Getting your fees paid by big corporates can be challenging. They might intimidate you with their in -house legal team, or they may delay payment for many weeks by bogging you down in their bureaucratic accounts payable process.

In this case study, we collected a rec2rec fee from one of the top 3 largest staffing and recruitment agencies. We’ve collected from them several times before both in the UK and overseas, and I’m sure we will again. I’ll leave you to speculate over which one it is!

Our client in this case was a rec2rec headhunting agency. They had been engaged by a brand owned by one of the top 3 recruitment agencies to recruit an IT recruiter. The client turned to us after they had been repeatedly fobbed off by the brand’s accounts payable department. They had chased their overdue invoice for many weeks with no progress. Their dealings with AP can be summarised as follows:

  • Why hasn’t my invoice been paid?
  • Your invoice is marked as ‘waiting approval’.
  • When will it be approved?
  • I don’t know, we’ve requested approval.
  • Who needs to approve it?
  • We can’t tell you that.
  • What can I do to get it approved?
  • You’ll need to wait till it’s approved. It’s marked for approval.
  • #@*!!!

Sterling is of course experienced in dealing with corporate accounts payable departments and their procedures. Within a few hours of contacting the debtor we were informed that they were disputing the invoice on the grounds that the candidate had not been engaged for the original role, but instead had been engaged as a trainee. The debtor was demanding a reduced commission rate due to this.

This was a bizarre dispute for various reasons. Firstly, our candidate had been working under the debtor’s own terms and conditions, which one would assume they would themselves understand. Their TOB’s had a clear and simple commission structure and did not include any allowance for reducing commission for trainees or for any reason related to the role of the engagement. Secondly, the ‘trainee’ already had 3 years’ experience as a recruitment consultant. Thirdly, we were dealing with a top 3 recruitment agency who really should know better than to try to strong-arm another recruiter into reducing their fee!

Sterling put the case forward to the debtor clearly, explaining their own terms of business to them, how they had been incorporated, how they applied, how they were liable for the full engagement fee plus late payment fees, and how the cost to them would only increase if they delayed further.

The debtor threatened to refer the matter to their in-house legal team should we not bow to their demands.

We informed the debtor that we’d be happy to deal with their in-house legal but that wouldn’t alter the facts of the case and the value of the fee due.

Within a few days of the debt being referred to Sterling we had received full payment plus late fees, interest and reasonable costs. Our client received their full invoice value, with the debtor effectively paying for the cost of Sterling’s service.

Our client continues to work for the brand, along with other divisions of the top 3 agency’s business.