Subscribe To Our Daily Enewsletter:

MSP Arrested for Turning Off Customer’s Managed IT Services?

Jim-KubicekImagine the following MSP or CSP scenario: A customer allegedly signs a three-year cloud services or IT services contract with an MSP business. But one year into the agreement the customer allegedly cancels the deal. In response, the MSP allegedly turns off the customer’s IT services — and the MSP gets arrested.

That’s at least some of the scenario facing Jim Kubicek, president and COO of Kubicek Information Technologies. He provided IT services to Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce in Georgia. When the chamber canceled the IT services, Kubicek allegedly took the customers’ data hostage and prevented the chamber from accessing its own data, according to a report. Kubicek got arrested and now faces charges related to theft by extortion, computer theft and computer trespass, the report says.

The twist? Kubicek insists he did nothing wrong. Instead, he was simply turning off IT services for which the customer refused to pay, he claims. Now, Kubicek is suing the chamber for unpaid IT services.

What are the deeper details of the case? Kubicek’s court appearance is set March 10. We’re checking in with both sides of the case for updates.

Updated February 7, 2017, 12:05 p.m. ET: Both Kubicek and his attorney declined to comment at the case at this time. We’ll continue to check in with them for potential updates.

Return Home

11 Comments

Comments

    Ted Roller:

    I wonder what the data rights are in this scenario if they are not explicitly addressed in the agreement. Either way, there seems to be an opportunity here to improve most service agreements to prevent this exposure.

      Joe Panettieri:

      Hey Ted: Thanks for raising an important point on data rights. Also, I concede: Our initial report paints with broad strokes. Kubicek replied to ChannelE2E’s inquiry Monday evening and referred us to his lawyer for potential comment. We’ll follow up on Tuesday.
      -jp

    Larry Walsh:

    Having read your synopsis and the original news report, it seems the issue isn’t the service discontinuation but the ownership of the data. Ted is right, what did the contract say about data retrieval and transfer? No, the customer doesn’t have a right to service after a contract is canceled or discontinued. However, the MSP doesn’t have the right to withhold property, which is what the data is. Either the Chamber didn’t move the data fast enough or the MSP is being capricious in its application of service discontinuation. But what do I know? I just play a lawyer on social media.

    Jim Porter:

    All of us as MSP or CSP are exposed on this issue. We had a similar issue and we had three things going in our favor.
    1. The client was 8 months behind on payments. We stood by the customer when they were facing financial hardship. We continued to support them, they did get caught up on invoices.
    2. They tried to sneak away a second time and was 5 months behind when we shut off email services, amazingly they contacted us after several attempts to reach owners to resolve issue.
    3. We did not release email until they paid to current status and the rest of the HaaS contract. In addition, we made them pay for 6 house of support at standard rates to transition. They called the police but it did not go any further since we had signed contracts plus complete documentation thanks to ConnectWise for that!!
    Police determined we were well within our rights to turn off services.

    Joe Panettieri:

    Larry, Jim: Thanks for the additional viewpoints.

    A quick update: ChannelE2E reached out to Kubicek’s attorney today (Tuesday, Feb 7) for additional info. We’ll be sure to update our coverage if/when we receive a reply.

    Best,
    -jp

    Ilene Rosoff:

    In addition to contract language, its also important to know the environment and service delivery vehicles. There is an important distinction here as to the mechanism of data “lockout.” Was this an issue of changing/withholding passwords in a premise environment or was this an issue where Cloud service access was discontinued. The former implies a intentional effort to change the locks on the client’s own house while the other is confiscating the key to your house. These have different legal ramifications.

    Brendan:

    Here’s the trick…has legislation caught up with the technology? In so many areas, no. My guess is that IT will start to be treated, in some cases, like a utility in the legal sense. In other words, just like the gas company can’t turn off your service in the dead of winter, there will be some boundaries, ie hoops, that have to be jumped through before a CSP or MSP can simply turn off services. Based on my experience the average MSP would rather preserve a relationship long term than be quick to flip the switch and shutdown services.

    Joe Panettieri:

    Illene, Brendan: Thnx for the additional thoughts. I’m curious to learn which (if any) of the issues and scenarios you’ve described potentially apply to this case.

    A quick update for all readers: Both Kubicek and his attorney declined to comment at the case at this time. We’ll continue to check in with them for potential updates.
    -jp

    Danielle Ralston:

    This is a Professional IT Service Provider that I have worked with along side in the past. As a good service provider they have a solid contract in place.  They also would have a continuance clause for the end of the contract and need notification that the client will be moving to someone else, 90 days is normal.  They also I am sure have a line about if a client doesn’t pay on time then xyz will happen to their services.

    Dave:

    Any update?

      Joe Panettieri:

      An updated statement from Jim, as of March 13, 5:10pm ET: “Nothing moving on it yet. There has been no indictment and no news from the DA on this. We are waiting for a new court date, provided an indictment is handed down.”
      -jp

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *