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Post Info TOPIC: Unresponsive customer


Master Book-keeper

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Unresponsive customer


A strange one this. Back in early August, I took on a new client from another accountant, and the accounts to date (in the cloud) are in a bit of a mess, to say the least. I advised that the previous years accounts hadn't been submitted and were considerably overdue, and that the current DLA was 100k overdrawn, which I would need to investigate, as she says previous accountants have put loads of stuff in there that shouldn't be in there. Also an outstanding VAT submission to submit, which I suggested we submit then rectify properly later when I got the accounts in shape. They said no to this as they got hit with rather a large VAT bill that they believe is wrong, and want that rectified first. They were mortified about accounts but within days the accounts were submitted at Co House, so they must have given previous accountants a right rocket (1)

I left them with a list of stuff I needed answers to 3rd week in August, and they telephoned to say they have been seriously ill, and spouse also seriously unwell, so hospital visits galore, but they would tackle it that week and let me know. Never heard no more so 2nd week in September I emailed a gentle reminder, saying deadlines were starting to loom but appreciated they were unwell etc and still nothing. I've sent another email this morning as there is another VAT to submit to end September and accounts need to be submitted by 31st December. I've mentioned this morning that I can only guarantee next accounts will be submitted on time if I have the answers I need by 1st November, so I can make a start. Given that I know there's a fair bit to unravel, that's going to be tight but doable.

Not sure what to do now if they don't respond, a signed for letter in a week maybe, then disengaging (2) on 1st November? Normally I wouldn't hesitate, but if ill health is behind it then I understand the circumstances, and don't want to exacerbate that.

(1) Previous accountants are owed a considerable amount of money, which client did make me aware of at the start, and have only reluctantly provided part of what I've asked for in the professional clearance letter. Client says accountants have completely ballsed up their accounts, which is why payments stopped.

(2) I haven't had the LofE back yet, so disengage not quite the right word.



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John

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Master Book-keeper

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Hi John
Dont you just love em!

Initial thoughts - did the previous Accountant actually respond with their reasons for disengagement? Am wondering what specifically they consider are the reasons for the overdue bill and indeed the reasons for late submission and thinking this could be due to the dilitory nature of the said clients. If they are ignoring you (illness or not) then perhaps they were ignoring the previous Accountant and that is not only why the stuff was late, but perhaps explains the large DLA.

Or maybe now they are realising (ignoring their supposed illness) that they have got themselves in a right old mess and are burying their heads in the sand.

With the illness comment - my ponderings - are they actually still running the business? Do they have staff that can run things in their absence? If they are well enough to work, then they are well enough to answer your emails. Albeit, if its the case of being so seriously unwell then perhaps its kind of understandable.

One other thought (too many today!) - who are they expecting to rectify the previous VAT submission? Were they expecting you to complete the VAT workings for the submission that is now late? Because by being late they are just storing up more problems. To be honest given that another VAT is now due I think you are being very generous giving them until 1 November as that only gives you 7 days to do two submissions, never mind possible re-works.

You can disenegage regardless of not having an engagement letter, as it makes your position very clear at that stage , albeit them not returning the latter is a red flag.

BTW - them not sending the VAT return for the first missed quarter means technically could mean they are refusing to pay what is due, so you may need to consider future responses and need to report under MLR.



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Joanne

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Master Book-keeper

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Cheshire wrote:

Hi John
Dont you just love em! Only the second occasion I've been completed ignored lol, but yes.

Initial thoughts - did the previous Accountant actually respond with their reasons for disengagement? Am wondering what specifically they consider are the reasons for the overdue bill and indeed the reasons for late submission and thinking this could be due to the dilitory nature of the said clients. If they are ignoring you (illness or not) then perhaps they were ignoring the previous Accountant and that is not only why the stuff was late, but perhaps explains the large DLA.

Yes they did, but the client had already let me know. Possibly dilitory, and until I investigate further I can't say. The accountants didn't disengage, they left. I do their brothers accounts and he recommended me. The accountants initially refused to hand over any information until I reminded them of lien, although I still need some more to do the actual accounts, but that wasn't pressing so I was fair and said we would wait to see if client paid up, or I could at least explain to the client it's them that's messed up. It remains to be seen who's at fault (I suspect both as there is a glaring error in last years accounts compared to the balance sheet on sage (and I know why) but I can overcome that I think. Late submission of previous accounts was due to outstanding fees, but were paid up for that period, hence why they got submitted so quickly after I pointed it out I think.

Or maybe now they are realising (ignoring their supposed illness) that they have got themselves in a right old mess and are burying their heads in the sand.

All they need to do is respond to my questions and I can crack on! I don't doubt the illnesses, but as you say if they're still working then not responding to the emails is not an excuse.

With the illness comment - my ponderings - are they actually still running the business? Do they have staff that can run things in their absence? If they are well enough to work, then they are well enough to answer your emails. Albeit, if its the case of being so seriously unwell then perhaps its kind of understandable.

Fair point. Invoices are still being issued, so I guess the client is carrying out some work, which is primarily consultancy.

One other thought (too many today!) - who are they expecting to rectify the previous VAT submission? Were they expecting you to complete the VAT workings for the submission that is now late? Because by being late they are just storing up more problems. To be honest given that another VAT is now due I think you are being very generous giving them until 1 November as that only gives you 7 days to do two submissions, never mind possible re-works.

