On 13 November you published an article by Richard Steer complaining about uneconomic bidding by QSs

Then, on 27 November, there was a response by Steven Barker’s saying the big firms were just as guilty as the small ones for uneconomic practices. I would go further. I believe major practices are very much at the root of cut-throat bidding. In recent tenders for QS services on smaller projects, we have found ourselves being undercut by large practices.

The idea that smaller practices are putting in suicide bids is misguided. If anything, smaller practices are less able to make cuts to their submissions because of the proportion of the overall business turnover that one project might represent.

Steer’s reference to Millwall and Manchester United is a poor analogy. I believe that the smaller practices have to provide a high standard of service to maintain their position in the market. A better analogy might be comparing Tesco to the smaller speciality shop. While Tesco is seen as having a good market name, not everything is of the best quality, but this does not matter as the good covers up the bad. On the other hand, the smaller speciality shop has to maintain the best service at all times, as any falter can have a significant effect on the business and cannot easily be masked.

Therefore, I would say: “Beware the big practices: they are able to take greater risks and this could lead to tears further down the line.”

Simon Cash, director of cost management, AppleyardsDWB