Harry Mottram

My story of clients that didn’t pay up forcing me to stop publishing a popular magazine – and how I would treat those clients differently now using ICSM’s Micro Debt Recovery Service

I have written off thousands of pounds in unpaid invoices over the years. I am pretty sure most people who are in business or are self-employed have had trouble at times with non-payment of bills by customers as well. They go bust, disappear or simply refuse to pay using one excuse after another

The magazine

Strawberry Line Times magazine

A few years ago I published a monthly magazine based on my local area which I had printed in the thousands and I distributed it to homes and businesses. Strawberry Line Times magazine relied on advertising and leaflet inserts but I had a continual problem from advertisers paying very late or not at all.

If only I could have used ICSM’s Micro Debt Recovery Service back in the day my bank balance would be much healthier. The last unpaid invoices were from my magazine in 2013 and I’ve used one here to show how the Micro Debt Recovery Service works.

Looking back it seems ridiculous that I allowed so many clients off the hook when it came to payment. Like many sole traders and one man bands I was juggling a large number of balls at the same time. Print deadlines, stories to write up, interviews and breaking news, plus the artwork and design, distribution and selling new adverts to potential customers.

Why people don’t pay

There are other factors as to why I didn’t always get paid. Some customers had an accounts department who had a policy of not paying until the latest possible date – usually prompted by threats of court action. Others on principle attempted never to pay, some were also one man businesses and were simply disorganised. And finally there’s the ‘too nice’ factor. Many self-employed people love their work – but don’t have the stomach or hardness for the financial side – and I include myself in that category. Shying away from coming down hard on a non-payer is difficult as there’s a fear that any future work will disappear with them. Having learnt the hard way it’s a mistake. Dump them if they don’t pay and seek new clients that abide by your terms of payment and adopt a firm but fair attitude always working within the law – and keeping records so if it ends up in court you will win.

Odds in your favour

Back to ICSM’s Micro Debt Recovery Service. On average they pull in more than 80% of unpaid bills on behalf of their clients, which means the odds are in your favour. Back in the days when I was publishing Strawberry Line Times magazine about one in three invoices were not paid on time and I spent a disproportionate amount of time trying to get those settled. Now I would use the Micro Debt Recovery Service as soon as they were overdue as cash flow is king and time is too precious when you are a sole trader.

Specimen invoice

Take a look at the break down of the sample invoice I’ve shown here for Strawberry Line Times magazine to a local leisure centre. It was the last unpaid invoice from September 2013 and was one of a number of invoices for the final edition of the magazine that were not settled. I gave up the magazine and chasing for payment and took a full time job. Looking back I should have used ICSM’s Micro Debt Recovery Service as it would have made my live easier and my cash flow better and the magazine would still be going today. The publication was well received and on paper profitable but it wasn’t due to bad debts and poor cash flow.

Why the leisure centre didn’t pay I don’t know – but I think it may be because the person who requested the work didn’t give me a purchase order and at the time the centre was owned by a different company – but frankly I gave up on that one.

How it works

To use the Micro Debt Recovery Service go to the ICSM home page and on to the members section and once you’ve entered your pass word go to the Micro Debt Recovery Service section. There’s a basic online form which you fill in and send off. You get a copy of the email that is sent to your client and it spells out what they face if they fail to pay. It’s the threat of escalating costs and also the fact it comes from a third party who are clearly specialists in debt collecting that I think makes them pay up. Only idiots and insolvent firms are likely to ignore the email from ICSM’s Micro Debt Recovery Service. It’s aimed at anything from a few pounds like my invoice to a thousand or two – hence the name – and of course it’s quick and easy and doesn’t cost you a penny.

Harry Mottram

About ICSM Credit

We will take on debts of between £25 and £2000 and more if it suits. For debts under £200
the fee is 40% of what we recover – so there’s 60% in your account that you had probably said
goodbye to.If nothing is received, there’s no charge at all. But with our track record for debt recovery, if there’s
money to be recovered, we do normally get it back…
Call (01454) 322234 or email ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com to find out more.

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk