How do I slate a competitor in a report, without dropping myself in the mire.

Discussion in 'OT (OFF Topic) Forums' started by ringway, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. ringway

    ringway MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    6,551
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2008
    Location:
    In a World of My Own.
    Car:
    Audi A6 Avant 3.0 Bi TDI - A Fantastic Car! Range Rover Supercharged - Lovely! Also R32 & S4.
    One of our regular clients used a local contractor (Company X) in one of their London branches. This happened because our client (they regularly give us projects up to 100, miles away) thought the installation would be too far afield for us.

    The installation is incredibly poor by anyones standards and Company X have returned to site 4-5 times in an attempt to remedy the numerous problems, but without any success at all.
    They have tried to modify the product and have butchered the whole job.
    Had they had even a small idea of how the product worked, they could have very easily solved the main issue, but instead have taken desperate measures and ruined the whole shooting match.
    I really couldn't believe what I was seeing when inspecting the works. :crazy:


    Our client would like us to fit-out from scratch, but have asked me to make a report on the original installation, in an attempt to recover some or all of the costs from Company X.

    I haven't dealt with this sort of thing before and wondered if there was anything I should know before composing the report. If I could send the report from A.N.Other it wouldn't be so awkward, but having our company name associated with it makes me cautious.

    The report will be truthful, and because the job by Company X is so ridiculously poor there is certainly no need to over-egg the pudding.


    So, what can go wrong?


    TIA.

    Paul.
     
  2. markjay

    markjay MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    23,251
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Location:
    London
    Car:
    W204 C180 Executive SE 2013 Automatic / COMAND NTG4.7 and Morel speakers fitted by www.comand.co.uk
    I would provide technical details of how the original installation was carried-out, preferably those details that can be easily contrasted with written manufacturer's instructions (as opposed to those which you could claim are 'best practice'), but would avoid as far as possible from voicing an opinion, or sounding judgemental in any way.

    Something like ' on arrival we found that hose X was connected to outlet Y, which can cause overheating problems as stated by the manufacturer in technical bulletin abc' etc, preferably with photos.

    So, my view would be to focus on technical details regarding issues that can be easily proven to be incorrectly installed, leaving the interpretation regarding the quality of workmanship to the reader.

    Where you must provide an opinion, I would use something like 'in my professional opinion the apparatus should be installed with the nozzle pointing upwards'. Or 'in my view...'.

    Referring to the technical facts will probably reduce the potential legal problems for you from the competitors, and making sure that your opinion is clearly stated as an opinion can help as well.

    This is my view, anyway.. :D

    Hope this help.
     
    8 people like this.
  3. John

    John MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    11,695
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2011
    Location:
    Daan Saaf
    Car:
    I wish.
    I am by no means an expert at all but if I was tasked with this, I would keep it strictly professional based on the facts of what you observe versus what should have been done in accordance with your own experience - and obviously leave out any references to any other company and their professionalism.
     
    2 people like this.
  4. Red C220

    Red C220 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

    Messages:
    4,197
    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2011
    Location:
    Surrey
    Car:
    2015 SL400 : 2017 S6 Avant
    I've done a few of these over the years, like Mark says you have to stay away from conjecture and stick with a clear concise list of facts and statements.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. WDB124066

    WDB124066 MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    6,176
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Car:
    1996 E320 Sportline Cabriolet x 2
    Do you really want to do the report, what is to be gained by you/your company for doing the report, not a lot by the sounds, risk could well be high for low or little reward.

    Is there an industry watchdog in your game that can be called upon to comment?

    Is it an insurance claim, will the insurance co write a report?

    Can you assist them to write their own report?

    Take lots of photos of how it should be done, against how it was found by you on the day. Comment only on photos, and stick to the big issues, not all the little things that went wrong that tire people quickly.

    I am not sure what your work is Ringway so it is hard for me to comment properly.

    I once had a bad panel/paint job done on a Stag I had many years ago, no panel beater would put pen to paper despite it being obvious things were bad, I got an independant assor to write a report, worked well.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. flango

    flango MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    10,993
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Location:
    Gods own country
    Car:
    Mercedes SLK R171
    Paul

    Be very careful the golden rule is never criticize or slate the competition in writing, once you do so you open up your company to potential litigation and a whole heap of heartache.

