actually works.

    1. Electronics'R'Us Bronze badge
      Holmes

      Communications standards

      There are numerous standards that have little or nothing about cable length (Ethernet has a minimum length, interestingly - that bit a colleague who was designing [as part of a team] an airborne mission computer and had a tiny ethernet based network across the various processor cards).

      Generally the various standards will specify maximum cable attenuation (Infiniband originally did so as part of the link budget) or some other metric (I have seen eye closure and S parameters both used in this context) as different materials will have differing characteristics so the distance you can get from a set of different cables can vary by 2:1 or more.

  23. Malcolm Weir

    Naievete!

    I'm frankly baffled at people who think the difference between two products bought from two different vendors is only the sticker price.

    Consider: which is cheaper, an Ethernet cable priced at £1 from vendor A, or an Ethernet cable priced at £5 from vendor B?

    The answer is (may be) the one from vendor B, because the purchaser has net 30 terms and has the vendor set up in their automated invoice processing system, which means that the invoice is submitted and approved in one minute. Vendor A, on the other hand, requires payment before delivery on a credit card, and then requires manual reconciliation of the order, the charge, and the invoice, which all-in-all consumes (say) an extra 10 minutes of someone's time. Fully burdened costs for an accounting clerk (including salary, benefits, rent, management overhead, etc) comes out at £30 per hour (which is ludicrously low), which means that buying the £1 thing from vendor A costs the company £6 while buying the £5 thing from vendor B only costs £5.50.

    And, yeah, the farming slur is disgusting and false. (Owners of large agribusinesses may drive around in Range Rovers, but then so do some people in the media.)

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Naievete!

      That may be true, but that logic could be applied to almost anything. It could be that vendor B has a better shipping system, which is worth the premium. Or that vendor A is unreliable and frequently drops orders. But without knowing that, our theorizing it is just an assumption. What we do know is that these prices are not logical; both your examples are in the normal price range for a patch cable while the one paid in the real case is not. Even if their choice was based on some factors as you described, they would have to be very strong to warrant the purchase price. Given the many available suppliers of such equipment, and the fact that they probably buy ethernet cable with some frequency, it would in virtually all cases be worth it to find a supplier who can deliver cable at normal prices.

      1. Malcolm Weir

        Re: Naievete!

        Well, duh! Of course it can (and should) be applied to almost anything.

        In case you'd missed it, mine was a comment on an article that spoke a lot about _sticker price_, and the point of the comment was that _sticker price_ is a lousy measure of cost.

        By the way, in your last sentence, you wrote "virtually all" when you probably meant "a large number of", because your "givens" aren't necessarily universal.

  24. Hilmi Al-kindy

    As an astronomy equipment reseller, I can understand why

    I sell telescopes, when an institution comes to buy, they don't pay cash upfront like your regular client. They ask to pay on credit terms because it's easier for them than handling a bunch of small invoices. They most probably want to accumulate several orders and pay you at once. This payment could take up-to 45 days from date of submitting the invoice. Then there are the bad players who delay payments, you could be chasing your money for 9 months. So yeah, I do charge a high premium for non cash customers. It costs you as a business 12% for every one month late payment. This is in the form of lost business opportunity and bank interest. So before you go about bashing resellers for high prices, look at your payment policy

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    big companies

    The buying organizations in big companies are very often plagued with incompetence and bureaucracy issues.

    Multiple times, I pointed out to them the fact they got worse prices for hotels via their portal agencies I could have by just phoning them outside of the fecking portal.

    It never went anywhere. They kept overpaying .... I assume this is the same thing happening ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: big companies

      Travel is my favourite example of how large corporate bureaucracy fails.

      There's a group of people who own the company, shareholders. They employ a CEO. He employs procurement head. They employs travel head. Travel head employs travel administrator. That's quite a long line of people from the people who want costs cut.

      And the further you get from the people who own the place, the more the point of the company gets lost. That travel administrator does not care that you can get it cheaper, because it makes no difference to them. They turn up, follow the rules and go home.

      I once went to an expense department of Giant Corporation after I'd figured out that if I flew back on Saturday instead of Friday, I'd save £150 net. The flight price was something like £220 cheaper on a Saturday, and I could get a hotel for £70. They save money, I get a night out in Amsterdam. Nope, couldn't be done. Wasn't working on Saturday, so went against rules. "Yeah, I know, but this is cheaper, this saves the company money". Nope,

      You do that in a small company, the boss will OK it.

