Old 4th September 2010, 05:41   #1
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A story of accounts receivable!!!


You work for a business long enough you get to know the customers. That being said...

So there's this customer that the boss knows. They've known each other apparently long before I starting working at my current place of employment. Our company has always taken care of our customers, even when they're unruly or biggoted (different customer, don't ask.) Anyways, so this customer suddenly decides (about a year or two ago) that they don't need to pay their bill on time anymore like the majority of our other customers do. This single customer who owns two different store fronts...

...excuse me while I find beer...

...k, got a beer.

Where was I...

Oh yes, two store fronts. So the first store front we ultimately had to put permanently on cash only basis because they suck at math some how... Must be Pre-Obamanomics or something...

So the other storefront as they continue to fall behind on their account, I, as the A/R asshole have to keep calling them at my boss's direction. One day the OWNER answers the phone and... ...well let's not go there. The end of conversation left me with the feeling of wanting to strangle the man until oxygen could no longer reach his lungs and suffocates and dies all while the 'tard is dictating new 60 day terms to the company that has been faithfully servicing his storefront(s) for years+.

...I need another beer...

...k, got another.

Where was I...

Oh yeah, jackass customer.

So today this customer is now 30 days past due according to HIS TERMS and the boss calls me and asks me to fax over another statement this time with a note asking for the due items and stresses that I use the word "please." I acknowledged his request and went to work on another statement. Now, normally, when I do statements at the beginning of the new month for our A/R customers I don't print paper copies to feed a physical fax machine (which I do have and do use for other things.) Instead I print directly from the accounting software on the desktop to a virtual fax port tied to the modem on the same fax line as the fax machine. But since this time the boss asked for a note on the statement I thought I would need to print it out this time to write on.

So while I'm in the process of printing it out I'm already thinking about how to "politely" ask for payment due in my own words but integrating the word "please." As I'm circling the part of the statement we're asking for I find myself having difficulty using the word "please" with the sentence I already have in my head (a polite one, don't get any other ideas.) At the same time I'm also thinking about how a printed and notated statement fed through a physical fax machine will look just horrible compared to the direct virtual faxes I've sent before...

...GAH! I need another beer...

...k, I got another beer but I think I'm gonna need something stronger pretty soon...

So there I was staring at a piece of paper with a statement laser printed on it and a big ugly-ass uneven circle on it and a FUBAR line going from it to a partially hand-written note on it and I'm thinking "this isn't gonna work." Basically I'm now distracted from the task at hand of actually writing the note with the fact of a bad looking fax document.

I then remember that I installed a virtual printer driver that outputs BMP image files of what was sent to it! I sent the paper to the shredder and printed out a new statement to a BMP file and opened it with MS Paint. All the while I'm partially thinking about the sentence in my head "Would it at all be possible to send a payment for... ...blah blah blah" while I'm drawing a semi-thick-lined square box in MS Paint around the invoices I'm asking payment for and then a series of semi-thick lines to an empty~ish space on the print-out image for the note. I then grabbed the [Text] tool and drew an appropriate rectical... ...rectickel... ...rectickal... ...hang on, need to find a dictionary...

Google ain't bad as a dictionary by itself. "Targeting reticle." Looks like Firefox doesn't have "reticle" in it's spell-check dictionary.

[Copy-paste] the word "Reticle" from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reticle. Nope, Firefox has the word all underlined with the red squiggly underline to indicate a misspelling. Time to [Add to Dictionary]

Dang, I need another beer...

...k, got another beer and a chaser...

Where was I, oh yeah, a "reticle" for the [Text] tool to write my note to the crappy customer that doesn't pay bills on time anymore even though all the other customers still do.

So I was staring at this incomplete note while trying to insert the word "please" in my head to it and it not making grammatical sense:
Greetings [Name of A/P person who will not be named publicly because she's not the one at fault]:

Would it at all be possible to send a payment for...

"Greetings" is pretentious

Hello [Name of A/P person]:

Would it at all be possible to send a payment for...

"Hello" is childish and/or patronizing

[Name of A/P person]:

Would it at all be possible for you to send your goddamn payment on time you stupid fucktards!!! >.<

Not appropriate

[Name of A/P person]:

Please would please it please at please all please be please possible please to please send please a please payment please for please...

Too many grammatical errors

[Name of A/P person]:

Please would it please at all please be possible to please send a payment please for...
At that time the boss calls back for a different reason...

...I am sorry, excuse me, I need more booze...

...k, I got something, it's in a bottle and it smells strong. It should work...

Ok, where was I.

Oh yeah, the boss called back, I forgot what for initially, and later on in the conversation he asked if I had sent that fax yet. Grimly, I had to explain to him that I had not and the difficulty I was experiencing following his instructions. He asked what I had so far. I read back to him exactly what I had typed out on the screen. He replied, "You don't want it to sound sarcastic." I, again, grimly replied, "It is sarcastic." At first he was confused and then he chuckled a little and started to say something else, I don't remember what. I interrupted him (thank GAWD I can do that with my boss and not get in trouble. he's the best boss I've had for an employer) and explained to him what I had in mind that already seemed more than appropriate but I still couldn't figure out how to fit the word "please" in it. He said to just go with what I had. He seemed to be ok with it.

