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Checklist: Handling debtors’ excuses and objections

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Last updated on February 13, 2013
Before you communicate with a debtor, it’s a good idea to prepare questions and be ready to respond to all possible excuses and objections to payment.

Of course, your debtor may have a genuine reason for delaying payment of an account. It is your job to bring this out by listening carefully to what is said.

Keep in mind that it's highly likely that there are others who are also trying to collect money from the individual or firm that you are contacting. You are just one of a large number trying to get their money. If you're going to be successful, you need to show why it is better to pay you, than to pay someone else.

The old adage that the squeaky wheel gets the most oil is quite applicable to the collection of money from debtors, but it's all in the way you squeak. You don't have to squeak in a loud or aggressive manner to get your point across.

Tips on possible responses to some common excuses or delaying tactics are provided below.

 

Excuse or delaying tactic

Possible response

The cheque is in the mail

That's great. Could you please tell me the cheque number and how much the cheque is for? When did you post the cheque?

We have returned a box of 'widgets' and are awaiting a credit note.

If you give me the details, I'll get that credit organised for you straight away.

However, this is only a portion of your overdue account. Please deduct the widgets and send in your cheque by...

Oh, hasn't that been paid yet? I will look into it.

Your account is well overdue. Do you need a copy invoice or can I speak to someone else there who can speed up our cheque?

This has been passed for payment but I am waiting for Mr Smith to sign it.

May I please speak to Mr Smith?

I'll have to check my records and get back to you.

No, I am unable to give you the information right now.

I will call you back with the information you need.

I would appreciate that. To save us both time, could you please check it out now? I am happy to wait.

When do you expect to have the information?

or...

I will give you a call back at 4:00 pm today. Would you have the details then?

Great. I'll jot that in my diary. If I don't hear from you later today, I'll call tomorrow. Thanks for your cooperation.

Our accounts are paid by head office.

What is the telephone number and address of your head office?

Who is responsible for accounts payable? I'll make a call immediately.

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