DBA slams pay for pitch deals

While the debate about whether design groups should be paid to pitch rumbles on, evidence has come to light that some clients are charging consultancies for the privilege of pitching.

The Environment Agency recently advertised for “Design Services for Publications”. However, interested parties had to part with £360 if they wanted to know more.

Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College has recently been charging consultancies £100 to compete for an advertising services project.

Design groups contacted the Design Business Association with details of the other kind of “paid pitching” following Design Week’s coverage of its initiative to combat clients making consultancies sign restrictive, anti-competitive and potentially unlawful contracts (DW 19 January and 26 January 2001).

DBA chief executive Ian Rowland-Hill described the cash for information scandal as “truly shocking” and “against natural justice”. DBA lawyers are looking into the legality of such behaviour.

Rowland-Hill says: “It is potentially open to massive abuse.” A hundred design groups paying £100 or more to pitch would make a nice little money spinner, he points out.

“It is potentially a case of clients abusing their market position and as such would be anti-competitive. It is simply not in anyone’s best interests of getting effective design,” he adds.

However, BCUC is unrepentant. “We have asked [consultancies] to pitch for a recruitment and corporate advertising job worth £750 000 and pay £100 as part of that pitch. This is standard industry practice and is intended to discourage time wasters. People I’ve spoken to endorse this practice,” says head of procurements Ian Blakesly.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency says, “We will work with a minimum of £145 000 out to tender via a database managed by a separate company, which charges a subscription fee.”

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