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Real stories – The rusted swimming pool roof

Not sure why, but now and then I would get into a situation where I will be wondering:

“Will I get fired for this?”

Fortunately, this happens less often as I gained experience and went up the organizational chart. But this was a scary day in my life, that I will never forget.

Once more, this is a story from my Stainless Steel trading days. We delivered to our client a full truck of different round and square tubes and other materials. What we understood is that he was making a roof for a pool owned by a local businessman. A combination of Stainless steel and plexiglas with areas that can be opened. Very fancy. And extremely expensive.

The job was done, and everyone was happy. And we continued with our work. Until about a month later…

The client called the Company owner and started yelling:

“What kind of #%@$@ you have sold me!!!!

The whole construction is catching rust!!!!

If he sues me my business will be closed!!!”


Of course, 30 seconds later I was called into his office and tasked to immediately find all material certificates and invoices. To find who delivered which particular item. And get ready to defend us in case of a lawsuit.

With a small note from the Boss: 

“Have you ever checked if the material we are buying is really what we are paying for? “

Of course, I wasn’t. We used the same vendors for years and never had a quality issue. I was scared he would use me as a scapegoat to protect the business. I did not catch much sleep the next couple of nights.

Two days later, I was in full swing with the documentation, material certifications, and a lot of communication with vendors, who could not believe this happened. There comes my boss, with a huge grin on his face.

What the ….?

Turns out, the businessman decided to load a couple of tanker trucks with seawater, transport them 350 kilometres, and fill his pool with it. So he can have a seawater pool, something none of his millionaire friends has. And the Stainless steel we provided is not resistant to sea salt. Being so far from the sea, we never thought of asking.

We provided a solution as soon as we found out the real reason, and the client was happy. And from that point onwards we always asked for the end use of our material. As we learned our lesson.

Even if it does not seem like a part of our job, procurement needs to understand the end use of the goods and services they procure. This may help in avoiding such incidents (and sleepless nights).

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