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Constant late records provided

How to disengage nicely :-/

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I have a client who for the last 3 years is not only a nightmare but also snooty! Ltd co deadline is August - EVERY year we ask for the records after the year and and throughout the year and every year we get given them half complete the last week of July - then begins 4 weeks of back and forward rectifying the bookkeeping.

So this year, we got the records as normal - and I sent back a huge list of the missing items and bookkeeping that needs to be dealt with. The client started to send it back in dribs and drabs and I advised we would need to have everything back in completion to enable us to work on the accounts further. I have chased this up and advised that now at this late stage it is highly unlikely the deadline will be hit as there is still a lot to do and we haven't had the information back - to which i have received a snooty reply that I should have been working on the dribs and drabs that he could have sent through but I told him not to.

So i have reiterated that we need the informaiton in completion as each year we end up completing mountains of adjustments and it is not time efficient to keep coming back to the work with snippets of information but also that is it not acceptable to be completing the work last minute each year. Payroll is also on the last minute each month too - and threats and extra charges for late processing don't seem to have any impact at all.

So i am feeling really peed off by the reply - and this will be the last year i will completing the work as i have had enough and this client never learns - has anyone else had similar experiences and whats the best way to go about disengaging.

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By JoF
19th Aug 2019 19:30

If you are going to complete this year end as you say, just do so as soon as you can. Make sure you get paid, if you havent already on an up front basis.

The day after everything has gone in/payment received, then just do your usual dis-engagement letter along with a couple of lines stating that you wish them luck with their business, happy to pass on info as required to a new bod but that you are no longer prepared to work so close to the deadlines whilst having to constantly chase for outstanding bits. Be honest, but polite and professional.

I had one of these a few years back. He was totally stunned when I did the above, despite the constant battles we had to get paperwork and me hiking my rates. Reckon I couldve easily quadrupled my rates and they wouldve carried on, but honestly some things are not worth it and some folk you just cannot help.

I also find that the snootier they are in responses is because they know you are right and just cannot, in their eye, lose face by admitting it. Try not to take it personally, even thought thats quite hard sometimes.

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By Wanderer
19th Aug 2019 19:43

As JoF says, except I wouldn't do it the day after all complete.

Take a week to reflect on the situation.

If you still feel the same then tell them how it is.

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By SXGuy
19th Aug 2019 20:15

I had a client like that once only I let it go on far to long before disengaging. To my suprise I then proceeded to get emails from their relatives saying how out of order I was and how I was making it all up. Couldnt believe it.

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By NH
20th Aug 2019 08:44

I would say you have two choices.
1. Accept it the way it is, but only ever start the work when you are pretty sure you have all you need. When this year is done have a face to face meeting and lay down the law. In future dont worry if they get late filing penalties etc, it will teach them a lesson.
2. Disengage politely as suggested.

One big question for me would be how do they pay? Often these types are also late payers in which case it would certainly be number 2 for me. If for example they pay monthly you could take the view that its no skin of your nose if they are late

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Lisa Thomas
By Insolvency Practitioner
20th Aug 2019 09:20

Take your time, prioritse those clients who have provided everything on time, let them get penalties.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
20th Aug 2019 09:25

Your main job in this situation is to enforce a strong narrative at every turn of the consequences. That is to say if they meet your terms of work in terms of timing and quality of records, they get filed on time. However if they work on their timetable, then they run the risk of fines.

Make it entirely up to them, and not up to you if its filed on time.

It terms of quitting, easy, you just resign. You don't need to give a reason if you don't want to. If you want one say "we are reviewing our client volumes for August work, and in order to balance our workload in the summer months we can no longer service your account"

Done. Move on.

Sacking PIA clients normally means you can replace with twice the fees from two good ones.

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By bernard michael
20th Aug 2019 09:37

1. Make sure you charge for the extra time spent in chasing him up
2.Don't file until you've been paid all the fees in 1. above
3.Use the well worn phrase for disengagement after 1. & 2. above
"I cannot give you the type and standard of service you need"
4. Go down the pub and have a happy evening

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A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
20th Aug 2019 09:48

Its not just the laggards that cause problems, we had to disengage a client who was well organised and prompt but when they decided they needed to speak to us, if they didn't get an immediate reply they would phone the office, berate reception, phone another member of the firm whose home number they had because they knew them personally, all to demand an urgent meeting about something trivial.

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By Robert Hurn
20th Aug 2019 10:57

To ensure that you can disengage without the client incurring a CH late filing penalty - even though this appears deserved, it will be an easier disengagement without penalties - consider shortening the ARD by 1 day to but further tine to file at CH. When everything complete including you being paid, disengage. Not only will you reduce your stress levels, it is most likely he will go to a local firm, thus you will have passed the problem to a competitor.

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
20th Aug 2019 11:21

My advice is to read this article which exactly covers your situation:
'Practical Tactics for dealing with difficult people':

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/practice/practice-strategy/practical-tac...

Do as JoF says and make sure you have a cut off point. Do the accounts and if you do the VAT return then cease after a return has been done or if no VAT but payroll then at the end of the month. That will make it easier and neater for you to hand over to whoever is the (unlucky) future accountant and also will not give client any ammunition.

Then write a letter/email to client - use the following words from the article if you wish...I wont charge for copyright! Be professional in what you say

"Say you have valued their custom in the past but now feel that your relationship is not as it should be and you believe that the relationship must end
If you want to give your reasons then fine, but there will usually be no need to do so. Then send a letter of disengagement".

And remember ...the final para of article:
"make sure you always make a note of what is said. If they are a difficult client then there is always the possibility that they (or you) may take further action and you might have to explain your actions".

>>> personally I wouldnt go the route of 'insolvencypractioner' - life is too short; you will get another client to replace them with; one that is not such a pain.

As 'ireallyshoulldknowthisbut' says... move on and dont look back!

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