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Angry client lost email issues

lost emails client is blaming me

     
9:54 am on Sep 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I wonder if anyone can give some advice...
I have a client who I've manged the website for for a couple of years.
We have recently discovered they have not been receiving messages from the contact form (for over two months)
It turns out they had a virus on one of their PC's and then found themselves on a email blacklist - which was preventing delivery of emails. (form sends from a domain address to a domain address)

I only host and manage the website, their emails are handled by another company and they have an IT team.
However the company director has contacted me to say he holds me responsible for the lack of emails and any lost business :(

I have asked my hosting supplier if they can see if the emails have been sent and they have provided me with some email sending logs (doesn't cover the entire period but tit proves to me the form was working) and said as far as they can see emails have been sent normally.

They are no longer on the blacklist and they are receiving emails again.

I feel that my responsibility is to make sure the form is working and emails are sent - and that their IT team/Email supplier are the ones responsible for delivery or am I being naive?
My relationship with the client is deteriorating - he's querying every single I've ever billed him and is threatening to not pay their outstanding invoices.

Am I at fault, is there something more I could have done? Any advice is very welcome...
10:56 am on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Do you have a contract with them that outlines your responsibilities and, subsequently, your limitations?
11:08 am on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Unfortunately Its a v basic contract and only states that we are responsible for managing the website, updating & adding content, keeping website secure, backups and SEO.
it doesn't explicitly say we are not responsible for emails.. although maybe that can be implied as we have never had access to the email accounts/server?

thanks
12:48 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It turns out they had a virus on one of their PC's and then found themselves on a email blacklist - which was preventing delivery of emails. (form sends from a domain address to a domain address)
I would ask them to explain the part of your agreement that makes you liable for their careless habits. Device security is far out of your purview to monitor.
1:40 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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it doesn't explicitly say we are not responsible for emails.
But it sounds like it also doesn't explicitly say you ARE responsible for them receiving their e-mails.

IANAL (and certainly not one in the UK), but absence of stated responsibility for a service in a contract pretty much means no responsibility for that service. That's what contracts are for- specifying what IS whose responsibility.

my hosting supplier ... have provided me with some email sending logs
That, to me, sounds like the extend of your responsibility.
2:42 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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They have an IT department and it didn't discover the virus on their own machine! Oh dear.
For at least two months they didn't ask why no e-mails? Oh dear.

Imagine, the office coffee machine runs out of coffee and for two months, nobody says anything. Who do you blame? The company who made the machine?
Sounds like your contact is looking for someone to blame, and you are the one they've picked on. That's very unfortunate.

Stay calm, stay professional, don't rise to any threats, don't waste your time tying to prove who's fault it is, simply provide all the support to show you did everything within your remit.

Chase for the payment in the normal routine.

If it escalates you may need to consult a lawyer.
4:06 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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thanks all for your responses.

Have responded to their (vicious) email with a calm fact based response.
Tried to follow up with a phone call - but the MD won't take my calls, so have emailed asking him to call me when he has time.
Let's see what happens...
9:10 pm on Sept 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I suspect that the other company is doing damage control as well, and has probably convinced the client that you are the problem ... not their handling of the email processing. Expect more truculence in the future, sad to say.
6:31 pm on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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For at least two months they didn't ask why no e-mails? Oh dear.

I'm with Engine here, they didn't notice, now it's your fault.

I would add...
Whoever approved any mission critical operations that rely on email delivery, should be fired.
And by approve, it is the client's fault, they approve (you do work, give advice, devise and implement tactics and strategies, but the client ALWAYS decides what is acceptable regarding outcomes and deliverables).
Whether they asked you (or they asked anyone) to setup email deliverables, or they told you to do so, or you decided it on your own, by accepting it as it was, they decided email deliverability would never be an issue for them.
And that decision, was ill-founded then.

In any fast moving online enterprise, if there's never a mistake made, you and the client are going to lose, cuz you're moving too slow.
When #*$!ake happens, that's when you judge your partners... you don't seek to blame, you commit to fixing it, learning from it, then moving on to the next issue.
If they prefer the blame game, over mutual progress, ditch them.
7:14 pm on Sept 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Sever relations if necessary but if there is real money involved that can make or break do your level best to accommodate, explain, show/display, suggest resolutions, develop new strategies, solve the issue. Avoid lawyers resulting from a pi$$ing match if at all possible because NO ONE benefits from that!

As long as you have a paper contract with "four corners" you can act from a specified ground.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE (we can't give it). If you need an attorney, find one of your own choice.

.
3:08 pm on Oct 10, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like the MD of the firm are trying to protect himself from the no emails debacle, I wonder why ?