When deals turn sour

9 April 2009
This week I have on two occasions bought things in shops thinking I was getting a deal – but didn’t. Two "recession-busting" offers: a meal deal, and a buy one get one free offer, purchased from different supermarket chains. On both occasions I was had. The first time it turns out I paid for my sarnie twice, the second time I paid for three out of four Easter eggs instead of two. Now I don’t spend my time checking receipts at the till and I don’t stare at the screen as the prices flash up, nor to I expect the cashier to give a damn. But I have realised I do just expect the computer to work. I rely on its ability to perform its function and make the correct calculations. More fool me. In future I will pay more attention, but it made me consider how often in procurement it happens that you think you’re getting one thing and you actually get another. Perhaps you end up paying twice because your invoicing matching systems aren't working as they should or perhaps the box didn’t contain as many of the items it said it did. These could be honest mistakes, but as our next cover feature on procurement fraud reveals, it also makes it very easy for dishonest buyers or suppliers to take a bit here and a bit there. Obviously I am preaching to the converted, but wouldn’t it be good if things just worked as they supposed to so we can dedicate our time and attention to the more interesting – perhaps strategic - things? It would be good, yes, but, don’t stop paying attention, just in case.
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