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Gimme My Money

Steps you can take to collect on past due accounts receivable

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This story appears in the August 2000 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

Are any of your accounts receivable more than 60 days past due? How about 90 days? (The only answer worse than "yes" is "I don't know." Find out.) Unlike fine wines, debts do not age well; the longer a bill goes unpaid, the less likely it will be paid. What are you doing about slow-pays and no-pays? If you have the time and would rather not bear the cost (15 to 50 percent) of a collection agency or attorney, there are several steps you can take to get your money.

You've sent several invoices and reminders. Your next move is equally simple: ask for payment. Call or visit the customer, calmly review the situation, and ask for your money. Odds are, you'll get an explanation (or excuse) but nevertheless come away with a check or credible assurances that your bill will be paid. At the very least, insist on a firm commitment that the payment (or partial payment) will be made on a given day and exactly how it will be made (hand-delivered cash, a check via a messenger service or whatever the case may be).

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