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Filing Cabinets Buying GuideContents

Introduction

Why choose filing cabinets?

Get your office filing under control

Rules for archiving

Questions to ask before shopping for a filing cabinet

Choosing a filing cabinet

General best practices when buying filing cabinets

Further information

 

Introduction

Filing cabinets are an integral part of most office furniture and storage systems. They are where you keep all your files for organisation and easy retrieval, or for archival purposes. These cabinets haven’t changed much over the years and, even with the move to more “paper-free” offices, are still a mainstay in business everywhere.

Choosing the right filing cabinet can be tricky, though. There’s a lot of choice out there and, while models may seem similar, often offer a series of different features that may help you meet your storage and filing needs.

New technologies have also developed over the years, including anti-tilt or counterbalance mechanisms for health and safety purposes as well as increased security features. There is also a choice of styles that work within different kinds of spaces, so whether you have a large open-plan area for your filing or space is at a premium, there’s something for everyone.

Narrowing your choices down can be tricky without some help and that’s why we’ve put together this helpful buying guide. Here we’ll explain why filing cabinets remain a fixture of the majority of offices, even as new technologies shape our document management systems.

We’ll give you some helpful tips on getting your office filing under control, including how to assess the current state of your filing with advice on how to change it, and some examples of useful and simple-to-implement filing systems.

We’ll also give you a brief rundown of the responsibilities you have with regards to record retention, including some information on the Data Protection and Freedom of Information acts. It’s important to know what you are required to do here, so use this section as a jumping off point for your own research.

Then we’ll come to the main part of the buying guide. We’ll provide a handy series of questions to answer which will help you to work out your filing cabinet requirements, before running through the various types of cabinet available and some advice on how to choose materials, weights and other features.

Finally, we’ll provide you with a best practice guide for choosing a supplier and protecting yourself when shopping online.

There’s a lot of choice out there and you’ll want to ensure you get the best product at the best price from the best supplier, but by following this guide, you’ll get all the advice you need on how to choose the perfect filing cabinets for your storage needs.

 

Why choose filing cabinets?

In its most basic form, a filing cabinet is an enclosure with drawers that is used for storing paper documentation. They are used in offices across the world and are a familiar feature. However, there are different varieties of cabinet, each with their own advantages.

Filing cabinets are usually chosen for the secure and convenient storage. Paperwork is stored out of the way in an organised system, but easily retrievable when it is needed. Much of the paperwork used in offices has a “shelf life” i.e. it will be used more than once and needs to be stored for a particular period of time.

Storing these papers in desk drawers or on desktops is usually a recipe for disorganisation; papers become lost or misplaced, or it takes longer and longer to find necessary documents, cutting into productivity and efficiency.

The right filing cabinet will:

  • Keep you organised
  • Allow easy retrieval of documents
  • Provide adequate security, for example, for confidential information
  • Be easily integrated into your existing office layout/design
  • Help you to get rid of unnecessary clutter

Filing cabinets are usually one of two types; either they are larger enclosures that can be used for departmental or company-wide storage, or smaller drawer pedestals that each individual can use for their own storage, usually of their ongoing workload.

Linking these two types of storage together is usually a system for filing. This creates a flow of paperwork from the individual to shared storage, as well as keeping everything organised. Such a system also helps the office to maintain the correct level of professionalism.

Even though many companies are now moving towards “paper-free” offices thanks to wireless and cloud technologies, the trusty filing cabinet remains a fixture in most offices. Even if your own work is entirely online, it’s likely that you’ll have plenty of clients and customers who haven’t yet moved with the times.

While it’s certainly possible to scan such documentation, and store it on your cloud servers, many companies prefer to retain original documents, particularly contracts, invoices or other legal or accounting paperwork.

In some cases, too, you may be required by law to retain original paper copies of certain documents. This means that filing cabinets remain useful to the vast majority of business.

