Friday, 29 October 2010

My Chair Story, II

I had to go and buy my organization (deep in the bowels of the Pentagon) some chairs.  I admit, we do a lot of sitting, and I was kind of told by the boss that I'd better find real ergonomic chairs that would last ten years.

Our old chairs?  They were $200 type chairs bought almost a decade alo.  They had no ergonomic value, and were in terrible shape the past year or two.  Folks complained about back troubles, their hips, and various ills.  So I went and did my research.  I found the perfect office chair, under a government contract, for $466 each.  It was the Cadillac of office chairs.  It included a ten-year warranty on every piece and part.

I thought this would be simple.  But the boss started with the first issue....two buckets of money.  One was $25k and the other was $116k.  I had to break this into two purchases.

This request did had to route via three different levels of folks to give me permission to move to the contracting group of my organization.  Hour by hour, day by day, and week by week....this went on, and on.  I had roughly six weeks to complete this deal by 1 October.  After that, I lost all the money.

I finally got the two packages through, and hit the contracting officer.  A week later....she informed me that she only had package #1, and that the $25k package rested with another person.

A day later, my gracious contracting lady informed me that since I was over the $100k level....this was a small-business required situation.  My choice for a chair was tossed out.  I was a bit angry, but ok, just get us some good four-star chairs.  Well....only one small-business company bid on the chair choice.  I was shocked.  But here was the thing....while my choice was $466....this new small-business choice....was $560. Roughly a $100 more per chair, and I had no extra funds.  So I decreased my number.

My commander was upset about this....and even more upset when we found out it wasn't a US manufacturing company....but a Canadian company.  We wanted to cancel....but ended up in the corner.

Then the shock choice for the $25k deal?  Fully accepted and no issues.

Weeks passed, and all the chairs came this week.  Frankly, I was mildly disenchanted with the $560 chairs. First, each box must have weighed eighty pounds.  Then you had to put them together....three pieces to each chair.  But they do sit well, and I can accept them.

The curious thing came only customer with a complaint.  Two hundred and forty-odd chairs person complaining.  First, he observed they were not made with recycled materials (he wasn't joking...he was totally serious).  Second, they weren't fire-retardant.  Yep, neither chair was qualified for that....but frankly, being a guy from nature isn't on my top three hundred priorities.

I have vowed now....never to buy another chair for this organization.  I'll have to leave if this issue comes up again.

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