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Any client horror stories?

Looking for anecdotes from anyone in the industry.

Didn't find your answer?

If you've ever had a bad experience and you're willing to share (whilst maintaining client confidentiality), feel free to reply with your story or just drop me a message.

Thanks :)

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By bernard michael
06th Oct 2020 11:29

What will you do with the information £££

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By bernard michael
07th Oct 2020 09:00

bernard michael wrote:

What will you do with the information £££

I note the OP hasn't answer to above question . Why ??Is there a reason we wouldn't be happy with

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Replying to bernard michael:
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By bernard michael
07th Oct 2020 11:00

bernard michael wrote:

bernard michael wrote:

What will you do with the information £££

I note the OP hasn't answer to above question . Why ??Is there a reason we wouldn't be happy with

As Tallulah doesn't seem to want to reply would the administrator answer the question??

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Replying to bernard michael:
Tallula Brogan
By Tallula Brogan
07th Oct 2020 11:36

Hey bernard michael, just doing some research for an article :)

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RLI
By lionofludesch
06th Oct 2020 11:35

Horror stories ?

Is this for Halloween ? Or Samhain, as it's known in our house ?

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By RaxJ
06th Oct 2020 11:48

What do you define as a horror story? Do you mean really bad record keeping from the client, or maybe they don't want to pay fees? When working in practice, the client is always right I'm afraid. You just have to try your best to give them the service they want. If they are trouble, then maybe let them go and get some new clients. Clients will always be demanding and challenging. It's kind of the same in industry, in which the business expect you to provide an excellent finance service, as they know you are an overhead that doesn't make profit for the business. So there is plenty of horror on both sides of the fence, practice and industry.

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Replying to RaxJ:
Tallula Brogan
By Tallula Brogan
07th Oct 2020 11:44

Hey RaxJ, those are some interesting thoughts. I like your attitude - I'm just doing a bit of research on people's experiences in the industry.

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By Cheshire
06th Oct 2020 11:51

Biggest horror stories are from the freeloaders, oops, I mean those Aweb consider have 'an interest in' Accountancy, usually more like tax, who come on here.

Just take a read of some of the posts and responses.

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Replying to Cheshire:
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By John Isabel
07th Oct 2020 12:43

ooh ooh I've got one for the OP. It's kind of accountancy related.

I used to enjoy conversing with like minded professionals on a forum which said it was 'for accounting professionals' and that i could have 'discussions with fellow accountants'. It wasn't perfect, and they did make it worse with a naff update a few years back, but it was a good community, well moderated - particular mentions go out to Richard and Tom on this front - and as well as being a valuable resource it was somewhere to spend time advising others, having a bit of banter, etc.

Sadly, one grisly halloween, a wicked witch swept in on her 'new broom' stick and cast an evil spell over the place, welcoming goblins and elves who had previously been banished from the kingdom. Some of the community members were banished to a far away place, others turned into zombies, and whilst the majority remained, the place was never the same again.

Doesnt sound all that bad in theory - but try living it. Binakin nightmare.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
06th Oct 2020 13:42

I had a builder client who come straight from his investigation meeting at the local tax office and bashed in my office door. I wasn't in, having been telephoned by the tax inspector to tell me that my enraged client had just marched from his office threatening to rip my head off. I watched this highly entertaining spectacle, together with the chap who worked for me, from the sanctuary of a pub window across the road while the building's (and indeed the damaged door's) owner - a restauranter below with the temperament of Gordon Ramsey - collared my client and had him arrested.

What had made this client quite so cross? Well unbeknown to me he'd borrowed a van, and even gone to the trouble of parking it on his drive when I'd met him at his home. He subsequently handed me a list of his mileage claims - all quite reasonable - tool purchases and so on, and a large CA claim on his van. As it turned out, the Revenue soon rumbled that the van didn't belong to him courtesy of another subbie who'd tried to pull the same trick using the same van, got caught, and shopped an entire gang of similar such claimants.

I'd thought it odd prior to the interview that the client elected to represent himself, and when I'd discussed the matter with the tax inspector - we belonged to the same squash club (my apologies to "Woollly") - he'd let on that my client was blaming yours truly for enticing him to make the CA claim. So I gave the inspector the sheet of paper, handwritten by my client, on which he had listed his expenses and van CA claim. At the subsequent interview the inspector let the builder gabble on a while before torpedoing his excuses with the handwritten list. Cue temper tantrum.

