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KBS/National Maintenance Systems Nonpayment Info

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross
September 2020

On August 14, 2020 the World Sweeping Association (WSA) received a report from one of its members that a division of Kellermeyer Bergensons Services, National Maintenance Systems, was not providing timely payment for sweeping services performed by an Arkansas-based contractor.

As the Director of WSA (in addition to being Editor of the WorldSweeper website), I got involved to find out why, as well as to see about getting the WSA member contractor the money it was owed, as well as to try to determine what was going on with KBS. The following is a synopsis of that process.

An overview: Prior to calling the KBS/National Maintenance organization, WSA requested full documentation from the contractor. This was provided, and included a list of seven different people the contractor had been forced to contact in order to try and get paid. BTW, there had been no complaints regarding the contractor's services.

On August 14th, the contractor said the following:

"Here are the company names [of the individuals we contacted about] not being paid for sweeping of the Lowe's parking lot. We started sweeping in March 2020; we stopped in May for no payment (60 days out) at which point KBS sent us a payment for March, April and the latter part of May.

"They also asked us to start back sweeping and do a big clean up for the last 3 weeks we didn't sweep and said that they would pay for the whole month of May. We did [the cleanup], but we have not been paid for May, June, July and August. Solely as a result of nonpayment we stopped sweeping on September 6, 2020."

Since WSA wanted to provide KBS with the opportunity to respond – but also needed to provide an alert to its members the next day since, as part of WSA Membership, each member receives a 'WSA Member Update' on the first and 15th of each month – I immediately contacted KBS/National Maintenance and spoke to a representative named Celilio Selix.

In the call I provided her with information on the situation, detailed the urgency of getting a quick response. After putting me on hold for several minutes Ms. Selix came back to say "The senior manager you need to talk to is on a conference call and will call you back within the hour."

No such callback occurred. I then re-called the next day prior to sending out the WSA Member Update in order to give the company every opportunity to respond. I also sent the following email to Ms. Selix and left a voicemail on a different KBS 800 number that was listed on the company's website, all of which gave a 5pm, Eastern, timeline for a response. This email to Ms. Selix read, in part:

Hello, Cecilio,
Given the tight timeframe, I'm sorry that your manager did not call me yesterday, as was promised.

As I said on the phone both yesterday and today, I send out an update to my World Sweeping Association members on the 1st and 15th of each month. That's today. The following is what I have ready to send in today's WSA Update.

To be clear, I will send the following unless I hear back from your company prior to 5pm, Eastern, with information that mitigates the situation. I currently also plan an article for the September issue of WorldSweeper.com's monthly e-newsletter that goes out to the entire sweeping industry.

When the 5pm deadline was not met, at that point we provided the following information about the situation to our WSA Members:

"Another report concerned Kellermeyer Bergensons Services (KBS). Our WSA Member reported KBS has repeatedly promised to pay them for sweeping done at a Lowe's location but they've only received a check in May for work started March. And, that May check was sent only when they told KBS they would be quitting sweeping. That means they are currently at 90 days and moving toward 120 days of sweeping with no payment. A few days ago they quit sweeping due to non-payment. BTW, they are also familiar with another contractor in their area who is in a similar situation.

"I called the KBS office twice over the last several days and, although I was promised a callback "in a little while from a senior manager who at the moment is on a conference call," no one ever responded. In the second call I left a message on a manager's voicemail and to date have not received a callback there, either. I'll let you know in our next WSA Update if there is an outcome worthy of discussion. In the meantime, be advised if KBS is behind in payments to your company."

The next day, on September 16th, I received an email from Tamela Montanez, KBS' Senior VP for Customer Experience. Unfortunately, it went into my spam folder and no phone follow-up was initiated by Ms. Montanez when I did not respond. When I inquired back to Ms. Selix on September 21st, the next day Ms. Montanez sent another email notifying me of the email she had sent on the 16th; for whatever reason, it came through. Here's what it said:

Good morning Mr. Kidwell,

Cecilio Felix has been in communication with me regarding your inquiry into vendor payables. I'm sorry for the delay in getting back to you. We wanted to research the issues you brought up and get back to you with an accurate answer.

