Free Essay

Copier Confused

In: Business and Management

Submitted By cwhit2day12
Words 971
Pages 4
PROJ598 – Contract and Procurement Management
Copier Confusion

The Business Company, Inc., badly needed new copying machines. The company had 20 machines, but they were old and copy quality was poor. They broke down frequently. And to change paper size from 8.5 x 11 in. to legal-size, the user had to remove one paper tray containing 8.5 x 11 in. paper and replace it with a tray containing legal-size paper. Newer machines had two trays, one for each paper size, that permitted changing paper size at the push of a button without changing paper trays.

John Richards, the company’s purchasing agent, thought this would be a labor-saving feature and decided to include it in a specification for purchase of new machines. The copying machine industry called this feature, “dual-cassette” design.

The Business Company issued an invitation for bids for purchase and maintenance of 20 replacement machines. The solicitation included a specification that called for a machine that would permit “copying both 8.5 x 11 in. and legal-size paper without manually changing the paper trays.” The term dual cassette did not appear in the specification.

John received bids from several companies, including Copies Incorporated, a reputable manufacturer. Copiers had greeted the invitation for bids with great pleasure. Their inventory included 30 of their Model 125 copying machines, which they were phasing out. The Model 125 had only one tray, which held 8.5 x 11 in. and legal-size paper, but legal-size paper could be copied without removing the 8.5 x 11 in. tray. After pushing a button, the user could make legal-size copies by manually feeding single, blank legal-size paper into the machine, sheet by sheet. If operated by an experienced user, the Model 125 could make copies in this manner fast as a machine using an automatic-tray feed. Because the Model 125 was being phased out, Copies was willing to offer them at a very low price with very reasonable maintenance charges. The machines were new and could make copies of excellent quality.

When bids were opened, Copiers’ bid was the lowest, and The Business Company’s purchasing agent was prepared to accept it. John was well aware of Copiers' reputation as a reputable manufacturer of high-quality copiers. He knew little about the Model 125, however, and accepted Copiers' representation that the machine satisfied the requirements of the specification.

Then John received a call from one of the other bidders to the effect that there was no way Copiers could provide dual cassette machines at its bid price. The bidder knew of John's desire for dual cassette machines, and its price was second only to Copiers' bid, though by a significant amount.

Confused, and a little suspicious, John called Copiers' representative, Rachel Alexander, and asked for confirmation that Copier was offering a dual cassette machine. Rachel was familiar with the specification in The Business Company's solicitation. She knew that neither the words dual cassette nor any other reference to multiple-tray design appeared anywhere in the document. After a moment's hesitation, she said, "John, our machine satisfies your specification in every way. You'll be very happy with it." She was certain that he was confused about the requirement.

John then wrote a letter to Rachel just to be sure. The letter asked for confirmation that the Model 125 was a dual-cassette design. Reading the letter, Rachel was sure that John would be happy with the Model 125. The specification did not call for a dual cassette design, and she told herself that John was still confused about the term. After all, the Model 125 had been state-of-the-art not that long ago. Copy quality was superb, the machines were very reliable, the price was terrific, and Copiers would provide great service.

Rachel responded to John's letter by writing - We absolutely guarantee that our Model 125 satisfies your specification in every detail. We know you will be pleased with its Performance and ours, or your money back.

John was reading Rachel's letter, and pondering its intent, when he received a call from the Director of Administrative Services.

"John, we're getting more complaints about those old copiers every day. Where do you stand on picking a replacement?" demanded the Director. "It seems to be taking a long time. We called for quotes weeks ago."

"I'm working on it today, Boss," said John.

"Great! Let's decide today," said the Director. "And John, I expect you to get a good price."

Under pressure, John decided to accept Rachel's guarantee. He telephoned acceptance Copiers' bid and mailed a written confirmation that same day. The new machines were to be installed in 30 days.
Copiers had installed 10 of the new machines when Rachel received a call from John. "Hey," he said angrily, "these machines you've put in aren't dual cassette. You lied to me."

"Calm down, John," said Rachel. "These are fine machines and you can change paper without changing trays. We met the specs. Your users will be satisfied once we've demonstrated how to use them. Copy quality is great! Reliability is super! And we've given you a terrific price! What's more, our service is the best".

"No way, Rachel," John said. "We wanted dual-cassette machines, and you knew it. These Model 125s won't satisfy our staff. Get them out of there today! We won't pay!"

"John, we can't accept that," answered Rachel, a little angry now herself. "You've accepted our offer, which was to give you machines that will let you copy two sizes of paper without having to change trays. We have upheld our end in good faith. Your users will be happy. If you don't pay us, we're talking breach of contract.

"See you in court then, Rachel," said John, and he hung up.

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