International Debt Collection

Many SMEs are aware of the importance of a 'level playing field' when it comes to prompt payments - including the right to be paid on time by big brands, without them using their clout to negotiate longer terms, or their complexity as an excuse for failing to pay at all.

But when you start trading across borders, things can very quickly become even more complicated, because in other countries, even small business clients might be used to significantly different payment terms than they would be in the UK.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 12:20

Going Dutch Part 2 - The Contractors View

Following on from part one "Going Dutch: Contractor Debt Recovery in the Netherlands" we speak to Alex Tucker, the contractor who found himself at loggerheads with the Dutch agency and find out more about what brought him to this point.

Working for overseas clients is either a gamble, or a logical expansion, depending on which way you look at it - but as a self-employed contractor, you need to be confident that you will be paid promptly, as international debts can be more difficult to pursue.

A recent client handled by Safe Collections demonstrates this well; Alex Tucker had every reason to expect prompt settlement of his invoices by his Dutch client. He had worked with the company, both as a self-employed individual and as temporary staff, since 2005, as well as supplying services via a third-party limited company.

Research from the Bank of Cyprus UK reveals the extent to which British business owners are worried about their cash flow - even in the face of decent sales figures, and to a greater degree than they are concerned about the wider economy.

The findings fly in the face of recent headlines in the mainstream media, where you might be forgiven for thinking the state of the nation's finances as a whole is the biggest obstacle facing small to medium-sized businesses.

Ireland has announced the wording of its Code of Conduct on Prompt Payments, a voluntary charter similar to that in place in the UK.

Small business minister John Perry announced the Code on July 1st; it is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Daring to speak out about late payment on Twitter could cost one woman £120,000 in fines and legal costs - all because of an unpaid £146 invoice.

The BBC reports that 55-year-old Lesley Kemp of Milton Keynes carried out £146 of transcription work for a company based in Qatar.

But when Resolution Productions paid her late - and expected her to cover the cost of their own £25 bank charges - Ms Kemp vented her frustrations on Twitter.

Web designer Frank Jonen has taken extreme action against his late-paying client, San Francisco-based gym chain Fitness SF.

Mr Jonen's web design firm has been working on the new Fitness SF website and brand identity for over six months; but he ultimately took the decision to replace their homepage with a simple text statement.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013 16:28

How to Chase Late Payments From Overseas Clients

Many small businesses are caught out when clients refuse to pay their invoices. For a small startup, a handful of unpaid invoices can make the difference between a healthy bank balance and a full-on cash flow crisis.

When your non-paying client is located outside of the UK, unpaid invoices become even more of a headache. Chasing the debt yourself might be expensive, impractical and fruitless. If you’ve researched debt collection online, you’ll probably have noticed that there’s plenty of self-help when your client is in the UK - but if they’re overseas, there’s very little official advice on what you should do.

Small firms in Ireland are waiting an average of 62 days for their invoices to be settled, but when it comes to debt collection Ireland's entrepreneurs are still reluctant to take action.

These are the findings of the Small Firms Association's Late Payment Survey, published in early January, which looks at the issues affecting the credit control and debt recovery Ireland's small businesses use to keep their accounts - and their non-paying customers - in check.

Late payments are a pain for all of us, clapping the irons on our cashflow, disrupting client relationships and generally causing a world of stress until they're resolved either directly or through the intervention of a debt collections specialist like Safe Collections.

But on an international scale, late payments cause even bigger headaches for economies across the EU, leading to an annual debt of €23.6 billion (£19 billion) according to European Commission figures.

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