UK’s Top 10 non payment excuses revealed


With Billions of pounds of business being conducted daily in the UK, we examine the most commonly used excuses for late or non payment currently being used in 2014 by a minority of companies across Great Britain. Anybody that works in credit control or indeed, the debt collection industry will be all too familiar with some or all of these well worn payment evading techniques.

Debt Collection quotation site has kindly supplied us with the most frequently given reasons communicated to their users for non payment of a range of debts such as overdue invoices, credit accounts, commercial rent, retainers etc

Many of the excuses encountered are the same as two decades ago but in today’s world there is a greater level of information in the public domain and quite often, it pays, quite literally, to be extremely diligent in such situations. Goodwill put not pay the bills so whatever the situation, it is essential you remain in control of the situation.

The problem of combating ambiguous non payment excuses can be a difficult situation so for advice on dealing with such problems,  we have enlisted the help of Mike Sharpe, Senior Collections Officer for leading UK Commercial Debt Recovery firm Federal Management.

Top 10 reasons for non payment:

1. The old ‘supply chain’ excuse!

“We are waiting for our suppliers/contractors to pay us before we can pay you”

Mike  says “A familiar excuse used by sub contractors especially. Unless you have agreed this prior to completing works or providing services, you have every right to request prompt payment”

2. The missing cheque bluff

“We sent a cheque last week, it must be lost in the post or will turn up any day now”

Mike says “If you have not received a cheque then the debt remains outstanding. Simply ask for proof of postage and/or ask them to re-issue the cheque recorded delivery and tell them to cancel the ‘sent’ one.”

3. The spurious dispute scenario

“We’re not paying this invoice, it’s in dispute”

Mike says “If there is a genuine dispute, it needs to be documented in writing with supporting evidence. This is a legal obligation on the part of the debtor. Mediation is the key in this instance however if this is met with a wall of silence then a more pro active approach may be required”

4. The case of the mysterious disappearing invoice

“We haven’t received any invoices”

Mike says “Possibly the most common excuse used of all. 99.9% of businesses use email, simply email or fax it over immediately with a request for immediate payment”

5. The invoice is incorrect

“The invoice is wrong so we’re not paying it”

Mike says “Sometimes it may be the case that an incorrect invoice was sent. It is no grounds for complete non payment though. You can either give them 7 days grace and get a revised and correct email sent immediately or simply ask them to pay (providing you agree) to what they agree to and you will send them a credit note for the remainder”

6. The Payment holiday

“The signatory needed for cheques is on holiday”

Mike says “A difficult and frustrating situation and an excuse used mainly by smaller firms. If the invoice is overdue then you need to be asking if they can pay via card/BACS or at the very least establish the exact date the ‘Accounts’ person is returning from holiday before taking a firmer stance”

7. The deathly debt dodge

“The company director has died”

Mike says “A very delicate situation that requires a sensible diplomatic approach. In most cases the business continues , the invoice is still outstanding and a Limited company has to meet its obligations. Each situation should be judged on its own merit however, this kind of excuse is far more common that people may think”

8. The receivership smokescreen

“The company has gone into liquidation/administration/receivership”

Mike says “Always question this straight away. What date, name of liquidators/administrators etc then check with companies house or indeed, contact the liquidators etc directly”

He adds “If you have a legitimate claim to intellectual property or hold any other securities within your T’s & C’s, it may help you to retrieve goods/items supplied to them”

9. The AWOL Accounts

“He’s not in the office at the moment”

Mike says “The oldest trick in the book. Evading creditors by saying they are not in the office etc is the easiest way to avert paying on time. Set your own deadline and ensure you have all their contact details. It’s 2014 and everybody has a mobile and everybody is contactable!”

10.  The banking blagg

“We’re changing banks at the moment”

Mike says “Switching business accounts from one bank to another is a legitimate reason for a ‘short’ delay in payment but nothing more than a few days at the most”

So there it is. The top 10 of most current common excuses being used by companies in the UK. So before you believe the excuses of your next trade debtor, think twice or you might just pay the price for not being more assertive!



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