1st November is for the accounts, I stressed in the September and todays email that 7th November is deadline to submit VAT and that previous VAT still needs to be submitted.

You can disenegage regardless of not having an engagement letter, as it makes your position very clear at that stage , albeit them not returning the latter is a red flag.

Which I've put down to the illnesses, i'm no doubt being naive. We will wait and see if there's a response and if not I'll do a signed for next week, and disengage on 1st November.

BTW - them not sending the VAT return for the first missed quarter means technically could mean they are refusing to pay what is due, so you may need to consider future responses and need to report under MLR.

If there's a suspicion of avoidance, certainly. The stupid thing is that the June quarter is not that high, it was the previous one, which was way over the usual amount. Think they are of the impression that if the earlier one is rectified then there'll be nothing to pay. That was 6 weeks ago though, and I wasn't expecting at the time not to have investigated why the March VAT was so high and get the June one submitted.


Thanks for your response, it helped sharpen my thoughts. I was worrying that taking final action would exacerbate any illness, but as you rightly pointed out, if invoices are still being issued then they're not entirely camatose!!.



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John

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Master Book-keeper

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Hi John
Sorry its been looking live Ive been online for hours - I havent. Bloody BT cut my internet off!!!!!!Waiting for the eejits to get their act together.




-- Edited by Cheshire on Thursday 4th of October 2018 08:03:53 PM

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Joanne

Winner - Bookkeeper of the Year 2015, 2016 and 2017

Thoughts are my own/not to be regarded as official advice,which should be sought from a suitably qualified Accountant.



Guru

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Hi John

The thing that winds me up more than anything about this work is being ignored whether it be to phone calls or emails it drives me mad if people don't get back to me within a few days let alone a few weeks

I think you've been more than reasonable in your approach and certainly gone further than I would have for someone who still hadn't signed up as my client, just seems that if its started like this are they ever going to come good in the future and be able to provide you with the information you need when you need it.



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Doug

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Forum Moderator & Expert

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Hi John,

from my experience the excuses are in general a pile of crock. I too have been ignored by clients who seem to think that once they engage professional assistance then its our problem, not theirs.

being told by a business owner that the accountant put loads of stuff to the DLA that shouldn't be there to me reads that the accountant has disallowed at lot of personal expenditure that has caused a rift and now she is looking for an accountant or bookkeeper who is willing to reinstate it.

My advice... Run....

Ooh, need to change my Avatar... Hang on a sec...



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Shaun

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Master Book-keeper

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Shamus wrote:

being told by a business owner that the accountant put loads of stuff to the DLA that shouldn't be there to me reads that the accountant has disallowed at lot of personal expenditure that has caused a rift and now she is looking for an accountant or bookkeeper who is willing to reinstate it.


Hi Shaun, she's come to the wrong place thenbiggrin If there's stuff that is genuine business expenditure I will amend it, but not otherwise.

PS who's a bonny boy then? It seems I'm the only one who was frowning, everyone else looks happy.



-- Edited by Leger on Friday 5th of October 2018 01:57:40 AM

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John

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Forum Moderator & Expert

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Leger wrote:
who's a bonny boy then? It seems I'm the only one who was frowning, everyone else looks happy.



-- Edited by Leger on Friday 5th of October 2018 01:57:40 AM


That was of course before I realised that I was going to be an accounntant. lol.



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Shaun

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Master Book-keeper

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Shamus wrote:
Leger wrote:
who's a bonny boy then? It seems I'm the only one who was frowning, everyone else looks happy.



-- Edited by Leger on Friday 5th of October 2018 01:57:40 AM


That was of course before I realised that I was going to be an accounntant. lol.


Lol. Lost touch with a brother for quite a while but caught up a few weeks ago and we went over to Scarborough to see them. I told a few of my usual jokes and sil pipes up. You're the first accountant I've known with a sense of humour!! Obviously not been here when we get daft then!



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John

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Master Book-keeper

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Tick tock - time is running out! Heard anything?



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Joanne

Winner - Bookkeeper of the Year 2015, 2016 and 2017

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Master Book-keeper

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Hi Joanne

Oh my gosh, that times flown. I've not heard a dicky bird, will send a letter out on Monday.



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John

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Master Book-keeper

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Hi Joanne

Oh my gosh, that times flown. I've not heard a dicky bird, will send a letter out on Monday.



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John

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Master Book-keeper

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Leger wrote:

Hi Joanne

Oh my gosh, that times flown. I've not heard a dicky bird, will send a letter out on Monday.


And despite repeating mesen I didn't send the letter out.

The client called today and it turns out she didn't get my emails asshe'd given the wrong email address. She hasn't been well and just doing the absolute minimum to keep afloat and has spent the last few days sorting things out, hence the call.

She was reluctant to submit previous VAT because she believes the March one is grossly wrong and it's nowhere near what it should be. I've advised that she submit the June one anyway, especially since HMRC have estimated another 25k based on the March return, and the June one is only 2k.

Letter of engagement has been returned to me (resent it) pronto so I can crack on now. We've agreed that I'll redo this years bookkeeping, using Pandle, and providing we're both happy with it, use that going forward.



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John

Any advice given is for general guidance and professional advice should be sought applicable to your circumstances.

JRA


Veteran Member

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Hi John,

Would be interested to know in due course if you think Pandle is better than Wave.

Hope the catch up isn't too bad

Chris

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