    Can you not get an independent to do it and you pay them if the contract would stand it?

    We get asked all the time to do written reports on bodged car repairs but we just refer them to an independent motor engineer or VOSA it really is not worth the hassle or the potential legal consequences

    Cheers
    Ian
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Pontoneer

    Pontoneer MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    12,854
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Location:
    Ayrshire
    Car:
    '93 190E 2.3LE W201 ; '93 300SL-24 R129
    I think I remember what it is that you install .

    Could you invite the manufacturer of the product to inspect and comment on the installation ? If the job is as bad as you say , this could have the additional benefit that the manufacturer might decide they no longer want Company X installing their products .

    Another idea might be to get the customer to call in Dom Little and Melinda Messenger ?
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. markjay

    markjay MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    23,251
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Location:
    London
    Car:
    W204 C180 Executive SE 2013 Automatic / COMAND NTG4.7 and Morel speakers fitted by www.comand.co.uk
    I agree, but this also depends on the nature of your business. If your business is car repairs, then I imagine you will have a large number of relatively 'small' customers. But in my business I have a small number of large-account customers, we provide a service to business usually much bigger than we are (some are multinational companies). When I get a new customer, I feel obliged to accommodate and assist them as much as I can. If they need a report from us to help them out in a case where they have real issues with a previous supplier / service provider, then I would not want to be unhelpful by pointing them in another direction, as I would feel it is our duty to help them. I would however try to be very professional and very careful, as I pointed out above. But I do see where you are coming from, and in your position I would probably think that it is not worth it and perhaps would avoid it where I can.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. trapperjohn

    trapperjohn MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    7,316
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2008
    Location:
    Lancashire
    Car:
    124 300D 24V Estate
    External auditor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    That may help a little Paul. The backlash, oh and it will come. From the company that did the bodge install could be massive.
    You could explain perhaps that - It is not that you do not want to do a written audit on the install - it is just outside your field of expertise to provide a written audit for use in probable legal proceedings. Your verbal professional opinion and past installs will speak volumes for you. The company that are asking for your written audit report should also understand and respect your position once it is explained to them.
     
  10. SPX

    SPX MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    15,609
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2010
    Location:
    Ap Norf
    Car:
    That one
    Just write that their work is sh1te and if it was you that had done this job, you'd find yourself another profession. Like a becoming a butcher.

    Would you like me to draft you a copy Paul?
     
    7 people like this.
  11. flango

    flango MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    10,993
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Location:
    Gods own country
    Car:
    Mercedes SLK R171
    Yes I agree although we do have a significant number of very large account customers including dealer networks however it is not these we get the requests from it's usually agreived individuals

    However I still would never knock a competitor in writing in the businesses I am involved in, it's unprofessional and opens you up to potential litigation but I guess that's just the nature of the businesses I am involved in and accept it could well be different for other sectors of business

    But knowing what Paul does personally I would not take the risk of putting my company name in a report criticizing a competitor from which potential litigation could arise. However maybe I'm been a bit too cautious but I guess that's what happens when married to someone in the legal sector
     
    1 person likes this.
  12. fatdazza

    fatdazza Hardcore MB Enthusiast

    Messages:
    438
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2010
    Location:
    Cambridge
    Car:
    Vauxhall Chevette
    Reminds me of the joke about the old lady who complained to the foreman about the language coming from the building site. The foreman explained that they are workmen and do call a spade a spade. The old lady replied "no they don't they call it a f*cking shovel" :)
     
    1 person likes this.
  13. 312 Sprinter

    312 Sprinter Hardcore MB Enthusiast

    Messages:
    592
    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Location:
    MK
    Don't write company X installed, just state "we observed that A was connected to Z".

    Take photographs of the obvious things that are awry. Someone else can then decide the who the why and wherefore. I wouldn't mention company X at all in the report; you don't have first hand knowledge of how and when the errors occurred. Just report what you saw on a given date.
     
