Needing to Vent a bit

I’ve got a customer from hell… well, actually an ex customer from hell since they ‘no longer require my services’

they’ve been a unreliable payer since the first clean 5 months ago. didn’t pay the first invoice, paid the 2nd, none for 2 months then one, few more weeks before anohter… you get the idea.

I started sending a reminder out at the end of the month requesting they pay all the outstanding invoices. I even handed one to them telling them there were some over due.
early last month I send them a letter telling them to pay by the end of the month or I was going to suspend the service and take further action.
Still no reply.
2 days after their deadline, they call me up and ask why I havn’t shown up for the last clean!
i remind them again… ‘oh’ she says ‘can you send me another statement please and I’ll get it organised’

a few hours later, I get a e-mail from the manager telling me how unreliable I am, that they never knew when I was coming (I’ve been sick twice in the last 5 months and on holiday for 2 weeks during this time) so even though I sent out e-mails when i was off sick, and re-organised their clean for the following week, informed them I was going to be away I end up being the unreliable one??
the manager was obviously angry when she wrote the letter, as there is alot of below the belt comments, like this…

[I]"we will pay the account and find someone else to clean the windows (who we can rely on) and someone who will actually let us know about outstanding accounts rather than just not bother to turn up[/I]

I was told I never once gave them a courtasy call (who feels like calling when they are sick? and when you have 30 customers in the one day… that’s alot of phone calls)
I was fumming by the end of this e-mail!

I was tempted to send a reply back as soon as I read this e-mail, and was half way through doing so, when my wife suggested I leave it for a little while.
the response I sent today was a little more diplomatic then the one i was originally writting.

but BOY do I take offence at being told I am unreliable. especially from a customer that has 3 months of outstanding bills. (and a little more)

my response in the end basically read;
sorry for the miscommunication, thought you were aware from e-mails and informing the front counter girl.
if I knew phone call was more convientient for you I would have.
thank you for your feedback, will incorprate your suggestion.
regret you no longer need my services
(I shortened this a bit cause this post is getting rather long, but the meat of it is still there)

so really, besides making a phone call, is there any other way I could have kept them more informed as to what was going on?
letters in the mail, e-mails, personally handing them a statement.

ok… rant over… fully vented now… can go back to work tomorrow as my usually cheery self, enjoying my work (hating the 38 degree celcius temps in SPRING) and enjoying the thanks and praise I get reguarily from my customers :slight_smile:

P.S Sorry bout the legthyness of this :slight_smile:

Hey Ian, How big was this account anyway?

Its a game. Ive played this game with a few accounts and I put a stop to it really quick. It sounds like they are trying to hold you at bay. Give you a little payment here and there to keep you showing up. I have residential customers on file that have alerts on their account to pay us when it is completed or give a credit card over the phone before we start work. Its a game. Play along or move on to a paying customer that pays their bills on time. It sounds like they are skipping invoices to throw a wrench into your accounting if you ask me.

They don’t like to pay but they want you to wash the windows anyway. Maybe if you are lucky, they will pay you some day.

They figure they can get someone else if you don’t like it.

There are customes like that.

I think you did everything you could have done. You DID let them know when you could not be there. You DID let them know about the outstanding invoices!

High five the wife man. I wouldve went postal too. My wife would have calmed me down as well and had me wait. Smart they are.

I got upset just reading the post!

Have a good week man.

A company I used to work for had the same problem. They started printing up some kind of work order that needed to be signed by someone behind the counter or manager at all their storefronts. It is a little of a hassle, but in the long run, you have proof that you were there each and every time they are billed for. Hope this help some out there.

I’m sorry to hear about this. I got ****ed reading about it, too. It’s happened to all of us at one time or another and sadly it’s bound to happen again.

It was way smart of you to wait to reply. You could have done more damage to your name by acting emotionally rather than professionally. I do think, in the end, though, you should not have accepted fault. There is a way to state what you did correctly and how they did not comply on their end without being accusatory or emotional. You basically agreed that you were unreliable and that’s not good for your name either.

I agree that paperwork is the best way to document your interactions with customers, even if it does take an extra moment of your time. Every time I do a commercial job, I get a sign off on the job before I leave. I send a paper invoice with the required payment terms and send another one if payment isn’t received by required date. In this particular situation, I would have serviced them twice, but I also would have sent them a letter after the second service that the “contract” will terminate if payment is not reconciled in 60 days. It’s way too easy to get screwed over by people and you have to cover your butt.

