5 Steps to Handling a Vendor Dispute

Spend enough time as an Advertising Account Executive and there is inevitably going to be a time when you have to deal with a dispute with a vendor. Whether it be over a bill or the work provided, neither is something anyone enjoys dealing with.

Love them or despise them (luckily for me it’s mostly love them), I work directly with vendors on a daily basis. Some I work with consistently on a number of different projects and some I may never work with again after a project is completed. Either way, it’s important to maintain a good relationship with all of your partners with the forethought that you may want to draw on their services in the future.

In my experience as an Advertising Account Executive I am no stranger to working with vendors on a variety of issues that can, and do, arise during the course of a project. But at some point, you may find yourself dealing with a dispute that goes outside of a simple misunderstanding. If you find yourself in that situation, here are five things to help you resolve an issue with a vendor:

1. Get Your Ducks in a Row: Review your files and gather all the supporting evidence that supports your side of the claim, including e-mails, confirmations, contracts, and order receipts (This is why you always ask for e-mail confirmation!).

2. Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Enter the conversation with an open mind. Often times if you ask questions to find out what they are dealing with on their side, you may find that their reaction to the issue is due in part to something happening internally that you did not know about. After they explain their view on the situation, reiterate their points so that they know you heard them.

3. Stick to Your Guns: While you want the vendor to understand you see their side, if you have the supporting evidence (gathered in step one) contradicting their statements, show it to them and explain why it justifies your side.

4. Find a Solution: If the relationship is valuable, try to find a solution that both sides agree as being fair. Chances are the vendor values your business, and will want to maintain their relationship with you as well.

5. If All Else Fails, Move On: Sometimes no matter what supporting evidence you have to back your side or how hard you try to work toward a positive outcome, you will not be able to rationally get to that point. If that is the case, let them know that you don’t feel that the relationship is working and that it would be best for both of you to simply move on.

Dealing with a vendor dispute may not be something that you like to do, but if you handle the circumstances as professionally as the situation allows, you can rest easy that the outcome was in the best interest of both parties.