By this time though what I had was in Microsoft Word because I wanted to make sure my spelling was correct before copy-pasting into the text box "reticle" in MS Paint. After I pasted it I started to play with the font size trying to get the text to fit into the text "reticle" without it being too small to read or too large before it becomes so overpowering on the page that it would cause the person reading it to think that I was screaming at them. As I was playing with the text toolbar in MS Paint I got distracted by the words themselves and finally realized I could just tack on the word "please" at the end of the first sentence! GAH!

Fax sent, boss notified of task completion.

Ok, I think I've achieved catharsis...

...or is it alcohol poisoning...
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Old 5th September 2010, 15:07   #2
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Heh, excellent. I sometimes have a drink or two on a holiday weekend after a rough week... It feels good to have a drink and vent every once in a while. We had a similar thread here in the bitchlist a little while back. The original poster was fired for posting it (see post #26 on that thread). Just be careful and stay as anonymous as possible when posting things about work stress so that it doesn't happen to you, because it sounds like, despite the stress, you still like having this job.

Don't forget to live before you die.
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Old 6th September 2010, 17:20   #3
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If you are a "team member" or an "associate", chances are you are an at will employee that they would pay less and treat worse if they could possibly figure out how to do so.

Wally and Target are pretty good at giving us substandard wages. It's not the only place though. A leading chip manufacturer here is building a new billion dollar manufacturing plant with all due tax exceptions from the state. It will make about 700 decent jobs and import poverty and crime (again) creating a few thousand low paying temp jobs.

These property tax exemptions mean this CPU manufacturer isn't paying for schools, while importing a bunch of low wage workers with kids that need education. Some deal.

Because wages have almost been frozen for decades, we're in a place where about 65% of the jobs in this country are low wage shit jobs with no benefits. Why do you think the economy blew a gasket?


Your boss wants you to say "please" because it doesn't cost him anything. Your customers having cash flow problems is common, and you don't want to piss off people that sometimes get back to straight payers. People usually don't pay their bills because they can't. You were worrying about 30 day aging? You must be good if you can get half of your customers to pay you that fast. Normally, I'd expect to see 20% of receivables out as far as 90 days, which mostly gets paid eventually..... if we are talking about a net 30 arrangement.

Please would be the word for you to use. You can get a collection agency to be rude later. You would certainly want some distance between your company and their tactics. I think if you needed a beer over this, that you are taking this too seriously.

If your customer is going bankrupt, usually he'll pay a few bills. You should be someone he likes. Chasing bad debt is usually a fools errand. That's why these debts are sold to other agencies for pennies on the buck and you'll find tactics get nastier. It doesn't mean they collect a great portion of these receivables.

Please is a good word. No other word is gonna help. If you get nasty or bug people, they'll just avoid you. You are on very questionable legal ground if you call someone that owes you money. They can just say "Don't ever call me again" and you're done. Calling them again after being so notified can even be a crime.

Keep the lines of communication open because debtors paying you is rather at their option. They may be clerically incompetent (as seems to be the case here), have a cash flow problem or just be plain broke. Getting nasty won't get you paid any better or any faster, unless you are a collection agency that bought the debt for 5 cents on the buck and can get cents back. There it's just a matter of numbers. You can be thankful it isn't your business.

It's even usually ok to negotiate debt forgiveness with your customers because working things out is better than suing or selling the debt. Of course, when it gets that far, business becomes cash with the customer, and that probably isn't to anyones advantage if you get paid in some sort of sane timeframe.

In a net 30 arrangement, I wouldn't even to start to get concerned until I hit 90 days of aging. I think rude or even terse can hurt your case more than help it. It's just my experience.

Last edited by rockouthippie; 6th September 2010 at 18:39.
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Old 6th September 2010, 22:30   #4
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Thanks for the encouragement, and warning noted.


As to the point you make about maybe it's because the customer has hit a financial crises, I would normally agree. I do have (some) other customers that have actually hit financial crises just as we have, but there are some details I was forced to leave out in my original post to protect their (and my) anonymity, as it were. Those little details about what they did is a big difference between a simple financial falling out, versus taking advantage of somebody. So "please" don't be so judgmental about my /vent. I agree that on the face of my original post your points would very probably rightfully apply to somebody who was simply ignorant of a customer's "hard times." There are many points you bring up in your post but they do not apply in this situation.

I know why my boss wants to say "please." My boss and I actually do see eye-to-eye on many things, I would not be his employee if it were not the case. I agree that "please" is a good word but only where appropriate. I personally only use please when I actually mean it. So much crap around the world with the word "please" thrown into it diminishes "please", and I don't want to contribute to that.

I was never rude to this customer over the phone or in any other manner at any time, ever. If I had been my boss would have known about it almost instantly and I would have been released of my duties. You mentioned keeping the lines of communication open but it was the customer that was not picking up the phone, not us. Communication is inherently a multi-entity endeavor. I have no control over whether or not a customer returns a phone call or not.

I am sorry, but your admonishments are unjustified and I sincerely hope that you do not take my rebuttal as a personal attack.
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Old 21st September 2010, 06:17   #5
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Nope. OK. I just thought you might be taking the situation a little too personally. I would have not fretted about working the word please into the conversation. I'm sure your boss wasn't trying to give you an ulcer worrying about it. The customer, no matter how flaky, probably doesn't care either.

Take deep breaths.
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Old 17th November 2010, 16:41   #6
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