Maybe not the very worst of clients, but certainly the most bad tempered. And what a splendid advertisement this story makes for Working Together.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By Paul Crowley
06th Oct 2020 13:51

I have several times been doubtful of the 'van engine went, bought another for £x' version of explanation.
Always point out that HMRC will expect to see how it is paid for.

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By lionofludesch
06th Oct 2020 14:17

If only that were true.

Our cautions are so often completely worthless.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By Jdopus
06th Oct 2020 16:00

Isn't that a fairly enormous breach of client confidentiality? I wouldn't be so proud to tell a story like that.

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By lionofludesch
06th Oct 2020 16:20

Jdopus wrote:

Isn't that a fairly enormous breach of client confidentiality?

Well, I still don't know who it is, so, no.

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Replying to Jdopus:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
06th Oct 2020 16:33

You wouldn't say that if it were your door he flattened!

I suppose anyone who responds in this thread - regarding dodgy traders and dead drug-dealing clients alike - is to some extent breaking client confidentiality. But enormously is a bit strong :)

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By Jdopus
07th Oct 2020 08:23

I don't mean telling the story itself, I mean turning over a letter that a client gave you directly to an HMRC inspector who's investigating that client when you're still appointed to act for that client and without telling the client that you were going to do it.

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By lionofludesch
07th Oct 2020 08:38

What?

When the client is accusing you of dishonesty?

All bets are off at that point, I'm afraid.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
07th Oct 2020 12:14

Thanks, Lion. I appreciate the roar.

Jdopus, that happened back in the late 'nineties when anti money laundering took care of itself. Think of my actions as a forerunner to the present-day reports. Data protection meant putting a password on your Dell laptop.

It wasn't uncommon back then to exchange confidential information with bank managers, financial advisers, Inland Revenue and the like. But then again, we're talking about a decade in which wives' taxable income formed part of their husbands' tax computations; and, come to that, in which tax computations themselves were prepared from scratch on a blank sheet of paper. Client sometimes turned up needing up to six years' accounts prepared (perhaps because they'd been a little busy and fallen behind). See what I mean? Different times, different norms. But it all worked quite well.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
RLI
By lionofludesch
07th Oct 2020 15:19

I'msorryIhaven'taclue wrote:

Jdopus, that happened back in the late 'nineties when anti money laundering took care of itself. Think of my actions as a forerunner to the present-day reports. Data protection meant putting a password on your Dell laptop.

But then again, we're talking about a decade in which wives' taxable income formed part of their husbands' tax computations.....

Late nineties ? Wives' income part of husbands' income ?

No. You're mistaken there.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
07th Oct 2020 17:04

"we're talking about a decade in which wives' taxable income formed part of their husbands' tax computations"

Season 1989-90. It only just crept in.

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By Piltdown Man
06th Oct 2020 14:19

A story from a former Customs Special Compliance Officer I used to work with when he moved into the private practice where I worked.

One of his clients had a VAT inspection of some seriousness. In an interview under caution, Customs were alleging that the trader had been buying "childrens" clothes from a wholesaler which was Zero-rating them. They were clearly adult clothes and the wholesaling of them as children's was clearly wrong.

In the first interview, when the client was asked if his business had ever acquired clothing from said wholesaler, he answered "No, never heard of them".

When presented with a photograph of one of his vans entering and leaving the wholesalers premises, the client remembered that he had called off to the wholesalers and taken a few samples of clothing, but had not entered into any supply agreement as the clothes were not really up to standard.

This seemed to placate the Customs officer who then asked. "So if you only took some samples which were not suitable, can you explain why 7 days later, your van was seen entering and leaving the same warehouse?" The Customs officer proceeded to table a further set of photographs clearly showing the clients liveried van entering and leaving the wholesaler's.

Quick thinking under pressure, and he said that he couldnt remember, but it was probably to return the faulty clothes!

The rattled HMRC officer then tabled another two sets of photographs for the following two weeks and asked the client again.

"Has your company ever bought "childrens" clothes from the said wholesaler?", to which the client replied :

"How many photo's have you got?"

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By Tosie
06th Oct 2020 14:46

One Friday afternoon I received a call from Vat office to tip me off that one of our clients was in a very angry mood and had been escorted from vat office but was on his way to our offices some 20 minutes drive away. He did not arrive much to our relief. On following Monday the local CID arrived asking if we knew anything about the client as his partner had reported him missing and she knew that he had been heading our way. None of us had had any experience of CID and we gave them tea and they stayed chatting. In fact they were getting a lot of background from us without us realising. Three days later our client's body was found. He had been shot and rather than the nice little business we thought he had he was part of a major drugs ring. Very odd because there was nothing untoward in his records or lifestyle. His customers all existed.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
06th Oct 2020 15:05

Whodunnit?

