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Lorrainelovesplants

bad/late payers.

We have a customer who I am having problems with late payments.

Weve done repeat work for him over the last 2 years and he's a pain in the arse. 'Can you come and recover my grass cutting tractor from the middle of the field as its not working and it looks like rain and Im going on holiday for 2 weeks tomorrow.'

You know the type......

He never has money/cheque book when we return the machinery, I always have to email an invoice and then chase, and chase, and chase. In the past Ive had to threaten late payment fee demand.

Personally I would be glad to lose him.
Weve just done another he's on holiday thing. The work was completed 2 weeks ago, but I held back as he was away. .I emailed the bill a week ago, and got a snotty reply:

Thank you very much for fixing the mower and all your work for me previously - it would be really nice if you were a little more trustworthy and appreciative of your local clients without resorting to threatening unspecified fees for late payment ( the invoice will not open on my phone. ). I will of course pay you for your work next week when I am home.

Im still waiting.

Suggestions?
Rob R

Unless it's a significant amount worth going to the small claims court, I would just write it off and refuse to ever work for him again. Life is too short.
joanne

I think I'd be honest and respond with a polite version of what you just said.

Something along the lines of:

"Thank you for your email last week, however a week has now passed, I assume you are home and we still haven't received payment. You are fully aware of our terms of business and I would understand if this was a one off occurence but unfortunately this seems to be the norm rather than the exception.

As a small business we rely on prompt payment to be able to manage our cash flow and our other clients respect that.

You are now overdue by <howevermanydays>, additional fees of <> will now be applied daily until the account is cleared."
Chez

Yep, what Rob said. Or have a special higher price for him that makes all the hassle worth your while.
joanne

Then if you still get no joy, follow what Rob says
Rob R

Yep, what Rob said. Or have a special higher price for him that makes all the hassle worth your while.


With pre-payment - if you can't say no, just say "that'll be x times the normal price, please".
alison

Or tell him you are changing the terms, for all your customers, and it is 50% up front, with balance on collection / delivery, as unfortunately some people don't get that you need to eat too, and bills have to be paid. I bet he will be too thick skinned to realise that it is him you are getting at.
OtleyLad

The online small claims route is simple and it does get peoples attention. Also once you have applied its almost out of your hands (other than receiving the money).

Some people just don't like paying-go for the jugular.
Ty Gwyn

If you know you have had previous problems with this client paying on time,
Why not just let him know the job has been done,and its ready for collection and the bill is so much,

If he don`t pay,don`t release it,its not as if you are worried about keeping this client anyway.
Pilsbury

Its perfectly acceptable to charge a storage fee for any kit you are still holding say a week after you mail them the invoice, just charge between 1 to 10 a day storage depending on how much workshop or land it takes up, you can just invoke it on the people who pee you off and of course wave it if the people contact you before payment is due with a reasonable explination, ten the ball is in their court.
You mail them the invoice and twll them the item is ready for collection on settlment of the invoice and will incure tue storage charge of x per day from x date except by agreement with you.
gregotyn

Where I work we simply don't allow the goods off the premises unless they are paid for by the bad payers upfront. Most of our customers are good, very few take more than 60 days, and most, the usual 30 days. We have some really good customers who pay within a couple of days. How well folks pay governs how good the discount is!
BahamaMama

Hang on to the goods/keys until he pays?
Lorrainelovesplants

Great advice thanks.

Unfortunately in this case the tractor broke down in a field. John went to diagnose, battery knackered. came home ordered battery and when it arrived replaced it, drove the tractor to the guys shed and left it there.

Part of the problem is John. He hates to see someone stuck and this guy has done this a few times. Ive told him we refuse all work coming from him. Its not like we need work, we are snowed under all year now. Id rather offer the service we do to 'nice' customers.

Re T&C - should i have these on the website? I did have on the old website, and have some time where I can update. Should I have a drop down menu to the Garden machinery page?
Pilsbury

T&c on the website, pronted on the bac of physical invoices and copy and pasted into electroninc invoices, i wouldnt trust a link on email because they may claim they didnt want to click onto a hyperlink, you can set a signature for emails and this could he your t&c
Rob R



Part of the problem is John. He hates to see someone stuck and this guy has done this a few times. Ive told him we refuse all work coming from him. Its not like we need work, we are snowed under all year now. Id rather offer the service we do to 'nice' customers.


I feel your pain, Paul is just the same, no matter how much it costs in time or money. Trouble is , being too nice doesn't pay the bills. Sad
Lorrainelovesplants

Okay - polite wording please , as I can be a bit abrupt. (No I can - just ask my daughter)

Acceptance of any item of machinery implies that you have entered into a contract with us. As will have been explained to you, if you are a new customer, we will charge a minimum of 15 to examine any piece of machinery, whether it can be repaired or not. In the event it cannot be repaired - either it is uneconomical to repair or too old and we cannot source parts, we will ask you to collect the item and pay the examination fee of 15. If you fail to pay within 7 days you agree that the item is now ours to dispose of.
Any item repaired/serviced must be paid for on completion of work, unless specifically agreed beforehand.
In certain circumstances we will give you 7 days grace to pay an invoice. After this time, you will be liable to a storage fee of 10 per week, and interest on the outstanding amount of 6%.

As a small business we cannot afford to have unpaid items affecting our cash flow nor taking up space in the workshop. Thanksfully, most of our customers are brilliant and pay on collection, but these T&C's are for the very few.
If we have to start chasing you, we will not do any further work for you.
BahamaMama

Suggested amendments, slightly less threatening Laughing and Ts & Cs apply to all customers:-

We will charge a minimum of 15 to examine any piece of machinery. In the event it cannot be repaired we will ask you to collect the item (within xx days) and pay the examination fee of 15. If you fail to pay within 7 days, you agree that the item is now ours to dispose of.
Any item repaired/serviced must be paid for on completion of work, unless specifically agreed beforehand.
Any delay in payment must be mutually agreed, in advance and is restricted to a maximum of 7 days.
After this time, you will be liable to a storage fee of 10 per week, and interest on the outstanding amount at a rate of 6% per day/week/month?

