Oral agreements are binding but beware.

You can pour agreements into a legal contract of 20 pages, you can put agreements on a beer mat or make clear oral agreements. Every appointment is legally binding. However, if oral agreements are denied then you have a problem, see your efforts get reimbursed.

That is what happened to me at DHL. It was not about “sending a package with DHL”, it was about an appointment to pay for research, after the quotation, if the assignment that had not yet been awarded was to be cancelled. The policy changes and DHL decides not to outsource the process. That is not all, the agreement made was also denied. In the end, DHL conducts an internal “The butcher inspects the meat that he sells” investigation and the DHL management supports the relevant DHL employee who, in the best case scenario, had “forgotten” the agreement in the form of “I have never said”. However, one does not forget oral agreements that have been made explicitly.

That oral agreement was made in the presence of the DHL employee in question and the three partners of NedCAD (of which I am one), who can all remember that agreement very well. After two years it results in a management complaint to DHL. DHL does not agree with NedCAD. The disagreement has grown, it is now also the management of DHL who is backing the lying, call it “forgetful”, employee and does not want to take responsibility for the oral but binding agreement. It would have been more convenient to try to find a solution in this conflict, because this contaminates DHL as a party that is now known to me as extremely unreliable because agreements are not being met – up to management level. It still leaves me with a horribly bad taste in my mouth.

Despite the fact that many organizations take responsibility for agreements made, it is good not to always expect decency and honesty. So make sure you always have a beer mat and a pen with you. If you just forget it that one time and things go wrong, you will be left behind, like Liesbeth, Roelof and I, in stupor, with a big hangover and a four-zero loss. At the end you will receive a polite letter from DHL or any other party that actually says “Fuck off”. And yes, of course I blame myself too. However, the lying employee who gets a full cover-up from the management of DHL is a bitter experience of dishonesty that I have never experienced in more than 40 years of working, and which I think, despite my naivety, makes sense to share as a general warning.

I have lost time and money, but indirectly DHL has also been damaged because extensive unethical behaviour of the organization has come to light – from project management to the top. Moral: Just try to always be honest and if a conflict does arise, then try to find a solution that is somewhat acceptable to all parties. If you don’t, there are really only losers. Whether there are bright spots? If you want to see them, unpaid research provides some knowledge. For example, this article – do not read it yourself, give it to an IT technician – is one of the developments that were directly initiated by DHL.

Leave a comment