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Sent: 2002-06-03 15:06:00-05
Subject: "The substituting competitor" article
This mainstay of the "low-ball" cheap bid market of our industry has been a sore point of mine for many years. There are individuals out there who knowingly bid a smaller size or container than what is in the specs., knowing that the owner will very likely neither know or possibly care that the plant materials are not technically up to spec. If they look decent, are warranteed, spaced as per plan, these seems to be the important elements--not the ethical thing about providing what the plans call for. Of course, those of us who compete ethically in this business don't do those kinds of things, so we end up looking "very expensive" in the commercial low-bid market, and often end up leaving it as a result. Other ways that these low-ball experts cheat on size is in using #2 or #3 potted stock when specs. call for #5, pak-size groundcovers instead of 3" or 4" pots (often spaced further apart than specs call for too--who's going to count all those things?), subbing cheaper varieties of trees ("how about if we use some nice Patmore ash instead of the Coffeetrees--I can't seem to find them now"), not installing topsoil to the depth spec'd. (if at all), using a cheaper bark mulch (at less than the depth spec'd. of course), etc. What is really needed for the benefit of the industry and for the commercial property owners who are fooled by this type of thing is a contracted "landscape cop" who would be hired to inspect commercial installations for "specs. cheating", report the offending company to the owner and oversee the removal and replacement of deficient materials. Low-ball bidders don't have the mark-up in the job to withstand much of this, and would have to start playing by the rules once they got burned a time or two. This would also raise the ethical levels of the industry, and result in better-looking commercial projects, to the benefit of all of us.

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