Archive for June, 2011

big box woes

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Office Depot has agreed to pay the state of Colorado $412,000 following an investigation into allegations that the company overbilled more than 100 Colorado governmental agencies and nonprofits for office supplies between January 2006 and March 2009.

Office Depot sold the supplies to the Colorado entities under the auspices of the U.S. Communities purchasing cooperative.

According to the settlement, the Attorney General’s Office investigated allegations of improper practices related to the contract, including Office Depot moving customers to a higher-cost pay plan.

Following a year-long investigation, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers alleged that during the 2006-2009 timeframe, certain customers were placed on the higher-cost price plan without their knowledge or without a complete and accurate explanation of the price difference between the two plans.

Roughly 113 customers paid a total of $126,294 more than they would have on the lower-cost plan, Suthers alleged.

Under the agreement, Office Depot will pay $412,000 to the state of Colorado. Of that, $189,441 will be made to the customers who were put on the higher-cost plan.

The remaining $222,561 will be held in trust by the Attorney General to be used for reimbursement of the state’s costs and attorney’s fees in investigating the matter. It will also be used for consumer education, consumer fraud enforcement and antitrust enforcement.

Among specific provisions investigated were allegations that Office Depot violated the “most favored customer” pricing obligations and incorrectly or improperly applying contract discounts.

Office Depot denied any wrongdoing. The agreement states that the settlement is “not to be considered an admission of violation or liability…”

Office Depot spokesman Brian Levine said the firm was “pleased” to have resolved the matter “and continues to sell office supplies and services to public sector customers throughout…Colorado. Office Depot has proven time and again that public sector entities save substantial amounts of money through its programs.”

In June 2010, the Florida Attorney General’s Office reached a $4.5 million settlement with Office Depot regarding allegations that the company overcharged Florida agencies for office supplies.

In Colorado, customers included the cities of Colorado Springs, Alamosa, Cortez, Grand Junction, Cripple Creek and Manitou Springs. Other customers included Kit Carson , Morgan, and Ouray counties. School districts were also customers.

Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939 or

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City Office Supply Supports “Promoting Local Connections”

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

For two decades, independent business products resellers have been carving chinks in the armor of the big-box chains. From dispelling their lower pricing and quality customer service claims, to disproving their better value assertions, stalwart independent resellers are standing firm against what was once viewed as an insurmountable threat to their existence. The challenge continues today as business products resellers prove that their strong community ties as local businesses represent yet another advantage over their big-box competition. “The current trend of more communities and businesses latching onto the buy-local theme has been a grass-roots effort in more than 100 communities nationwide over the past 10 years,” says Jeff Milchen, founder, American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), The recent economic downturn definitely got a lot more communities thinking that they needed to be more proactive in driving business to their local independent merchants to improve their position that was years in the making, he continues. “Each time consumers make the choice to patronize a local independent business, they’re creating far more local economic benefit than they would by taking their business to a chain store.”

Local Independent Business Chain Stores
Profits re-spent in community Profits go directly to out of town headquarters
Local business supports local business Out of town headquarters support out of town businesses
Located in downtown districts or neighborhoods keeping the area vibrant Located in development near freeways  causing negative impact on downtown business districts
Career jobs with better pay and more knowledge and productivity Young people working minimum wage jobs part time











 There’s no question the big guys have size. But with that size comes clumsiness, an inability to move quickly, and a lack of flexibility. In contrast, independent resellers are very nimble, very flexible, and very quick in responding to meet customers’ needs locally. Many customers aren’t even aware of the fact that there is the option to buy local.  That has to be changed one customer at a time by increasing  exposure in the community.  Independent resellers are local yet offer the same kind of world-class, logistics, service levels, and inventory as any big chain—if not better.

City Office Supply offers the best of both worlds. They are small enough to be totally responsive to your needs, yet large enough with their buying partnerships to deliver the $600 million in inventory that are in the partnership’s buildings across the country.

 Although data suggest that independent businesses continue to be challenged by the weak economy, the 2011 Independent Business Survey conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that those located in communities that have an active buy-local campaign experienced markedly stronger revenue growth in 2010 compared to those in areas without such an initiative.  Independent businesses in places with a buy local initiative, which comprised about half of the respondents, reported an average gain in revenue of 5.6 percent.  The survey’s findings suggest that more people are aware of and seeking out independent businesses.  Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that public awareness of the benefits of supporting locally owned businesses had increased in the last year.  Likewise, 83 percent of respondents said the fact that their business is locally owned and independent matters to some or most of their customers, while 11 percent said it mattered to a few of their customers, and only 2 percent said that it was irrelevant to customers.


The complete survey can be seen online at the New Rules Project website,, under the News Center tab.




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talk radio

Monday, June 6th, 2011

ck me out on 650AM talk radio tues. 6/14 11:00am. i’ll be speaking about the office products industry in Houston…..exciting stuff!! lol

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