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Adviser fights tech firm over ‘unfair’ contract terms

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An advice firm is fighting back-office technology firm Bluecoat Software over what it says are unfair contract terms and steep fees for releasing data.

Jones Hill is in dispute with Bluecoat, the firm behind FinPlan, over a two-year extension to a service agreement that was triggered when Jones Hill added a new user to the system.

An email exchange seen by Money Marketing shows Jones Hill tried to exit the contract early but was told the agreement would end “not a day earlier” than stated. Bluecoat Software managing director Mark Skelding refuses to break the deal and says the advice firm has enjoyed discounted services.

The firms also clashed over the £1,440+VAT cost of Bluecoat releasing data and supporting documents.

Jones Hill managing director Brian Hill says: “It is discouraging when you sign up for something and then later on the terms are changed without it being highlighted in neon flashing lights. It is something the regulator would expect of us and we expect it of our suppliers as well.

“This sends a warning message to advisers that with some companies you have to be so careful about the small print because there is stuff buried there. It leaves a very bitter taste.”

Bluecoat Software managing director Mark Skelding says: “We issue hundreds of contracts a year and we have never had an issue. We will give extended contract terms in exchange for a discount on fees in some cases.”

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Comments

There are 4 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. If you don’t have *your* data on *your* machines in a relatively standard format such as a SQL Server database that *you* can control then these type of problems can and will arise.

  2. Why on earth would anyone sign a contract like this! More to the point why would any supplier of software impose such harsh conditions and not deal with each user on a case by case basis. We supply software and if people want to leave they can without penalty. Finally, as Simon pointed out your data is your data and what a ridiculous price for just pressing a button!

  3. The issue is the way the data is stored. Each client has a long string identifier and it is not easy to extract all the data from the SQL server database unless you know what you’re doing. When faced with a similar issue and the same fee got a friend to do if for £200. He took all the client data, scanned documents, saved illustrations etc and created a folder for each client on a memory stick with all the historic data from about 12GB of records. If you find the fee quoted here a bit steep then get in touch and we will help.

  4. David Bennett 15th May 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Not clear this came as a surprise.

    Surely it was in the contract they signed.

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