Myths about Shredding


Here's the key questions most customers ask about a mobile paper shredding service:

Are you bonded?

What security clearances do you have?

How do I know you're not going to read my papers?

What the customer should first ask themselves is, "Why do I need to shred documents?"  The answer is to protect personal, private and business sensitive information. Document destruction is asset protection. The asset is clearly financial, operational and proprietary information for the customer's business, clients and employees. Nearly every business has a legal mandate that requires protection of sensitive information. Note, the Federal Trade Commission processes several thousand identity theft complaints each week, every business has an obligation to secure personal data contained in business records.

Most businesses won't hire the janitor to conduct a threat assessment. The local trash hauler is not a likely candidate for a security officer position. It's a rough stereotype to state, but lets face it, the level of access we want these workers to have towards confidential business data is minimal. Consider that the janitor and the trash hauler were both bonded. Knowing that a bond exists, do you still want to trust your most sensitive documents to someone that doesn't have a significant security background. With today's transient society, do we really know anybody? Think about how easy it is to drive or fly around the country. Should we really trust anybody?

Employing a paper shredding service is a matter of trust. A bond and a fancy uniform does not equal security. Nothing takes the place of a thorough background check. Fancy trucks and photo ID's are no substitute for a criminal history and fingerprint check. Just being bonded does not mean someone is above reproach. Anyone can get a bond. Bonding companies don't do background checks. Most don't even ask an employee's name. In most cases, a bond is just a small insurance policy. Checking someone's name in one or two counties isn't sufficient enough.

There are a lot of myths about the paper shredding business. Some companies will tell you that their employees don't handle your documents because the truck does all the work. Don't forget that these shredding service employees will still have access to your workplace or residence. Do you trust that this bonded employee is not a thief, rapist or drug addict in uniform? Document destruction is a security function, yet many shredding companies only provide an illusion of security.

The level of a security clearance is associated with military and Department of Defense or similar government contractors. Most people ask about security clearances without understanding that clearance is a result of the extent of a background check. A company telling you their employees have been "security cleared" is most likely another illusion. Ask them what they mean by "security cleared". The private sector has no level of clearances. If a company lies to you about clearance, what other fibs are they telling?

The paper shredding industry lacked a professional association to connect it with the professional security role of document destruction. Someone decided to start an "association" and began selling memberships to give shredding companies credibility. The membership also included a link on the "official website". They invented a security certification that was supposed to represent the highest standards of document destruction. Company owners and employees can't have a felony conviction of theft or burglary. According to their guidelines, any other felony is acceptable: such as: murder, rape, drug possession, etc.  Also, any lesser crime including theft, etc. is acceptable. They can't set their standards any lower. If these shredding companies had sufficient security backgrounds, why don't they join the internationally recognized security association?

Many shredding companies are started by waste paper recyclers as a way to increase the volume of paper commodity. Service rates are often based on weight. Security is sold by the pound. To maximize profit, paper grade is often sorted by color or composition. The sorting process may occur in the back of a truck or on a warehouse floor. "Bonded personnel" are handling sensitive documents several times prior to shredding. The money is in the paper, making many recyclers hesitant to contaminate high-grade waste paper with carbon copies, computer disks, x-ray charts, metal fasteners or laminated sheets. Security of proprietary data is second to a truckload of first grade recycled paper.

There are several good questions a customer should ask the document destruction company. How did they get started in this business is a great opener. Is the business one of those multi-national franchises with environmentally friendly trucks? Did someone get a small business loan to chase their dream, just like the ad in the back of the magazine? What is the company's security background and experiences in confidential matters? Ask for a list of references. Make sure the references are actual shredding customers and not someone's neighbor or friend. Ask what happens to the shredded paper once the truck leaves your facility. Most shredded wastepaper is recycled into other paper products, industrial absorbent or agriculture bedding.

Hiring a paper shredding service is a matter of trust that requires common sense. An off-site shredding facility should be secure and non-public. The same facility should be open to customer inspection and observation. Mobile on-site paper shredding services cater to the higher security comfort level of the customer. Some businesses like the peace-of-mind knowing their documents are not being transported out of sight. Often businesses will assign a staffer to actually watch the destruction process.

The customer should evaluate more than just the cost of the service. Document destruction is a true security function. Security is more than a glitzy truck and a badge. Any professional security shredder will welcome a customers due diligence.

Shredding Company Pricing

Shredding services use many different methods to price their service. The reason for this is the various types of equipment used by shredding companies. Be sure to consider all the following if you're looking for the least expensive service.

Pricing by the minute or hour: Think about this for a second. No piece of equipment or person can work 100%, 100% of the time. If the equipment isn't working 100%, the job is going to take longer. If the employee has a bad back, tired feet, sore arms, hangover, likes to talk, takes smoking breaks, etc., the job is going to take longer. If you're the first customer of the day, you might get a fresh employee. If not, how much time is added to the job. A couple minutes is a lot if you're being charged $4 a minute.

Be careful if you're comparing hourly rates. Example: A company may tell you that they charge $115/hr. and another service may charge $200/hr. If the first company takes 2 hours to shred 50 boxes and the second company can shred 50 boxes in one hour, then you'll save $30 by using the $200/hr. company.

Pricing by the minute or hour promotes slow work and equipment. Also, when does the clock start? Are you being charged for setup or removing the material from your facility?

Pricing by the pound: This way of charging eliminates the above concerns, but unless you're watching everything being weighted, do you really know what you're paying for?

Pricing by the hour, minute or pound makes it impossible for you to get an accurate quote upfront. No company can tell you how long it will take or weigh over the phone. You won't know what the actual cost will be until the job is done. You could be in for a shock!

The most cost effective way to price shredding is by the container. Whether the container is a shredding console or bin or a particular size box, you simply get the price and multiply it by the number of containers or boxes. This way, you have a very good idea as to cost before the shredding company arrives. This is especially important if your company requires a purchase order before scheduling.

Also, be aware that some companies may have charges for setup, travel, etc. Minimum charges will range from $0 to $120 per visit. Be sure to ask about hidden charges.

If you get a much lower price from a service and your current service provider then states that they will either match or beat that price, you have to ask yourself one question.  Why couldn't they have given me this price earlier?  Is it possible they've been taking advantage or overcharging?  Why would you want to stay with your current company unless they have something special to offer (background, smaller shred size, etc.).  

I hope the above information will help you make a more informed decision.


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