Ten excuses used for not paying invoices

By : |August 13, 2008 0

AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS: In today’s tight credit environment it is even more important than usual to stay on top of late-paying customers. More and more purchasers are looking for opportunities to extend payment terms, and for some this can mean finding excuses either to pay late or not at all. Over the years, Atradius Collections has heard just about every excuse when collecting amounts due from debtors of its customers. Some of the classic or more common excuses for not paying invoices include:

* We haven’t received the invoice
* Our terms are (30, 60) days
* We don’t have a payment run until next month
* There are no check signatories available
* The check is in the mail/the invoice has already been paid
* The goods were never delivered or the order was cancelled
* The goods/services were faulty or not as described
* The balance is incorrect and we are awaiting a credit note
* The goods have not been sold/the buyer has not paid for the goods yet, need sale proceeds to be able to pay
* The debtor is insolvent.

Although it happens rarely, some debtors still manage to surprise even us. These excuses have actually been used by debtors:

* It’s not a valid debt as my vindictive ex-wife ran off with the company credit card
* I just got back from my luxury holiday, it cost more than I thought so I no longer have the funds to pay
* I wanted to pay but all the invoices were in my briefcase, which was stolen on the street
* My wife has been kidnapped, and I need the money to get her back.

There’s no telling what you might hear when you call a customer about an outstanding invoice. This is particularly so for companies doing business internationally. But to maximize your chances of getting paid, timely reminders, persistence and the knowledge of the right responses to these and other potential objections or stall tactics are essential.

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