Paying the damage Paying the damage
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  1. #1

    Nervous Newbie


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    Default Paying the damage

    Ok, so story is that at the start of my last contract I was given a wrecked laptop with a hole in the screen after a developer next to me (a guy introducing me to the system) got himself a new one. It was thought out that his old laptop would be given to me from the very start. It was supposed to be a temporary solution but I was never given a replacement, and I never complained, I just worked with it.

    On the day I have given it back, after finishing contract, there was no IT support to fill in paperworks and I gave it to third party person.

    Now I am getting requests to reimburse for damages, as according to their system - laptop was fine, and in their records I was trying to hand back undamaged laptop (I didn't get the chance of filling their return form).

    What is the best course of action here, what would you recommend? It is quite shocking to have to pay off something one hasn't done, given they have "evidence in their system" ?

  2. #2

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    Newbie error here. Always make someone aware of damaged kit for evidence to avoid exactly this situation, even if its just a mail to your client contact pointing the situation out.

    You should be asking the guy that gave you it to confirm it was already broken but (if he is still there) don't be surprised if he says it was OK to cover his own back.

    Gather any evidence from colleagues around you that you had to use a screen because the laptop one was broken and see if that helps. If not you are going to have to be firm with the client and point out they have no evidence of the condition it was given to you in so cannot hold you accountable and just keep reiterating that.
    Last edited by northernladuk; 19th June 2019 at 11:40.
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  3. #3

    Contractor Among Contractors


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    What NLUK said.

    If they don't have any "paperwork" stating the condition of the laptop when you received it, they have no legal ground to ask you to pay for it. So if you don't care about lasting relationship with ClientCo, just explain the situation and don't waste too much effort trying to prove it was broken when you got it.

    If you care about relationship with ClientCo - just pay the "bill" and chalk it down as "lesson learnt"

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by sal View Post
    If you care about relationship with ClientCo - just pay the "bill" and chalk it down as "lesson learnt"
    I don't think I'd quite go that far. If you care about the relationship you don't want them to think you tried to pass off a damaged computer on them.

    So I'd do more than just pay the bill. I'd give the story exactly and back it up as much as I could. THEN, if they persist, maybe I'd say I was willing to make a goodwill payment because business relationships are important to me. But this sounds like a case where you could be making yourself look bad by just 'paying up.'

  5. #5

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    Ditto WiB there. Don't volunteer any cash unless you make it clear it's a goodwill gesture and is given without prejudice.

    Definitely try the tips from NLUK first though.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by graforlock View Post
    Ok, so story is that at the start of my last contract I was given a wrecked laptop with a hole in the screen after a developer next to me (a guy introducing me to the system) got himself a new one. It was thought out that his old laptop would be given to me from the very start. It was supposed to be a temporary solution but I was never given a replacement, and I never complained, I just worked with it.

    On the day I have given it back, after finishing contract, there was no IT support to fill in paperworks and I gave it to third party person.

    Now I am getting requests to reimburse for damages, as according to their system - laptop was fine, and in their records I was trying to hand back undamaged laptop (I didn't get the chance of filling their return form).

    What is the best course of action here, what would you recommend? It is quite shocking to have to pay off something one hasn't done, given they have "evidence in their system" ?
    Politely tell the story in an email and advise you are available to discuss further.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by graforlock View Post
    Ok, so story is that at the start of my last contract I was given a wrecked laptop with a hole in the screen after a developer next to me (a guy introducing me to the system) got himself a new one. It was thought out that his old laptop would be given to me from the very start. It was supposed to be a temporary solution but I was never given a replacement, and I never complained, I just worked with it.

    On the day I have given it back, after finishing contract, there was no IT support to fill in paperworks and I gave it to third party person.

    Now I am getting requests to reimburse for damages, as according to their system - laptop was fine, and in their records I was trying to hand back undamaged laptop (I didn't get the chance of filling their return form).

    What is the best course of action here, what would you recommend? It is quite shocking to have to pay off something one hasn't done, given they have "evidence in their system" ?
    Why are you using client supplied equipment? Are you a contractor or a permie?

    If you're a real contractor, you should be using your own equipment. Does the client supply the hammer when the maintenance man goes on-site?

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by billybiro View Post
    Why are you using client supplied equipment? Are you a contractor or a permie?

    If you're a real contractor, you should be using your own equipment. Does the client supply the hammer when the maintenance man goes on-site?
    Bollocks.
    You can write code on your own PC of course, but rarely can you then plug that PC in to the client to test it. Or you can use your PC to connect to a client extranet.
    Any sensible company will be very reluctant to allow foreign kit onto their network, or if they do it will be via a serious BYOD process and supporting software.

    I've been a real contractor for 25 years, and have been able to use my own kit directly on precisely two contracts during that time. There are far more relevant criteria than whose tin you have on your desk.
    Blog? What blog...?

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by malvolio View Post
    Bollocks. Any sensible company will be very reluctant to allow foreign kit onto their network
    Bollocks to you.

    It is 2019, not 1975. It is perfectly possible to secure one's own internal IT network and systems such that there is zero threat from staff or contractors own devices.

    Paranoia over such things really says far more about the inherent insecurity of the configuration of the client's own systems, in which case, the physical equipment is the least of your concerns since working in such an environment means one tiny slip could mean deleting their core database or some-such. Therefore, you'd better make sure your professional indemnity insurance is up to date and watertight as you're quite likely to need it.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by billybiro View Post
    Bollocks to you.

    It is 2019, not 1975. It is perfectly possible to secure one's own internal IT network and systems such that there is zero threat from staff or contractors own devices.

    Paranoia over such things really says far more about the inherent insecurity of the configuration of the client's own systems, in which case, the physical equipment is the least of your concerns since working in such an environment means one tiny slip could mean deleting their core database or some-such. Therefore, you'd better make sure your professional indemnity insurance is up to date and watertight as you're quite likely to need it.
    Where that might be true there is absolutely no reason to turn down a piece of kit if it's offered. It's been proven time after time it's nothing to do with IR35 and even if they do have a BYOD policy it's got to be easier with their kit when it comes to extra software and the like.

    If the client did offer a hammer when you go on site then I'd much rather use theirs than mine, same for carrying a laptop around. Unless it's an absolute brick and going to hamper my work I'd much rather put the wear and tear on theirs instead of mine. Bar the theory you mention there is no other reason not to.

    Most of us won't accept a handset from them as it doesn't suit us but if it suits us to use their laptop then go for it.

    I hope you've taken your Herman Miller Aeron on site to sit on while you are working on your laptop.
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