Guidelines For Obtaining Quotes
University of Maine System Administrative Practice Letter (Sec. VII, A. – UMS Purchasing & Procedures) outlines University policy for the competitive procurement process. For all purchases between $10,000 and $50,000, the University must obtain written quotes before making a commitment to buy goods or services. Purchases over $50,000 require a formal competitive process administered by the Office of Strategic Procurement. Please review APL Sec. VII-A.2. for complete information. This section of our website contains a form that can be used when obtaining quotes and explains some of the things that need to be considered when doing so. You may use the RFQ form but please check with the people on your campus that are responsible for the Purchasing function to find out whether they would like you to get the quotes or if they do it for you. Download RFQ form (pdf).
How many quotes should be obtained? By policy we need to get three or more, if possible. There are situations where you will not be able to obtain more than one or two quotes. On those occasions document your attempt to obtain three and explain the circumstances that resulted in less. Do not obtain a quote from a company with whom you do not intend to do business!
How to use the form.
- Print off a form for each company from which you intend to get a quote.
- In the upper left hand corner, fill in the date you send out the request. The request should be sent to all vendors on the same day.
- Fill in your name, address etc. in the section called "Return Quote to:"
- Fill in as much of the company information as you have.
- Provide a specific date for the return of the quotes; the same date should be used for all quotes.
- Fill in the quantity and description of the goods or services you are seeking. (Services may require insurance – read about insurance requirements in Sec. VII, A. before obtaining quotes.)
- The rest of the form is for the vendors to fill out. Mail or fax the form to the vendors and wait for the results to come in!
DO NOT CONTACT A VENDOR TO CHANGE A PRICE AFTER THE QUOTES ARE IN !!! Doing so would be highly unethical for a public institution. Each vendor has been given a fair and equal chance to quote; by giving any vendor a second opportunity you put the University at risk for serious criticism and you jeopardize future requests for quotes by the University from the vendor community.
Always document the process: Keep copies of all quotes received. By policy we are to maintain records documenting purchases for 5 years.
Pricing: Make certain that you know what you are paying for and that you understand the pricing. If you have any questions, have the vendor clarify the pricing for you. Check the vendor’s calculations – fairly often vendors make mathematical errors that you can easily discover.
Freight Terms: The most favorable terms for the University are FOB Destination Prepaid and Allowed. This term is stated on the quote form. "FOB (free-on-board) Destination" defines ownership of the shipment and means that the supplier owns, and is liable for, the shipment until it reaches your loading dock or other designated place. Should the shipment be lost, damaged or destroyed before it gets to you, the shipper is responsible. All quotes should contain this term, however some companies will not agree to it. "Prepaid and Allowed" means that the cost for freight is included in the price of the product. If you don’t mind accepting responsibility for the shipment before it is delivered, you can agree to "FOB Origin" terms, but insist that the quote include the cost of shipment (FOB Origin Prepaid and Allowed). All companies can give you that information and if it is not part of the quote, you could be charged an exorbitant shipping fee. The freight term "Prepaid and Added" means the supplier will be invoiced by the carrier for freight charges but it will be added to your invoice.
Payment Terms: "Net 30" is what you will see most often; it means that the vendor expects payment within 30 days. However, discount terms, such as "2/10 net 30" (a 2% discount if paid within 10 days) can provide savings and may even make a vendor the "low bidder". Call your Purchasing or Accounts Payable department for an explanation of any unfamiliar payment terms.
Warranty: Check terms and know when the warranty begins and ends. In some (high end equipment) cases the warranty should begin when the equipment is installed, tested, and has been accepted by the University.
Insurance: If you are buying services and/or the vendor will come onto University property for more than a delivery, insurance is important. Read about insurance requirements in APL Sec. VII-A.2.
Installation and other unique requirements: Be sure to include any unusual requirements that you are expecting of the vendor when you issue the request for quotations.