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Agency deliberately paid wrong account
Thread poster: Stéphanie Denton
Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
French to English
+ ...
Dec 6, 2013

Hi all

I haven't posted in a long time, but could really do with advice and opinions please.

Unfortunately, back in September, I was forced to declare myself personally bankrupt due to my partner taking out credit in my name without my knowledge. Subsequently, as sole Director, I was forced to close my agency.

I started trading as a sole trader again in August, and provided one of my long-standing clients with my new bank details. Everything was fine, they paid me in August and in September, on time, as per usual.

Then in October my payment was late. I contacted them and they sent me proof of payment. They told me that one project had been queried by the client (which was true, but they were supposed to send a glossary which never happened) and it would be paid on the next month's pay run. I re-issued an invoice minus said project (and stated my discontent at being informed of the matter in excess of 30 days post project delivery and after the invoice due date...) and it was paid but no payment came through, so I requested proof of payment. It transpired that they had sent the payment to the old Company's account in error instead of my personal account which they had previously paid twice. As far as I was concerned, and in the opinion of the official receiver, the Company's bank account should have been closed upon receipt of the notice of bankruptcy. Unfortunately, this bank did not close the account and the 2000€ that was sent in error was eaten by the Company's overdraft. I spoke to a solicitor who informed me that the agency could claim the money back but that they still owed me the money. I obviously informed the agency of this and they have since refused to work with me again. I have commenced legal proceedings to recuperate the monies owing to me for this invoice.

I had another invoice due at the end of November and I sent them a gentle reminder to pay the correct bank account and also requested proof of payment, to which I was informed that "due to your negative attitude, your invoice shall not be paid on time and once we have received the monies back we shall send it all as one payment, minus any fees incurred by your bank." I said that this was unacceptable and have been chasing them since. I rang them today and was informed that all my outstanding invoices were paid 10 days ago to the Company's account and that it was another clerical error!!!

I am now in excess of 5000€ down, obviously have rent to pay, children to feed and am incredibly stressed.

The issue is that the Company is in France and I am in the UK, meaning I have to pay for each invoice to be chased individually due to the different due dates.

Has anyone had any experience of this?

Many thanks

Stéphanie


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:18
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Nice to have it in writing, really Dec 6, 2013

Sorry to hear about your troubles, Stéphanie.

You say you've started legal proceedings to recover your money. And now I imagine you have this on paper?:
"due to your negative attitude, your invoice shall not be paid on time and once we have received the monies back we shall send it all as one payment, minus any fees incurred by your bank."

I should think the courts might like to see that. That might just cause things to go a little faster and a little heavier against them. It amazes me that they've had the cheek to put it into print.

But I really don't understand what you mean by:
The issue is that the Company is in France and I am in the UK, meaning I have to pay for each invoice to be chased individually due to the different due dates.

The EU directive on payments applies equally to both countries (although it is just a directive and not law); and if either you or your client specified a due date then that's the one that's legally binding anyway. Is there something specific to this agreement?

I think you're doing the right thing going through the courts, and this invoice should be added. The problem is that it will always take a long time for courts to act. I suppose the best thing is to let the courts deal with this client and for you to put all your energy into earning money working for other clients. But that's no doubt easier said than done.


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Sheila, knew I could rely on you to respond... Dec 6, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Sorry to hear about your troubles, Stéphanie.

You say you've started legal proceedings to recover your money. And now I imagine you have this on paper?:
"due to your negative attitude, your invoice shall not be paid on time and once we have received the monies back we shall send it all as one payment, minus any fees incurred by your bank."

I should think the courts might like to see that. That might just cause things to go a little faster and a little heavier against them. It amazes me that they've had the cheek to put it into print.



I am hoping so, and furthermore, it would appear that they have deliberately sent the second payment to the wrong account too...am sure that'll work in my favour. I have tried saying I shall waive all charges if they just pay it all via PayPal today but they're not budging...

But I really don't understand what you mean by:
The issue is that the Company is in France and I am in the UK, meaning I have to pay for each invoice to be chased individually due to the different due dates.

The EU directive on payments applies equally to both countries (although it is just a directive and not law); and if either you or your client specified a due date then that's the one that's legally binding anyway. Is there something specific to this agreement?



What I mean is each invoice has a different due date, so I have to send a 7 day payment request per invoice and either pay for each debt to be collected individually, or wait till everything is overdue and then pay one fee. Does that make sense>

I think you're doing the right thing going through the courts, and this invoice should be added. The problem is that it will always take a long time for courts to act. I suppose the best thing is to let the courts deal with this client and for you to put all your energy into earning money working for other clients. But that's no doubt easier said than done.



