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back to article Tears, laughter and bankruptcy: How not to go bust

Bankruptcy? You don't know whether to laugh or cry. It was a lunchtime tech awards ceremony in the West End many years ago. The trophies were polished, the golden envelopes were ready to be opened to gasps of joy and waiters were circulating with the canapes and fizz. Suddenly some rather large men in suits appeared among the …

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Headmaster

Imagine

Famously the software company Imagine went bust while the BBC were making a documentary about them. The crew went to lunch and came back to find the bailiffs had locked the place up and were about to repossess their equipment!

So it turned from a documentary about the games industry to one that catalogued the humiliating collapse of one of the biggest names of the early 80's.

It can be seen on Youtube. Worth half hour of anyones time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoDh61sgCOg

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Imagine

That is what I don't like about bailiffs, just because something is on a business premisses, does not make it the property of the business.....

Same goes for personal property on home premises, just because something is in the house, it does not make it the property of whomever the bailiffs are after the property of...

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Coat

Re:It can be seen on Youtube. Worth half hour of anyones time.

Wow, forgotten that...

Ok,

A) Don't wear a bow tie to work,(people won't look fondly on you in the future)

B) Don't light up over a big pile of paper in front of your computer. (It's not cool in the future)

C) If the boss looks and acts sleazy, he probably is. (actually this is still true)

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Coat

Re: Spoonsinger Re:It can be seen on Youtube. Worth half hour of anyones time.

"....C) If the boss looks and acts sleazy, he probably is....." Resellers are predominantly sales organistaions, so the majority of their staff look (and are) dodgy!

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Silver badge

Difficult

I've been on both sides of this. Once a customer who was having hard times drove 600 miles to my office to try & get me to extend his credit even though he was almost 100 days late on what he already owed. He wanted more equipment floated to him but he drove up in a flashy exotic car that got about 7MPG and was wearing at least $5k worth of clothes & jewelery. I wasn't able to help him.

On the other side I worked for a reseller once that was in really bad shape and it didn't look like they were going to make it. The bills were all far overdue and employees couldn't cash their paychecks. He convinced a vendor to float him about $100k of kit and managed to turn the whole thing around. He took care of everyone who was owed and gave all the staff nice bonuses a few months later. It was terribly risky but he did pull it off.

It is so difficult to be in those situations and that's why having relationships with your vendors and sales droid are so important. Click & Order systems and faceless distributors don't help anyone on either side of the equation.

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Silver badge

Re: Difficult

When selling to companies in the '90s we always used to cue the salesmen to look out fr the ratio of Mercedes, BMWs and Jaguars in the car park to Vauxhalls/Opel/Ford and the like. Above 10%, we refused them credit :-)

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FAIL

Reminds me of a certain PC retailer in South Africa

When the suppliers stopped supplying them due to lack of payment, they hired a bunch of guys to hijack their competitors delivery truck. Directors were found a few days later with the stolen goods still in their boxes stacked in their palatial homes.

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Anonymous Coward

Baliffs at the front door, equipment out the back.

I was working for a company that went bust.

Baliffs appeared at the front door on a Friday afternoon, "negotiating" to get in while we removed customers hosted servers out the back door. We got those clients own servers up and running on the Saturady morning, DNS updated over night, not a bad effort.

Unfortunately other clients weren't so lucky, they got sold in days to another company who took over the same premises, were told to pay 5x the normal fee to keep their services up, if they didn't pay up, the remianing staff were told to ignore transfer requests and leave their services down until they paid.

The new company moved the clients and shut up within 6 months, the landlord who had called in the baliffs didn't get their money as the new lease hadn't been signed because of negotiating delays.

I didn't last that long, didn't like client's treatment so quit after a week or so. It was so funny when they realised they didn't have access to RIPE and couldn't control the network without my PGP keys, they missed the irony of their "customers" feeling the same panic.

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Silver badge

Re: Baliffs at the front door, equipment out the back.

less a Cloud, more 'raining debt'.

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Thumb Up

Hard times

Reminds me of the late 80's and early 90's. Me and a mate were doing well selling PCs and other bits and bobs around our local town. We were also doing repairs and "disaster recovery" (which consisted of salvalging what we could from dodgy 40MB (yes, MEGAbyte) drives and copying it to a new drive).

It was all going swimmingly and then it just seemed to die on its arse. We had a garage literally packed to the rafters with 286s and 386s and Star LC-10 printers, all on tick from a supplier in Stoke On Trent. The supplier was just a family run business.

We called him one afternoon and told him that it was going down the pan and we were going to bring all his gear back before it was too late. Didn't want him losing out. There was tears in his eyes when we pulled up in an old Volvo 740 full of boxes of gear.

It was the right thing to do though, and he never forgot it. He did everything he could to help us in later years when we moved to Eastcote and set up a small consultancy.

When I remember those days I always feel a kind of "thank God" that we did the right thing. I wouldn't like to live knowing that I lost some poor bloke his business, his home, and the home of his wife and kids.

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Pint

Re: Hard times

You sir, are a star. I can't buy you a pint but have a "virtual" one.

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Silver badge

Re: Hard times

He is a star and would buy him one too but unfortunately he is a minority. Him doing that means he probably works for a living like the rest of us. Usually to be a millionaire you are either very lucky or you screwed over somebody pretty much for life. If you are a billionaire then you screwed over multiple people for life (forget luck).

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Pint

Knock knock..are you there?

Came across all sorts in my time, some unfortunate, some deliberate, some inevitable and some downright dishonest. I've also aided businesses in working informal arrangements with principal suppliers and funders, seeing them through troubled periods unscathed; some indeed went on to be very successful and were subsequently sold.

Failing's not a failing, how you fail is...!

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Anonymous Coward

Several years ago, I owned a small pack-and-ship business, and was doing my damnedest to keep the business going... My lender finally sued me in court, which had the effect of forcing me to close the store and file bankruptcy, both corporate and personal... I did what I could to minimize the losses to most of my creditors, stopped buying supplies, returned wine shipping supplies to one supplier, and then at the end of the year, walked away and let the landlord turn the store over to someone else. That someone else is still running the store, although I can't see how he's still in business... Many of the regular customers I had have told me that they will no longer go to the store because his ONLY concern is keeping expenses down. He won't order paper for the photo printer because he can't sell the prints fast enough to get his money back in 30 days; he changed to a cheaper supplier for shipping supplies (cheaper means shoddier too). Some of my former customers have said he's just plain rude; he's not deliberately rude, he's just got a rude personality. I won't even go back in there most of the time...

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