If you’ve dealt with a lot of late payment – or worse still, non-payment – there are certain excuses you’ll have seen time and time again. Here are ten of the best…
1. We never got the invoice.
Sometimes true – which is why you should always check the invoice has arrived safely – but often just the laziest of excuses.
2. He/She’s left the company.
Blaming a departed individual is a classic move, and can leave you unsure of who to contact for help, but it shouldn’t mean you’re not still owed the money.
3. We’ve already paid.
Another incredibly lazy excuse, and unless you’ve received the money into your account, it’s not really your problem if the debtor has sent payment to the wrong place.
4. The goods were faulty.
Raising a dispute at a late stage is another classic delaying tactic, but unless the problem was mentioned at the point of delivery, it’s usually too late to use it as a reason for non-payment.
5. We work on 120-day terms.
One for the big boys, and when you encounter this – usually having expected to be paid in 30 days – it can cause major cash flow problems.
6. It’s not our invoicing date yet.
The SME equivalent – blame the delay on ‘only processing payments once a month’ or something, despite the fact that on 30-day terms, at least one invoicing date has probably already passed when the deadline date arrives.
7. The amount is wrong.
Depending on the pricing structure you agreed up front – a price per item, or per hour, for instance – the exact final invoice total might come under dispute, so try to make clear how much it will be from the outset.
8. We’re not liable.
Complex supply chains – for example if you provide goods to a reseller, but take payment directly from the end customer – can raise confusion over who actually owes you the money, so be clear on any supplier arrangements you establish.
9. We never received the goods.
Whatever your product or service might be, make sure you get proof of delivery and the customer’s acknowledgement of receipt – otherwise they might simply claim they never received anything from you at all.
10. We don’t want to pay you.
The most bare-faced ‘excuse’ of them all is a simple flat refusal to pay up – leaving you with the choice of harassing the debtor (within the limits of the law, of course), writing off the debt, or bringing a debt collector in to recover what you are owed.