30 May Washroom Contracts | Are they worth the paper they are written on?
80% of businesses with washroom contracts use one of 4 big national suppliers – all of which have the most complicated and confusing contracts – Why?
There may be many more reasons, but we have listed some of them in importance to the supplier not the customer:
6. and ultimately, put you off even attempting to change!
Have you had enough yet?
We have been providing services to clients now for 10 years and we still speak to potential clients who, when they have tried to terminate their contracts, find they are tied into a further 3 or 5 years due to missing a cut off date. It is as frustrating for us as it is for the customers but we are a bit more used to it!
The big washroom service providers standard response is “No problem you can terminate the contract but you have to pay us the monthly amount times the remainder of the contract”
Example – services which are invoiced £60 a month with 2 years remaining on the contract
£60 x 12 x 2 = £1440 (plus VAT)
£1440 is the cost/charge to get out of your contract, according to some washroom services suppliers. This is wrong and borderline illegal but they will push this anyway to try to overwhelm and intimidate you, their customer.
This is also inaccurate as the law states that you can buy out of a contract if you reimburse a pre-estimate of loss. This is how much ‘Profit’ would be lost through the termination of contract. If it cost your supplier £1440 to supply this service the profit would be zero. Admittedly some larger washroom companies report little profit and the same washroom supplier may be charging a local authority with a building next door and the same equipment £30 per month for a like for like service. So the reality is that the ‘profit’ is somewhere between £0 and £1440. As a customer I would also be pretty upset if the supplier was making 100% of the invoiced value as profit?
The supplier will hit you with a big bill and a letter from their retained legal team highlighting the Terms and Conditions. They would after all, like to retain your business – it’s easier to retain an existing disgruntled customer than to persuade a new one to sign up. (Which makes sense if the equipment has been installed and written off over 3 years.)
If you fancy challenging this then be fully aware that the amount being chased is not a genuine pre-estimate of loss and also, the T&Cs are probably poorly composed in the first place.
How do you get yourself out of a washrooms contract you are unhappy with?
1. Start off by being nice!
If you do want to change supplier, the best approach is to be diplomatic and state that you’ve been with them for a number of years and always paid on time. It’s time for a change. How soon can you finish? At this point you will be hit with the 3 or 5 year auto roll clause which means you have a 12 week window every 3 or 5 years to cancel your contract. So, if this doesn’t work what other reasons can you cancel a contract?
2. Keep records
How good has the service been? If it’s been a bit patchy, to say the least, then the supplier is probably in breach of terms if they have failed on more than one occasion to deliver the service they promise. Keep notes of equipment that is faulty, when it was reported and how long it took to fix. Note any missed service calls. Although be wary that the contract will say x visits per year (not monthly) and we have witnessed a large supplier completing 3 service calls in two weeks instead of 3 service calls over 3 months
3. Go legal
You could speak to your lawyers. In most cases (if the contract has less than 12 months we would recommend servicing notice immediately and let it run out) they will try to get a compromise. On a positive note all the court cases we have been aware of have been lost by the large washroom companies. I cannot emphasise enough: always take legal advice.
4. Our Contract
Our contract and terms and conditions are simple – if you are unhappy with anything – for any reason all you have to do is give us 12 weeks’ notice that you are leaving. We appreciate that the grass may seem greener and we have certainly had a few clients who have moved, only to come back a year later. Our business relies on reputation and referral so we will always try to do the best for our clients.
We’re setting out to do our business in the right way from the start. Good service, good value, simple contracts. Get in touch if you would like some chat over your existing washroom contract or look at getting a new one.