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5 Warning Signs of a bad Supplier or Vendor

Updated on October 26, 2015
Not all suppliers are created equal. Watch out for the rotten ones!
Not all suppliers are created equal. Watch out for the rotten ones!

1. Supplier hastily jumps into the deal

I am tasked to find a tint installer to replace the old window tint of a 3 story boutique hotel. It was quite a challenge because the owner only wants to do a PhP100,000+ job for only PhP50,000. I researched and this price is realistic but very cheap. After a week of canvassing, I was about to give up and canvass by foot, shop to shop. On the last day, I googled some more, found a tinting shop and to my surprise (and soon after, my dismay) they agreed to do the job at the said price in only one phone call!

Other companies would come by the hotel to see the extent of the job before they give a quote, but this supplier immediately said yes without asking for too much detail. They didn't ask for information the others were asking like the size of each window, how many windows are in the hotel etc. Stupid of me, I assumed that they are experts on the job and that they do not need to know the details. Not asking for details may mean that the supplier does not know the nitty gritty of the required job. Details are important for non-professionals and more so for professionals.

2. Supplier mentions money more than services

We exchanged a few more calls before I invited them over to meet the hotel owner. These calls were only to confirm how much they will be paid and that they want to be sure that we will also be getting the tint from them. I reiterated all these details and relayed it to my boss (the hotel owner).

Looking back, those phone calls must not have been about money because that information is already settled. The conversation must be about how they could do an effective job even with a cheap contract. For example, they should have mentioned the limited labor they will be deploying and that they need proper coordination so that they can finish the work immediately.

3. Supplier passes blame

A contract is crucial. If you are the coordinator, read read read all documents that will come your way in relation to the project even if you feel like you do not need to know it. As the coordinator, you need to know everything and you have to make SURE that the supplier understands each and every word.

The job order was granted to a car accessories shop that installs tints. The owners are husband and wife. The husband-owner met with my boss last Friday and insisted that the work be done on Monday. There were changes during the meeting and as the executive assistant, I am to put everything in black and white. Before work starts, I made a purchase order (P.O.) to be duly signed by everyone concerned. I emailed it immediately to the tint installer and they confirmed receipt on the same day.

Monday came and while the owner and the workers are there, I was surprised to receive a call from the wife-owner that they have a dispute over the PO I prepared.

First, the details of the PO came from what transpired during the meeting and unfortunately, the husband-owner is denying the details of the meeting. He failed to truthfully relay everything to his wife that is why the woman sounded so furious.

Second, this couple should have checked the PO first before proceeding with the job. All questions must be settled first. That monday morning, they bullied me into changing the PO. Good thing my boss was amenable.

Third, they passed the blame to me on why I ordered 3 tint rolls instead of 2 given the square feet of area to be covered. I explained that during tinting, one roll will not be used fully. It will have wastage just like how a plastic cover has some residue while you cover books. Surprisingly, that explanation came from me - a non-expert. It surprised me that the owners did not know of this and I should have seen it as a bad sign.

4. Supplier avoids dealing with company executives

80% into finishing the contract, some rooms had to be scheduled at a later time because there were occupants. This infuriated the wife-owner because she is expecting the full payment after the 3rd day. Unfortunately, based on the Purchase Order, the full payment will be given upon completion of the project. If there are 10 rooms left to be re-tinted, the project is not completed.

Understanding the trade, my boss decided to give them a partial payment. However, he needs to assess first on how many sq. ft. was covered. This is the most fair thing to do given that according to the document (P.O.) the final payment will be upon completion. The wife-owner talked to me for 30 minutes demanding that the partial payment be PhP 25,000. I said I will discuss it with my boss but I cannot give the final figure because that is for him to decide. She bullied me some more. I told her the only way for them to know the actual amount is to call my boss directly since they have his number. It surprised me that they do not want to ask my boss.

Her refusal to talk directly to my boss was very illogical assuming that she has a fair case to discuss. Therefore, I figured out that she doesn't want to talk to my boss because she will only be embarrassed. She knows for a fact that what she was demanding for was not in black and white. To add, I am (unfortunately) the only person they can rant to and their only hope.

This should not be the case if the contract was properly discussed. In order to protect their business, the supplier, together with the client, must sit down to draw the line between their services including limitations and expectations. This will also avoid corruption because there will be no need for a mediator.

5. Supplier deals on a very personal level

Since day 1, there have been bumps along the road which I smoothened along the way. But no matter how much help was rendered, unprofessional suppliers will focus more on personal issues rather than on the job they are paid to do.

One time, I was explaining to the husband-owner that there was a hidden door they needed to tint, he just stared blankly at me and then looked away. Another incident was that I was asking for data but the wife-owner lashed back at me asking why I was asking such questions. I explained that it was for my report and yet she pressed that I was asking for it because we didn't want to pay them. I was taken aback. Now it became clear. They feel that we cannot be trusted.

I was part of a family business once and as a business owner, I wanted to create sales and relationships by making sure that our clients were happy with our service. This business owner couple was very different. I represent the client and yet they made me feel like I should be pleasing them and not the other way around.

Not setting the record straight was the loop hole of this whole deal and bad customer service added fuel to the fire. The work was finished, people got paid but people's egos were bruised. In the professional workplace, this should have not been the case and could have been avoided.

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