Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Reassuringly Expensive

Money makes the world go around. So they say. In any sales related job, you get a sense of how hard it is to extract the pennies from anyone. Our potential customers seem to treat their company’s precious cash as if were their own more often than not, questioning every last penny. Take Arsene Wenger. He has been known to miss out on a quite brilliant transfer target just because he considers the market price too high, compared to giving Nicklas Bendtner another year on £60,000 a week!

And yet price, cost and cash never come top of surveys. Mainly because people lie on surveys I often feel, but we have to take them at face value sometimes. If you are buying something you want it to work and do what it says it does on the tin first and foremost. Only after that do we consider the price.

eReco sells a service. All the textbooks will tell you selling a service is harder than selling a product and that is usually true. In our case, we have the unusual scenario of selling against people who will try and do what we do for free.

The full description of what we usually call a con is a confidence trick. In pulling the wool over someone’s eyes, you have to give them confidence that you are on the level, a person, company, product or service they can trust. When you deploy the F word as your secret weapon, people must want to believe you because it sounds too good to be true.

So I will collect your 10 broken monitors, 4 ancient PC’s, 3 defunct laptops, the old accounts printer that gets really hot, a box of old cables and keyboards and those old handsets for free. Scrap value for that little lot is about £50. But it’s ok, I am Harry Potter. I can do it. Paperwork?

Oh don’t worry about waste transfer notes, it will all go in the back of the van easy mate. And this receipt will do as an asset list. And look, it says we will destroy the data, so you are covered.

Except you are not. But at least you can see where he is making his money. And you have got rid of that pile of junk, so who cares eh? Job done, and you saved the £50 that old fool from eReco wanted to charge you.

This scenario is absolutely fine...until the moment something goes wrong. Someone is moving your waste illegally. If he gets caught for anything from a driving offence to fly tipping he has your equipment and it is all going to come back on you. Waste is waste and to move it around you have to have a license and you have a legal duty of care to dispose of it properly. Guilty as charged your honour.

But most people don’t get caught so the equipment goes somewhere.

Now our friendly free supplier has to make his money somewhere, because he is not doing this out of love, is he? Legally anything he cannot remarket should be recycled through a registered WEEE processor, an AATF, an approved and authorised treatment facility. But they do not pay much and they buy by the ton, not by the boot load, and our friend has bills to pay. He is not going to store stuff up for months until he has a load worth anything at all.

Luckily he knows this bloke who will pay him £200 a pallet for IT equipment. No questions asked, in working condition or not. And he has not taken the stuff out of his van yet, he just delivers to this bloke and takes a wad of cash. Job done, from his point of view. Except it probably ends up in Africa and once picked bare for parts or whatever will end up in landfill.

Now I am not saying this happens all the time. Some of the free boys will try and deal with your data using free wiping software. The stuff we use we have to pay a license fee for every wipe. It’s CESG approved software, or in other words GCHQ, who say once wiped with this software there is no way to get data back even if you are a master criminal. They do not say that about the free software though. Funny that.

But whatever they do, your free collection does not warrant your free bloke doing anything that incurs costs. Because there is no money in that for him. So your data is at risk. It is up to you to decide how great that risk is, but you are breaking the law in a variety of different ways. Sooner or later you are going to get burned.

So let’s turn it around and look at what you would get for your eReco collection. I would collect that little lot, and deal with the data, for about £100, maybe a little more if you were off the beaten track as it were. We prefer bigger loads but we do dozens of jobs like this.

Firstly, you get a secure collection. With us this means two men, to cope with manhandling all the kit and to ensure that your data is never left in the van unattended. These guys are all security cleared and know the rules.

They arrive with a waste transfer note. That is your legal proof, and our legal proof, that waste is being legally transported. The note has to cover the sort of waste we will be carrying, which is why we ask what you have in some detail before collecting. Technically, if you add something without telling us and that category is not covered by the WTN, Houston has a problem. We would solve it in practise, but we don’t risk our license.

Once we get the consignment safely back home, we track it all in, taking any serial numbers but giving absolutely everything our own asset number and tagging it accordingly. We then share that with you. In a perfect world it matches the list you asked us to collect, but quite often we end up with more stuff, but in either case this is your record that you passed this stuff to us, by serial number, so that you have an asset trail. If something goes wrong you are covered (but you were already protected by our £10m liability insurance the moment we touched it).

Then once we have wiped your data we produce a certificate of data destruction and your legal responsibility for anything is gone. We can now remarket or recycle and you can forget all about it until next time, safe in the knowledge that you are fully compliant and that you have done the best thing you can in support of sustainability. No risk, no potential nightmares.

Yes, it cost you £100. But that was money spent on a service that protects you and your business and deals with a regulated responsibility to recycle and protect your data. You get a lot of backside covering paperwork and it is all pretty easy and straightforward. You have nothing to worry about and because we will do anything we can to help we often clear up piles of real old junk as well, and that saves you money.

Suddenly £100 sounds like a very fair price, doesn’t it?