Friday, January 15, 2010

Collecting on old invoices.

Our family company did not have many deadbeat companies but every once in a while a customer would put off paying one of our invoices and we would have to urge them to send the check. Once in a while we resorted to unique approaches.
One such occasion lingers in my memory because it was so much fun and was so effective. I called the Accounts Payable Manager of a delinquent debtor for the umpteenth time suggesting they should be embarrassed by their holding back paying an invoice for a few hundred dollars from a small company that had already paid the supplier for the equipment described on the invoice. My daughter had made a few earlier phone calls and had been promised early action but the bill remained unpaid. This time their Credit Manager came on the line and said “We will mail a check to you today”.
Because I did not have a good feeling about this company’s word, I responded by saying, “Don’t do that. I’ll come down to your office to get it. I’ll be easy to recognize. I’m six feet and eight inches tall and weigh about 400 pounds. When I walk, the tips of my fingers touch the floor.”
My response was completely spontaneous as was the physical description.
Along with my son, Philip I drove downtown, parked my car in their parking lot and proceeded into their impressive lobby on an upper floor of the office building. We were greeted by a pleasant young lady. I asked her if she had a sense of humor and after she said “Yes”, I invited her to participate in the ruse.
She seemed delighted by it. She picked up a phone and we heard her tell the answerer “ Marylyn, you won’t believe this but there is a guy here in the lobby who is as big as a garage and he’s walking around saying “ You owe us money” and his big hands are dragging on the floor”! Then she hung up. Almost immediately, a woman came into the lobby waving a check. When she looked at me, I said, “She lied, I’m really not that big.” And I took the check. I thanked her, winked at the young lady and then Philip and I left their office.
Reflecting on the episode, I have always been proud of my whimsy but a bit worried about the plight of the young lady who seemed happy to be part of the episode. I know we did not receive more orders from that company. I must admit that my spontaneous response was conditioned by my feeling that the owner of that company was an arrogant ass!

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