Yesterday, a unfortunate precedent was set in Pakistan when a Karachi based ad agency overtook the Facebook page of Haleeb Foods and publicly asked the company to clear its pending dues.
Note pasted on the Facebook read:
Dear Fans, please help us in recover our payments due since more than 7 months on account of Haleeb Foods.
Kindly re-share the page on your profile to support the cause.
Below was the image shown on Haleeb Food’s Page that has over 100,000 fans on it.
ProPakistani thoroughly investigated the matter and found that this is a typical case of a dispute that arises for IT services every other day.
Here’s what really happened:
- Haleeb Foods Contracted the ad agency for the development of two websites (One of Haleeb Foods and another for a sister concern)
- One proper contract on legal documents was signed
- Ad agency developed both the sites
- Haleeb Foods made a partial payment
- Somewhere before the final delivery, the disagreement arose, and Haleeb told the agency that contract has been terminated
- Agency claims that they offered revisions but Haleeb Foods didn’t respond to any emails
This happened a few months back and the matter lingered on with both Haleeb Foods and agency failing to resolve the dispute and pending payments.
Interestingly, the contract didn’t contain any clauses for any damages in case of termination. However, Haleeb failed to amicably resolve the matter before parting ways with agency.
Agency kept sending them emails that went unresponded.
Another mistake on Haleeb’s part was that agency had control of Haleeb Food’s page through their business manager account.
Three weeks ago, agency removed Haleeb Food’s officials and current agency from the page and took over the control of Facebook page.
Agency showed ProPakistani an email they sent to Haleeb Foods officials telling that they would publicly shame them if their payment matters were not resolved, but that email went unresponded as well.
Ultimately agency, out of sheer desperation, uploaded above images to publicly embarrass Haleeb Foods.
Mistakes on Haleeb’s Part:
- They didn’t amicably resolve the matter, as they failed to terminate the contract in a manner that’s acceptable to both the parties
- They failed (maybe forgot) to remove agency from their official pages
- They didn’t respond to agency emails to at least tell them that they wouldn’t be paid
Mistakes on Agency Part:
- They didn’t include the possible outcomes of contract termination. Its always advised, especially in IT services business, to mention what would happen if the client terminates the contract prematurely for whatever reason. Provisions like a percentage of the payment being made could have been included for instance.
- They didn’t engage Haleeb Foods legally
- Agency could have gone to the media — without taking law in their hands — to pressurize Haleeb Foods if they weren’t responding at all
- They took law in their own hands and committed a cyber crime by changing the content of digital assets of Haleeb Foods.
As of now, Haleeb Foods is perusing the case legally, and outcome is yet unknown. Facebook pages of Haleeb Foods are still under the control of agency.
Brands in Pakistan also need to understand that vendors are partners (and not subordinates) and any transactions with them should be fair, timely and on merit.
This incident will hopefully serve as a lesson for everyone in the industry.