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Thread: Invoice dispute

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    Invoice dispute

    Hi

    I asked a service provider to provide a quote to refurbish an display unit on my clients behalf. My client wanted some minor adjustments made to the unit, and in order for her to be able to get an accurate idea of what the final unit would look like, and secure sponsorship for these modifications, 3D renderings needed to be done. I already had the unit drawn up in 3D, and provided the service provider with the open files to enable them to fully understand all of the details and the way the unit was made.

    In normal business, the service provider offers their clients free designs and 3D renderings. They were happy to get the files and original construction drawings, saying it would help save time in getting a quote ready for me. I also approached other service providers to quote and also gave them the same information.

    They provided a design option for consideration that was slightly different to what my client was looking for, while I did a design on exactly what my client asked for. She decided that while their design was also a good option, she wanted to stick with her idea. I asked the service provider to quote based on her design and I submitted a quote to my client with my markup included. Service provider included 3D renders matching her idea with the quote, asking that it be signed off together with the quote upon acceptance.

    My client then took the design and cost estimate to her partners for consideration, and came back with adjustments that the partners needed. She also let me know how much she had managed to get the partners to commit towards the cost of the unit and asked for a more affordable quote. Before I could get back to the service provider, she returned with a few more questions and options she wanted to consider. I documented these and asked the service provider if they would be able to help do those renders in time for her next meeting with her partners, but they couldn't commit. So I did the new renders and sent them off to her. I also sent them off to everyone to quote.

    I got everyone elses before I got theirs, and the other two were similar and allowed me to sell the final unit to my client within her budget. I assumed that their quote would be in a similar ballpark, and decided to quote my client using the more expensive of the two quotes I already had. When I finally got the service providers quote, it was far higher than anyone elses. I let them know that they needed to sharpen their pencil and told them roughly where they needed to come in to secure the job. They came back with a slightly improved quote and a set of renders and technical drawings. I had another look at my costing to see if I could afford to take the knock, as I did really want to work with them, but the difference between the quotes was just too much. I went back to them and was open about my costs and the clients budget, hoping they would come to the party. The sales girl came back saying that the only way I could get better pricing is if I agreed to become an agent of their concern. I had previously considered this as an option, but decided against it as I wasn't happy with the terms of their contract, and they were not prepared to negotiate any of the terms either. Unfortunately, this all happened at the same time as them quoting on this project, and a few others for me.

    I let her know that Network Partner wasn't an option for me and expressed sincere disappointment at not being able to work together on that particular project, but reminded her that we had managed to secure a smaller deal the day before. It was a small value job by comparison, and the clients budget very small. I had offered to take a small referral fee on the job instead of lose it altogether by being too expensive for the client. I'd rather we keep the client and at least both get something out of it, than nothing at all. Considering how disappointing losing this larger deal must be, and wanting to acknowledge their efforts I offered to waive the referral fee on the smaller deal. The sales girl was very happy about this and I told her I would follow through on the offer via email to her director, and put in a good word for her.

    No sooner had I sent the email, I get a phone-call from the director. Expecting it to be a good call, I was disappointing to find myself on the receiving end of an angry man, threatening to invoice me for design if I don't appoint them to do the work. I tell them I'm sorry, but I gave them fair opportunity, and at no point did they inform me that designs would be charged for. Needless to say, he was very aggressive and rude, refused to hear me out, and said that he wasn't interested in charity or doing anyone any favours in business. Shortly after the call, I received an invoice for an astronomical amount, and then an email from the director to the sales assistant, with me copied in, saying that she is to get in touch with the client of the small project and conclude that deal. He informs me that as discussed telephonically, the invoice will be due immediately, unless I appoint them to carry out the work.

    I've since replied refusing to accept the invoice. He has responded saying that he will be transferring this for debt collection immediately.

    What do I do now?

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    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    If there is no order issued by you, or any acceptance signed by you, then they have no case against you, and the raised invoice should be ignored.

    If they start hounding you for payment, and depending on the value they are invoicing, I would get a lawyer involved who would then ensure that they retract the invoice, based on the fact that there was no order issued, or acceptance signed.

    Of course future business with this company will be affected.

    Do remember that emails are accepted as proof of acceptance, so make sure that you have not unintentionally made this acceptance.
    Victor - Knowledge is a blessing or a curse, your current circumstances make you decide!
    Solar and LED lighting solutions - www.microsolve.co.za

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    Thank you. I've gone through the correspondence and am fairly confident nowhere does it say I accepted anything. The invoice is for about 30k.
    I havent responded to the email stating that it will be handed over.

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    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    I think a simple reply to the invoice will be a good place to start.

    Simply state that at no time did you issue an order, and at no time did you sign any acceptance. This can then be used as evidence into the future if the other company wishes to go further. Remember that they can not black list you because they say you have not paid an invoice. They can get sued for false information and conduct.
    Victor - Knowledge is a blessing or a curse, your current circumstances make you decide!
    Solar and LED lighting solutions - www.microsolve.co.za

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    Well, I did that. What I have noticed is that he has been messing around with the email thread. In earlier correspondence I gave a one liner saying "Yes, thats ok. Thank you", but it wasnt about this project. So he's now trying to falsify that I've agreed to pay. I had to go through my sent emails to check that I hadn't made a mistake and actually replied to his email saying that he will be invoicing me.

    Im so angry. He is director...theres nobody above him I can take this to, to try and resolve. I won't have any option but to get attorneys involved. I feel like I'm being blackmailed/bullied.

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    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    It is better to find out at an early stage the kind of people you are working with, as it could be a real problem at a later stage.

    I think that if I were you, I would wait for him to play his card, before I would see your lawyer. Hopefully he will drop it. Just keep all the information in one place if required.
    Victor - Knowledge is a blessing or a curse, your current circumstances make you decide!
    Solar and LED lighting solutions - www.microsolve.co.za

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    Thank you. Will let you know what happens next.

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    I have the similar issue.

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