Should I be suspicious - finding opportunities
Can a busy small business close shop for 3 weeks?

How government's spending cuts could be really easy realised.

It was predicted and it was delivered: the government is cutting its spending. Some departments have to find ways to cut their budget (IMHO quite different than what they actual spend, but that's a different story) as much as 40%

If it all works out, all of us - tax-payers and beneficiaries of those taxes - will have a more sustainable financial future. That's the plan. As business owner and tax-payer (double, on personal and business "profits") I would love to see this happening.

Place to start: accountability

After the emergency budget was announced we received the following online order from a gov.uk email address - very local as well. A Kent council project/centre in nearby Ashford - 6 miles away from our showroom.

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1 bottle a £ 10.54 - total price paid: £ 43.17
Let me break this down for you:
bottle £ 10.54
shipping costs £ 17.63 (default setting, can be changed to appropriate costs during check-out)
additional fees £ 15.00 (fixed fee for payment by credit card)

So now lets retrace the steps the gov.uk person took ordering this one bottle:

Product and pricing information

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Underneath every single product in our online shop we list the P&P per quantity. In this case: ordering 1 bottle will cost £ 8.50 ex VAT for P&P

Check-out options

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First page on our secure check-out:
1) Delivery Method, select delivery method.
2) Default setting is the top one, 99% of our clients change this option when needed to a lower or higher one, depending on the information found on the product page.
3) The option the gov.uk person ordering the bottle should have selected

Payment options

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Again, default is the top one: place your order and pick up the phone (9 times out of 10 we're the ones who pick up the phone to call the client and discuss how they would like to pay.)
This time the gov.uk person ordering the one bottle did manage to select the correct one and changed the default method. But don't take me wrong, for an item costing just over £ 10.00 would you personally pay £ 15.00 extra just for the pleasure of using your credit card?

Simple savings could have been made

If this gov.uk person had read the information correctly the first saving would have been £ 6.50 ex VAT (£ 7.63 including VAT). If only this gov.uk person had picked up the phone to discuss the payment method/options another big saving could have been made.
We do charge a fee for payment by credit card, 3% on the amount paid because that's what the credit card companies charge us for the pleasure. Our online shop does not work with percentages so we calculated what the normal amount ordered is and based our fix fee for this payment option on this (and we win some, we lose some).

A simple phone call to the shop - only 6 miles down the road of the gov.uk person - would have told them:
it's only £ 8.50 for the delivery and if you insist on paying by credit card we'll have to add £ 0.61 to the total price = £ 21.13
That's a saving of £22.00 or 51% - more than any department is asked to save.

(And would a short journey from Ashford to Charing really cost that much in time and petrol? If they'd visited the showroom they could have saved another £ 10.00)

The principle of many small ones, pennies and pounds

Now of course does this £22.00 not make a big dent in the deficit. But as bookkeeper (and double Capricorn) I know very well that many small ones make one big one; that to keep an eye on the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves.

The principle of who's money is it anyway?

Mine, and yours. And if you are only a little bit like me, you care about your money and how it is spent.

But for a gov.uk person in an office ordering one bottle online it seems to be nobodies money. It's on a credit card anyway, who knows who gets to see the monthly statement of all the spending?

Government spending cuts should start with accountability for every penny spent in her name. If there's a waste of yours and mine money the gov.uk person accountable should pay the moneys unnecessarily spent out of their own pocket, definitely making it their money too.

I predict that then a lot of savings will be made straight away, without any hardship to beneficiaries of taxes. (Update 12.07.10: listed this also on George Osborne's website: Spending Challenge)

(And before you berate me of having accepted this order with this tremendous waste of your money, the extra profit on this order has been donated to Room to Read - World Change Starts with Educated Children)

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