Spin Unspun: January 2003

By Joshua Weinberger Print this article Print

Tripling the light fantastic.

XLS Download

"A.T. Kearney today launched 'Accelerate Your Savings', an innovative service offering … [that] 'is unique in its commitment to guarantee a dramatic return on investment of 300 percent to approved participants with no financial risk.'"

Excerpt From A.T. Kearney Corporate Press Release, 12/16/2002

Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch? A.T. Kearney Procurement Solutions (ATKPS)—part of the management-consulting subsidiary of industry powerhouse EDS—is tempting the masses by dangling the chance to triple an investment by using the company's services. Those prospective clients, though, will have to overlook some fuzzy math.

Three hundred percent is a nice round figure—almost as round as zero, the number of dollars that ATKPS says clients would need to fork over when they embark on Phase One of the its program "with no financial risk." The problem is, if you're putting up zero dollars, a 300% return on your investment comes back looking painfully familiar: the same zero dollars. Try boasting about that at your next budget meeting.

As it turns out, though, the "investment" is the 25% cut of the savings that ATKPS promises to negotiate with its clients. (The client pockets the remaining 75% in savings—hence the threefold "return.") As ATKPS's director of product strategy, Alenna Merrihew, points out, "'no financial risk' doesn't mean 'no financial outlay.'" ATKPS's customers won't pay a dime until the conclusion of the first phase of the engagement—the point at which future savings will have been identified and planned out. By then, customers will know what they're getting for their money. Besides, as even Merrihew notes, "Nothing in this world is completely for free."

This article was originally published on 2003-01-01
Assistant Editor
After being on staff at The New Yorker for five years, Josh later traveled the world, hitting all seven continents in a single year. At Yale University, he majored in American Studies, English, and Theatre Studies.

eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.