      It's why I mostly work in smaller companies. And it's not just about travel, it's about all sorts of things. People in smaller places take sensible risks. People in large places cover their arse. It's why you sometimes see new players kick the stuffing out of big ones. The big companies can't adapt fast enough.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not just about price

    Once had a two day email outage because we were only allowed to get a cable from the 'preferred supplier' in another country, rather than than popping down to the late Maplin. God knows how much damage that policy did.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: It's not just about price

      Sometimes it is better to seek forgiveness (assuming you get caught) than ask for permission.

  27. baud Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    And now I realized how much I got fleeced when I bought that 32 GB USB key for 32€.

  28. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

    In my shop the incentives to procurement are part of the issue

    They are measured on how much discount they negotiate, not how keen the price is... Therefore if I try to sell them a $1000 Ethernet cable an they get it down to $100 then they will consider themselves a massive winner, regardless that the cost should have been $4.

    I really have a thing about measures that defeat the behaviours that were intended .. grrr...

  29. Pirate Dave Silver badge
    Pirate

    Good cable

    "The unnamed company actually coughed £42.32 for the cable, which represented a 12,347 per cent markup on the supplier's cost, "

    But it will give them the lowest 0's possible, and all of the previously subdued nuances of the 1's will now shine through, just like the artist originally intended.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Try Cisco...

    Another dept had some Cisco kit with duff 1Gb CompactFlash cards that Cisco replaced under warranty, but they had forgotten to return the duff cards and now Cisco were threatening to bill them the full price of the replacements. They now couldn't find them and were faced with a bill of ~$1000 for each of the 12 missing cards

    A quick google showed Jessops were selling 2Gb CF cards (the smallest they did) for ~£5

    ("yes, but the Cisco ones are guaranteed to be 100% compatible"... erm, but they don't work and Cisco are having to replace the whole batch FOC because they are crap)

  31. Sequin

    I was at a customer site in central London installing some thin client PC's and the head bod there asked me to make sure that her local printer was connected. Looking at it, it was connected to her old PC by a parallel cable, but the thin client did not have a parallel port. The printer did, however, have a USB interface, but it required a cable with a USB-B connector, which I did not have with me. I was 100 yards away from Tottenham Court Road, so I knew I should be able to pop out and get one, so that's what I did. The first shop I found one in wanted £15 for a 1m cable - I had bought 2 x 1m of the same type of cable in my local Tesco the week before for £2, so I queried the price. After a bit of haggling, he eventually sold it to me for £10. Luckily the customer was paying.

  32. Efer Brick

    Well...

    I can only hope they got Quidco on this purchase

  33. Roger Mew

    Cables

    Some 30 years ago a company I did a lot of work for asked for a quote from a so called computer company to run some computer cables. The owner thought it was a bit steep to put it mildly, and I said well to us cables are cables and we did it for time and materials. We used screened cables, run the cables hidden as much as possible, soldered not crimped the connections and ran the cables away from anything else like electric. It worked out much cheaper and the computers just plugged in and away they went. Unfortunately the client had already had joe cowboy do 2 computers from the server at his other business and asked me to have a look. We looked at ours first by my lads, then went to look at Joe cowboy's effort, No screen, mini trunking just glued and coming of the paint on the walls and run against the Electric sockets cabling, and connections crimped to poor connections. Even the non technical client saw the difference.

    My best laugh was when teaching a council about the fraud of so called PAT testing which is not what was really the aim. I did my lecture and said lets look at the garage ( Oh said the safety Officer I have just paid some agency in Norfolk £3000 to do it.) So the office girls went work. rip Off Reg from Norwich well it says it all within about 5 minutes the girls came up with:-improperly fitted plug, frayed cable exposing inner cores the ubiquitous nail for a fuse, incorrectly connected plug. and also a hand lamp with the ground wire broken off. The Environmental health officer called a halt, went off to accounts, and told the accounts to stop the check and to call rip off Reg to come down now or he would call the police and have him done for fraud. They did their own after that, it was a site cheaper having me come down and show them than buying a pat tester or having Rip Off reg in. how can you PAT test a two wire double insulated appliance, answer, you cannot. over 50% of the appliances were 2 wire which meant physical lead inspection only anyway.