Also, I think a phone call is essential when you’re sick or have to cancel. I know it’s the last thing you want to do, but ask your wife to help call customers if she can. It’s the next best thing to talking to someone in person. I am NOT saying you were in the wrong here. These people will have the same problem with whomever they work with. I know their type! I just hope I’m able to provide you with advice to prevent getting screwed in the future. Good luck!

As others have said, I think you acted responsibly. Like Mike Defiel, I’m curious how much was at stake with this account. That is, how much is it worth agonizing about? Was it such good money that it was worth eating crow for? I’ve lost some ‘loser accounts’ and after awhile it feels good to have the headache gone and be able to seek out better accts.

thanks for all the comments guys, first day back today has been a good day (besides the heat)

I’m in no way upset about loosing this account, it was only a $25 per fortnight job, all that got me so worked up was being called unreliable. I pride myself on my work ethics, so it was a bit of a slap in the face.
plus the whole e-mail she sent was like that one line I posted, whole thing was worded in such a way to work me up.

this is the first job that has dumped me, I have dropped a few customers over the last few years for not paying, (and actually got some money from some of them)
just found this one rather annoying ( to say the least)

Will definatly consider getting my wife to call as well as the e-mails, or I might ask the managers at each place their prefered contact method… it’s all a learning curve

I hate to ask. I know I’m not alone. But, what’s a fortnight? :confused:
We don’t use the term very often in the states.

Fourteen days. They used the term quite a bit in your neck of the woods a while back…

Ez - Send her a nicely worded letter:

Dear Ms. Lazy-Pay:

It has been a pleasure to keep your windows clean. We/I believe that we have outperformed our competition in service, value and satisfaction.

Are you aware that while we perform arranged services for you ontime everytime, your remittances arrive late, or not at all until we/I have to call or write?

Of course, were this a case in your business, you must realize the increased cost to process these types of late payments. As well, you must realize how important getting paid in a timely manner as previously determined must be when running a business and have dependants who also have to be paid.

We have extended credit to you, and do not feel that should your remittances arrive later than expected that we can provide the services to you at the original price agreed upon. Therefore, although we do not want to, and do not have to for our 2000 other customers who pay in a timely fashion, we MUST advise that any payment which arrives later than agreed upon will incurr a carrying charge of $/whatever amount per xx days late beyond the agreed upon payment date.

If you ahve any questions about this, my phone number is xxxxxxxx.

Thank you.

-and then if it arrives late, and the late payment fees are not paid, then rebid the job.
-if that doesn’t work, find 2 more that pay on time, right?

Welcome Wade!

Sorry to bump such an old thread, but I, too, am having a little trouble with a few specific residential accounts. I have sent an invoice to them (same as original) and still no reply. I have left a message, no reply. Now another issue is one of them was “out of town” during the time of service so no signature. I have on the bottom of all my invoices “Please remit payment within 10 days”. I’m going on a month. I know some of you guys with larger businesses have a much larger AR than myself, but it’s still irritating none-the-less.

Send them another notice informing them that in X days you will be transferring the invoice to your collection attorney, and show a name and address. There’s no need to be rude, but you do need to be stern. You don’t need to actually have one, it’s just a scare tactic at first.

Edit: I usually add in that I know it’s easy to forget, and if special arrangements are needed we may be able to work something out…etc. Just to try and soften the letter a little while keeping it clear they still have to pay.

If that doesn’t work, then look up some in your area and give them a call. We have one ready, but have never had to use him because the reminders (or more accurately – kindly worded threats) work so well.

ive never written a reminder yet, face-to face is the only way to stop a build up of debt

if it takes 2 or 3 journeys to find the customer ,so be it,im extra bitter by that point and more determined to get my money or hear just what the hell is their problem

Some laws consider that behavior harassment. Make sure you understand your legal limitations.

There are laws about paying for services rendered too as an avenue of leverage to deadbeats.

I am trying to figure out what you have lost. I guess maybe some sweat. You were cleaning the windows and they weren’t paying you. Now you aren’t cleaning the windows and they still aren’t paying you.

This is why I don’t extend credit for small accounts

Why did you go back the second time?