Tough economic times bring out shark suppliers

As the economic outlook grows more doom and gloom with each passing day and also the chance of a double dip recession, experts warn that buyers need to steer clear of ‘shark’ suppliers.

Industry players that purchase plastic refuse sacks, industrial cotton mops and paper products such as paper towels for towel dispensers and soap for soap dispensers, are being warned by the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) that they need to increase their monitoring for shark suppliers.

Gordon Butt, the CHSA’s auditor for its Manufacturing Standard Accreditation Scheme, explained: “As the economic uncertainty continues we are seeing an increase in the cutting of corners by disreputable suppliers of cleaning and hygiene products and it is distributors and end users who are being affected.

“We randomly and regularly audit both members and non-members of the scheme and we have seen a jump in the number and extent of deficiencies amongst non-members.

“Some net deficiencies caused by, for example, reducing the number of sheets or shaving a little of the width or length of each sheet of a paper product are running as high as 20 per cent.

“This is the equivalent to a distributor or end user buying five boxes of product and only getting four; it’s clearly unethical and could be an offence if the dimensions are on the label and the labelling does not reflect the reduction.

“But there is no legal requirement to label the dimensions of the product and some suppliers are exploiting this and being vague with the labelling.

“If they tell you the number of sheets but not the dimensions of each sheet then you have no way of knowing if something you have always understood to be one size has suddenly ‘shrunk’.”

One way to avoid falling into this trap, especially when purchasing paper towels for a paper towel dispenser and soap for soap dispensers, is to buy from Manufacturing Standard Accreditation Scheme members.

“We regularly audit our members and deficiencies will ultimately result in expulsion from the Scheme,” said Graham Fletcher, general secretary of the CHSA.

“This means buyers can be certain they are getting what they pay for, even when times are tough.

“Anyone concerned about the quality of their purchase can call us for a free audit. Gordon will come out and thoroughly check the products, either giving you the ammunition you need or putting your mind to rest.”

Areas the scheme guarantees include: consistency of supply; accurate labelling; and fully audited manufacturers.