12 Most Common Excuses For Debtors Not Paying

small business cash flow management

12 Most common excuses for debtors not paying (or only partially…) – Small business cash flow management advice from CRS.

At CRS our team of endorsed debt recovery specialists strive to maximise the full potential of recoveries on every case. Of course, we’ve heard our fair share of excuses along the way. Here are some of the most common excuses debtors will give to avoid or delay payment (or payment in full…!). This guide is aimed to help small business cash flow management. Don’t believe everything you hear!


1.“I’ve definitely sent the payment, haven’t you received it?”

It would seem that, much like the Royal Mail, bank transfer payments can be rather unreliable in the modern day.


2.“We’ve not got it on our records, could you send me a copy of the invoice/proof of delivery?”

Although sometimes genuine, this is often used by debtors as a delaying tactic for up to a couple of weeks.


3.“The works weren’t completed.”

This will undoubtedly be a familiar one if you’re accustomed to chasing up construction debt. It’s not an excuse to refuse to pay up – but if the debtor can show the invoice, the costs incurred by another contractor to complete the works will be deducted. Consequential loss, however, is not covered in the
majority of cases.


4.“The retention is not yet due/the defect liability period hasn’t expired.”

Generally, this will delay payment for around a year or two – but some contracts will extend delays for up to ten years or more! As a payee though, it’s important to ensure you are shown contractual proof; our team of in-house quantity surveyors are uniquely qualified to assist with this through ‘Offsite Collect’.


5. “You’ve just missed this week/month’s payment.”

This is another delaying tactic we hear a lot in our line of work. The amount of pressure we choose to put on the debtor to run another payment or allow some flexibility depends on various factors at play, namely how overdue
the payment already is.


6.“There aren’t any directors available to sign a cheque… My boss is on holiday… There’s nobody in accounts to speak to you at the moment…”

The ‘nobody’s home’ excuse. It’s an effective one, insofar as payment will have to be delayed until the authorised sender is available. But in our experience, this will only serve to delay the inevitable.


7. “We’re in the process of changing banks.”

This could be genuine if the delay is a matter of days late – it will not hold however for anything longer than that.


8. “We had to pay our other/bigger supplier first as a higher priority.”

A company that manages its cashflow efficiently and takes on projects sensibly should be able to pay all of its suppliers – no matter how big they are. If you are rightfully owed money, completion of that payment should be your debtor’s top priority.


9. “We’re undergoing cashflow issues at the moment… My customer has gone bankrupt / into administration / receivership.”

This is a very common one. Debtors may attempt to duck payments by citing cashflow issues, often related to a
dispute with or late payment by a customer of their own. Unfortunately, this is simply not a valid reason not to pay
what you owe.


10. “We’ve ceased trading / gone into liquidation / receivership.”

A more difficult one. There are further complications in resolving this if the debtor is a limited company, for example
– but in the case of sole traders, this is another unacceptable reason not to pay. For those awaiting payment from limited company debtors, you may be able to reclaim some of this as an unsecured creditor; though only after payment is first made to secured creditors and then insolvency practitioners.


11. “I haven’t seen the VAT certificate.”

Some debtors may attempt to short-change their payments by a sizeable 20% by simply refusing to pay VAT. In such
cases it may be necessary to remind them that VAT is many things, but optional isn’t one of them.


12. *Radio silence*

You know what they say – ignore your problems and they will inevitably go away. Wait, what?


We know how frustrating it is to be met with flimsy excuses when you’re chasing up what is rightfully owed to you.
Unfortunately for debtors, our team at CRS are well-versed in chasing up problematic payments and refuse to be perturbed by misdirection.

Small business cash flow management can be tough. If you are tired of hearing any or all of the above lines, be they genuine or by debtors taking advantage of your good nature, consider outsourcing your credit control to the experienced and committed debt recovery specialists at CRS.


What to do next…

It is time to talk to CRS. We specialise in small business cash flow management. We work hard to ensure you get paid what’s due. Working offsite we provide support to ensure that you get paid what’s due. We can act as your quasi in-house credit control service, so that the debtor will not be aware of our involvement or, on protracted cases, where a de-personalised approach is preferred, we can act overtly on your behalf. Call or email us now to find out more: 0114 236 1884 | TIMS@CRSGROUP.SOLUTIONS


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