Friday, March 16, 2007

Vendors compliance with specification

In my somewhat limited experience, vendors of materials in Indonesia, particularly in construction industry, is rather bad in complying with promised specification.

There is one high profile company whose product did not satisfy advertised specification. What they did is quite scandalous given it's position as a market leader and it's name affiliation to a highly reputable multi-national company with highly significant presence in it's field..

People whose work specialize in that field can easily identify the specification change. On the other hand, although the change is visible with naked eye, it's quite subtle. I don't think I will ever realize the change if noone point it to me.

Sadly, not many field worker point it to their supervisor. Maybe they they thought they don' want to complicate their daily work because of this "whistle blowing".

There is another company, whose brand is very strong on the Indonesia's public eye (depending on province), who changed it's product specification recently to the one with far less production cost (as of today..). But this company is more upfront. They actually state their new specification in the packaging. They also tell their distributor and large customer about the change.

Sadly, they don't tell the retail market about the change. Although not telling the retail market is arguably a good decision in marketing perspective, what they do might make many new buildings become unsafe...

Anyway, the market of material that has no specification in Indonesia, is bad.
Given equal price, the materials are getting worse these days. They are so bad that you might end up with better materials if you take used materials of an old building.

Many contractors know this for a fact, but they rarely try to reuse used materials. There are many reasons.
1. The using of used materials are not specified in a construction projects even though used materials might be superior than new materials of the same type (for example un-ovened wood).
2. Incorporating used materials in project specification is going to make the contractors looks bad..
2. With the relatively high price of second hand materials, it's more profitable to actually sell the old materials. But the administration of gathering and selling used materials are difficult to do accurately thus prone to corruption. Therefore, attempt to sell used material might negatively impact workers morality.

btw, there is a reasonably sized market of second hand materials in Jakarta, Indonesia. The group who benefit the most from this market are poor people who want to build housing.

NB: The poor people will be hit the most with the specification change of the 2nd company mentioned above. It's because they usually build with as less materials as possible and they don't know that current specification requires more materials.

I had mentioned this specification change to a major customer of mine and suggesting other product with less prominent brand name, but they disregard it. Maybe they don't want complication.. Anyway, a few days ago they asked about the detail of the product change (which means that they never forget what I said before), it seems that they begin to have some.. problems..

Mark my word, this can later become a PR nightmare for this company..

Too bad I'm not perfectly anonymous, not to mention the relationship I had..

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