A shortlist from Best4DebtCollection.co.uk runs through the ten most common excuses for non-payment – and it will come as no surprise to anyone who has been in business for a while.
Top of the list, which was published on UK Debt Collection News, is the excuse that the debtor is waiting for their own customers to pay before they can meet the cost of their invoice – although there is no legal reason why this should be a valid defence.
At number two, the argument that a cheque was sent but lost in the post – again, this is no reasonable defence, and you should be able to insist that a replacement cheque is sent, and ask for proof of postage.
Third on the list are delays arising from ‘disputed’ invoices, which may be a legitimate reason, but any dispute should be submitted in writing with clear supporting evidence.
Fourth is the suggestion that an invoice was never received; again, this may be true, so be careful to send invoices to the right place initially, and be quick to reissue them if they were genuinely not received.
Fifth on the list are invoice errors, so again, make sure you get everything correct first time, and be prompt about investigating any legitimate disputes, which may delay payment but should not lead to total non-payment.
Into the lower half of the list, and at number six is the claim that the person with payment responsibility is on holiday; in small firms you may simply need to wait for their return, but you should feel reasonable in asking for a specific date when they will be back, especially if the invoice is overdue.
At seven is the death of a company director, which is understandably difficult; you may want to allow late payment out of respect, but if the company continues trading, you should still receive what you are owed in due course.
Eighth on the list is company collapse, and if you discover that a customer has genuinely gone into liquidation, you should lodge a claim with the administrators to recover what you are owed.
Number nine is for people who are always ‘out of the office’ when you call to chase a payment; contact them on their mobile if you can, or in writing, and simply make it clear that you will not rest until you are paid.
And finally, companies may claim to be switching bank accounts, but with modern banking practices this should lead to no more than a day or two of delay, so don’t give too much grace for this one.