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Cheap remark

Letters

The letter from Bob McKittrick infuriated me (NCE 28 September). The implication that consultants offering cheap fees are invariably offering a substandard service is a basic misconception being peddled by larger consulting practices unable to compete with the efficiency of smaller practices.

By comparison with larger practices we are cheap, but there are others who are cheaper than we are.

To suggest that we offer a substandard service to our clients without any knowledge of our clients or projects is tantamount to defamation.

At our current fee levels, profit margins are well into double figures. But we are able to offer our services for less because we have no claims on our PI, resulting in lower premiums.

While we do pay good salaries, we don't pay our senior management £700,000 a year. Our chartered structural engineers outnumber graduates and trainees so that those in training have a wealth of experience from which to learn.

McKittrick should compare the end product provided by his practice and that of a cheaper practice.

Is he suggesting that higher fees are necessary to ensure that design life is miraculously extended?

The one vital word is 'efficiency'. I am concerned that the Institution of Structural Engineers is to endorse a document that is likely to lead to its split by suggesting that one practice is better than another.

A Mirfin (M), GCA, 16-18 Market Place, Warwick CV34 4SL

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