Where paper documentation is stored, filing cabinets also offer a degree of security. Organised storage prevents loss, while lockable cabinets can prevent the theft or misuse of information. This is particularly crucial where confidential information is stored, whether that’s client information, medical records, legal files or any other kind of sensitive data.

Filing cabinets can also help to protect data and documentation from damage, for example, in the case of fire. Fireproof cabinets are available to buy, with varying degrees of protection offered.

While you’ll mostly find filing cabinets in offices and other industrial or commercial areas, they are also incredibly useful for small business and freelancers who work from home.

Home-sized versions are available; they are usually smaller due to the fact that home workers tend to have less need for document storage than a large office. However, they are very helpful for keeping important registration and accounting paperwork safe and organised.

Filing cabinet collections are available from most suppliers. This allows businesses to purchase further cabinets to store more documentation as the business grows, while ensuring that new cabinets integrate completely with the existing ones.

There are also many filing cabinets that come as part of an entire furniture collection, meaning you can pair them up with desks, cupboards and other furniture items, incorporating them as part of your overall office design.

Finally, mobile cabinets are also available. These are ideal if you’d prefer to have a storage unit that isn’t permanently fixed in one place, but which can be wheeled from room to room as it is needed.

 

 

Get your office filing under control

If your office is like most other across the land, you probably haven’t had an overhaul of your filing systems for some time. That being the case, it’s also likely that it’s no longer fit for purpose. Filing systems that aren’t regularly and properly maintained tend to cascade into disorganisation and inefficiency over time.

The most obvious example is the filing cabinet that has too many files in it. Everyone who uses it knows there are too many: retrieving files is difficult, and placing files back almost impossible, with hanging files bursting under the weight of the files they’re straining to hold.

The repercussions of this is usually files stored out of order, as employees just try to find any space to store the file, or worse, a series of files lying at the bottom of the drawer, gathering dust.

The reason that many filing systems tend towards this kind of disorganisation is that they weren’t appropriately planned and implemented in the first place. That’s why the first thing you need to do to get your office filing under control is undertake a full assessment of your current system.

Assessment of existing filing

This step involves a full and comprehensive assessment of the actual content of your filing system. That means what kinds of records you store, and where they are stored. It also means getting down into the details.

You should assess who uses each type of file and how often. In order to gauge the suitability of your current system, and before you can begin implementing a new one, you also need to quantify your filing.

There’s no easy way to do this; you need to undertake a full count. How many records, of each type? The size of each file? How many records are filed in each area?

When you’re doing this, don’t forget to instruct your employees to turn out their desks. It’s common for people to hold onto files when they’re working on them. Instead of putting them back at close of business each day, they probably slip them into their drawer, safe in the knowledge that they’ll retrieve them in the morning.

However, that means that at any given point, a large number of your files are “out of the loop”; that is, not actually in the system at all. This is a primary reason why companies suddenly find themselves with too little storage; it’s hard to spot that when 25% of your files are floating around the office, but when they all go back into storage, that’s when you realise you have problems.

Check for problems

This is a second assessment stage, but instead of focusing on the content of your system, you’re now looking at the structure, paying particular attention to the current problems and inadequacies.

One of the easiest ways to gather this information is to ask your staff; they’ll soon give you a list of all the things that currently frustrates them about the filing system. However, you also have to actively engage in the process of filing and retrieval yourself in order to test it out.

Take a random sample of files from different departments, time periods, letters in the alphabet and such, and try to retrieve those files, keeping a written note of each problem you encounter.

Some of the most common problems you’ll find will include:

  • Unable to find a file
  • Finding duplicate files
  • Finding files in the right place, but with the wrong content within
  • Files mislabelled
  • Inappropriate use of filing (items stored that don’t need to be, for example)
  • Structural problems (drawers too full of files for easy or organised use)
  • Files found, but in the wrong place
  • Too many files out on the floor, in desk drawers and on desks

Implement new system

Now that you have a good idea of the state of your current system, it’s time to implement a new one, from scratch. You should “call in” all current files, with a complete inventory, including noting any missing or duplicate files.

