As a contract manager, I often have conversations with my business clients about trusting suppliers of products and services. Salespersons may have the best of intentions and become friends of the business client. However, salepersons often don’t have control over policy changes and price increases their company implements. My stance on this is to put the personal trust aside and focus on getting good contract language in place that is fair and will protect in the event the business relationship goes south. Good fences make good neighbors, right?

I titled this post with the old Tom T. Hall song, Sneaky Snake, in mind. This goofy, fun song is about a sneaky snake that sneaks up on people at the lake and steals their root beer, then basically does a dance afterward (I’ve included a You Tube link, if you’re interested). Some suppliers are sneaky snakes, taking advantage of people when they are least suspecting it. This past weekend, I had an issue with a service I had purchased last year. I never sign up for auto renewals, because I want to be notified in case there are any changes in the supplier’s terms, or in case I no longer need the service. This particular supplier charged $21.99 for for the service when I purchased it last year, and I did not select auto renewal because renewals would be subject to the “then current pricing” per their click through terms. On Saturday, I received a notice from Pay Pal that my account had been charged $64.99. When I investigated, this supplier had auto renewed my service and the price had tripled. The terms stated that once the charge was made, it could not be refunded, but that I could cancel the service for the following year. I immediately disputed through Pay Pal, through the supplier and through my bank. I advised the supplier of the dispute and let them know that if I did not have cooperation, I would further escalate to my attorney general’s office. I now have a refund in process.

Not all suppliers are this easy to work with, and not all issues like this are as simply resolved. It is for this reason I am finishing up a book dedicated to small businesses and individual consumers on how to deal with these situation, as well as how to be proactive in protecting yourself against issues. I will be announcing on this blog once the book is published, and my hope is to help as many as possible with issues such as this one.