Worst time of the year too. Not asking for the sympathy card but I am a single mum, my youngest is 1 on the 18th of this month, then there's Xmas, and then my eldest is 4 on NYE...having major car troubles and everything seems to be going wrong for me at the moment! Thanks for your input, truly appreciated.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:18
English to Polish
+ ...
Sue them Dec 6, 2013

I too am sorry to hear about what happened to you. Sue the agency and leave them an appropriate BB entry. Using a legally unjustified delay in payment as a reprisal for a 'negative attitude' is totally unacceptable (and won't fly in any court of law). Someone who pays to the wrong account, especially deliberately, should not normally be entitled to any reimbursement of bank fees, while potentially being liable for late interest.

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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
BB entry already done Dec 6, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

I too am sorry to hear about what happened to you. Sue the agency and leave them an appropriate BB entry. Using a legally unjustified delay in payment as a reprisal for a 'negative attitude' is totally unacceptable (and won't fly in any court of law). Someone who pays to the wrong account, especially deliberately, should not normally be entitled to any reimbursement of bank fees, while potentially being liable for late interest.


Thank you Lucasz. I can appreciate the first invoice may have been paid to the wrong account in error, although that's not my problem, but the subsequent invoices...? And the excuse for late payment. Despicable. The BB entry has been made and is the latest on my profile if anyone is intrigued as to who they are. I am so disappointed, been working for them for over 2 years and never had a single problem.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:18
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Repeat sueing? I wouldn't, personally Dec 6, 2013

Stéphanie Denton wrote:
What I mean is each invoice has a different due date, so I have to send a 7 day payment request per invoice and either pay for each debt to be collected individually, or wait till everything is overdue and then pay one fee.

I personally always include details of any other overdue invoices in any payment demand. They need to know the total amount that they owe me. I don't normally do any more work for a client if they aren't paying, but that still means they could have two invoices overdue (I invoice regular clients monthly). In fact, I sometimes add details of invoices that aren't yet due if I think it might encourage them to pay everything at once and so wipe the slate clean. I wouldn't do that systematically because it does make it sound as though you don't trust them; but sometimes that's the truth!

Certainly, once it gets to the stage of legal action then you should be into the period of not working for them any more, so they should all be overdue, shouldn't they? I mean, the first will be way overdue, and the last may only just have passed the period mentioned in the final demand, but you'd then sue them for the lot, in one go. There's nothing to be gained, and lots to lose I imagine, by suing them for individual invoices. The one time I did sue (successfully), it was for 3 invoices due over a period of three months.


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Going to do it in one go Dec 6, 2013

Sheila, this all came to light mid November so I invoiced them for November's work at the end of November, meaning one invoice isn't due yet, so going to have to wait...they've got my by the short and curlies. But that's a small invoice as I stopped working for them as soon as this came about, so maybe if they realise that I'm willing to go all out on the overdue invoices they'll just pay that. To be honest, I'll lose 250€ if it means I get my 5k...

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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
French to English
+ ...
Bank not being very helpful? Dec 6, 2013

Hi Stéphanie,

My heart goes out to you in all of this - I've been through a messy divorce myself and although my ex-husband didn't leave me in your horrible situation, I had to pursue him through the courts for money he could well afford to pay for the upkeep of our sons. To have left you in this position is just despicable and I can only imagine your despair and frustration.

I feel your bank isn't being particularly helpful in all of this, however. If you thought the bank account would be closed and the official receiver shared your view, surely the bank must take responsibility for the fact that the agency was even able to pay into this account at all. For the account still to be open for a second erroneous payment to go in is surely wrong? It may seem that the agency has deliberately paid money into the wrong account, but that is hard to prove; I know when I changed bank accounts a few years ago, it took months to "persuade" a couple of clients to change their payment system and payments repeatedly went into the old account, despite big red reminders all over my invoices and separate irate e-mails about it on my part! Ridiculous, I know, and I think I would actually have done better to have closed the old account straightaway, so the payments would have been returned and they'd have been forced to look into the situation and pay them to the right new account. That doesn't help in your case, but if it should have been closed and wasn't, then surely you can take the matter up with the banking ombudsman for negligence on the bank's part? You'd need to seek legal advice of course, especially if there's bankruptcy involved, all of which is very time-consuming, but 5K is a lot of money as you say....

I'm also in the position of waiting for a big French direct client to pay an invoice dating back to July and my next step is going to have to be the European small claims procedure - I'm sick of the barrage of excuses they keep sending - when they bother to reply at all. Mine is only for about €600, but even so - it's money we've earned and should rightfully be ours.

Good luck with it all, and I do hope you get some satisfaction in the end.

