Is tech too universal – not respecting local laws?

Very dramatic sounding post title but here’s a little irritation that’s been nagging at me for a while now – the difference between a Quote and an Estimate and how my accounting software forces me to use it.

The best, and shortest, explanation I can/have found is that an estimate price is flexible and a quote is not.

So when I put out prices to a client I need them to be estimates and not quotes, as I don’t carry stock (burnt by that in the past) and I also don’t order equipment in advance (also burnt by that in the past) so I have to operate the system thusly;

Estimate > (Client accepts) Payment > Order > Delivery

It’s quite a simple process really; payment with order, if you think about it pretty much every online shop works in the same way. The main difference for me is that the middle bit isn’t fully automated – although I suppose it could be.

So I dutifully adjust my software to expunge every reference to “Quote” and I thought I was home and hosed.

Except this week I made a major error – I allowed the software to email the estimate out. Naturally I got a copy, I mean who dosen’t need more emails in their inbox and I noticed that there was a link to the document online – neato.

Oh…….

Even better, I realised the downloaded PDF is also named “QUOTE XXX” gah. So I played the game and reached out to their support people and what did I get back? A couple of links to things I’ve already done.

Two things here and one is something I complain about a bit – and that is that I may have not explained myself particularly well in the first instance but I’m pretty sure what I wrote did explain it pretty well.

The second is something that’s always been a thing but not always something you come across and that’s software standardisation that does not respect local laws.

As mentioned up there, in the UK, there is a legal difference between a Quote and an Estimate, I feel I operate in such a way that minimises the risk of my business losing money if not being the most efficient buying/selling process – but a small business simply can’t afford to be saddled with £5000’s worth of equipment as stock.

If someone wanted to be really cynical they could get an Estimate that, by some system quirk, appears to be a “Quote” and demend they are able to complete the purchase at the stated price.

You can see the danger in that espicially in the current times. And I’ll be 100% honest here, I don’t really know what the legal standing is on that – but I suspecct if I were to cite “it’s the software wot done it” is probably in the same category as the dog eating the homework.

So please, let’s have full control over these things so we can be law abiding!

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THE PERSONAL BLOG OF CORNWALL-BASED COMPANY DIRECTOR // CHRIS RICKARD