125 Day Old Dispute Disappears

Advocate Debt Recovery has successfully recovered a highly contested £3K debt more than four months overdue using a combination of tact and diplomacy. Our client is one of the fastest-growing information technology firms in the sector. With more than two decades of prior experience, the directors have worked in specialist fields such as cyber security, infrastructure, and consultancy. The company was formed to provide a single point for businesses to access expertise that would otherwise be split between multiple vendors. With that kind of pedigree, our client quickly gained accreditations with major hardware and software manufacturers.

Similar to our client, the debtor is also a modest size company based in London. However, they are part of a much larger organisation acting as the logistics provider for UK operations. The parent company is best known for generating renewable energy and trading fossil fuels in the Eastern Hemisphere. As with all energy firms, there is a reliance on transporting raw materials used to generate power and accessing equipment to harness the gigawatts. Logistics has never relied upon computers as much as it does right now. History has shown cyber-attacks can stop goods delivery and even take power stations offline. Our client was engaged to provide cyber security, consultancy and network hardware to future proof the debtor’s systems.

Modification not Mystery

Through this business and others, our client had previously been engaged by the management of the logistics provider. They enjoyed a prosperous relationship until this installation. As is routine, a brief was provided and a quote was signed off. The installation came in on budget and met all the requirements. Shortly after the £3K invoice was raised our client was called to investigate what had been communicated as a ‘fault’. The engineer waited patiently on site for a few hours until the manager was in attendance to divulge details of the mystery fault. An inspection of the system concluded it was functioning normally and attributed the call out to user error. In the subsequent months, a number of engineer visits were made. The themes of no genuine fault and tardy timekeeping remained, much to the client’s frustration and expense. Suspicions lead to evidence indicating the debtor was adding hardware and modifying software settings, including unnecessary hard reboots of the operating system. For security reasons the technology is not modular and the average IT enthusiast can’t simply plug in a new component and press play. Concerned at the debtor’s meddling and accumulating time costs to fix user-created problems, Advocate were instructed.

No Return Key

Upon instruction, the debtor advised Advocate the installation was not fit for purpose, and an intention to return the hardware. The debtor had a second supplier lined up and wanted to raise a contra charge for their labour. Unlike a desktop PC, you can’t just unplug and carry the box out. Even if the client had been willing to accept return of hardware that has been in use for more than four months, they could not obtain a refund from the manufacturer or repurpose it. This is because modifications had been made invalidating the warranty. On behalf of the client, Advocate declined the option to return hardware or credit any part of the invoice. It was also made clear unauthorised novice modifications were deemed the sole cause of the debtor’s discontent, something which our client could evidence. The debtor raised several disputes after the first repudiation, although these were essentially the same query phrased differently.

Calling Out The Debt

The debtor then sought to claim they had been intimidated by the client but was not able to elaborate, give examples or evidence it. The client denied the allegation. Nothing in their behaviour with Advocate to date could indicate anything other than a professional and courteous creditor. With the Final Demand about to expire the debtor sought to throw more mud at our client who graciously responded with facts instead of slinging detritus back. Advocate was unwavering in demanding full payment for a faultless system. Seeing the imminence of court proceedings, the debtor conceded by paying the £3K and statutory late payment charges in full. What had once been a keyboard warrior intent on documenting the verbal editions of their flawed argument, became a silent payer with no acknowledgement of the payment made or receipt issued. Although the client and debtor’s management team are unlikely to rekindle their trading relationship, there is a consolation…the engineers can stop spending hours on faults caused by unapproved modifications and tinkering! This was another successful commercial debt recovery by Advocate, and one the client is relieved to have behind them.