We are fortunate enough to deal with some of the biggest companies in the country.
We’re also very unfortunate to be dealing with some of the biggest companies in the country.
The former, because they have money to spend on guys like us. The latter, because the process to actually get that money paid to us is a chore beyond measure.
Every new client we work with requires a long list of “New Supplier Forms”, which consist of company registration docs, VAT docs, auditors letters, bank statements or confirmation of accounts, the list goes on and on. We’ve even been asked for copies of signed employment contracts of the staff working on a particular project.
Every document, although tedious to collect, collate and send through to the new client, is easily enough found, scanned and delivered. Copies of all documentation is accepted. The one that we can’t scan and email, however, are any bank statements. These are always required to be originals, never copies, including a stamp and signature from the bank not older than 3 months.
This requires the bank account owner (i.e. me) to sit in a branch for at least an hour (what is this, 1998?) to get an original letter every few months. I can quite honestly say that I have much better things to do with my time.
Now, back in the day, bank statements used to be free of charge. Today, you pay R11 PER PAGE. I was also informed earlier today that the bank account confirmation letters will be charged for in the near future too. Oh fantastic.
I can’t blame the bank. Paper and ink costs money. I get it. But, why has no-one found an alternative to this? An alternative that appeases the mind-numbing keyboard-junkies in corporate procurement – who love to refuse documents which aren’t signed in quite the black ink they’d prefer. Because no-one gives a shit. No-one cares about the small business who has to waste time sitting in a queue to tell big business what we already know.
So what’s the alternative? If client X absolutely needs this information, can I charge for my time to do this, including covering the costs I have to pay the bank for the prints? Or tell them to get the docs themselves?
I’d like to say no.
I’d suggest all banks create or subscribe to a system where “original documents”, or “authorised letters of confirmation” are delivered to relevant parties directly from the vault – online. Or for certain individuals to be allowed access to view the top level detail of accounts (not including bank statement, purely bank account number, owner, code, etc.), when they have viewed it, they print the details directly from the site and add to your supplier forms. It could be an addition to your internet banking capabilities.
Or let me send these details via email, authorised by the bank by password protection if you’d prefer, to stop this madness.
Modern day business should not require me to waste my time while killing trees in the process.
C’mon corporate South Africa, let’s think this through here.