Top 5 myths that shredding services want you to believe


Since FACTA and HIPAA laws have come into effect, there has been an unprecedented demand for paper shredders. This has spawned a parallel industry of shredding services that preform the shredding on your behalf. Often times this involves monthly pickups of bins full of sensitive data. And although this satisfies the law, I would like to present the top five myths about shredding services:

Myth #5) Your employees are too expensive to be shredding paper! What’s funny about this assertion is that shredding services charge $4.50 per MINUTE to destroy your paper. If you think your employee time is expensive, if the shredding service was an employee their salary would be a whopping $561,000 per year! So they may have you agreeing that time is valuable, but if you let the shredding services come in to “save you”, they might end up being the highest paid employee in your entire organization.

Myth #4) We destroy in minutes what would take you hours! This is one of my favorites. The shredding service advertises that it went out and purchased one of the best selling paper shredders and put one-day worth of a company’s paper through it. And through some strange math it took one person 30 hours to shred it all. When I look closely at the pictures – they were testing a $40 paper shredder designed for junk mail. A real commercial grade shredder like the Datastroyer 1615 can take up to 42 sheets per pass. At 28 feet per minute that means shredding about 6,300 peices of paper in five minutes.

Myth #3) We’re safe and secure! There are several holes in this. Shredding services recycle your paper because they get paid for it. But in order to maximize the payout, the paper particle must be the ideal size to be reused by the recycling plant. Do you know what that ideal size is? Approximately the length and width of a business card. That’s barely qualifies as shredding – it’s more like tearing into a few peices. Then there are the lock boxes. They can only hold so much paper before inevitably people start stacking documents on top. Furthermore those locked boxes are secured by particle board and nails. It’s not uncommon that somebody discards a document accidentally and literally breaks through the container to retrieve it. There is nothing more secure than watching a document disappear into a shredder.

Myth #2) We are the security experts! Back in 2007 there was a set of casinos in Las Vegas that switched over to a shredding service. A few months later their security was alerted to the presence of a collection of their sensitive documents being sold on EBAY for $15,000. You have to remember that the person picking up the lock boxes is just a truck driver. He isn’t trained in facility securities, he doesn’t know the difference between crosscut and strip cut, and just one sensitive document from your office could be worth three year’s salary to the right person. In this particular circumstance the casinos were lucky that the shredding service employee was stupid and advertised it. That sure didn’t stop the bad publicity, public backlash, and lost trust. But at least now they’re happy owners of real paper shredders. The big question is who can you trust more: Your own employees or an hourly truck driver?

Myth #1) It’s cheaper than buying shredders! What’s more expensive, cleaning your own house or hiring a maid? What about rotating your tires, or paying the repair shop to do it? One more – is it cheaper to drive to work every day or pay a cab? The answers to all of these are obvious, but for some reason shredding services have some people convinced that it costs them less money to have someone else do their shredding. And what happens when your volume goes up? You pay more. Gas prices go up? You pay more. Inflation? You pay more. I can promise you after having crunched the numbers for many companies: shredding services are an expensive luxury. A shredder is a fixed tax deductible asset that will never charge you more based on gas prices, inflation, or volume.

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