GETTING a tangible contract in a conglomerate company can be easy if you know which steps to follow.
Most importantly, the deal must be concluded with a person whose scope of employment allows him to do so.
Talking to just anyone can be dangerous and a disadvantage to small entrepreneurs who hope to be listed on a database of big companies as service providers.
Take the case of Sibusiso Sibeko, who manufactured golf T-shirts for Tiger Brands last November but was only paid last Saturday after Sowetan stepped in.
Tiger Brands felt they should not have paid him, but "out of the goodness of our hearts we felt obligated to make an ex-gratia payment", a spokesperson for the company said.
Sibeko was paid R18000.
His troubles started when he was approached by Tiger Brands employee Tebogo Mokhele, who desperately needed someone to do golfT-shirts since the company they had commissioned had let him down.
Sibeko agreed and delivered the 50 T-shirts on demand, he said.
He had quoted them R4850 and was paid R2250 after delivering the first order.
But before paying the balance, Mokhele placed another order, which cost R15425.
Sibeko said he did not do the job until Mokhele verbally confirmed theorder. The orders were split into two.
"Some items were collected by his (Mokhele's) colleague, who was to drive to Polokwane a day later.
"The colleague was wearing their (Tiger Brands) uniform and driving their company car when he collected the goods," he said.
"Later on that day I received a call from Tebogo expressing his appreciation and saying their staff in Polokwane was impressed with the corporate gifts."
As it was already the festive season, Mokhele undertook to pay Sibeko in January.
When the payment fell due, Mokhele gave Sibeko several excuses on why payment could not be made.
"I was initially told signatories were not available to authorise payment and Mokhele continued to lie until he couldn't go on," said Sibeko.
It later transpired that Mokhele had not followed company procedures when commissioning a service from Sibeko.
Tiger Brands regional manager John Halkett had earlier dismissed Sibeko's complaint as not their problem and that Mokhele should resolve it personally without their involvement.
But a secretary at Tiger Brands recognised the T-shirts and confirmed that the regional manager also had one, Sibeko sais.
After Sowetan 's intervention, Tiger Brands management agreed to pay Sibeko.
A manager, who wanted to remain anonymous, insisted they were not liable to pay for goods that were distributed to their staff members at their employee's request.
"We are paying him out of our goodwill and will take disciplinary action against our employee," he said.
He said Mokhele was the right person to order corporate gear for the employees, except that the order placed with Sibeko was not procedural.
In a written response Arno Schworer, a director of the Smollan Group, said Mokhele did not act within his scope of employment when he ordered goods from Sibeko.
"We would like to confirm that the employee, over the relevant period, was not authorised by Tiger Brands or any of its subsidiaries," Schworer said.
Tiger Brands Field Services is a wholly owned Smollan Group company and provides sales and merchandising services to Tiger Brands.
He said they only became aware of Sibeko's complaint when approached by Sowetan for comment.
"During our meeting with Sibeko it became apparent that one of our employees appeared not to have acted within the scope of his position within the company and that Sibeko's company was prejudiced by that employee's actions.
"Our employee resigned on August 13 2009 and of coursewe will follow all the appropriate practices and procedures we normally would in dealing with the employee/employer relationship," Schworer said.
Sibeko has confirmed that he received payment for his services last Saturday after Consumer Line's intervention.
Giving advice to prospective entrepreneurs, Schworer said products or services are ordered with a formal quotation and authorisation from a senior manager.
In addition to this, their suppliers are furnished with an official Smollan Group order number when the goods or services are ordered.
These are electronically generated and automatically forwarded to the person's superior and can only be effected once authorised.
In this way the supplier can be sure that the order is legitimate and that payment will be received as per agreed terms, he said.
This was not the case with Sibeko.