The client in this case is a recruitment agency specialising in technical contractors. They had supplied a contractor to their customer to work with their team to complete an installation project. The customer signed off timesheets without any complaints and our client raised invoices.

Our client’s invoices fell due so they started chasing for payment. After 6 weeks of delaying, their customer finally raised a dispute, questioning the quality of the contractor’s work. They argued that deficiencies in the work had only been noticed after completion of the project, and they had lost money on the job by having to fix the problems. They did not produce evidence of the deficiencies, but refused to pay the invoices and stopped responding to our client. When the invoices became 3 months overdue our client referred them to Sterling.

Disputes around quality of work are common for both contractors and perms. Customers regularly misunderstand, or choose to misunderstand, the extent to which the recruitment agency is responsible for the performance of a contractor or employee. In both cases it is up to the customer to monitor the contractor/employee, and the recruiter bears no responsibility for the quality of their work. It also seems to be common practice for customers to blame contractors for issues in projects rather than their own staff or management.

Sterling Debt Recovery made contact with the customer, demanding payment of the outstanding invoices. We listened to their arguments and discussed the dispute at length. We then explained the situation in relation to the terms of business, clarifying where responsibility for the management and quality of the contractor’s work lay. We explained the process should the case go to court, and given that the debt was over £10k, the fact that costs could be awarded. We convinced the debtor to pay not just the entire invoice value, but also full late fees and interest.

Sterling recovered the full debt, including all fees, within 2 weeks of it being referred to us. The fees and interest paid by the debtor exceeded the cost of our service, so that once our commission was considered, our client received £725 more than their invoice value. Our service cost our client nothing, and they ended up being paid more than they had billed.