DataCert sells accounting services to companies. On the surface, it looks like they offer "e-billing", which, theoretically, is supposed to make it easier to track legal spending. This is supposed to provide the DataCert client with information designed to reduce waste.
In practice, it's clunky, unintuitive and buggy. The product they offer to their primary clients is terrible. But that's not the worst part.
Their business model is: get a company that uses vendors to sign up, then charge that company's vendors to use DataCert's software. For example, BigCo, Inc, uses outside counsel and hires a bunch of law firms, big and small, to do things for them. Let's use "LawFirm" as an example.
Before DataCert, LawFirm sent paper or email invoices to BigCo, who processed them using humans in the accounts payable department. This involves a fairly small investment fro LawFirm (i.e., billing) and a somewhat larger investment from BigCo (i.e., they have to pay their AP people).
DataCert provides software to BigCo that uses an industry standard system (LEDES) to standardize invoices and categorize spending. This offers some advantage to BigCo, in that the LEDES standard does make it easier to keep track of categorized spending.
In my experience, the DataCert BigCo product is not a good product. But there are lots of companies that sell crappy products. If all DataCert did was sell a crappy product, they'd still suck, but no more than pleny of other companies.
What makes DataCert truly awful is that they force BigCo's vendors (i.e., LawFirm) to pay, too. It's one thing to say, "buy our product, if you like." It's something else to say, "sign up for our product, and we'll make your vendors pay for it."
The vendors have three options: a) pay DataCert's fee, b) convince their client that the vendor should be exempt, or c) drop the client. What do you think the probability is that BigCo will make an exception for any particular vendor? One exception ruins the point of "get all your legal spending into one standard system."
In practice, this boils down to: "give us money or else." That is a mugging when it's done in person. It's no less wrong when it's done via email.
Summary: DataCert makes money forcing third-parties that have no say in the contract to pay for services they would otherwise never purchase. This is a horrible, horrible company.
If you, too, have been forced to pay DataCert, please spread the word. They're operating under cover of darkness. If BigCo sees a bunch of negative reviews, they may fire (or not hire) this terrible company. When it goes out of business, the world will be a better place.