Friday, 6 March 2015

Value for Money

This week I have had a concerted go at dubious charity recycling services. You may have noticed and the hits on this blog would suggest that you have. I am glad. It is a disgrace. Business has a responsibility to be responsible. That is why the banking crisis was so unpopular. Responsibility with our money had gone right out of the window.

Deep down everyone knows that businesses have to make profits. That is why the phrase ‘value for money’ is so deep in our consciousness. You get it in the supermarket every week; stuff you buy that makes you go ‘wow that’s expensive’. We will pay a little more for a brand or conspicuous, definable quality, but there is a limit.

SME businesses have the same reactions to services or products they use. Really big businesses tend to have different drivers because their size has overtaken their attitude to price, and their responsibilities are more ‘official’ for wont of a better word. For instance, our toner service costs £34.50 a box and each box holds about 20 used toner cartridges. If you are filling 4 boxes a week as some of our clients do, it is not a ‘cost’, it is a service. The sheer volume of waste needs to be dealt with and we deal with it as regular as clockwork. But to someone who might take two years to fill one box, £34.50 sounds a lot.

This is why it is smaller businesses who are more susceptible to a free recycling service. If you are big you tend to be aware of all the regulations, because you have people whose job it is to comply with those sort of things, but if you are an SME you may not be quite so up to date. And the idea of your 10 old PC’s going to help kids is fundamentally attractive. And that nice man on the phone told you he does everything properly and it is, after all, free.

I just had a great conversation with a new customer. He had been let down by his previous supplier and turned to us because of all the things I bang on about in this blog. He wanted the right credentials, the right paperwork and a demonstrably secure process. His backside was on the line and although he was wary of excessive costs it was the value for money he bought. He would worry about free. He would worry about something going wrong. But that is not to say he is not concerned about the environment too.

We all are. Not in a standing up and shouting about it sense, or a voting Green Party sense, but in a ‘this is just plain commonsense’ sort of way. That is why we expect businesses to be responsible. We expect them to check out this stuff and not get caught out, but we are suckers for a good charity at the end of the day. It’s always for kids too.

The reason I have highlighted this issue so strongly this week is that this is a con trick. It is bad enough putting your data security at risk but these people are also damaging the environment, even if they are exporting used kit legally. That stinks as far as I am concerned.

I do think that profitable businesses should donate to charity. I help them do it sometimes. But there are several fundamentals you really must not forget when disposing of IT assets. First and foremost get the data sorted properly. This really has to cost you money I am afraid, if you want to ensure your data is not recoverable. Roughly £5 per hard drive should cover it, maybe a little less if you have hundreds to do, but it is more or less a fixed cost because of the license fees.

Secondly, make sure that none of your disposal is destined for landfill. And that means do not give it to a charity unless they can prove to you that they do not allow that to happen, and that any exports they are involved with are all legal and above board.

Amazingly these are the two things most SME’s fail to realise. They are apathetic about data security and blasé about the recycling aspect. Far too many just see the cost. But with the risk of fines for data breach and the potential damage to the environment, it is not about cost. It is, like just about anything else in life, including the price of fish, about value for money.