Claire


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:18
English to Polish
+ ...
One more thing Dec 7, 2013

Stéphanie, I've been thinking about something. The following phrase sounds a little odd:

'One due to your negative attitude, your invoice shall not be paid on time and once we have received the monies back we shall send it all as one payment, minus any fees incurred by your bank,'

is it possible that: 'shall not be paid on time,' was really supposed mean just simply: 'will not have been paid on time'? As in they aren't intentionally using a repraisal against 'your negative attitude' but simply stating that, according to them, you supposedly have your own negative attitude to blame for the late arrival of the payment? Some people sound the wrong way without intending to. Can't all of this actually be a relatively simple misunderstanding?

[Edited at 2013-12-07 15:00 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:18
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
A few things not clear Dec 7, 2013

Stéphanie Denton wrote:
It transpired that they had sent the payment to the old Company's account in error instead of my personal account which they had previously paid twice.


Do you also mention your bank account details on your invoices? Did you mention the correct details on those invoices?

My opinion on what happened here is that the agency paid the money into the wrong account, and it is their responsibility to get the money back as soon as possible and pay you. In fact, I don't think that the fact that they paid the money into the wrong account is sufficient reason for them not to pay you anyway. The fact that they paid X amount of money into Y account (and marked it up on their books as payment to you) and the fact that they owe you X amount of money are two separate issues. That said, I'm sure most people who make such a mistake would appreciate it greatly if they can be given some leeway in paying it... but in this case you are unable to give them that, and they (as an agency) must be able to pay you anyway.

I wonder of they are able to get back the money that they paid into the wrong account.

As far as I was concerned, and in the opinion of the official receiver, the Company's bank account should have been closed upon receipt of the notice of bankruptcy. Unfortunately, this bank did not close the account...


By "official receiver" I assume you mean the person who is the government-appointed administrator of your bankruptcy, also called the "trustee" of your bankruptcy, right? I don't know anything about English law, but I found this web site:

https://www.gov.uk/bankruptcy/your-assets

...and it says that the bank doesn't have to close your bank account simply because you are bankrupt. It says that the bank may actually allow you to keep using the account. It says that the trustee has the power to give you money from that account, if you urgently need it. I wonder if your trustee can order the bank to expedite the reversal of the fees to the agency, if he is unable to simply give you the money -- since the account doesn't have a positive balance.

I was informed that "due to your negative attitude, your invoice shall not be paid on time, and once we have received the monies back we shall send it all as one payment, minus any fees incurred by your bank."


They clearly believe that the money having gone to the wrong account is your fault (or rather, your bank's fault). They believe that they are justified in waiting until they have received their money back before re-paying the money to you. Can you think of anything that might have given them the impression that the fact that the money went to the wrong account was your fault and not theirs?

Their accountant made a mistake (twice, and then again after being told about the error). You are still owed the money, and they owe it to you immediately.

Have you explained to them your personal circumstances? Normally it would be none of their business, but you are in a desperate situation and I believe that it has become relevant. Do you have the ability to send a request to another person in the agency than the person that you have been dealing with up to now?


[Edited at 2013-12-07 18:20 GMT]


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Claire Dec 7, 2013

Claire Cox wrote:

I feel your bank isn't being particularly helpful in all of this, however. If you thought the bank account would be closed and the official receiver shared your view, surely the bank must take responsibility for the fact that the agency was even able to pay into this account at all. For the account still to be open for a second erroneous payment to go in is surely wrong? It may seem that the agency has deliberately paid money into the wrong account, but that is hard to prove; I know when I changed bank accounts a few years ago, it took months to "persuade" a couple of clients to change their payment system and payments repeatedly went into the old account, despite big red reminders all over my invoices and separate irate e-mails about it on my part! Ridiculous, I know, and I think I would actually have done better to have closed the old account straightaway, so the payments would have been returned and they'd have been forced to look into the situation and pay them to the right new account. That doesn't help in your case, but if it should have been closed and wasn't, then surely you can take the matter up with the banking ombudsman for negligence on the bank's part? You'd need to seek legal advice of course, especially if there's bankruptcy involved, all of which is very time-consuming, but 5K is a lot of money as you say....



The bank are being far from helpful...and have said that surely the payments were for outstanding debt to the Company, despite no monies going in or out of the account since August...

I couldn't close the account as a. there was an overdraft on it and b. I do not have any access to it...

I have filed a complaint with the financial ombudsman.

Thank you for your input, truly appreciated.


