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 user 2010-01-04 at 11:32:45 am Views: 51
  • #23109


    Here’s a
    start toward solving San Francisco’s $522 million budget deficit for
    next year: Stop being gouged for paper clips and staples.Office Depot
    overcharged San Francisco for at least $5.75 million worth of office
    supplies over 4 1/2 years, according to a new audit by the city’s
    controller, findings the national chain disputes.

    “It’s certainly
    money that the city is owed,” Controller Ben Rosenfield said after
    releasing the audit Friday. “It’s money that we were overcharged on pens
    and paper at a time when we’re being forced to cut services and lay off
    employees.”Office Depot, beset by overcharging allegations across the
    country, violated its exclusive contract to provide city government with
    office supplies by not giving the city agreed-upon discounts and making
    unauthorized price increases, the audit said.The audit also faulted the
    city’s Office of Contract Administration for poor oversight, saying the
    city was making monthly payments to Office Depot without sufficient
    verification that the items and prices were correct.

    Office Depot
    contends the audit is flawed and has given no indication it will pay
    the city.
    “The assertion that we owe $5.7 million is without merit,”
    company spokesman Jason Shockley said. “We believe the report contains
    material errors and fails to maintain the objectivity and fairness

    Office Depot executives are “more than willing to
    meet” with San Francisco officials “to resolve our differences
    amicably,” Shockley said.”Our findings are fair,” Rosenfield countered.
    “The money is owed to the city.”City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s staff is
    reviewing the audit and considering its options, spokesman Matt Dorsey

    The audit is the latest in a string that have found Office
    Depot overcharged governments for supplies, including the states of
    California, Georgia, North Carolina and Nebraska, San Francisco’s report

    The company agreed last year to refund California $2.5
    million after an audit found items were purchased without receiving the
    expected discount, the state Department of General Services said. That
    came on top of a separate $2.5 million settlement Office Depot agreed to
    pay nine California counties in 2007 for allegedly overcharging
    customers in stores. In March, a Berkeley audit found more than $250,000
    in overcharges.”Office Depot is playing fast and loose with the
    privilege of doing business with the state,” Nebraska State Auditor Mike
    Foley said last year. “They ought to be held accountable.”

    San Francisco, the audit looked at every purchase from January 2005
    through June 2009 and found $5.75 million worth of overcharges out of
    $18.3 million in payments – a markup of more than 31 percent.Office
    Depot’s contract with the city expired Nov. 30. The city has switched to
    Staples for office supplies for at least the next six months as it
    prepares to put the contract out to bid.

    Issues Demand Letter to Office Depot in Wake of S.F. Controller’s Audit

    FRANCISCO – City Attorney Dennis Herrera last Monday  issued a demand
    letter to Office Depot, Inc. expressing his intention to “vigorously
    pursue” at least $5.75 million in overcharges together with interest,
    attorney’s fees, and costs incurred by the City in conducting the audit.

    demand letter follows the release of an exhaustive audit report by the
    Office of City Controller Ben Rosenfield, which was released on Dec. 18,
    2009. The Controller’s 96-page audit concluded that, among other
    overcharges, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based office products supplier failed
    to provide the City with contractually mandated discounts for items
    covered by the 5-year contract, which was valued at some $18 million.

    resolution of this matter must include compensation to the City for the
    costs of the audit, and for attorney’s fees, as well as full
    reimbursement for price overcharges, with interest,” Herrera wrote. “If
    the City is unable to obtain a satisfactory informal resolution of this
    matter, I will not hesitate to pursue the matter in court. Further, if
    court action becomes necessary, rest assured that my office will
    vigorously pursue the City’s claims to the fullest, including seeking
    civil penalties and debarment, if appropriate.”

    Office Depot to Close Distribution
    Center (live video ),0,5185945.story
    distribution center in Luzerne County will soon be closing its doors.
    from the Office Depot have confirmed the facility near Mountain Top
    will be relocating.More than 100 workers work at the Office Depot in the
    Crestwood Industrial Park. Come February, all of them will be looking
    for a new job.”What can you say? There’s no work out there. Nobody’s
    buying. Nobody’s selling. So what can you do?” asked Fred Amorosa of
    Shickshinny.He isn’t surprised to hear about the latest plant shut down
    in Luzerne County. Amorosa is a local truck driver and said times are
    tough just about everywhere you look.Louis Edwards agrees. “It’s bad all
    over. I’m laid off myself,” Edwards said. “I’m out here today looking
    for a job.”

    The distribution center in Mountain Top will
    permanently shut down in February and consolidate to a new location near
    Harrisburg in Cumberland County.William Zoepke has been working as a
    security guard there for nearly a decade. He said he is not looking
    forward to saying goodbye. “Well not really. They figured it was coming
    but then when it does happen, it’s more or less a surprise,” Zoepke
    said. He plans to retire after the February closure.Not everyone working
    at the Office Depot facility will be as lucky. Many have families to
    support. They will need to rely on unemployment until they can find new

    businesses like Abe’s Hot Dogs along Route 309 said they
    rely on the lunch-time crowd from the industrial park to keep business
    going there as well.”Last year they laid off a lot of people from the
    plants up in the industrial park. Now with Office Depot going it’s going
    to hurt our business even more,”said Sandy Waitoish of Abe’s.Officials
    from the Office Depot said current employees will be able to apply for
    positions at the new location near Harrisburg. Severance packages are
    also being offered.,0,5185945.story