Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Office Depot, Over Charging for Supplies?

Is this a disgruntled employee, or is there a hidden truth? Personally, we think this is a big company still trying to figure out their pricing model. Even the better reason to try our Office Supplies Price Comparison tool, it compares Office Depot Prices to Office Max...Now, Straight from the the Detroit News. Plus some other findings regarding Office Depot over charging our governments are here.

Ex-Office Depot employee alleges Detroit Public Schools overcharged for supplies Worker alleges price fixing scheme, but the Office Depot disputes the claim.
Jennifer Mrozowski / The Detroit News

Detroit -- Detroit Public Schools is looking into allegations by a fired Office Depot employee who said the district is being overcharged as part of a massive price fixing scheme.

David Sherwin, a former senior account manager with Office Depot, alleges that the company manipulated pricing on products that government agencies bought through the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance.

"Nationally, the overcharging amounts are somewhere in the range of $100 million annually to between 4,000 and 5,000 agencies around the country," Sherwin said.

An Office Depot spokesman said the DPS has been buying supplies through the program since 2003.

"We are not aware of any complaints from Detroit Public Schools regarding overcharging," Jason Shockley said, denying the allegations.

Sherwin said Office Depot overcharges entities that use the company's Web site. He said the pricing manipulation resulted in overcharges of 5 percent and 10 percent of total annual purchases.

Sherwin said he tried to contact the DPS at least 15 times over eight months and received no response. He also contacted the Michigan Attorney General's Office within the past few weeks but has received no response, he said.

Following a reporter's inquiry, the DPS' new inspector general, John E. Bell, called Sherwin and requested more information.

"I thought it was something we ought to take a look into immediately," Bell said.

Attorneys general in Florida and Missouri are investigating allegations of Office Depot overcharging state and local agencies. Last year, the North Carolina state auditor found the company overcharged state agencies by about $294,000, and Nebraska's auditor found the state was "paying too much for office supplies because of serious pricing errors and overcharges" through its contract with Office Depot.

The amount of the DPS contract was not available Monday.

Office Depot considers Sherwin a disgruntled ex-employee; he confirmed he was fired after sending an angry e-mail to the company's chief executive officer.

So when was the last time you sent an e-mail to a CEO to tell them how pissed you were?

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