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Cowboy Bookkeeping, Not Cowboy Builder

Cowboy Bookkeeping, Not Cowboy Builder


I'm just looking for some advice please, we use the  Sage1 & turn over 200k

We have been using the services of a self-employed bookkeeper for about 3 months (there was some work to catch up from the start of the year end in Oct) a few weeks ago  my accountants that I have used for 10 years came in to have a meeting with us.

During the meeting (which was only to last a couple of hours, but lasted all day) it became clear that there was number of issues  with the way that the books had been done, holding accounts set up, lots of information in the incorrect journals and a clear lack of understanding of Sage1 on good  level…

After this meeting the next  week we parted are ways due to this, as they in all honesty where rude to the accountants .

I have a new bookkeeper and they  found that there a lot more problems, and so has the accountant L in fact given the state of them (there that bad)  we have purchase and sales invoices that have not been input but left in folders in files…  it may prove to easier to delete  the lot from the start of my year end  print off the paper copy’s(before Hand) and re input them all! Which is from the start of October…

I found them via their web site which states that they have trained in Sage and where trainers of it! And there are AAT level 4 Diploma & licenced.

My Question is Can I take action in the small claims court to recoup the money that I paid??? And the cost that it will take to fix this…

I work as builder – and If I left a house in the same mess as my books, I would  have  expected court action.

I feel that I trusted someone paid them on time, and even made them cups of coffee, and have been badly let down :-( 

I understand that are two sides to story but if you say you can do some think, you must be able to do it, as all the information was there it’s just been done wrong on many levels, cowboy is the word that is been used for the work by both accountants  and the new bookkeeper...


Upset builder of Chester


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26th Feb 2016 15:49

You need legal advice, not an accounting forum.

Thanks (1)
By qhas
28th Feb 2016 15:10


Tim Vane wrote:

You need legal advice, not an accounting forum.

And avoid an AAT when appointing your next book keeper
Thanks (0)
26th Feb 2016 15:56

The same deal

As you say if you messed up a building job big style you could be sued.  It's the same deal with the bookkeeping work.

But with a building job there could be lots of arguments about whose fault things were.  It's the same deal with the bookkeeping. . . .

See a solicitor - or just forget it & move forward with a new bookkeeper!


Thanks (1)
26th Feb 2016 16:11


I a no lawyer but my instinct would be to take it on the chin and move on.

You will waste more time and money pursuing this. Life is too short.

Thanks (5)
By mjakram
26th Feb 2016 20:06


jon_griffey wrote:

I a no lawyer but my instinct would be to take it on the chin and move on.

You will waste more time and money pursuing this. Life is too short.

My thoughts exactly.

Thanks (1)
26th Feb 2016 16:34

With John

Thanks (1)
27th Feb 2016 00:28

only lawyers win
The saying is true. Only the lawyers win in legal disputes.

I might try, if I were in your shoes, to extract some funds with threats of legal action. However bitter experience had taught me not to bother with a solicitor si they would only remain threats

Thanks (1)
27th Feb 2016 09:39


Has the cowboy got any money ?

If not, what's the point in suing him ?

Thanks (0)
27th Feb 2016 10:44

a few thoughts

Make a complaint to their Institute if they were a member and  if your case is strong. 

The chances are they were trained on Sage Line 50 and not Sage One.   Did you ask them this clearly before you started.?   These are the type of questions they could counter act with you.

Who had access to Sage one for what? .  The reason I ask because client only access does not have access to the balance sheet.   One of our  clients really liked the software so we had to find workarounds.    It would not allow my client to post net wages to wages control so I had to set up a code in the P&L so they could get on with the bank rec.   I would then fix it in the accountants edition using a journal.   If the bookkeeper had client only access they would have been very restricted and the accountant should  have dealt with this.

They are now starting to resolve these issues in Sage One Accounting.   One of  the reasons the cloud is so beneficial is that the accountant  can check easily on the records and everyone  else can work away.  I would ask why if your accountant had the access the accountants edition why he did not do that.?    We go in to whatever cloud software it is to check on a regular basis to check it is been entered correctly . This saves a lot of hard work at the year end.  

I am just throwing out questions that might help others or you for the future I am not suggesting who is right or wrong. Just explaining how that particular software works.


 From the post it is not clear who had access to what in sage one.  For example did both have access to a full accountants edition in sage one or did just one of them have the full accountant edition to complete everything.



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28th Feb 2016 20:29

AAT Licence

I would assume that a person with an AAT licence would have insurance. 

Therefore write a letter to offending person and say that you are holding them responsible for costs of sorting out the mess.Send a copy to AAT. If they are not licensed report them( for the hell of it )to trade protection.

 The cost of legal advice would exceed the cost of sorting things out.

Seems to have managed to make a right mess in short period. Did you employ them for enough hours.?


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