Dishonest move

by Roy R. Morris

Suppliers of goods and services are accusing some of the island’s leading businesses and their principals of “dishonest” practices in order to push up their profits during the current recession.

A number of small and medium sized business operators told Barbados TODAY that it was now the routine for a number of big businesses to ask them to bid for work or submit proposals, only to find them being used for projects that were then executed internally or by “friends” of the company.

“What they will ask you to do, and I am talking about supposedly respectable companies, is submit a proposal for some job they plan to execute,” one professional explained.

“But they don’t just want an outline, they want details. So you go in, do all kinds of assessments, you spend countless hours on the job, you get other professionals to provide drawings, you contact suppliers overseas to get specs and quantities. Then after you have spent countless hours and thousands of dollars you learn that someone close to management has got the job, but they never submitted anything.

“Sometimes you will enter a project and recognise that everything about it conforms to your proposal, but it is being done internally. Such practices are dishonest. They are wrong.”

Another operator with an engineering background spoke of confronting the head of a business who took such a course after they had spent a considerable sum on a proposal, and “all he did was laugh”.

“That can’t be right,” he said. “That can’t be honest. Right now we have taken a decision that we will not provide anyone with that kind of detail at the early stage, even if it means we don’t qualify, because it is costly.”

In another instance an operator told Barbados TODAY that his company had been invited to provide an alternative energy solution for a major organisation that was building a new headquarters, with the specification that all details, including drawings had to be included, but “all they gave us was the roof space we had to use”.

“Can you imagine the amount of work we had to put into such a job, the thousands of dollars it would have cost us? You ask them who got the job?” he added.

“It is clear that they never intended for the job to go in our direction. As far as we are concerned their aim was to get a workable plan in their hands without having to pay for it, and that is now widespread in Barbados.”

According to the operator, it appeared that existing legislation offered little protection for person such as him once a proposal was delivered.

“We were asked by [a Bridgetown business] to submit a detailed plan for a job they wanted done,” a contractor told Barbados TODAY. “They literally ran us down saying they wanted to get the job out of the way and we went out of our way to work with them. We gave them what they wanted in May and heard nothing from them afterward.

“What we found out afterward was that he gave the job to his cousin, who no doubt executed it with our designs.”

Questioned about this development,

Lalu Vashwani, President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

, advised business operators to recognise that such dishonest practices were “myopic” since word was sure to get around in a country as small as Barbados.

“You know, you can fool me once, but I will not let you do it a second time. It is never good business sense to burn your bridges.”

At the same time however, he noted that companies had a duty to shareholders to get the most competitive bid, adding that no one should assume that submission of a bid meant they would get the job.

He said while he understood how such a practice would be upsetting, he advised that operators could find themselves in a catch-22 situation since the decision not to bid would also rule them out of contention for the job.


7 Responses to Dishonest move

  1. Xstream Services July 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    This article was long in coming, I have faced these types of situations so many times, here in Barbados its a dis incentive to even try to talk to some companies because they will just turn around and use your ideas against.
    Its sad and very bad for the business climate here in Barbados.

  2. Josh Delmas July 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Laws exist to protect inventions (patents) or movies and music, (copyright) or trading names, logos (with trademarks) there is no law that can protect an idea of how to do something. That is a fact of business; any good idea will be copied. Look at KFC vs. Chefette, or Great Wall vs. IZUZU, Shops Smart vs Price mart,

    If every time you gave me your proposal you wanted me to sign a legal document (NDA) stating I cant use your information, nothing would ever get done. The people receiving proposals or plans would then be taking a greater risk than you, who are actually disclosing it, (as you would then want to sue them for your “idea” but you can’t really own an idea of how to do something. There is more than one way to peel an apple but the end result is still the same, the apple will probably look very similar if you use my knife but not his.

    If you are going to put in a proposal to a business where one of the other possible candidates is related to the man making the final say, well more fool you my friend.

  3. Jonathan Farmer July 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    They take your proposal with all your intellectual planning and ideas and then have someone else do the job.

  4. Jennai Waller-Martinez July 25, 2012 at 11:50 am

    You all talking about this now? This has been going on in Barbados from time immoral! Its just that it is so widespread now that it has become a social problem….noone trust noone!

  5. allan c July 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    not only do they use your expertise, they give thier friends and family who are not even qualified or give them such bad service, but they continue to use them
    Unless the citizens of Barbados are willing to chage their culture and way of thinking, Barbados will never get out of the recession.
    Tourist arrivals will continue decline and cost of living will continue to rise.
    All your Govenrnmen is doing is driving yo guys into poverty. and it seems that they are too blind to see it.
    this situation is only a symptom of a Much Much Larger Problem…..

  6. Horus July 25, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I feel this has happen for some time now and it is unfortunate since
    you have to send the proposal to these companies if you want the job and there is no way to easily prove that they used your concept & estimates if they give it to someone else… since someone else can come up with the same concept and ideas.

    This will continue and be successful because Bajans are too reserved!

    My solution is to let everyone know if this happens and the business that did it. You can use the paper, social networks, email, or even a website.

    Additionally, provide a non disclosure notice and highlighting consequences could deter a few of these bad situations.

    Dishonesty and bad businesses practices should not be tolerated!

  7. Tony Webster July 28, 2012 at 10:49 am

    PLEASE: re-read the comments above by the on-target Josh Delmas. While the practice is both legally OK, and morally repugnant, it is also intrinsic in the human animal…and many millions other species of life. How many of us would hesitate to “bad-talk” a friend ( or even tell bare-faced lies) if it was the only way you could wend your way to a damsel’s heart…maybe…the same gal your dear “friend” is after? Choose wisely who your friends are, and who you trust with your secrets…or, ideas.

    Evolution assigns an equal value to strength of the mind and to brawn, and survival and propagation of the species will always ermine who is the fittest to carry on the torch.. Sorry about that nasty human trait, folks, but Darwin got it right!


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