Missing files must be replaced when possible and duplicates should be merged before implementing a new system. Files that can be archived off-site (such as those that are stored in accordance with legislation governing retention of records should be boxed up, properly labelled and archived.

This will free up space and allow you to gauge how much you need to store and how much storage you need.

The next crucial step is to ensure that your storage furniture is fit for purpose. If units are warped, drawers don’t close, locks don’t work or any other number of damages are present, you should purchase new units.

Using the rest of this buying guide will help you to gauge what type of filing cabinets will best suit your requirements; you’ll probably find that a number of different types will be best instead of expecting a one-size-fits-all approach.

Basic procedure for filing

Filing doesn’t have to be difficult. All it needs is a sensible procedure to be put in place and then maintained. Here’s the best 5-step basic procedural flow for filing that you should implement:

  • Inspection

Each document in use should be inspected to see if it is still “live”, meaning that someone is still working on it. If not, it should be returned to the department or storage area where it belongs.

  • Labelling

Each document should be checked to ensure that it is properly labelled in accordance with the filing system you use. If not, it should be relabelled immediately. You should also at this stage identify what file the document should go in; for example, an invoice would probably go into either a specific ‘Client’ file, or perhaps a ‘Sales’ file by chronology.

  • Sorting

Sorting is the last step before you actually file papers. It means taking each of the documents that need to be stored and arranging them according to the system used, whether that’s alphabetical, by department, colour coding or whatever.

Arranging them in proper sequence at this stage makes it easier to file away the files without moving to and from different units.

  • Filing

Placing the documents into the correct folders in accordance with the system of filing that’s in use. This is not just a case of physically putting the paper in the file and walking away.

You should ensure that the paper is placed in the correct position in the folder, that it is situated properly in the folder and won’t fall out or be crumpled when the drawer is closed, that it is placed in the correct orientation, for example, not facing backwards in the folder.

At this stage too, you should always be checking to see if a folder or hanging file is over-stuffed; if it is, it’s your job as the person who noticed it to either create a secondary file or to delegate that to the correct person.

Types of filing systems

A-Z filing: This is alphabetic filing and is one of the simplest, easiest and most effective systems there is. All you need are 26 hanging folders, 26 tabs and blank file folders. This is obviously a minimum and may grow as files get full, but this is the easiest way to start. You simply have a cabinet for, say, clients and 26 files labelled A-Z with clients placed in the appropriate file.

Category or subject: This is a little trickier than A-Z filing, but is more comprehensive. This could be broken down into Invoices, Contracts, Contacts and the like. It allows you to get your hands on the appropriate information quicker, but requires more maintenance to ensure that it works as well as it should.

 

Rules for archiving

Businesses are required to safely store a lot of information and much of this is governed by various laws or legislations. Everything from paper documents to emails are governed in this way, with different time periods required for different types of document.

While we strongly advise that you check the legislation that applies to your business in full to ensure you are compliant, the following quick guide will give you a useful overview of your responsibilities.

Data Protection

The Data Protection Act (1998) was introduced to protect the rights of individuals whose date is obtained, stored or processed; it does not protect those who control and use this data. The distinction is important and clear; under this legislation, as an employer you have a responsibility to properly handle and safeguard personal and/or sensitive information that you hold on individuals.

It applies to both manual files and computerised data and is based around 8 principles which state that data must be:

  • Fairly and lawfully processed
  • Processed for limited purposes
  • Adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • Accurate
  • Not kept longer than necessary
  • Processed in accordance with the data subjects’ rights
  • Secure
  • Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection

How these principles are applied will vary by business and the purposes for which the data is held, but these common-sense rules should guide and govern how you use and store the data.

