Did you know: that Ebeneezer Scrooge had been sorely and wrongfully maligned by those around him as a grumpy, mean, miser, when in-fact he became an unpleasant person as a direct consequence of his customers repeated non-payment of invoices which ultimately caused him severe financial distress? He was forced to chase each and every shilling just so he could buy the slivers of coal he then gingerly rationed so everyone had enough to survive the winter. Did anyone ever thank him for his thoughtfulness? Of course not! Instead they all complained about how cold THEY were, and they never, ever considering Scrooge's age.
The 'Bob Cratchets' of the world could always spin believable and convenient excuses as to why they needed more time to pay their bills, like the 'Tiny Tim' tale......oh, how the townspeople showered the Cratchets with praise and sympathy while further vilifying poor Ebeneezer for his 'lack of helping the poor'. Only Scrooge knew the truth that if things did not change he was destined for the poor house, or debtor's prison, and that all of Cratchet's stories were simply full of bah-humbug.
I ask you: Wouldn't your customer's lack of timely payments give you heartburn, and if the malady was bad enough wouldn't it cause you to hallucinate and see ghoulish figments of your imagination? Well poor Ebeneezer did suffer from horrible indigestion as we learned from Dickens's. He explained Scrooge's malady as a manifestation of stress, complicated by his daily diet of gruel. Yet, as tormented and ill as he was, Ebeneezer never complained about 'HIS' lot in life. No one knew he could ill afford more than his daily dish of mush. He was constantly worried that his customer's poor payment habits were destroying the business he and Jacob built. No one cared about Ebeneezer, not even his silly simpleton of a nephew.
Was Scrooge's worsening financial situation the real cause behind his recurring nightmares? Was he haunted and tormented by ghosts who would force him to jump from his bedroom window telling him to 'fly' due to non-paying accounts? They dragged him about London wearing nothing but his threadbare underwear to warm him from the frigid December night air. These apparitions of stale bread and bad mustard never considered Scrooge's age or frailness. Cold and tired, these ghoulish fiends forced Ebeneezer to face and revisit painful memories of what he always considered his personal failures. These were the unfortunate tragedies that made him a lonely and sad man rather than a mean and miserly man. But did his tormentors ever care?!
The worst nightmare, the one that finally broke poor Scrooge's flimsy hold onto sanity, was the one whereby a Ghost of his future appeared by his bedside. This phantom epitomized fear; a mere glimpse could make a stable person cringe in horror, Scrooge cowered in fear as this malevolent manifestation of his tortured soul forced him to go into a fog enshrouded graveyard. The specter pointed to a freshly dug grave marked 'Hereby lies Ebeneezer Scrooge.' There were no 'in loving memories' or flowers, or any other niceties. Just a cold and damp grave awaited this hardworking man. In a menacing voice IT told Scrooge that this was his future if he did not change. The ghost's declaration validated all of Scrooge's worst fears. All the ills were his fault .......not the fault of all those deadbeats that stiffed him and caused him to be misjudged and maligned in the first place........
DON'T GET SCROOGED!
Past Habits Must Be Considered Prior To Granting Credit Terms
* Ask references for their experience with the customer
* Determine how much of a credit line they provided, and
* Ask for the 'average days' in which customer paid invoices. Were
they within the required terms?
* Are there known problems of late payment?
* Was the customer previously placed for collection, or sued for non-payment?
Present Trends and Events Can Effect Payments
* Regional events, such as hurricane Sandy, will cause delays and should be budgeted accordingly
* Strategically plan with seasonal businesses to protect profits from the 'down times'
* Newly formed businesses are higher risk,
* Terms should be considered based upon known viability & stability
* Granting credit is lending money. You should never loan more than you can afford
* Terms should only be extended based upon your ability, not the
customer's wants or need
Future Sales Promised Or Anticipated Are Insufficient Cause For Granting Credit
The past is the best predictor as to what can be expected in the future. If the past and present are not part of the 'credit equation' your future may include nightmarish incarnations of 'would of's, should of's, & could of's. '
ORIGINAL ARTWORK BY MARC.ART, INC.
ASK AN ATTORNEY
Q: Are we allowed to charge our customers an additional fee for
processing or accepting their payment by credit card? What can be
done to mitigate losses attributed to customers who obtain goods and
services, then decide after the fact to reverse their authorization?
A: If there is an agreement between the creditor and the customer that allows additional fees to be paid if a payment is made by credit card, it certainly would be enforceable. The problem is, most of the credit card companies do not allow that pursuant to their agreement with the companies that accept their credit card. Therefore, if a creditor is accepting credit card payments, it is imperative that they review their contract with the credit card company or the credit card processing company, to see if that is allowed. I believe, in almost all cases, it will not be allowed.
If a customer pays by credit card and later reverses their authorization, the creditor can pursue legal action against the customer for the charges. The creditor can include in their credit application or any agreement with the customer to accept payments via credit card, a provision that would allow for collection costs and attorney fees to be collected in addition to the balance due, as a way to mitigate those damages. The creditor can charge a discounted price for the goods and services based upon payment made with a credit card and within the early payment terms, and a higher charge if payment is made by other means and outside of the early payment time period. This higher charge would then take effect if the credit card authorization was subsequently reversed. Motor Vehicle Division has a set of statutes and forms to check on the status of liens on vehicles. The other way is to check with the County Clerk and the Secretary of State for UCC1's etc. Some states even have website to give you the information. One other way is to find the last person or institution who claimed a security interest in the goods and get a copy of their report on the title or ownership interest.
William A. Rinehart
Rinehart, Scaffidi & Mathews
A: Generally the answer is no. The work arounds are to offer a discount for cash, or to use a 3rd party processor that will charge a convenience fee. The best way we have found to get around this is to change to check by phone or ACH payments. First it's a lot cheaper, you do not have the credit card charging the 2+% discount fee, it is not subject to the credit card dispute rules and is a lot cheaper and easier.
You can either set up an account with your bank or use one of the 3rd party processors. If you have a business banking package that allows on line access, wire transfers etc you should be able to ACH. If you do not, ask your bank first. . As part of our package we can do on line ACH to take checks by phone. They process overnight, and you have the funds next business day. Some banks might have immediate transfers.
Wire transfers process immediately and do not 'bounce', but generally cost more. An ACH can return for NSF. The bank charge per item is someplace around $0.50 or so, plus the monthly fee for the package. There is no discount fee like a credit card.
Unfortunately if you get a charge back on a credit card, and you can not get the company to reconsider, then it's a standard collection issue. You can try and protect yourself by taking the payment on a recorded line, but they can still say the goods were defective, etc.
Lindner & Associates PC
A: If its mobile like a truck, you need to check the title. If its stationary like a factory, UCC filings. In most states UCC notices are filed at the local town or county as well as with the state . Often you can check them online. Here we can check the UCC filings at the Secretary of States office, on the website. You need to be careful of exact names to check, and check all variations and trade or d/b/a names. If the company has bank financing, it is likely to have UCC's filed, but not always.
Lindner & Associates PC
A: The answer is "no." These are called "swipe fees," "checkout fees," or "surcharges." They are illegal in ten states, including California. Does it still occur? For sure. Also note that in some cases, the merchant agreement between the merchant and the credit card processing entity may prohibit the merchant from assessing an additional fee for the privilege of using a credit card in lieu of cash. To mitigate losses from charge-backs, the merchant should document the transaction as much as possible, including having the customer sign an affirmation that the goods were received in good order, etc. A limitation on warranties is also helpful, but as above, those must be resolved state by state.
John D. Guerrini
The Guerrini Law Firm
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