Yesterday we heard rumors that Viacom has introduced a new system for screwing its vendors out of getting paid on time. Today, more insight into the Kafka-esque world of "InvoiceWorks," from a real vendor!
Our tipster says that he's been doing production work for Viacom for years, but was just recently introduced to the joy of the new and improved vendor-screwing system:
Around 1/9 of this year, I got a letter about Viacom switching over to Invoiceworks, saying that you could no longer submit invoices to an employee, everything had to be done electronically. The letter also stated that you had to submit your vendor info online by 1/5 (these dates are from memory, I don't have the letter in front of me. But basically, the deadline for submitting your info was about 4 days before the letter arrived.) And to make matters worse, they didn't have the electronic submission process functional until early February, by which time I was sitting on 5 weeks worth of invoices for the year. And Viacom constantly pitched this as a way to expedite processing and payment of invoices, not mentioning to vendors that the payment window was extended from 30 to 60 days. (I found this out from someone in Viacom accounting.) I don't recall ever having been paid within 30 days in the past either. And since the switchover, it's become impossible to actually talk to a human being about issues w/ payment. The one thing that did help in the past was when you could actually talk to someone who was sympathetic about your situation and would help push things through. Now I'm dealing with issues like invoices being declined because a contract wasn't signed on their end, which starts the process all over again - I'm guessing with a new 60 day payment period.
As a small business owner, I've been paying my vendors, many of whom charge late fees if you don't pay them in a timely manner. I know someone in a similar situation who tried the late fee thing with Viacom and they basically told him they'd find another production company if he had a problem w/ their payment process. It's infuriating because on paper I'm making a pretty comfortable living (I'm owed around $60K by Viacom so far this year) but in reality, I'm living like a college student, taking cash advances on my credit card to pay rent.
Sounds fun! Our tipster also corroborated our report last year that Viacom had just frozen its invoice payments for the last three months of 2008, just because it felt like it. And this is separate from, you know, the hundreds of layoffs last December and the canceled holiday party and the company ban on holiday cheer.