Bidder's error causes e-auction disarray

8 July 2007
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09 July 2007 | Antony Barton

An e-auction for contracts to supply fresh produce was scrapped after an unnamed vendor misunderstood the guidelines and underbid rivals on every contract.

NHS Supply Chain has confirmed it cancelled the e-auction for the national School Fruit and Vegetable scheme, which provides children in local education authority-maintained infant, primary and special schools to a free piece of fruit or vegetable each school day.

A spokeswoman for NHS Supply Chain, which is managed by DHL Logistics, said despite intensive training and guidance, one supplier misunderstood the rules. She said criteria used across its e-auctions "are predominantly quality-focussed and not price-focussed, which this supplier failed to understand".

When asked whether it had caused NHS Supply Chain to question the way e-auctions are managed, the spokeswoman told it was taking steps to ensure this situation does not occur again and a re-run had taken place.

NHS Supply Chain was created last October after the NHS outsourced buying.


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