Are we bulldozing suppliers into bad behaviour?

30 November 2010
Alison Smith, procurement professional and life coach and Supply Management guest bloggerHave you noticed what sort of people we turn into when trying to get a seat on a low-cost airline? As soon as the tannoy announcement squeaks into life we're all on our feet and pushing forward. No one cares about the priority boarders and young children who have to fight their way to the front. We seem to care only about ourselves. Eyes are cast firmly towards our feet as we push ahead to ensure we get a choice of seat. Not a great advertisement for humanity. And I won’t even start on how people behave when trying to put bags into overhead lockers once on board. Our desire for low-cost flights has also driven the suppliers to behave rather poorly. I appreciate that charging for extras enables us to choose whether to receive the service or not. But charging for “must haves” (a seat or making a payment), and increasing the likelihood of us having to pay the additional admin fees for airport handling through unhelpful communications, are simply ways of increasing revenue for the airlines and getting the price back up. I wonder, as buyers, how many of us are really driving our suppliers to do the same to our organisations? Have we avoided eye contact as we bulldoze the suppliers to reduce their costs further? As a local managing director of a SME said to me recently: “That last 10 per cent cost reduction has just cost them all our good will. They will pay for everything extra and I can assure you that will cost them more than 10 per cent.” What price is your company paying in its search for lowest cost?
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