Woolworths is invoicing suppliers for discrepancies the supermarket giant believes it found in accounts dating as far back as 2009.
The move comes despite a promise by Woolworths to limit claims to a maximum of two years after striking a deal with the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), following complaints from suppliers.
Fairfax Media reports that the company’s 18-month-old “forensic accounting program” has billed suppliers for accounting errors and also deducted money from the trading accounts of suppliers without their permission.
Woolworths claims suppliers charged the wrong amount, or the invoice did not match the stock supplied.
One supplier told Fairfax media they’d been invoiced for thousands of dollars in a refund that dates back to 2010.
In response, Woolworths said the review also mean some suppliers received refunds.
“Like most companies, Woolworths audits its invoices and has done so for some time. Where we find an error, in our favour or the supplier’s favour, we take steps to recover or return the money owed,” said a spokesman for the company.
The AFGC started receiving complaints about the process from suppliers six months ago and struck a deal with the supermarket to stop automatic deductions from supplier accounts, and limit reviews to two years.
But suppliers have since shown Fairfax Media bills that suggest the old regime has continued, with one supplier receiving a claim for incorrect prices in 2009.
The supplier said they “refuted all the claims a number of times” and Woolworths “backed off”.
Another supplier also produced recent invoices for products supplied in early 2010.
The AFGC sent out last week saying “Woolworths has continued to claim against suppliers for historic invoicing errors or omissions”.
This latest stoush comes after claims last week that Woolworths was pressuring suppliers for extra cash payments to fund “the gap between sales and profit growth” as part of a discount war.
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