Broad-based distributor Bluechip Infotech has threatened to take reseller Adelong Computers back to court, after the companies failed to resolve a long-running dispute over an alleged unpaid bill.
Brett Bradley, operations director at Bluechip Infotech, has alleged that Sydney-based Adelong Computers bought "about $140,000" of goods and services including motherboards, hard drives, and other computer hardware, from Bluechip Infotech and that despite repeated efforts since February to recoup the monies both in and out of court, some $80,000 in charges remained outstanding.
"It's not a lot of money but it's the principle of the thing. It's the fact that they bought goods from us and they haven't paid for it," Bradley said.
The case was initially to be heard in the NSW Supreme Court on 26 September. However, the parties allegedly agreed to resolve the dispute out of court so Bluechip Infotech withdrew its action. Adelong Computers had made an offer to settle but Bluechip had not found the amount satisfactory. As a result, the distributor was re-starting proceedings, this time in the District Court, Bradley said.
"We were trying to come to an agreement with Adelong to pay the debt in instalments, but those talks broke down," he said. "The offer they made was ridiculous ... It didn't even come to the right amount."
A date for the hearing had not been set at press-time. Bluechip Infotech was talking to its solicitors and expected the case would be heard in November. "Our solicitors are doing the documentation for the District Court as we speak. Once the documents are served in the registry, that gives Adelong another period – I think it's 28 or 20 days – to pay the debt or make an alternative offer," Bradley said.
Bradley said Bluechip wanted to keep legal costs low but the dispute was taking a long time and considerable resources to resolve. The distributor's solicitors had therefore recommended a move to the District Court rather than risk the costly involvement of a Queen's Counsel in the Supreme Court.
"From my point of view, I can't criticise the guy (Adelong). He's got a business to run and he's trying to keep things together as best he can and that's why we offered him an agreement. But he's actually broken two agreements," he said. "We can't just walk away from this."
Bradley alleged Adelong claimed that Bluechip in its turn had not fulfilled the purchase agreement between the two companies. He said that Adelong had argued – quite truthfully – that Bluechip had failed to deliver an order as requested, an act which had damaged Adelong's business. "But that was because they hadn't paid for it," he said.
Julian Kang, managing director at Adelong Computers, agreed that an amount of money had gone unpaid. However, he disputed the amount at issue, saying the situation was "much more complicated" than Bluechip claimed. The actions of Bluechip around the "supply deal" had damaged Adelong's good name, Kang alleged. "They owe us about $150,000 due to the damage to our business," he said.
In an earlier conversation with CRN on Friday 3 October, Kang said he understood that the parties had agreed to settle out of court and he was waiting to hear from Bluechip.
Kang then claimed the distributor's actions were taking retail business away from Adelong – which he said was "the first Aussie computer company to do mail order" – partly from the alleged damage to the Adelong's name, and partly from what he called its movements into retail. "I did start talking with Bluechip and asked to speak to them a few weeks ago," he said at the time.
Kang said he had not heard anything from the distributor since then. He confirmed that Adelong had made an out-of-court offer but said it seemed to have been refused. "I don't know why they didn't take the offer. I thought it was pretty good," he said.
Kang would not answer further questions, other than to say his lawyer had advised him not to give any more information to the media on the dispute with Bluechip Infotech at this stage.