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Volume 41,   Issue 2       February 2006

the Farnady Files
    Pain in the Back Charge

They'll Try Anything to Make a Buck or Two

by Dez Farnady

"We all make mistakes, but one of them 
is not granting the customer a license 
to steal. Every time this guy installs a 
defective product, he tries to get himself 
another job at his supplierís expense."

The names have been changed to protect the innocent, but to no avail; you will recognize them anyway. These are the guys who try to protect themselves from the incompetence of their employees by attempting to pass on the unnecessary expenses incurred to any vendor or supplier that is gullible enough to accept the responsibility. 

We are talking here about the back-charge specialists. You know who they are. These are the guys who install defective product and try to get a labor back charge for replacing something that should never have been installed in the first place. We all make mistakes, but one of them is not granting the customer a license to steal. Every time this guy installs a defective product, he tries to get himself another job at his supplierís expense. I donít know of anyone who accepts labor back charges for costs he did not authorize specifically. 

Tricky Thinking

Another trick is the back charge for labor and travel time. For the sake of the story, letís assume the packages were storefront doors that were taken to a jobsite for installation. The job was a couple of hours of driving time from the shop. Two men loaded the truck and drove to the job and only when they got there did they open the packages to find that they could not install the doors because some five bucks worth of hardware, essential to the installation, was missing. So back they go to the shop to tell the boss they had a nice ride and the boss comes unglued. 

The Games They Play 

Now this guy has it all figured out. He thinks, letís see, maybe I can recoup two men, two hours worth of labor cost by back charging the vendor. Now how do you figure the vendor is going to pick up that kind of back charge for a couple of bucks worth of hardware? I donít know anyone dumb enough to pay, but there are guys out there who try to collect. Unfortunately for the guy, he probably does not bother to tell his men to check the package next time to be sure everything they will require for the installation is there or in the truck before they go to the job unprepared again and waste more of his money. 

Of course this is the same guy who tries the back-charge trick on the vendor who tried to help on the other back order. This time the two doors and related material were to be shipped and half of the order got back ordered (for whatever reasonóthose things happen). When the customer complains that he needs the back order expedited, the vendorís responsibility is to ship the back order as soon as possible but generally the same way that the original order is shipped. If this normally takes two or three weeks then that is what it is.

Any extra effort or shipping cost that may be incurred by the vendor to expedite the shipment is considered customer service and charged off to good will unless otherwise required by the contract. It is not particularly good business to nickel-and-dime the vendor that is willing to go the extra mile and incur extra cost to expedite the back order. Itís pretty obvious that the extra effort may not be forthcoming the next time a similar incident occurs. 

It is always amazing to think, in a business this small, how soon so many people forget some things that other people will always remember. Keep that in mind the next time you contemplate that back charge.

© Copyright 2006 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.