FAQ: How do I handle a provider who ignores service level requirements?

“We have a situation in which the contract is very clear about measurable service-level expectations, yet the provider keeps ignoring these requirements. We have sent many rectification notices, but we seem to be continually hounding them to meet their obligations. What can we do about this?”

Answer

Perhaps rather than sending out more notices, it is time to sit down with them for a frank discussion.

Using an interest-based approach, ask a lot of open-ended questions to see if you can get at the core of what is going on. Are they overloaded with other work? Are they struggling to maintain adequate staffing levels?

Keep in mind that, if the contract is too unbalanced (i.e., there is not enough profit for them), it may simply be falling to the bottom of the pile if they are really busy.

If that is the case, you may not be able to cure the problem this time. But make sure that you rethink the contract structure the next time you are approaching the market for similar services.

Depending on your contract termination provisions — and if performance is continually substandard and you have a lot of documentation showing that you’ve given them chances to correct — it might be time to consider exiting the relationship and starting fresh with someone new.

You are entitled to receive what you have clearly contracted for.

Readers are cautioned not to rely upon this article as legal advice nor as an exhaustive discussion of the topic or case.  For any particular legal problem, seek advice directly from your lawyer or in-house counsel.  All dates, contact information and website addresses were current at the time of original publication.