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act was passed in November 2000 and came into effect in full from January 2005. It gives people the right to access information held by public bodies of all kinds. All information, regardless of its age, that is held by government departments or other public bodies must be available to the public upon request.

There are some exemptions allowed on certain grounds. They are clearly defined by the Act itself. This Act is fairly complex due to its nature, so you are advised to check Gov.uk to see if and how it applies to your business and to get help on its implementation.

Statutory Requirements

Most registered business are bound by statutory requirements (and occasionally recommendations) to store certain information for different periods of time. All incorporation documents (for example, Certificates of Incorporation, Memorandum and Articles of Association and others) must be held indefinitely.

Annual returns and Registers of Directors and Secretaries, their interests and other such information is also usually expected to be held permanently too, although there are some variances here.

Bank records are expected to be held mostly for 6 years, while accounting records are usually either 10 years or permanently. Various types of contracts are advised to be held between 6 and 12 years, depending on the type of contract.

Employee records should be kept between 1 year and 12 years, depending on the type of information (whether application and interview records, personnel files or salary records, for example).

It’s worth noting that often records are considered “held” if they are stored in secure archives. Some information should be kept permanently on premises, while other information can be stored off-site by a record retention and archival organisation, for example.

Again, you can see from this brief run-through that the requirements and recommendations around record retention are complex and will usually apply to each business in slightly different ways. We present this information to give you a very basic overview of how record retention will be important to the running of your business, but you should always seek appropriate advice on how best to implement such retention of documents.

 

Questions to ask before shopping for a filing cabinet

When you’re looking to make a capital purchase of furniture for your business, it pays to know what you need. If you just start looking at products online without a thorough understanding of your requirements, it’s easy to get side-tracked.

This can be time-consuming, but it can also mean that you ending up purchasing an item that isn’t appropriate for your needs. Not only that, but you could also end up paying more than you need to if you get seduced by new technologies, gimmicks, add-ons and other things that you don’t really need.

The easiest way to ensure that you get the right product is to write out your requirements. The following questions, when answered, will help you to significantly narrow down your search, meaning that you’ll not only find the product faster, but that you can be sure it will fit your needs.

Some of the questions that may help you to understand your needs include:

  • How much space do you have available? Buy storage that you know fits into your available space by measuring the space and comparing this with product specifications.
  • Will the filing cabinets by a permanent fixture, or do you need them to be mobile? The answer here will not only affect the choice of model you go for, but also the material and overall weight of the unit.
  • How much access space do you have? You can choose between vertical units, which are taller but narrower, or lateral units, which are shorter but wider. Think about how your employees will use the filing cabinets, as well as how much space they’ll have to work in.
  • How much paperwork do you have to store? Always ensure you buy enough storage to comfortably file away your paperwork without overstuffing drawers or file folders. You may have to purchase more than one cabinet to do this effectively.
  • Do you want your cabinet to fit in with your existing office décor/design? This will govern the material type you choose.
  • Do you prefer to have solid, long-lasting cabinets over aesthetics? In this case, you could opt for very sturdy steel, although even steel cabinets now look more attractive than they used to.
  • Have you thought about safety? Cabinets can become heavy, and depending on how the weight is distributed when more than one drawer is open, run the risk of toppling over. If you are intending to store a significant number of files, choose a cabinet with an anti-tilt mechanism which will only allow one drawer to be opened at a time.

Getting these issues clear in your mind before you start will help you make an informed choice. As you’ll see when you start shopping, there are a huge number of options available on the market for filing cabinets, so by thinking through thoroughly what you need and want, you’ll be able to start shortlisting these products to find your perfect partner.

Choosing a filing cabinet

Types of filing cabinet

Standard

Standard filing cabinets come in a range of materials and colours. You can choose from 2, 3 or 4-drawer models. They stack vertically, so they have a reasonably small footprint. Most models are lockable for security, usually with two sets of keys provided.

