As a consultant, I have occasionally seen dunning notices and other correspondence being sent by my clients to delinquent customers with stickers, stamps or other messages considered to be or intended to be humorous reminders to pay the past due balance. In my opinion, when you use humor in collection correspondence you are trivializing the problem.
As a former Accounts Payable Manager, I believe that humorous collection messages undermine creditors’ efforts to collect past due balances quickly. Proponents of the use of humor believe that a humorous request for payment is more likely to be noticed by the A/P department, and I agree. When my A/P department received a humorous message, they shared it with their co-workers. However, the question is not whether the message is noticed; the question is whether the message is taken seriously and acted upon quickly.
I admit that I have never used humor in collections, but I have used irony. As a collector, I sent birthday cards to debtor companies’ CFOs when an invoice aged out to one year. The message I wrote in the card read: “Happy Birthday to invoice #123456 for $xxxx which is now a year old. Please take immediate action to prevent this invoice from getting any older.”
Delinquent debtors often (usually?) ignore written collection correspondence. They are even more likely to do so when humor is used. Collecting past due invoices is serious business, and the use of humor sends the wrong message. Trivializing the fact that an account is past due makes immediate payment far less likely.
Michael Dennis’ Covering Credit Commentary. Michael’s website is www.coveringcredit.com.
The opinions presented are those of the author. The opinions and recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of CMA, or their Officers and Directors. Readers are encouraged to evaluate any suggestions or recommendations made, and accept and adopt only those concepts that make sense to them.