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By Tosie
06th Oct 2020 16:44

No member of my staff or indeed HMRC.

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Flag of the Soviet Union
By thevaliant
06th Oct 2020 15:01

Just to put a different spin on it, I work in audit mainly. One of the many I saw in my time was what I call 'Debits belong on the balance sheet, credits in the P&L'.

Client was under pressure from the bank to show healthy results, so MD pressured FD to do this.

Audit started. Everything was wrong. Everything. Every single asset was overstated (or didn't exist except on the balance sheet). Even the bank balance!
Every single liability was understated. March year end.

Yearly computer licence fees - Capitalised into intangibles - amortised over 20 years.
Tangibles - Everything was 'expensed' but every month £20k was posted from repairs to FAR. Even in the months when there wasn't £20k in the repairs account. Even in the months when there weren't any repairs at all! Repairs was a credit balance.
Depreciation rates were 10 years for computer, 50 years for plant. 100 years for the building. NOTHING was allowed to be disposed of.
Own labour capitalised. They were 'building' something. Labour capitalised exceeded the pay of the staff list of the people 'building' the thing. It exceed the pay + NI + pension. Preferably by about 10k per person. No depreciation was provided as it was still being built....... and was still being built every year.....
Didn't have investments - suppose that was something.
Stock - Is valued at selling price. Seriously.
Prepayments - training staff can be prepaid. Spread it over 10 years or something.
Everything else can be prepaid too. Insurance starting in January should be prepaid 12/12. I mean... close enough.
Trade debtor - We don't have bad debts. Those debtors that haven't paid within six months will do we're sure. And no, that debtors circ you did, which the customer replied by writing on it, "No, we're not paying those FUKCERS anything more." was just a joke. That can definitely be used to confirm the £81k balance owed.
Other debtors - Staff loans. Staff don't exist. Oh well.
Bank - Uncleared lodgements from 1943. They'll clear one day I'm sure.
Creditors - Don't have any. March year end. April file was full of March dated invoices. So was May. So was June. I found some in July. A few in August. Then I gave up.
Oh, that PAYE/NIC payment on 19th April was for April as well.

Client started with profit of £150k. We worked out it had lost £300k.
Final meeting was a nightmare. We knocked them down to £150k loss, and client partner gave up, repped everything else and signed off.

The subsequent years were much the same until they switched auditors. Thank goodness.

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Replying to thevaliant:
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By bernard michael
06th Oct 2020 15:53

thevaliant wrote:

Just to put a different spin on it, I work in audit mainly. One of the many I saw in my time was what I call 'Debits belong on the balance sheet, credits in the P&L'.

Client was under pressure from the bank to show healthy results, so MD pressured FD to do this.

Audit started. Everything was wrong. Everything. Every single asset was overstated (or didn't exist except on the balance sheet). Even the bank balance!
Every single liability was understated. March year end.

Yearly computer licence fees - Capitalised into intangibles - amortised over 20 years.
Tangibles - Everything was 'expensed' but every month £20k was posted from repairs to FAR. Even in the months when there wasn't £20k in the repairs account. Even in the months when there weren't any repairs at all! Repairs was a credit balance.
Depreciation rates were 10 years for computer, 50 years for plant. 100 years for the building. NOTHING was allowed to be disposed of.
Own labour capitalised. They were 'building' something. Labour capitalised exceeded the pay of the staff list of the people 'building' the thing. It exceed the pay + NI + pension. Preferably by about 10k per person. No depreciation was provided as it was still being built....... and was still being built every year.....
Didn't have investments - suppose that was something.
Stock - Is valued at selling price. Seriously.
Prepayments - training staff can be prepaid. Spread it over 10 years or something.
Everything else can be prepaid too. Insurance starting in January should be prepaid 12/12. I mean... close enough.
Trade debtor - We don't have bad debts. Those debtors that haven't paid within six months will do we're sure. And no, that debtors circ you did, which the customer replied by writing on it, "No, we're not paying those FUKCERS anything more." was just a joke. That can definitely be used to confirm the £81k balance owed.
Other debtors - Staff loans. Staff don't exist. Oh well.
Bank - Uncleared lodgements from 1943. They'll clear one day I'm sure.
Creditors - Don't have any. March year end. April file was full of March dated invoices. So was May. So was June. I found some in July. A few in August. Then I gave up.
Oh, that PAYE/NIC payment on 19th April was for April as well.

