Tugging at vendor heartstrings

If you're to be in contract negotiations anytime soon, take heart from the following story.

If you're to be in contract negotiations anytime soon, take heart from the following story -- vendors can be bargained with.

Last night I attended the IT Fund for Kids Starlight Foundation dinner, and contrary to popular belief, these multi-million dollar multinationals do have hearts.

By the end of the night, around 600 attendees had raised AU$250,000 between them, with plenty more to come via personal donations and auction winners.

Of all the auctions on the night, the one that most captured my attention was for a clue to the all-important final trivia question.

As the bidding started at AU$500, people at a number of corporate tables raised their voices to bid, among them CSC Australia managing director Mike Shove.

Shove seemed intent on making this clue the property of the outsourcer, and as the dollar value climbed upwards in increments of AU$100, Shove confidently raised his hand each time.

As the value approached AU$2,000, many bidding companies had fallen by the wayside, but Shove was still there.

Now admittedly a couple of grand is not a lot in business, but for an intangible like a trivia clue, it does make you wonder what constitutes value for money.

But just as Shove and CSC looked the likely winner, someone at another table across the room -- obscured from us -- entered the race.

Slowly but surely, Shove's arm took longer to shoot up. Where previously he was sitting forward and bidding confidently, he now seemed to be bidding reluctantly, urged on by those at his table.

His bidding opponent? Microsoft.

Now sitting quietly and bidding with a palpable lack of enthusiasm, Shove seemed resigned to defeat by the software monolith. To his credit though, he kept going, perhaps motivated by the good cause the bidding war was benefiting.

The arm wrestle took the clue's value up to the somewhat ludicrous total of AU$3,000.

And that's where it ended. Shove withdrew with a whimper and Microsoft secured the clue, but not the war (eBay were eventual Mensa trivia champions).

The moral of the story? Even the biggest of corporate giants can be manipulated to give up more dough to the little bloke.

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