Now we know that Debt Collection and Debt Recovery don’t have the best reputation in business markets, this is one of the reasons we take pride in displaying a small selection of the hundreds of client testimonials we have received over the last 30 years over on our testimonials page.
Nothing usual in that you may be thinking, but have you noticed that unlike some other agencies all of our references are clearly attributable to both a named company and an individual within that company?
As a fully licensed debt collection company that has been incorporated since 1984, we have a long history in providing advice on how to choose an ethical and trustworthy debt collection partner. But unfortunately sometimes this message doesn't get through to those that really need it and many businesses up and down the country can find themselves unwittingly in bed with unlicensed, unregulated and unethical 'debt recovery' companies.
The Late Payments Directive, known more technically as Directive 2011/7/EU or the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2013, came into force on March 16th and should mean better protection for businesses of all sizes - from freelancers to big brands, and including the public sector - when chasing late payments.
Generally speaking, the Directive puts 30-day payment terms on contracts where a longer deadline is not mutually agreed, and allows you to charge fixed fees, statutory interest, and reasonable recovery costs on any action you take after that deadline has passed.
Remember Dodgy Dave, the debt collector you don't want to meet? Well, we described that article as "a work of fiction" but warned "this kind of person is out there".
Now it seems Slippery Stu - or, to use his real name, Stuart Paul Cooper - is a real-world example of the kinds of debt collecting 'methods' we outlined in our Dodgy Dave article.
Take one technology, media and politics website. Add a 28-year-old online entrepreneur who used to be called Milo Wagner, but is now called Milo Yiannopoulos. Don't add any paid invoices to freelance contributors - these could leave a sour taste in the mouth. Finish with an unpaid editor and a legal claim for £16,853.
You've got The Kernel's secret recipe, and it's one that's been stewing for some time. Contributors have reportedly been disputing payments for several months, and an estimated £10,000 or more is still owed to past writers and in copyright claims to photographers whose works were allegedly used without permission.
When late payment goes beyond the limits of amicable pursuit, and it becomes apparent that the funds will never be willingly forthcoming, the remaining option is to go to court, in order to force the debtor to pay.
Depending on how much you are owed, you may be able to do this in small claims court, or you might have to launch more formal legal proceedings, which are likely to prove more expensive.
Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are struggling to tackle late payments from clients who, in the worst instances, miss three or more invoices per year.
Almost half (47%) of SMEs surveyed by Barclays said that their least reliable customers fail to pay on time at least three times each year.
The Daily and Sunday Telegraph have launched a series of articles reporting on late payments - and on the battle lines being drawn by those affected by and involved in settling overdue invoices.
In a Daily Telegraph report, for instance, Steve Sutherland - owner of architectural glazing specialist Dortech - is described as "putting his tin hat on" amid fears of a backlash from customers after he called time on a 13-year relationship with construction brand Balfour Beatty.
Will I get the money my company is owed?
But to answer this question first we need to understand exactly what is meant by the term insolvency, Sid Home our resident Credit Management expert explains.
Insolvency turns £4.7bn of non-payers into never-payers
Each year, £4.7 billion of unpaid invoices in the UK are simply wiped away by insolvency and winding-up procedures, according to an Experian report.
From the smallest 'micro firms' to the biggest brands, when a company leaves the market completely by going out of business, the rest of the supply chain is likely to feel at least some impact not just in terms of lost custom, but by going unpaid for work already done.
A Christmas Collection
The payment was late: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of this story I am going to relate.
Once upon a time - of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve - old Scrooge sat busy counting his unpaid invoices.
The Prompt Payment Code and the Supply Chain Finance Scheme - what's going on?
The current economy is turbulent enough, without seemingly conflicting schemes being launched to help businesses with credit control and late payment.
But in recent weeks, both the Prompt Payment Code and the Supply Chain Finance Scheme have been making headlines for companies with slow-to-pay clients.
If you're a small-business owner and you've never heard of the Supply Chain Finance Scheme, announced today, sit down and put anything breakable well out of reach, because you're going to want to smash something pretty soon.
The SCFS is one of those initiatives that you hear about, think "how the hell did they come up with that?", and then realise it was a government idea.
We always say that a sensible approach to invoicing can help to cut down on the number of problems you face - and that's still true. Chasing up invoices, making sure they've been received by the client, and querying any payments as soon as they become overdue can all help to encourage clients to pay up on time.
But when an invoice goes unpaid, it's easy to find yourself becoming more and more lenient in the hope that your client will eventually pay - while they become less and less reasonable in their reasons for delaying.