They also usually have an anti-tilt mechanism that only allow one drawer to be open at any time, and some have a rear counterbalance as an added measure. Regarding materials, these cabinets are available in a choice of wood veneer or finish, or steel.

A variety of wood effects are available. Steel cabinets were usually considered to be the choice when you wanted durability over aesthetics, but in recent years advances have allowed for a wide range of elegant or bright and fresh steel cabinets to become available.

Most standard filing cabinets, including many of the following types, also have recessed handles with slots for labelling. That means you can easily label drawers on an index card that is usually provided but which can also be replaced if you need to change the contents of the drawers.

Such labelling systems are crucial to your filing system and organisation, so check that suitable provision is included.

Drawer Pedestals

Pedestals are shorter cabinets, usually on wheels or casters, that sit under a desktop. They provide effective storage for the individual at their desk. Usually available in a choice of 2 or 3 drawers, the bottom drawer holds suspension files while the other drawer/s can be used to store equipment and stationery.

There is a wide variety in pedestals nowadays, with bold modern finishes, like combinations of white and dark wood, as well as “high” drawer pedestals that sit at the end of a desk instead of under it, effectively extending the available work surface.

You can also purchase CPU storage pedestals that provide storage for your PC tower unit under the desk.

Multi Drawer Cabinets

Multi drawer cabinets are similar to other filing cabinets in that they are usually tall and narrow, the difference being that they have a larger number of shallower drawers. They are useful for storing papers that don’t need to be filed in folders, as well as small items of stationery, for example.

These are usually available in steel only, although there is a massive variety of modern colours and finishes available. Most units are freestanding, although the 5-drawer variety would fit on most desks as an excellent form of desktop storage.

Side Filing Cabinets

Side filing cabinets are like sideboard units but with filing storage. They can be used where space is at a premium and they usually sit flush with the desktop, provided extended work surface areas. They are wider than typical cabinets, with the files stored left to right instead of front to back.

This is ideal when you don’t have a lot of access space around the intended storage area, as employees can easily look through every file without pulling out drawers to the same depth as they would with standard cabinets.

Fireproof Cabinets

As the name suggests, these cabinets are designed to be fire resistant, providing a far higher level of damage protection than standard cabinets. There are a variety of types available, with fire resistance using specified as number of minutes of fire protection they provide (usually around 60 minutes, but it varies, so check the specifications), or the max. temperature they can withstand.

They are considerably more expensive, but the added security they provide make these units ideal for storing sensitive or business-critical data and documentation. They are also available with key or electronic locks, with further options often available on request.

Fireproof cabinets are tested rigorously to meet fire certification standards.

Many fireproof models are also water-resistant, with seals that prevent damage from sprinkler systems or fire hoses. High-end models are also drop-resistant, meaning they will withstand a certain height of drop in the event of falling through burning floors or a collapsing building.

Some of them also contain a small cubby known as a data protection insert which will protect digital media such as disks, USB drives or flash cards from water and fire damage for up to 90 minutes.

Lateral Filing Cupboards

Similar to side cabinets, these cupboards store files vertically from left to right. However, they are designed for bulk storage, with a number of fixed lateral filing frames that don’t pull out. They offer plenty of space around the files meaning that you can easily retrieve the file you need.

Some models are configurable with a variety of shelves, meaning that you can combine lateral filing with equipment storage or letter sorters, for example.

Home Filing Cabinets

Home filing cabinets are similar to other regular cabinets, but are offered in a range of affordable styles and smaller sizes to suit the home office or just for household paperwork.

Other factors

Material

Wood veneer finishes can look fantastic, from white and dark brown colour combinations for that fresh office look, to executive style cabinets that look classic and timeless. However, wood (particularly wood veneer) needs to be well-maintained to prevent chipping and, when carrying excessive weight, can bend and warp over time.

Steel cabinets are far more durable than their wooden counterparts, withstanding heavy weight for many years without buckling.

