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Nightmare on Tender Street

Bills of Quantity (BOQ) Monsters


A story of how bidding used to work


Early Monday morning I walk into my office. On my desk are three bound documents, I shake my head in disbelief. Right on cue, my boss walks in the door. I point at the documents and ask: “I wasn’t aware of any other tenders for this month?” He replies: “We received them Saturday morning, they close in a week, 9 days and 14 days respectively, I want the prices back for all three in four days’ time.” He walks into his office and closes the door. I am left alone by my desk, feeling like I am about to be suffocated.


Four days! Only four days! Do I look like a miracle worker?!


I shake my head, roll my shoulders and try to calm down. There is no time for histrionics right now, I have to get these tenders out and priced back to my boss in four days. First thing I do is look at the tenders to ascertain the areas where the work will take place. Ok, two of them I can send to the same vendors for prices as they are in close proximity, this will cut my work by a third. Feeling a little bit better, I start typing up the cover letters for each tender. Once complete and printed, I take the first tender document and remove the fasteners holding the tender document together (luckily the two tenders that are close together, I can unbind. Unfortunately, the last tender I will have to copy each page of the bill and they will probably have that blinking black line obscuring the item numbers. Ugh!). I start sorting the pages of the bill into the different trades I need to send to; of course some of the pages will be required for different trades as well. I then grab our vendor list and start looking for vendors in the required area. Once I have compiled the necessary list of every vendor I will be sending to, I realise that due to the project being rural, I am going to have to fax almost every vendor, as there is only one that has an email address. Great! Just great!


I look at the clock; it is 11:10 am. There is enough time to at least fax a few before I am supposed to go to lunch, although it looked like it was going to be a sandwich eaten on the go. With a heavy sigh, I pick up the different piles and trudge over to the fax machine. The light blinks, indicating that I need to replace the ink cartridge, I grunt. Now, I have to go find a replacement cartridge, as the stupid fax won’t work until I have replaced the cartridge. Some days, I really hate my job! I open the supply cabinet, rummage through the piles and finally spot the cartridge right in the back. I cut open the package and cross back to the fax, trying to remember the steps in replacing the cartridge, wishing for the millionth time that we could get an upgraded fax/printer machine. I finally wrangle the old cartridge out and insert the new one. Ok, time to fax. I grab the first pile, position the papers and pick up my list of vendors; I enter the first number and press send. The first two pages go through with no issue, the third page never emerges and the fax starts emitting a high pitched shriek, with lights flashing. Page jam, fantastic. I open the machine compartment, do a scan of the areas where the paper can be stuck and see at least three pages in different locations. I grab the first one and pull it out quite smoothly, the second one I can’t get hold, so I take a pair of tweezers from my handbag and finally manage to get it out. I reach for the third one, manage a good grip and start pulling, it won’t budge. Grimacing, I reset my foot, take the page in a two-handed grip and yank with all my might.


Chaos erupts! It’s like the machine is possessed. It’s spewing paper everywhere and then a black rain joins in coating everything in ink, including me. I try to fight my way to the machine, guarding my face with my hands, finally getting to the power cord and reach to push the power button…I wake up in a cold sweat, bolting upright, gasping for breath. I shakily reach up to push my hair off my sweating face. It’s only a nightmare, it’s not real. I exhale and feeling calm again, turn onto my side and close my eyes. Thank goodness I subscribe to Leads 2 Quotes.

About Cecile Van Deventer

I joined the L2Q Team in 2006, as a L2Q Support Assistant and have been the HOD since 2010. I supervise L2Q Bills, Daily Tender Bills, Control Lists and Directory.

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