On numerous occasions, delinquent debtors have given me this ultimatum in connection with payment of their past due balance. “We are not going to discuss payment status until and unless you release the orders you have on credit hold.” Often, credit department employees are so surprised by this tactic that they are at a loss for words. After several incidents, I developed a standard response along these lines:
My reply: I suggest we start this discussion all over again, only this time without the threat of non-payment. That is not the way this process works. Your account is past due. Our decision to extend credit to your company is based on trust. We trusted that when we extended credit and shipped product to your company that invoices would be paid when they became due. Now, you are threatening not to pay these past due invoices unless I agree to release the orders on credit hold. This does not inspire trust, but you are demanding I trust you by shipping additional products on open account terms.
As you know, orders are on hold because your account is past due. You can start to re-establish credibility by issuing an immediate payment for the past due balance, but without the threat and the preconditions. When I receive that payment, I will review the status of your orders pending. What I cannot do is allow you to use the threat of non-payment to get orders released. This is not the way that business partners treat each other, and to be completely honest, no one likes to be threatened. So, let’s start again.
In my opinion, it is a very serious mistake to allow any debtor to use extortion to get orders on hold released. It is a poor precedence to set for future interactions with that debtor.
Those are my thoughts. What do you think?
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.