They tend to look less attractive than wood finishes, often looking more utilitarian (which suits many people and businesses) but in recent years, technological advances have allowed manufacturers to provide steel cabinets in a dazzling array of bright (or subtle and muted) colours, meaning that there’s really something for every office design and décor.

Height

Check the height of your available space (as well as consideration of your employees’ heights) before choosing a cabinet, and be sure to compare this with the specifications of the models you are selecting. This will ensure that there is enough height above the cabinet and that employees aren’t overly stretching to reach the top or bottom drawers.

Available space

The space around the cabinet is important too. For safety and efficiency, staff should have enough space to pull the drawer out to its fullest depth and be able to comfortably look through the files without squeezing or stretching for access.

If access space is an issue, you could consider side cabinets, which are less deep than regular cabinets when the drawers are pulled out to their fullest, or lateral filing cupboards, which are no deeper than a normal cupboard.

Security

If you need to store confidential information in your files, you should consider security. Most filing cabinets provide locks and keys, although you should ensure that you check to see how secure the locks are.

Some locks are provided mainly for the purpose of preventing unauthorised access from employees during working hours, but may not provide adequate safety in the event of a break-in, for instance. In cases where you need the extra security, consider a model of cabinet that has a heavy-duty lock or, for even better protection, a keypad or fingerprint lock.

Anti-tilt

Imagine a tall, 5-drawer filing cabinet with each drawer packed with files. In some styles of cabinet, you can open up multiple drawer simultaneously. However, if you open the top two drawers, the cabinet becomes top heavy, meaning there is a risk of it toppling over.

With the overall weight of the cabinet, a topple or tilt of the cabinet could do serious injury.

Thankfully, there are many models of new cabinets that provide an anti-tilt mechanism that allows drawers to be opened to their full depths, but which will only allow you to open one drawer at a time.

This prevents the possibility of the cabinet tipping over, making it far safer to use. Some high-end models also come with a counter-balance, that is, a balanced weight on the back of the cabinets that spreads the overall load better, giving even greater protection against tilting or toppling.

Weight

It’s important that you know the overall weight of the cabinet, for the purposes of health and safety. Most models’ specifications will provide you with the maximum load of each drawer in kg. It’s crucial that you stick within the specifications or you risk toppling or buckling. You could void your warranty or guarantee if you overfill the drawers and it results in damage to the unit or an accident.

Mobility

If you need the option of moving files from one room to another, you should consider mobile cabinets. These mostly take a similar form to drawer pedestals, in that they are shorter than regular cabinets, and are on wheels or casters that allow for easy mobility.

Why are locking filing cabinets important?

When you’re running a business, it’s your moral and legal responsibility to protect the company, its assets and investments, your employees and customers or clients. Part of these responsibilities is about security and a significant proportion of that concerns data security.

Although digital security has become critical as we circulate more and more information through the networks and clouds, there is still a substantial amount of information held on paper.

1. Prevent theft

Locking filing cabinets prevents documents being stolen, either by staff or outsiders. Some of this documentation will have actual monetary value, while others will contain sensitive information, either about your business, your staff or your customers.

Loss of this information could result in financial damage or open you up to litigation if personal information on individuals is exposed.

2. Protect privacy

You have to think not only about personal privacy but also the privacy of the business. Companies are required to hold financial information, the loss of which could result in competitors getting an advantage or in your share prices falling if you are a public company.

For charitable businesses, exposure of private information about donors or fundraising efforts could result in legal action or negative press.

3. Stop identity theft

If thieves obtained access to customer account information, they could find themselves open to identity theft, where people can use sensitive information to commit fraud in an individual’s name. This could result in financial loss, damage to credit ratings and much worse. Not only that, but you could be ultimately found to be culpable if you did not protect that data appropriately.

4. Protect personal information

Many businesses hold significant amounts of personal and private data on their employees. This could be anything from religion to political affiliation, or sexual orientation to long-term health problems.

