Invoicing & Paperwork

While we’re on this subject can I point out to all our suppliers that in future we will only accept invoices printed on mauve-tinted 100gsm laid paper and delivered by carrier pigeon.

With up to TWO supplier invoices to handle a day we really don’t see why we should accept invoices delivered in any other fashion.

Oh and you can stick your £40 late payment charges where the sun doesn’t reach because in our opinion a message on a chat page is service of our notice to you that this is how we require our invoices delivered. Despite this it goes without saying that delivery of invoices by similar means is unacceptable.

Posted under Courier and Freight Exchanges, Courier Basics, Courier Financial Issues, Late Payment

Posted by Alec at 6:30 pm, June 17, 2008

18 Comments so far

  1. Alec added on  June 18th, 2006 at 12:33

    Online tax returns are another example – typing your name is considered to be your signature.

  2. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 18:50

    Not everyone reads the Chat pages I’m afraid, so it’s not a particularly effective way of communicating with your suppliers, nor will it save you from a late payment charge if the invoice has been delivered through ‘Network’ or by email or fax, unless you’ve informed your supplier before forming a contract with them that you will only accept paper invoices.

    It’s quite logical for a new-ish ‘Network’ member to assume that ‘Network’-generated electronic invoices are acceptable to all ‘Network’ members. I was thinking that today as I was paying a couple of newby’s first ever ‘Network’ invoices – maybe I should be warning them of what to expect – is that really my job though?

    The attitude that I’ve got some invoices missing, they’ve probably invoiced me through ‘Network’, f**k’em they can wait is frankly deplorable.

    If you consider that someone’s doing something wrong does it really hurt to contact SIX PEOPLE to let them know?

  3. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 19:01

    I don’t understand that EMPLOYED remark, you’ll have to explain.

    You might be the nicest people in the world, the best company to work for in the world, I don’t know.

    Deliberately delaying payment to someone because they make the unforgiveable faux pas of invoicing through the system that put you in contact with them in the first place is, in my opinion anyway, unacceptable behaviour for a long-standing ‘Network’ member. You KNOW that they’re invoices are late and that they’ve probably made the terrible mistake of assuming that a ‘Network’ invoice is acceptable to you SO WHY NOT LET THEM KNOW.

    If you’ve not got enough staff to print off a few invoices a day (5 minutes?) then maybe you should employ some more staff. Treat your suppliers as well as you’d treat your customers, they’re just as important to your business after all.

  4. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 19:09

    I think my surname is fairly well known and I don’t think I’ve ever said anything remotely resembling the management marketing bullshit that Ayres used to come out with.

  5. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 19:11

    And for you information I had exactly the same argument with him three years ago.

  6. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 19:28

    I don’t have ‘constant digs’ at anyone, except for people or companies who seem to go out of their way to make it difficult for other, maybe less experienced, people to just get on with what they do.

    Would it really hurt you to remind a few people each month that you require a hard copy invoice from them? Is that really so much harder for you to do than answer their telephone calls requesting payments that they think are overdue?

    You’ve still not explained the EMPLOYEE remark by the way.

  7. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 19:52

    Over 2 years ago maybe?

    Mark, I wasn’t having a go at you, but I do get pretty p’d off at companies that think the rest of the world should guess exactly how they want things doing for them and attempt to penalise anyone that doesn’t comply with their unwritten and unvoiced rules. If that cap doesn’t fit then there’s no need to wear it.

    Following on from your previous posting, do you really think that it’s acceptable to threaten suppliers that might issue you with a justified late payment charge that you might attempt to prevent other companies in your area from using their services? Is that really what you meant?

  8. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 19:56

    And as for our courier ‘Network’ blocking electronic invoices for people that didn’t accept them – I suggested it to L**** over a year ago, it would stop problems like this happening overnight. While we’re where we are though you have to accept that many newcomers will expect that everyone on the ‘Network’ accepts ‘Network’ generated invoices. If you don’t accept them then it’s up to you to inform them of that, because they’ve done nothing wrong in assuming that you do.

  9. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 20:46

    ‘No POD no pay’ certainly isn’t any industry standard in the same day courier industry that I’ve been working in for the last 20 years – unless you’ve been informed in advance by the customer. I’d been in the industry for about three years before I did a job for TNT and was told that I wouldn’t be paid unless I sent the POD in. At the moment we’ve got one single customer, a freight forwarder, that needs a POD on most of their jobs – even they’ve been ‘trained’ that they don’t really need a hard copy when the goods have been delivered into their own depot.

    What you have to accept is that most of the new members of ‘Network’ haven’t come up ‘the hard way’ – subcontracting to the likes of TNT Sameday, Pony, Delta etc, or to XYX Transport or whoever. They’re not born knowing that XYZ couriers and ABC Transport don’t need PODs returning but but yzX Forwrding need their PODs. It’s up to us to explain to them what we want from them because unless they’re told thewy very possibly won’t guess.

    They’ve all read the bullshit courier manuals, they’ve all read the pricing suggestion on ‘Network’ that backloads are half the price of a hotshot and you can deliver it whenever you want. That’s all they’ve been told and so that’s all they know.

    If you don’t try to help them along, to pass on YOUR experience without damaging their businesses at the same time then they’ll all be gone and the next lot will probably be of a lower standard, or expect even more for less money.

    Who has ever told them about phoning in PODs? Who’s ever told them to check whether ‘Network’ ‘system’ invoices are acceptable, who’s ever told them to post the original POD but always keep their own hard copy.