    3 people like this.
  14. Satch

    Satch Hardcore MB Enthusiast

    Messages:
    3,508
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2003
    Location:
    Surrey
    Car:
    S211 E320Cdi Avantgarde Estate & Toyota Land Cruiser
    If they are going to sue then any "report" should be commissioned by their legal representatives from an Expert Witness.

    There are protocols for this and you really need to understand the rules of the game to avoid you being dragged into a potential world of pain.

    For example, if that report ends up in court it will have to contain the following:

    "I understand that my overriding duty is to the court and I have complied with that duty and will continue to comply with it.

    I am aware of the requirements of Part 35 and Practice Direction 35 and the CJC Protocol for the Instruction of Experts to give Evidence in Civil Claims.
    "

    http://www.ewi.org.uk/lawandyou/lawandyou.asp
     
    1 person likes this.
  15. SPX

    SPX MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    15,609
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2010
    Location:
    Ap Norf
    Car:
    That one
    In all seriousness, there is a massive conflict of interest here and it wouldn't surprise me if the report that you draft will be deemed inadmissible by any sort of tribunal/court/judge.
     
    2 people like this.
  16. Dieselman

    Dieselman Banned

    Messages:
    34,206
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2003
    Car:
    Peugeot 403 Convertible
    ^ Who says it's going to Court. More likely the client just wants justification to refuse payment for the installation.

    I can see that IF the other supplier pursued payment, they may insist that as a competitor, the new supplier can't be independent, so will have written a biased report.
     
    2 people like this.
  17. corned

    corned Hardcore MB Enthusiast

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    May 2, 2008
    Location:
    Living in error with Maude at Cap Ferrat
    Car:
    car
    I think the best advice would be to keep things very simple.

    The report should simply state "we were asked in to look at an installation and observed the following...".

    Then put "we found A" ... "we found B" ... etc. Then put "we would have done it like this...".

    What you should not do it write "it should have been done like this" ... "the correct way to do it is this" ... etc. It is, after all, still only your opinion. A third party may do it a different way still.

    In this way your report does not mention the competitor, and crucially neither is it critical of your competitor, you are merely stating how you would have done the work had you been commissioned to do so. The client can then draw his own conclusions as to who should have done it, and what action remains to be taken.

    Again, I personally think we're jumping a little to conclusions already mentioning litigation, although the possibility remains that the client has to resort to such to effect a remedy from the installer. As long as you keep to material fact and don't mention the company or leave it critical of their work, then nothing can come back to you if the nasty stuff really does hit the fan between the client and the installer.

    Good luck!
     
    3 people like this.
  18. flango

    flango MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    10,993
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Location:
    Gods own country
    Car:
    Mercedes SLK R171
    I think you are right but when it is two companies competing in the same business sector often the client plays A against B and if A did the installation and a damning report was made by B then the likely outcome is the client may sue A who would counterclaim against B, however as already pointed out if they used the B report as evidence it would probably be deemed as inadmissible but this would not stop A taking action against B which could end up with A Vs B whilst the client sits back and watches what happens.

    The correct course of action would be for the client to obtain a report from an independent not a competitor and it is unfair of a client to ask a competitor to do this all IMHO of course but very well experienced in this sort of issue.
     
    3 people like this.
  19. OP
    OP
    ringway

    ringway MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    6,551
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2008
    Location:
    In a World of My Own.
    Car:
    Audi A6 Avant 3.0 Bi TDI - A Fantastic Car! Range Rover Supercharged - Lovely! Also R32 & S4.
    Thanks for all of the replies, everyone. Food for thought..

    The installation was carried out 12, months ago and the client paid the invoice. The problems were there from the outset and numerous service calls have yielded no improvement and have definitely made matters worse.

    I have some images of installation which I'll post later when I can work out how to get them out of my new phone. :rolleyes:


    This is what we do. LINK. As with most trades there are specialist areas, but the basics aren't really rocket science.
     
  20. OP
    OP
    ringway

    ringway MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    6,551
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2008
    Location:
    In a World of My Own.
    Car:
    Audi A6 Avant 3.0 Bi TDI - A Fantastic Car! Range Rover Supercharged - Lovely! Also R32 & S4.

    Thanks, Lee. That seems to have taken all of the worry out of things. :D
     
    1 person likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.