Originally Posted by Syphon Filter
Right I think some people are misunderstanding the OP's question. The way I am reading it is this:
Client agreed the functionality of a system. The CI has delivered both the hardware and the software. The agreed system is in place and 100% working.
The Client due to other factors such building costs over budget, lost his job, whatever, doesnt have the money to pay the CI the full and agreed amount.
In this case, if I were the dealer I would withold the programming AND remove any hardware/installation items (interconnects etc) that was not covered by any amount already paid by the client.
How do you withhold it if it is already installed and working? Are you logging in remotely and erasing the software?
Take the amp example. You give me an amp. I take it to my home. I then don't pay you. Do you think you can walk into my home and take the amp away if the front door is open?
End of. The CI held up his end of the bargin, they installed and programmed the system to the agreed spec at the agreed price. The client now, for funding reasons, doesnt want to pay. This being the case, the client should not expect to take delivery of the system in a working state.
Again, you summarized correctly that the delivery was made. So it is not the case of "not expected to take delivery." Does the bank send someone to burn your house down if you don't pay your mortgage payment? Causing destruction after the fact is not a solution in my opinion.
Keep in mind one of the best lessons I once learned about legal matters. Don't ever be in a situation where you pay for your lawyer fees and the other does not. If the guy considers your act as theft/destruction of property and complains to district attorney and he/she goes after you, you will be out a lot of money defending yourself even if you think you are right. And if not, really bad things could happen to you. And imagine how much business you will be able to get in the future while defending yourself in criminal court!
In addition, if a customer is bankrupt, there is a very strict order of who gets their money first. To the extent you have delivered something of value and there is a construction loan, that bank gets to take whatever of value first, sell it and once they are satisfied, other creditors can get the leftovers. If they house is finished with automation system, the courts and lender would want to preserve the full value of that and sell the house for maximum dollar to satisfy their lien.
So to the extent you go in and reduce the value of the assets in the home, that is also another no-no. It might be shocking news, but if the homeowner is to file for bankruptcy, he cannot give you your equipment back even if he wants to. His lawyer would advise of the above rule and he is bound by it.
I personally would not go in and damage anything in the customer's house if he doesn't pay. I would talk to my lawyer first and be sure at all times, I am in the right and the customer is the one who looks bad in the eyes of the law and the judge if it comes to that. I would gain nothing by pulling software back. It is not like I can sell that to someone else. I would leave it there. Yes, it doesn't seem right. But we have the laws for a reason.