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Warning: three surgeries scammed over unordered deliveries

18 March 2016

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Three surgeries have been scammed over unordered printer cartridge deliveries in south west England, The Surgery Network discovered.

The company, whose name cannot be revealed but is similar to a well-known printer cartridge company, has targeted three practices and charged them up to 4.5 times the normal price for unordered printer cartridges.

It finds out the name of the practice manager or another senior official, and then delivers unwanted goods, persuading the surgery that an order has been placed.

Reception then signs for the goods, and because no check is made, no one realises that the items were not ordered, and they don’t spot that the price charged is over four times the normal price.

Moreover, it is very difficult to get the deliveries to stop, and they continue to receive deliveries every two months.

When the surgery queries this, the company informs them that there is a rolling contract. When the surgery requests a copy of the paperwork they are told that it is a verbal contract and that once the goods are signed for they are deemed to have been accepted by the surgery.

So far this has happened to a small surgery (about 4,000 patients) on the south coast near Portsmouth, as well as a larger surgery (more than 17,000 patients) near Bristol, and a multi-site surgery (with about 7,000 patients) in Somerset.

One surgery is still in dispute with the company and trying to resolve the issues. Each delivery has resulted in the surgery being charged more than £1,000.

Once a delivery has been received and signed for the practice is accepting liability for payment of the cartridges, and without a purchase order it is difficult to challenge the price being charged.

In response, Rob Legge from The Surgery Network recommends that all practices:

• Establish a surgery policy that every item purchased and every service contract entered into must be done with a purchase order.

• Ensure goods are only signed for by reception once the delivery note has been checked against the purchase order and if not, then the delivery is immediately rejected.

• Establish a rule that only authorised staff may order goods and services for the surgery. Consider including appropriate clauses in staff employment contracts to make it very clear to everyone that the surgery is serious in adherence to this rule.