The Foreign Service Journal, May 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2018 67 NOTES FROM LABOR MANAGEMENT Inventory and Inspection: How to Ensure a Better Packout Q: After my packout from post, someone from the Gen- eral Services Office came, as required, to do the inventory of government property, and to assess the state of the furniture, carpets, etc. The embassy then sent me an enormous bill, claiming that I had damaged the chairs and soiled the carpets. How should I proceed? A: This problem arises more often than it should, and is really something that needs attention through- out your occupancy of the house or apartment. You need to be aware of what you have and its condition from the day you move into your post housing. The first thing you must do is ensure that you have an accurate inventory and description of the condition of the furniture and fittings when you move in. This gives both you and the GSO a baseline from which to work. If there are any stains, wear or damage on any furniture, carpets or fittings, be precise about where the damage is located and its nature. Take pictures and make sure that they are reliably dated. Share them with the GSO office. Keep copies of all the documentation. This will enable you to identify damage that was not caused by you or your family when you face the pack-out inspection. Throughout your occu- pancy, it probably goes without saying that you should make sure that the furniture and fittings are treated well. If any dam- age occurs, make a note of the extent of the damage, as well as when and how it occurred. This will ensure that you are not taken by surprise during the check- out inspection. During the check-out inspection: • Make sure that you and the GSO representative do the inspection together. • Compare your observa- tions with those you made on arrival; keep a copy of your check-in inventory. • Make sure you get a copy of the rough report, but keep your own list as you go through the house. If you disagree with the bill when you get it, ask to go through it with the GSO office. There are a number of factors that are worth bear- ing in mind: • Fair wear and tear is not your responsibility. Things wear out over time, and unless you avoided walking anywhere on the carpets or sitting on any of the chairs, yours will show some nor- mal wear and tear. • If you have damaged something that needs to be replaced, deprecia- tion should be taken into account. You should not be charged for the cost of a new item to replace a 10-year-old armchair. • Look at any proposed re-upholstery costs very carefully. If necessary, compare the proposed costs with other upholsterers. Once again, you should not be charged for fair wear and tear. • Be realistic. Damage or soiling by pets and/or children does not count as fair wear and tear and is your responsibility to clean, repair or pay to have rectified upon leaving. Large scratches and/or cigarette or other burns on furniture are not fair wear and tear either, and are also your responsibility. If you need help in negotiations with the GSO, speak with your AFSA representative at post. They can contact the AFSA Labor Management Office on your behalf. —James Yorke, Senior Labor Management Adviser The first thing you must do is ensure that you have an accurate inventory and description of the condition of the furniture and fittings when you move in. ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/DMITRYMO