If this information is not stored securely, it could be accessed by inappropriate people in the business. The leaking of such information could have a very negative affect on the employees in question, resulting in stress, bullying or other intrusions into personal life.

It’s your responsibility to protect this information, and that means protecting it from inappropriate access and not just against theft.

Get the right kind of protection

Don’t just assume that any old kind of lock will do the job of protecting all this sensitive information. A quick search online will reveal hundreds of articles on how to pick the lock of a filing cabinet with a simple paper clip; in many cases, it’s not hard to do.

Most of the time, this information is shared because we’ve all had times where we’ve lost a key to a filing cabinet or similar, and is intended to help you get access to your important documents. However, if it’s that easy for us to perform a lock pick, it’s even easier for someone who wants access for other reasons, like theft.

The reason that many of these standard locks are so simple is that they’re not designed to protect against deliberate theft but are instead meant to dissuade unauthorised persons from accessing the information. A nosey employee who wants a peek at someone’s personnel records will be easily put off by the simplest of locks.

However, if you need to protect this data against theft, you need something stronger. Heavier-duty key locks are available that can protect the cabinet and can’t be easily unpicked with a paper clip or Kirby grip.

For even better protection, though, you should consider an electronic lock. This often come in the form of an electronic panel with a keypad. Authorised employees are issued with a 4 or 5-digit number that they must memorise and will be prevented from access if they forget it.

Managers or directors can hold the authorisation to reset pin codes, which means they can keep a track of who has access, and who has forgotten their pins. Some models have clear LED screens so you get visual feedback on the numbers that have been entered. They come with dual controls, hidden codes and scrambled codes, all of which provides even greater protection.

Probably the most high-grade security available is biometric locks. Those are opened using some form of biological data, often a fingerprint or iris-recognition. Because each of these is unique to the individual, they can’t be forged, forgotten or passed on to others.

Once used solely in the military and government, such biometric hardware has now become affordable at Enterprise level, meaning many blue-chip companies, banks or other high-value businesses use them to protect information and data from falling into the wrong hands; and prices continue to fall.

Models of filing cabinets with fingerprint locks will usually store up to 125 different fingerprints in its memory and come fitted with an internal alarm that is set off if someone attempts unauthorised access.

Whichever you choose, make sure it is appropriate to the level of security required. Don’t shell out on a biometric lock when the information is unlikely to be accessed or, if it is, the information is replaceable, for example.

 

General best practices when buying filing cabinets

Purchasing filing cabinets is just like many any other major purchase for your business. You’ll want the best quality products at a good value price. However, you also need to make sure you carefully research your supplier and protect yourself, particularly when buying online.

As long as you follow best practice, you can be assured of getting a quality product at a great price from reputable supplier. Here are some of our top tips for making your filing cabinet purchase safely and effectively:

Research prospective suppliers

Whether you choose to buy from a preferred supplier, a well-known High Street brand or a retailer you’ve never used before, it pays to do a little homework first. You need to ensure that you are buying from a trustworthy, reputable and legitimate retailer, especially when you choose to shop online.

Some of the key red flags to watch out for are:

  • Browser warnings or security flags that appear when you visit a site; these usually warn you that the site is insecure or has been flagged up for some reason by other visitors
  • Most suppliers post customer reviews online nowadays; if you don’t see any, or there are only bad reviews, look elsewhere
  • Reputable retailers will post a contact phone number and their registered address. If neither are present, or there’s only a PO Box address, find another supplier
  • Companies invest a lot of money in ensuring they have the best possible website. If you spot a site that is full of broken images or links, poor or outdated web design or lots of bad spelling and grammar, try elsewhere
  • It’s usually the case that if the prices seem too good to be true, they probably are; check for the catch
  • Watch out for buying from very new or young businesses or websites

It’s very straightforward now to check on the authenticity of a website. Just use the online ‘whois’ service; you can post a URL or IP address into the site and it will tell you who the registered owner is, with an address and contact details as well as information on how long the site has been up and running. While it’s possible to mask your address using the details of your webhost, this is mainly to protect individuals’ privacy and shouldn’t be used by companies.

