Wednesday, 24 April 2019 11:31

Hertz sues Accenture over failure to build 'ambitious' website

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Hertz sues Accenture over failure to build 'ambitious' website Image by kenny2332 from Pixabay

Global vehicle rental firm Hertz has sued business process provider Accenture for failing to deliver a website that it was contracted to build in 2016, but could not produce until its services were terminated in 2018.

In a lawsuit filed in the US District Court of the Southern District of New York, Hertz said it was seeking US$32 million in damages and also additional amounts that it had paid to Accenture during the course of the contract.

The company said it had contracted Accenture to undertake an "ambitious project to transform its digital identity" in 2016, which included a website and mobile applications that it could easily extend to its other rental brands.

The lawsuit said Hertz had picked Accenture after the latter "put on an impressive one-day presentation for the Hertz team that included a demonstration of the transformed Hertz digital experience". The go-live date for the project was fixed as December 2017.

But Accenture's services were terminated in May 2018 when, according to the lawsuit, Hertz said it no longer had confidence that the project would be delivered.

After Accenture began work on the project in August 2016, Hertz said it had paid the company US$32 million in fees and expenses. "Accenture never delivered a functional website or mobile app," the lawsuit alleged.

"Because Accenture failed to properly manage and perform the services, the go-live date was postponed twice, first until January 2018, and then until April 2018. By that point, Hertz no longer had any confidence that Accenture was capable of completing the project, and Hertz terminated Accenture."

Hertz said it had specified a website that could adapt to device size but Accenture ignored this and created a site only for large and small breakpoints. It then demanded additional payment to create a medium-sized layout.

Accenture was also claimed to have failed in delivering the extensibility of the site that Hertz claimed it had specified. The rental firm said "that a fundamental principle of the design of the website was its extensibility – that is, the use of a common core of libraries that could be extended across the websites and mobile apps for each of Hertz’s brands".

"Without Hertz’s knowledge or approval, Accenture deliberately disregarded the extensibility requirement and wrote the code so that it was specific to the Hertz brand in North America and could not be used for the Hertz global brand or for the Dollar and Thrifty brands," it alleged.

Hertz also found fault with Accenture's code quality. "The quality of Accenture’s programming was deficient as well," the lawsuit said.

"Accenture’s developers wrote the code for the customer-facing ecommerce website (the 'front-end development' or 'FED' code) in a way that created serious security vulnerabilities and performance problems. The defects in the FED code were so pervasive that all of Accenture’s work on that component had to be scrapped. For other components of the system, substantial portions of the code were also unusable."

If this were not reason enough to scrap the contract, Hertz said Accenture had not tested any of the software it developed.

"Accenture did not perform tests on many components of the system. When Accenture did perform tests, they were seriously inadequate, to the point of being misleading," Hertz said.

"Despite having received tens of millions of dollars in fees, Accenture never delivered a usable website or mobile apps. To the contrary, simply completing the project — which required identifying and remediating the defects in Accenture’s work and the development of functionality that Accenture was supposed to deliver but could not — required Hertz to expend more than $10 million in additional fees.

"Worse, Accenture’s failure to timely deliver the website and apps for which it was so generously paid has caused Hertz to lose millions of dollars in revenue in a tremendously competitive industry.

"Hertz now brings this action to recover the fees that it paid to Accenture and the damages that it has suffered and continues to suffer as a result of Accenture’s breaches."

Thanks to The Register for a link to the complaint.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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