Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Was there even a contract for the water for Sheffield Half Marathon?

On Sunday I discussed the Sheffield Marathon mess. Today we've seen a new twist with the supplier claiming that they did not make the delivery as the organisers had not fulfilled their part of the deal by paying in advance.

In a statement, the water provider said: 

After amending their requirements a number of times they did indeed place an order on 21 March accepting our offer, the terms of which, as always, clearly state that full payment is required in advance of delivery.
It is that payment that confirms the contract and triggers our process of scheduling the assets for delivery.
In the absence of that payment, despite our reminding them of the need to pay, the scheduling did not occur.
There are a few interesting aspects of this statement:

  1. When was the contract established between the buyer and the seller? If the supplier is correct there was no contract at all, but when the supplier says the offer was accepted on 21 March, would that have formed the contract?
  2. What happened in previous years? Was there a history of paying in advance or was this a change in the way of doing business?
  3. Did the buyer even read the Terms set out in the documentation?
  4. Why did the buyer not respond to the reminders for payment from the seller? 
  5. Regardless of how weak the procurement may have been, what type of supplier would knowingly put a race in jeopardy and runners health at risk through none supply of water? Not one concerned with reputation and partnership!
This bizarre competition has all the hallmarks of no-winners but certainly we can learn lessons from what the legal eagles decide on formation of a contract and, at the very least, the need to read the small print. 

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