As a small business we cannot afford to have unpaid items affecting our cash flow nor taking up space in the workshop.
Pilsbury

Agree with bahamamama, t&c apply to all customers, wetyer you enforce them is down to your customer relationship, do you charge a call out fee in the example of the tractor in the field? I would suggest you do even if you count it as payment to the final balance on the invoice. Lorrainelovesplants

thanks guys.

Im very warm/crabby and need a stiff pint of G&T.

I will take your amended bits and copy and paste onto the website.

I cant charge the person a callout fee, but may write this in to the T&C as well. We had another 'call out' person (she'd call at 5pm on a Sunday DEMANDING that John go out to her immediately. We told her no and stopped returning her calls. I thought she's got the message last year (till last week, when she did it again).
Pilsbury

Yep, out of hours, emergency, off site can all attract a premium especially if you have more work than you can handle and you only need to apply it to the people you think deserve it.
You might be surprised how many people can wait until 9 am tomorrow mornimg rather than 9 pm tonight if its goimg to cost an extra 20 to them.
RichardW

T&C's on the back of invoices & on websites (where they dont have to read them to complete the online purchase or enter into a contract) will not be enforceable.

The customer needs to have a copy prior to entering into an agreement with you. You can add conditions after the fact. Preferably you need a signed copy.
Lorrainelovesplants

so, its a waste of time having them on the website?

Do many people have a list of T&C's they hand out to customers on accepting garden machinery for servicing? Ive never heard of this?

In this particular case I think I will send the invoice with a note and when/if paid will just inform that we no longer wish his business.
Mistress Rose

In places where people take their appliances for repair I have seen the T&Cs stuck up on the wall behind the counter, or even stuck on the counter. If you go out to people you need to have them on the website and possibly hand out a sheet with them on. Could you include in your website 'Acceptance of equipment for repair is dependant upon the owner accepting our terms and conditions' directly above your phone number? Lorrainelovesplants

Thats a good idea.

I will do this today, thanks.
Lorrainelovesplants

On website, on invoices and on workshop door.

Thanks all.

Ill need to educate John.....that going to be much harder. Rolling Eyes
BahamaMama

Well done and good luck Smile pollyanna

Be careful about telling anybody you don't want their business, especially in writing. You have no control over the spin he will put on it talking to other people. He certainly won't admit he is a bad payer.

The simplest thing is just to tell him you are 'snowed under' and put him at the back of the queue. Maybe even recommend someone else to do his work.
vegplot

If you're claiming unpaid items as your property after 7 days how can you justify charging a weekly storage fee?

Have you checked the legality of your T&C's?

Misspelling of 'ask' in first clause.
stumbling goat

so, its a waste of time having them on the website?

Do many people have a list of T&C's they hand out to customers on accepting garden machinery for servicing? Ive never heard of this?

In this particular case I think I will send the invoice with a note and when/if paid will just inform that we no longer wish his business.

What will this achieve? A thank you for your payment would suffice. Think about how it would look to outsiders looking in?

My view, take it or leave it, is that any communication should be to the point but not abrupt, informative, IE makes the point, but without leaving the other side feeling aggrieved or hard done by, even if there behaviour warrants it.

Again, just my view but communication should ideally always start as softly as you can and then be ramped up as and when timing and circumstances make it necessary.

It may be your "business", but you may not necessarily be the best person to communicate with errant customers. She may be your daughter but you may not be the best person to teach her to drive etc. And re your daughter, you have created and nurtured that particular monster! Confused

Good luck with both those issues LLP.

sg
Ty Gwyn

Always thought it was either 21 or 30 days one should give to claim item or sold to defray expenses. gregotyn

This all points to my 'man' who does my L Rover servicing to being a really good chap, he only gives me a bill when he wants his money, and then I pay it. Usually 12 months!
I should have added that I find the worst payers to be horse folks, one owes me a paultry sum of about 150 spread over about 5 years-'Can I have them here for a bit longer,as I am away next w/e?'; and 'I'm nearly ready, just got to put the gates on the new stable'; and 'I am taking a late hay cut, waiting for the baler';and the classic 'I have no grass available yet can I keep them here another week?' The next one still owes me 200, just got no money-well enough for the pub, the worst is that she and hubby are both on benefits, with a 4 wheel drive motobility car, he suffers from stress-poor boy-when she does cough up its like getting what I have paid in to the system back! The one that stopped me doing the job paid the first month up front and no more-so he owes 250! I now give the organic hay away, and to someone who really appreciates the gift. I would like the 600 owing, but they can't look me in the eye and I just smile. Even though I am not rich by any standard I've always paid my way, working on the principle that if I can't afford it now, I don't need it till I can afford it. This has never applied to my houses as I could afford a mortgage!
dpack

Unless it's a significant amount worth going to the small claims court, I would just write it off and refuse to ever work for him again. Life is too short.

diito in most ways

even if it is quite a lot dump em and let em worry what might be next .

the odd deniable nudge can add to the fun

recover the cash (or whatever restitution is required)if poss but it should not be the priority .
an eternity of worry for them is worth quite a bit to you long term and is both cheap and easy to do:x sometimes do nothing is very scary.

a bad customer is worse than no customer but if a bad ex customer can be made to be good(or you have fun with them)they are an asset when dealing with other situations even if only you know what happened Wink

business the mafia way ,lesson 421 b Laughing Laughing Laughing
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