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Unfortunately not, Lucasz Dec 7, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

Stéphanie, I've been thinking about something. The following phrase sounds a little odd:

'One due to your negative attitude, your invoice shall not be paid on time and once we have received the monies back we shall send it all as one payment, minus any fees incurred by your bank,'

is it possible that: 'shall not be paid on time,' was really supposed mean just simply: 'will not have been paid on time'? As in they aren't intentionally using a repraisal against 'your negative attitude' but simply stating that, according to them, you supposedly have your own negative attitude to blame for the late arrival of the payment? Some people sound the wrong way without intending to. Can't all of this actually be a relatively simple misunderstanding?

[Edited at 2013-12-07 15:00 GMT]


They mean the subsequent invoice which was due for payment on the 30/11/13...


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Sam, this has been truly helpful Dec 7, 2013

Samuel Murray wrote:

Stéphanie Denton wrote:
It transpired that they had sent the payment to the old Company's account in error instead of my personal account which they had previously paid twice.


Do you also mention your bank account details on your invoices? Did you mention the correct details on those invoices?



Yes, every invoice contains the bank details (the correct bank details) and has done since I changed my bank details as it is using accounting software. Furthermore, I e-mailed them in August and informed them of the change of bank details and they paid into the CORRECT account in both August and September.


My opinion on what happened here is that the agency paid the money into the wrong account, and it is their responsibility to get the money back as soon as possible and pay you. In fact, I don't think that the fact that they paid the money into the wrong account is sufficient reason for them not to pay you anyway. The fact that they paid X amount of money into Y account (and marked it up on their books as payment to you) and the fact that they owe you X amount of money are two separate issues. That said, I'm sure most people who make such a mistake would appreciate it greatly if they can be given some leeway in paying it... but in this case you are unable to give them that, and they (as an agency) must be able to pay you anyway.


If you look at my latest BB entry, you'll see that they clearly think that they have paid ME.


I wonder of they are able to get back the money that they paid into the wrong account.


This is looking doubtful to be honest, they haven't even tried though and insist it is up to me to get the money sent back to them, which I have attempted to do, to no avail.

As far as I was concerned, and in the opinion of the official receiver, the Company's bank account should have been closed upon receipt of the notice of bankruptcy. Unfortunately, this bank did not close the account...

By "official receiver" I assume you mean the person who is the government-appointed administrator of your bankruptcy, also called the "trustee" of your bankruptcy, right? I don't know anything about English law,


Yes, that is correct.

but I found this web site:

https://www.gov.uk/bankruptcy/your-assets


Thank you so much!

...and it says that the bank doesn't have to close your bank account simply because you are bankrupt. It says that the bank may actually allow you to keep using the account. It says that the trustee has the power to give you money from that account, if you urgently need it. I wonder if your trustee can order the bank to expedite the reversal of the fees to the agency, if he is unable to simply give you the money -- since the account doesn't have a positive balance.


This is extremely interesting and something that I shall raise with the bank and add to my formal complaint with the financial ombudsman.

I was informed that "due to your negative attitude, your invoice shall not be paid on time, and once we have received the monies back we shall send it all as one payment, minus any fees incurred by your bank."

They clearly believe that the money having gone to the wrong account is your fault (or rather, your bank's fault). They believe that they are justified in waiting until they have received their money back before re-paying the money to you. Can you think of anything that might have given them the impression that the fact that the money went to the wrong account was your fault and not theirs?


NO...as I've said above, they failed to delete the old bank details from their system. The invoice they said they would pay late is the one which was due 30/11/13 which they have sent to the wrong bank account, supposedly "in error".

Their accountant made a mistake (twice, and then again after being told about the error). You are still owed the money, and they owe it to you immediately.


Once again, they insist that they do not owe me a penny and that they have paid me...

Have you explained to them your personal circumstances? Normally it would be none of their business, but you are in a desperate situation and I believe that it has become relevant. Do you have the ability to send a request to another person in the agency than the person that you have been dealing with up to now?


[Edited at 2013-12-07 18:20 GMT]


I have indeed...and they have said "It's not our problem, we have paid you. I have tried dealing with the two PMs, the Director and their "accountant" to no avail.



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Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 12:18
Japanese to English
+ ...
Let me get this straight Dec 7, 2013

They freely admit that errors entirely on their part caused the money to go to the wrong bank account, twice, yet they refuse to take responsibility for it? Classy.

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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:18
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You've got it Orrin Dec 8, 2013

Orrin Cummins wrote:

They freely admit that errors entirely on their part caused the money to go to the wrong bank account, twice, yet they refuse to take responsibility for it? Classy.


Exactly. They know they're in the wrong but don't care...if they lose out on the money they paid into the wrong account, I don't care, I've done all that I can to get it back but it's up the THEM to request a cash back and if that fails, they should log a complaint with their bank. It's THEIR error, not mine.


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