    A lot of newbies are quick to learn, a lot take a bit longer and some never learn. If we want subcontractors that will do things our way then it’s up to us to suggest to them what they should be doing – not just to lay down the law on a chat page in the hope that some of them might read it.

    If this seems patronising to some of the new guys then it’s really not how it’s meant to come across. there’s no ‘training’ for what you’re doing, the ‘courier bibles’ are full of crap and there doesn’t really seem to be anything to point you in the right direction. The situation isn’t helped by companies taht all need things doing in a different way.

    At the end of the day the only real solution to the problem is EITHER for ‘Network’ to add a facility so that invoices can’t be raised through ‘Network’ unless the subcontractor has acknowledged the company’s standard invoicing procedure OR everything’s carried out to an accepted minimum standard – a ‘Network’ Members Code of Practice.

    Mark, sorry if the fact that we pay on receipt of invoice offends you in some way. In mitigation, I’m led to believe that there are several companies on here who are equally as guilty of this type of behaviour and I honestly do try to discourage people from singling us out for praise for just paying people what they’re owed.

  10. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 20:54

    If someone works AS A SUBCONTRACTOR, then there’s an expectation that they will be treated and paid as a subcontractor. any performance requirements explained, payments received on time, in short they expect to be cushioned from the hassles of working for an end user by the company that they’re subcontracting to, That’s how the company they’re subcontracting to EARNS their margin.

    If you expect your subcontractors to put up with your real world payment schedules and to jump through hoops without you spelling out in intricate detail exactly where the hoops are, how high off the ground they are, what colour they are and what their circumferences are then you’re not earning your margin.

  11. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 20:55

    There’s businesses and businesses Jeremy. You don’t expect your window cleaner to be able to lock horns with Alan Sugar do you?

  12. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 21:00

    Or for a more accurate analogy, you wouldn’t expect a self-employed bricklayer building an office block for Alan Sugar to lock horns with Alan Sugar would you. Your brick would have Costain or whoever telling him what to do, how to do it, how to present his invoice etc and he’d be a bit pissed off if he didn’t receive his beer tokens at the end of the month.

  13. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 21:01

    This wasn’t about PODs, that was brought up afterwards, it was about invoices.

  14. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 21:03

    If you’re working as a subcontractor then you’ve every right to expect the main contractor to tell you exactly what’s required of you and to act as a middleman between you and the requirements of the end user.

    Otherwise what’s the point of having a middleman?

  15. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 21:26

    The point i’m making is that if I give companies like Speeding Bullet, Carrymore, Intransit, Saturn, Advantage, Transnet, Crisis Worldwide, Apollo, Professional Response or whoever a job, I expect to a certain degree that they’ll take over our role as ‘main contractor’, they know what’s expected, they’ll already be aware of their driver’s training and capabilities and they’ll monitor their driver’s performance accordingly. I expect to pay a bit more for passing over some of our management role to the third party.

    If I give a job to Joe Bloggs Freelance Courier – who I don’t know from Adam – then if he fu**ks up because we’ve not made our requirements crystal clear then that’s probably our fault. If he doesn’t know our invoicing requirements then that’s probably also our fault because we do tend to assume that people will actually glance at our directory entry before invoicing us. If we haven’t actually spelt something out to them then we tend to accept that we should have done. If someone’s obviously fairly new we even go as far as asking them if they have something to get a POD on – it’s surprising how many haven’t.

    There’s no point burying our heads in the sand and pretending that everyone should enter the industry with a map in one hand, an accurate (and fully read and understood) ‘Courier Bible’ in the other and a POD pad under one arm because that’s not how it happens. You sometimes have to make allowances for new subcontractors in exactly the same way as you would for a new employee. Just because they’re not actually your employee doesn’t mean they’re not allowed an occasional mistake and it doesn’t mean that they don’t need to eat. And just because they want to be an owner-driver doesn’t mean they want to be a big shot ‘Businessman’, some people just want to be a ‘Freelance Courier’ like others want to be a self-employed bricky.

  16. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 21:52

    If that was to me Mark – City Link, A to Z, Lightning Despatch, XP, TNT Sameday, UK Today, Target, Delta, Lynx, Parceline and a load of local ones. That’s my point exactly – in 1991 I was ‘Alec Simmons – Specialist Long Distance Same-day Courier’, or something along those lines. There was no such thing as a ‘Freelance Courier’ and you made a twat of youself if you couldn’t at least bluff that you knew what you were doing.

    Times change though and if you want the people that are starting now to still be around in a few years then you’ve got to either point them in the right direction or we’ll all go back to the old way of working, piss our customers off every Friday afternoon and hand them over to TNT when they want an out of area collection.

  17. Alec added on  June 17th, 2008 at 22:45

    “The ‘Network’ tell’ you to say you are new to the game when going for your first jobs.”

    OK, that explains a few odd conversations.

    “I didnt know i had to do that and faxed a pod through to a company, they soon phoned and guided me to the right way of doing things. Instead of expecting newbys to know the way you work just tell them.”

    And that’s my point exactly – it really doesn’t hurt to help people along. We were all new starters once after all.

  18. Alec added on  June 18th, 2008 at 12:32

    I don’t believe that Hall v Cognos has been overturned. Any form of ‘signature’ will stand up in court – even a typed or emailed signature – as long as both parties intend it to be used as a signature. Even clicking an ‘I AGREE’ button on a webpage is classed in law as a signature. That’s how, for example, you can fill in a Direct Debit mandate online.

    Maybe there’s been a recent case that I’m not aware of that overturns this but I don’t think so.

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