The following is our statement:
"KBS values its vendor network and we have an escalation process to resolve any issues that arise in regards to billing and payment. Our vendor management team works to address any issues regarding payment and service through that process and it is our goal to handle billing issues in a timely manner."

Related to the particular vendor you cited, we have been working directly with them and are in the process of finalizing resolution to the issue to ensure the vendor is fully paid.

Regards,
Tamela

Tamela Montanez Senior Vice President, Customer Experience Kellermeyer Bergensons Services, LLC 3605 Ocean Ranch Blvd. Ste 200 Oceanside, CA 92056 Mobile: (909) 648-6877

On the same day, I responded with the following email back to Ms. Montanez:

Hi, Tamela,

I found your September 16th message in my spam folder, for some reason, once I received your second email message yesterday. Here is my response:

While I appreciate the lofty wording of your statement: "KBS values its vendor network and we have an escalation process to resolve any issues that arise in regards to billing and payment. Our vendor management team works to address any issues regarding payment and service through that process and it is our goal to handle billing issues in a timely manner."

However, your 'escalation process' in this instance would appear to have failed if KBS was, in the first instance, unable to pay the sweeping vendor, C&C Commercial, when they started in March until the owners threatened to quit sweeping in May due to the nonpayment. Since then, the KBS 'escalation process' has been unable to pay C&C for all the sweeping they did for the rest of May, June, July and August.

And, in addition to its costs for providing KBS' Lowe's account with sweeping services, [the contractor] has incurred the costs of trying to collect the money due them via providing documentation that should be unnecessary and talking about the matter to seven different KBS representatives. I'm sorry, but KBS' actions certainly make it seem like your statement is only rhetoric.

Related to the particular vendor you cited, "we have been working directly with them and are in the process of finalizing resolution to the issue to ensure the vendor is fully paid."

I find this sentence fits into the exact same category as your official statement. I invite you to explain exactly how you have been working directly with [the company's] management: I just called the owner and he told me he has not heard from KBS since I wrote my first email to your organization. What [his] company needs is not the "process of finalizing resolution to the issue." They need – and deserve – the money you owe them.

It's not like there is a dispute the work was done, or any questions were raised about the quality of services provided. KBS' National Maintenance division requested service at a promised payment price; [the contractor] provided the service; KBS didn't pay them as promised – twice. Simple as 1-2-3.

I intend to provide information about this KBS' nonpayment issue to the entire power sweeping industry the first of next week via WorldSweeper's monthly e-newsletter that goes out to approximately 3,000 sweeping industry readers (issue archives: www.worldsweeper.com/Newsletters).

The article can include at the end the resolution that KBS finally paid C&C on whatever date that occurs as a result of our intervention with your organization. Or, it can say that as of press time time in late September – nearly two weeks after our contact with KBS – [the contractor] had still not been paid for sweeping part of May, as well as for June, July and August, and that at this point the company planned to turn the account over to collections. Your choice.

Cheers,
Ranger

PS I will also be providing a copy of this email exchange to Lowe's corporate.



Postscript: I asked the contractor to let me know if they heard from KBS. They did, but not until September 26th, five days after KBS' representative Tamela Montanez stated in her email "we have been working directly with them and are in the process of finalizing resolution to the issue to ensure the vendor is fully paid."

On the 26th, the contractor reported the following:
"I did get about 4 calls yesterday. She said they were paying all the past dues and sending a check but I have not received payment yet and have been told that they were sending checks before that never arrived. I also received a call from another gentleman that wanted me to sweep the Lowe's Lol. They don't have any idea what they are doing."

Then, on September 30th, the contractor reported that due to the efforts of the World Sweeping Association on their behalf they had received a check for all outstanding money owed to them.


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