When debtors are paying peanuts …

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When debtors are paying peanuts …

> When someone is “paying off” a debt (in this case, the Mother of two students who are no longer at the school they were attending) but the amount being paid, although regularly, is so small that it will take YEARS to settle, try this.

Background (excerpt from an email we received from the Business Manager – today.)
The family has twin girls, however, they left in 2011 as both girls had completed Year 7. The father is not in the picture but the mother is in a permanent relationship. The family is paying a fortnightly Direct Debit of $32.50/fortnight but it will be at least five years before the debt is paid.  They have stuck to their Direct Debits and have had no rejections but it is not feasible for the School to continue to carry this debt, especially when they are no longer at the School.  I have spoken to Mrs Potter to see if she could get a personal loan to payout the fees to the School but she said this was not an option.
Please Note:
All situations are different. 
This is the approach we are taking for 
THIS specific matter.

Here is the email we sent today 
to the schools Business Manager, Jane.

Hi Jane,

Thanks for your email.  This is our “Plan of Attack”.

1.   Please put the wording below onto the School’s letterhead and sign it.
2.   Send it by Registered Mail (only a couple of dollars more)
  *  in a plain envelope
  *  with a postage stamp and the
  *  address hand-written on the envelope and
  *  a return address on the back that Mrs Potter will not know.
  *  mark the envelope as PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.
3.   You did not fill in an email address for her but if she DOES have one, also send the letter by email LAST THING on Friday, as a pdf attachment.  The email itself simply to say “The attached letter is self-explanatory”.  No “Hi Mrs Potter”, nothing, just a blank email with those words.  But, I’m assuming she has none. (Send me a bcc of the email – if there IS one – when it’s sent so that I have a copy of the original.)
4.  Send me a pdf of the letter by email if there is NO email address.
This is the wording for the letter to the parent

Dear Mrs Potter,

Remaining Account Balance – $4,521.00

In the light of the current economic circumstances the school has had to relook very carefully at its credit policy and it has become obvious that over the last twelve months more parents than normal have been taking far longer to settle their school fees than in the past. This has made it difficult for the school to operate within normal overdraft arrangements and resulted in higher interest charges.

As a result, the matter of overdue accounts was recently raised during the last meeting of School Board with individual attention given to those considered most seriously in arrears.  It was noted that 

*  your daughters, Ingrid & Mandy, left the school in December 2011 on completion of Year 7.
*  the account is being reduced by way of fortnightly reductions of $32.50, but that
*   this will take over five years to finalise.

This arrangement is no longer acceptable as the schools Standard Credit Policy is that all fees are to be paid within 14 days of receiving the account.  With that in mind, it is now most important that you either
*  make whatever financial arrangements are necessary for the account to be fully cleared by Friday, 25 May 2012, or
*  provide a written repayment proposal by the same date for the Board’s consideration to indicate how the above balance will be fully settled within three (3) months of the date of this letter.

It should be clearly understood that, in the absence of either of the above alternatives being received as requested, the Board will be obliged to consider what other options are available to secure this outstanding debt. 

We trust that we will hear from you shortly and that that will not become necessary.

If she phones when she gets the letter …
… as I expect she will, do NOT discuss the matter over the phone.  Get her to come IN to the school to discuss anything and call me beforehand.

If she physically comes in …
… be concerned, blame the Board, be her “ally”, take notes, don’t commit to anything.  Tell her you’ll pass her concerns on and will be “in touch” as soon as you hear back.  Key things to remember:  Blame the Board, blame policy, empathise.

All this may sound like “overkill” but the intention is to get her to react (wouldn’t you if you got this! By Registered Mail.)  I’ve diarised to follow you up about 4 working days after her “deadline”.  Good Luck.
  *  This letter blames something else, allowing the Business Manager to be the Good Guy.
  *  Fear of the Unknown is being used twice – Registered Mail and the unknown “other options” in the letter
  *  If there was an email and it was sent last thing on Friday, the parents would have to sweat it out all weekend before being able to do anything about it!

I will post any future developments in this blog 
as, and when, they occur.
THIS is what happened next.


By | 2017-09-20T10:35:56+00:00 May 10th, 2012|case studies|0 Comments

About the Author:

Have you ever wondered why a client does business with you and then ignores your invoice like they had no intention of paying it in the first place or they treat you like their own personal line of credit, leaving YOU dangling, waiting months for their payment? Unfortunately this situation is all too common and can even be puzzling for the most experienced business owner. If you’ve ever had to handle outstanding accounts or you are just so over non-payers, then we can help. Real-world skills, solutions, tips & strategies to get more accounts paid on time, and, most importantly, how to maintain customer goodwill while keeping YOUR cash flow in the positive. You will find the blog posts helpful but to get real results, contact us by using any of the forms on this site, by email or by phone. I’ve been involved in the management of accounts for over 30 years, heard every excuse in the book, can spot a non-payer at 20 paces. Finance Companies in the 70s (systematic, tough), professional firms in the 80s (no systems, too gentle) and, since then, just about every other sort of business you can think of. I’ve written books on the topic, spoken all over the place about it and the blog in this website is my way of “giving back”. I hope you find it helpful.

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