Sophisticated scammers can clone reputable and authentic websites as a way of phishing for credit card or other information. Thankfully most browser spot this, but if not, there are usually “tells”; little things that don’t seem right. Go with your gut and if you think something’s up, don’t use that supplier.

Even if you find an authentic supplier and website, steer clear of making purchases from very new or young business. They might be reducing their prices to beat the competition, but they don’t have a track record; and if they go into administration, you could find that your guarantees or warranties become null and void. In the event of your filing cabinet becoming faulty or defective, you’d be left with no option but to replace it at your own cost.

Use the reviews

Many suppliers and retailers now post customer reviews on their websites as a means of providing you with more information and fostering trust. You should make sure you use these when you’re deciding on products and suppliers. They can be a great way to find out the various benefits and drawbacks of an item.

Make sure you check a spread of reviews and look at the average score. That single 1-star review in a sea of 5-stars might just have the pertinent information you need. Alternatively, don’t just assume that a bad review equals a bad product. Sometimes a customer hasn’t read the specifications or description properly and has simply chosen the wrong item for the job.

Customer reviews can also be a way to gauge how the retailer handles complaints; if they offer feedback on reviews, you might just find that they have great customer service and satisfactorily deal with any problems.

We use TrustPilot for our customer reviews and score an excellent 5-star rating, and you can read reviews for most of our products.

Shop around

It’s easier than ever to compare prices for items once you know what product you want to buy. It takes minutes to compare like for like products and prices with price comparison sites or browser add-ons or even just visiting a number of sites, so always make sure you collect a few quotes before making your final decision.

It can also be worth getting in touch with your prospective supplier to discuss your purchase in more detail. If you do, why not ask for a discount? Some retailers will offer discounts to first time buyers or if you’re opening up a credit account, as it could help them to secure your repeat business. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

While the headline prices are important, you should also make sure that you’re aware of exactly what you’re being charged for before you check out your purchase. Some of the commonly encountered unexpected extras include:

  • VAT: This stands at a massive 20% in the UK at present. Many retailers show their headline prices exclusive of VAT, so just be aware that you’ll see this added on at the checkout.
  • Import or export tax: Overseas retailers can often offer very low prices, but you could be charged excessive import/export fees. This won’t be added at purchase; you’ll only find out what the fee is when you take delivery, and especially for large items, it can be high. Try an internet search to get an idea of how much you might expect to pay.
  • Delivery: Here at Office Furniture Online, we offer free delivery on most of our products to mainland UK addresses. However, some of our competitors will charge for delivery and again, it can be pricey for large items.
  • Express: If you need your filing cabinets quickly, you could be charged excessive next day courier fees. However, we offer free next day delivery on many of our products so you can get them fast.
  • Admin: It’s rare to see an admin charge applied these days but just be wary of any unexpected fees like this, especially when buying on account. Check invoices and always question things if you’re not sure why the charge is being applied.

Price isn’t everything, either, when it comes to purchasing for your business. You’ll also want excellent customer service, fantastic quality products and aftercare, including watertight warranties or guarantees if things go wrong. Make sure you factor these in too when making your decision.

Don’t be side-tracked

Lastly, you should always purchase for your business by attempting to solve a problem. Make sure that your items are designed to meet your specific requirements and that you’re not seduced by gimmicks or new technologies.

By working through this buying guide, you’ll have a great handle on why you need these products, what types are out there and the style that best meets your requirements. Stick to this information when you’re making your purchase and you won’t go wrong!

 

Further information

For more advice on materials handling equipment and anything else on our website, get in touch with Equip4Work and we’ll be happy to help. Call today on 08444 999 222 or email us at sales@equip4work.co.uk.

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Last Modified / Updated on: May 31, 2018 at 11:10 am