Client started with profit of £150k. We worked out it had lost £300k.
Final meeting was a nightmare. We knocked them down to £150k loss, and client partner gave up, repped everything else and signed off.

The subsequent years were much the same until they switched auditors. Thank goodness.

Does the company still exist ??

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Flag of the Soviet Union
By thevaliant
06th Oct 2020 17:50

It does. It was bought out by a larger outfit that saw something in the business we didn't.

Most of the management team went with the buy out however (including us), and I think the results have been turned around since.

This was a long time ago now.

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By AnnAccountant
06th Oct 2020 16:54

A question for people:

When the article is published "Accountants tell all about their horror clients" (or the like), do you think that reflects well on the profession or not? Do you think it makes a good impression with the public or not? Do you think it gives them trust that their issues will be dealt with respectfully and in confidence?

Or do we not care, contribute to this thread and let the profession join the race to the bottom?

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By Cheshire
06th Oct 2020 17:06

We already know that Aweb have complete disdain for the profession so it fits with their recently altered agenda.

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
06th Oct 2020 17:40

There have been loads of 'horror' stories commented on over the years by members of Accweb - indeed a trawl through to find the best ones would take hours!

But if I might be a bit serious here... a client of mine rang me on a Sat very upset because a debt collector had turned up on his doorstep on behalf of HMRC the afternoon before at about 4pm. Only his wife was in and she was waiting for her kids to return from school so she opened the door thinking it was them.

It was Nov so it was dark.

The person insisted on coming in and when she tried to close the door there was the usual boot in door. She knew nothing about the company's finances and said so. In fact the VAT registration is at premises at a local industrial site down the road from the house.

She was understandably frightened.

When Monday came I made a formal complaint to everyone I could think of - HMRC, local govt, association of debt collectors (or whatever they are called) and others incl local MP, chamber of commerce (just to advise them)... you name it

I got the usual 'sorry... we'll look into it ...lessons will be learnt' response from HMRC (although I dont really know what else they could say) but I heard nothing further.

We know that HMRC no longer have their own debt collection department but they should be aware of their debt collectors' practices.

How much was the debt? There wasnt any - the payment had been made two weeks before - granted a week late. Never been late before.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
07th Oct 2020 12:16

Jennifer Adams wrote:

Never been late before.


Nor again?
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By Truthsayer
06th Oct 2020 18:28

One client failed to keep a date to deliver his documents. I thought nothing of it until the local paper dropped through my letterbox a week later. He had been arrested for bashing his mistress to death in a fit of jealousy, then trying to go on the run. He was convicted and is now serving life. There was nothing about him that suggested he was dangerous. I sorted out his final tax return partly over the phone in prison, during which he tried to haggle down the fee!

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By SWAccountant
07th Oct 2020 11:14

Had a client once who's records were in a right state. Was a nightmare to deal with.

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Red Leader
By Red Leader
07th Oct 2020 11:31

I can remember the incident as if it was yesterday. A client came to my office for a meeting wearing brown brogues. Brown! Naturally, I refused to meet him.

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boxfile
By spilly
07th Oct 2020 13:18

I take it that your office is in town then?

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By lionofludesch
07th Oct 2020 15:27

spilly wrote:

I take it that your office is in town then?

What town ?

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By John Isabel
07th Oct 2020 13:45

Never trust a man in brown shoes

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By Cheshire
07th Oct 2020 15:52

Wish someone had told me that before I married the [***]! Funnily enough that has just reminded me of a Portia blog.

My old boss would never ever give a job to the man in brown shoes.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
07th Oct 2020 17:07

My old boss preferred brown-noses.

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By John Isabel
08th Oct 2020 10:53

Brown boots are ok - as long as they are fairly rugged ones.

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By SXGuy
08th Oct 2020 06:34

Many moons ago when the firm was run by my late mother, probably early 90s, an owner of a very well known accountancy firm who specialises in a particular type of client trade was unhappy that his clients were all leaving him and joining my mother's firm, he thought she had been poaching his clients when in fact it was a case of word of mouth since that type of client would always chat to others in their trade.

He decided to threaten my mother that if she didn't stop taking his clients he would make a false tip off to the inland revenue and cause her a whole load of trouble.

Won't say who or what type of client trade as you would all know who it was.

But let's just say, they had a habit of inflating the clients tax as they thought it would keep hmrc away from enquiries.

Another type in the early 90s a client had been involved in some serious dodgy dealings that my mother had been unaware of but because she was his accountant cid thought she was part of it and raided her offices, once they realised she wasn't involved they left her alone, but you can imagine the horror of it all unfolding.

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