  34. David 4

    Get your buyers in order!

    Rather than screw over contractors with IR35 the Government should sort out their purchasing issues first. It's been well known for decades that government agencies, councils, and the NHS are screwed over royally because their purchasing departments are full of malformed cretins that couldn't tell a fart from a good bottle of wine. If they sorted these out properly we wouldn't have a shortage of NHS staff and resources, and we'd have enough money to be able to cover up the pot-holes, and lock up the baddies for the full term of their sentences.

  35. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Maths Class

    Back when I was in school the thing that we hated the most in maths was word problems. Looking back on them now, the thing they failed to teach was how to present numbers in a way to change perception. Some will scream about "it's so unfair" when a large oil company is said to be earning XXX billion in profits but fail to work that number out as a percentage of revenue. That percentage may be dead in the range of what a healthy company should be netting.

    Little items are a drain on profit margins. The cost to have them on the shelf and the labor to handle them often leads to a net loss. As the seller, you are also the one that often has to eat the cost of returns if the item is defective or ordered incorrectly. While you may be allowed to return them to the wholesaler for credit, there's no point when there are just a couple. The cost of labor and packaging to send them back can be more than the credit. You might as well just bin them and be off doing something that is bringing in revenue.

    There are certainly well documented examples of big rip offs that have no good excuse but some of the more famous ones aren't. Remember the fantastically expensive toilet seats for an aircraft? An extremely custom part often ordered and made one at a time to very tight requirements. The one you can buy at the DIY shop is mass produced in the thousands and doesn't have to be tested to meet flammability standards and come with extensive paperwork that tracks every aspect of its materials and manufacture. Paperwork that has to be preserved for a decade or more. How about the $400 hammers. Again, spec'd to .025mm tolerance, special part number marking that must be applied to a tight tolerance. Lot tracking to show the handle was sourced from a sustainable supplier and showing the head was forged from XX% recycled content. Each one individually packed in an anti-rust wrap, custom box, etc. Oh, and they want 81 of them packed a specific way on a pallet to be shipped by the most horrible trucking company to have ever been spawned. They couldn't have consolidated needs and placed an order that was at least a full day of production worth since it would take a few days to set up the line for extra inspection, logging and marking. The $375 premium was fully justified. Government contracts can be great for a company, but it would have been more efficient to place the order at a hardware store for off the shelf models if they weren't already in stock.

    Companies are so scared of being ripped off by letting departments have a bit of petty cash for mundane purchases or allow somebody like the IT department order some commonly used items, like a 2m ethernet cable, by the case to have on hand. Maybe that case lasts a couple of years, but the bottom line cost would be less in the first year and they would also be to hand. I've recently been into Malicious Compliance videos on YouTube. Those illustrate a lot of the control freak silliness. I've always thought that a good business hires the best people they can and gets on with it. Any bad apples get turfed out as quickly as possible. If it makes more sense to run to the local shop to get something so they aren't being held up, that's likely better than having purchasing spend an hour trying to find the best price from an "approved" vendor and then waiting several days to have it delivered. I think we've all seen that sort of monkey think.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nuclear items are usually homologated...

    ...and you can't change vendors, source, quality, or anything about them, sometimes by law. Doing that implies reckless neglect, and jail time.

    "Yes, there is a water pump designed with a flow of 16000 liters per second and 200 meters of water column pressure for half that price on the market, but does that one leak on the gaskets? You know that will produce a radioactive leakage, right?"

  37. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Oxygen Free Copper cables

    ...are a real thing. In industrial applications.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen-free_copper#Use_in_home_audio

    I used to use hugely expensive OFC between my crap stereo and speakers, because I'd stolen it and it gave me bragging rights over audio snobs.

    My second design engineer project in the '80s was VMEbus cables ribbon that sold for hundreds of pounds, which was a huge come down because my first was a VMEbus board that sold for thousands. It was actually trickier than I'd thought. You had to pair signals on wires to avoid crosstalk, shield the cable at only one end, split them so they could take more strain.

    I considered myself a digital design engineer, not an analogue engineer, and suddenly I was immersed in the weird and frightening world of RF engineering.

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