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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3557
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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I have a supplier of services - no physical items, who is relying

Customer Question

I have a supplier of services - no physical items, who is relying on his fierce Terms to charge me a great deal of money for extra work he claims is outside of the original order spec. Whilst I accept that there is some extra work, the amount he is charging is huge.
I am not prepared to pass this onto my client as it is extremely high. I feel that it is unfair that at this stage at the end of the work I am presented with such a huge bill without being warned earlier on that the charges were mounting. If I had known I would have stopped him doing anymore.
Is there not some sort of duty of care required. His terms and conditions which he often mentions have never been given to me although on his invoice it refers to them and that I can view them on his Website.
The value of the original order is approximately £30K and he is charging £11,000 for extra work.
Thank you
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you for your question and welcome.
My name is ***** ***** I will assist you.
What term is he relying on that allows the extra charges?
What is your perceived value of the additional work? I.e what would you be prepared to pay?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

There is a para in their terms -


3. Changes to any work completed or part completed and/or an

y additional work requested/instructed by you or any other part

beyond the Company’s control, as well as work and/or new or

modified features and facilities requested by you will be charged t

o

you on a time basis at Standard Rate of (minimum) £85 (Eighty

Five GBP) per half hour. The client should be aware that the

minimum fees (on an hourly basis) are applicable in particular but not only in scenarios in which no time estimate or quotation

has

been given to you and the work has been carried out. This applies to

both; additional work requested by the client at any stage

,

and/or unforeseen work arises

during the project or after.

I would be prepared to go to my client and say there £4 to £5k of extras
Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
Has the supplier provided proof of the additional hours work they have done?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

They have just sent me a spreadsheet of the extra work which I have not yet replied to. It lists out the extra work that has been done but a lot of this requires clarification as I am unsure what they are referring to. Also some items claim to be outside the specified work when they are actually mentioned so |I will be questioning some of the claims

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.

Hi, Thank you. The other crucial point is did you actually "request" the extra work? I will prepare a full response now please do not be concerned if you do not hear from me right away. Kind regards AJ

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No I did not actually request this work. The work is for a Website project which was going through its testing and I was providing feedback on corrections and other comments including feedback that required changes to the work including some work outside of the original specification.

However this work was just worked on and completed with no mention of the cost implications and how the bill for extra was going to be so big. I feel that i should have been told that what I was asking to be done was going to time-consuming and costly and do I really want to proceed etc

It just seems to me to be too easy for this supplier to simply keep working on what he consider extras and know the time and cost it is going to cost without any word to me before presenting me with the big bill

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
There are two elements to this:
1. He has to prove that you actually "requested" the work;
2. He has to prove he has actually incurred the costs and committed the hours to the project.
If he is going to make a court claim against you then both these elements would have to be proven. The problem you have is if you changed the specification outside the original quote and this is recorded in writing then there would be evidence that you requested the additional work.
That takes us to the next element which is can he prove the hourly rate? You said he has provided you with a dubious spreadsheet of the work done. At £11k he is suggesting he spent over 250 additional hours on the project.
What I suggest you do is take the spread sheet and dispute the hours he has spent and also any items which should (or could reasonably) be included in the original work quote. Then make him an offer to settle start low and meet in the middle (i.e around £3-4k).
If he cannot prove the number of hours work he actually did then he wont have much success in making a court claim. His terms and conditions clearly state it as an hourly rate so the burden of proof is on him to show he worked the hours detailed.
Does the spreadsheet have an inconsistencies on it?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Not sure how you calculate the 250 hours and you have not said much I have not already worked out for myself really.

I do not yet know if there are any inconsistencies as I have yet to ask for clarification on a number of points

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
HI,
Thank you.
Sorry yes you are quite right - it is 65 hours extra work he is claiming based on £85 per half hour - my apologies.
Unfortunately this is a business to business contract, therefore you are not afforded the same protections as a consumer. I am not saying this gives this individual licence to charge what they wish but if you are going to refuse to pay there is a risk he might make a county court claim. In order to successfully bring a claim he needs to prove it. The only way to do this is to prove he has actually worked the hours claimed and you "requested" the additional work- effectively confirming a variation to your contractual arrangement.
Without being able to prove this he wont have a contractual claim. If he cannot prove the hours worked then that should give you strong grounds to negotiate a settlement and not let this turn into a court dispute.
The alternative is you just pay him what the agreed amount and ignore the rest, however the difficulty is if he then brings a claim you wont want to have to start going back to your client to ask for more money. The best way to resole this is, is to pick holes in his evidence and negotiate a settlement.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
AJ
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3557
Experience: Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
Alex J. and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

well he is actually claiming he worked an extra 111 hours at £100 per hour.

I am not sure what sort of proof a court would require but presumably he will be able to produce a time sheet and so having not actually been there whilst he did the work this would be hard to prove.

I will have to attempt to convince him to reconsider his costing which I know he will not - he's been going on about past courts cases where he has been successful etc and has suggested that if I start to question these costs he will find even more because he is being generous at the moment.

awkward and horrible

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,

Thank you.

I do not want to use the F Word- but making up work that you have not done just to spite the customer is at best a sharp practice and at worst "Fraud"!!

The most important thing is to keep your client's expectations managed so that you can claim money from them if need be but obviously not allow them to be fleeced.

You have two options:
1. Write to him and deny any extra money is owed - tell him that his interpretation of the hourly rate has no contractual basis and you deny any extra money is owed - his evidence is inconsistent and he has no proof the work was carried out;
2. Offer him an additional sum of say £1k or £2k and negotiate a settlement that your client will be comfortable with.

I would not be threatened by someone saying they know they will win at court - he wont win if he cannot prove he has spent the hours on the project and he also wont win if he has said to you that he can "find more costs". I can tell you for a fact that a court will not be happy with that as reliable evidence.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

mmm I see I am going to have to see a solicitor

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi

Thank you.

I am reluctant to suggest fraud because you need cast iron evidence, but to bully someone into paying for work that was not actually done is a pretty sharp practice.

Getting your own solicitor to write a settlement offer will give the offer gravitas as he will see you have taken advice and probably will be less reluctant to say that he will win in court.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

AJ

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