Tips to make people pay up

Nora Ayrton handles the debt recovery at D’Angelo Legal and shares her tips when asking debtors to Pay their account.

Debt collection is one of those tasks that can be quite unpleasant. There are a few steps to go through that almost always results in a debtor paying monies owed. 

If the bill has not been paid by the due date, the first step is to make a polite phone call.

“Often, bills are overlooked or forgotten about, so a simple polite phone call is all that is needed,” Nora said. “But that isn’t always the case. Some people intentionally avoid paying bills.”

After the first phone call, the next step is to send a request for payment in writing, by email. Nora said she then resends the invoice in the post and follows up with another phone call.

“If the invoice remains unpaid after a phone call, email, and resending the invoice, I call the CEO or the most senior person in the organisation within seven days and alert them to the outstanding invoice, in a polite but slighter firmer tone,” Nora said.

“I’m usually told that it will be paid straight away or in the next payment cycle.”

If the invoice is unpaid after the above steps are carried out, Nora makes another call to her original contact.

“I remind them that I spoke to them a couple of weeks ago and ask for a date of when I can expect payment to be forwarded.”

“If we don’t receive payment by the agreed date, I post a letter of demand firmly requesting payment within seven days stating that failure to do so will result in us taking further action – which is an issue of summons.” 

Nora said that it was rare for debtors to not pay. However, should there be outstanding monies owed, the matter can be referred to the Small Claims Court if the amount is less than $10,000. 

Top tips for recovering monies owed:

  • Use a polite but firm tone
  • Use a diary to log dates of conversations and when to make follow up calls or send follow up emails
  • Follow up phone conversations in writing
  • Speak to the CEO, Managing Director, or other business principal
  • Ask for date for when payment can be expected
  • Send a formal letter requesting payment within seven days
  • If all else fails, then seek the advice of a lawyer