This is a story with a great start, a terrific middle and a rather sad ending. The story makes me frustrated, even though I think that the marketing effect was fairly powerful.
It all started with a marketing product for our college. We’ve been using the Internet for most of our advertising, and by using the Internet we’ve been reaching most of our targeted customers (future students). We decided to try another approach as well, in order to reach the people that we didn’t reach using the Internet.
The product was a paper distributed along with one of the most popular newspapers in Norway. The paper was about the internatial aspect of our college; international students and employees at our college, international research and projects, and the opportunity for students to exchange with colleges and universities in other countries.
The product was interesting, and I believe that it’s a powerful way to promote our college and tell our story. The production company told me that the project had one production cost, and one cost when it comes to advertisements. If they didn’t sell enough advertisements, we would have to pay some of the costs (along with the production costs).
I told the guy from the production company that we had a specific amount of money to use for this project, and that we didn’t have one dollar more to spend, no matter how few advertisement they ended up selling. I was very thorough and unambiguous regarding the cost of this project.
The production, the stories, everything about the contents of the paper was close to perfect. The team from our college did an amazing job, and the guys from the production company did a tremendous job. We ended up with an awesome paper, and powerful marketing.
A few weeks before the paper was going to be printed, I heard the news. The production company had huge problems selling advertisements. They had only sold a few, therefore, they would need us to pay a higher price for the project.
I told them that we had already agreed upon the price, and that this price was all we were able to pay (I had already told them this, and I had sent them two emails). The problem now, was that the guy told me that we had agreed upon a much higher price. He said that we had agreed upon the original production cost plus an extra fee to cover teh advertisment costs, this extra fee was much higher than the production fee.
As I stated, I had been very thorough and unambiguous regarding the costs of this project. I never referred to the details of the project and I never divided the costs as the guy from the production company wanted me to. I told him (and included this in both the emails) that all the money we could spend on this project, with all costs included, was a specific amount.
To me, this is a solid case. There is no way that this company can get any extra money from our college. I believe that I have done everything by the book.
The real problem, is that disputes like this takes a lot of time and it makes me frustrated.
Worth thinking about
Even if I had told this company that we could settle the dispute by paying them half the amount, we would never hire them for another job. They should have done things differently, and if they did, they could have had long term success. They would have ended up with a lot more money than if they tried this dispute.
I wonder what will happen next. It will probably be weeks or months of emails and phone calls from this company. Hopefully, it will all end sometime soon, but I doubt it.