5 top tips that’ll help you avoid falling victim to the extra charges all too often hidden in your service providers’ contracts

Clients often come to us having found themselves in a dispute with a professional “intermediary” service provider like an employment agency or a business sale broker.

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5 top tips that’ll help you avoid falling victim to the extra charges all too often hidden in your service providers’ contracts

Clients often come to us having found themselves in a dispute with a professional “intermediary” service provider like an employment agency or a business sale broker.

The cause of the dispute is usually the same. Having entered into an agreement on terms they believed were clear cut, the client subsequently finds that either the service they receive is not quite what they anticipated or, even more annoyingly, that they’ve been stung with hefty added charges they weren’t expecting.

When it comes to dealing with employment agencies one of the disagreements we see most often is a demand for an introductory fee for a prospective employee who has also been introduced to the client by another agency.  It is only at this point that the client discovers (all too late) that the agent’s terms and conditions actually did include a provision for a fee to be charged regardless of when or by who the employee was introduced to them.

More generally another example we see all too often is a client being hit by an unexpected termination fee even though the service itself has not been performed/delivered.

The most worrying part of all these stories is that the service providers almost always have very robust terms and conditions that ensure these onerous obligations are forced onto the client. To make sure you don’t fall foul of these hidden charges and avoid an irritating, unexpected and unwanted bill here are our 5 top tips for avoiding disputes with service providers:

  1. Do your due diligence

Make use of available resources (i.e. personal referrals, trade information and the internet) to ensure you are dealing with a reputable business. In particular, check for any adverse publicity online – online message boards can be very helpful for this.

  1. Ask to speak to the provider’s clients

If the business is confident in the service they provide, they will be happy to provide you with client referees.

  1. Only appoint one provider at a time

It can be very tempting – particularly when dealing with employment agencies – to “spread the net”.  However, instructing more than one provider for the same service can lead to confusion and may leave you liable for duplicate charges from each of those agencies for provision of the same service.

  1. Exercise care in correspondence

It can be very easy, particularly with the informality of email, to inadvertently enter into a contract via exchange of communications.  Be vigilant when sending correspondence to the service provider to ensure you do not agree to anything until you understand the precise terms of the contract.

It is a good idea to head communications “subject to contract” until you have finalised any agreement.  Service providers will often include an email footer which effectively incorporates their terms and conditions into any agreement reached by exchange of correspondence. This can be the case even if you have never seen a copy of the T&Cs.  If in doubt, seek advice from your solicitor.

  1. Read the terms and conditions very carefully

Ideally this should be done with a solicitor to ensure that you understand exactly what each party’s obligations are before you enter into a contract.

Keebles have extensive experience in helping clients resolve disputes involving the hidden terms and hidden charges all too often included within contracts with service providers. For further information, please call Rachel Crookes on 0113 3993460 or email Rachel at rachel.crookes@keebles.com.

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