Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The best way to handle customers who don't pay

From CBS News MoneyWatch:

In its 13 years, my company has been unusually fortunate in that we have had -- as hard as it may be to believe -- only two or three bad debt write-offs (for very small amounts) and perhaps four or five credit card chargebacks (money taken back by card issuers, typically due to customer disputes or fraud). Other than that, our receivables have always been current.

I attribute this partially to good luck, but mostly to careful, disciplined processes and practices, from making open-account decisions, to manually reviewing any suspicious credit card charges before shipping (obviously not possible for all businesses), to being willing to pass up any order if we are concerned about getting paid.

Unfortunately, it happens that right now we are dealing with our first-ever serious collection challenge, for a relatively large amount of money, from an otherwise great and longtime customer.

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