For the third time this month, I have received a check where the client overpaid the amount on our invoice. The temptation! A steak dinner, trip to Vegas, cocktails for the office staff, or other frivolous expenses all cross my mind but ethics always overrules.
In the first case, it was quite apparent that the client had referenced an invoice that was recently paid. However, since it was a funeral home, I applied it to a later invoice and then cut a check for the difference and sent it back to them with a cover letter referencing the mistake and how the funds were applied. I mean, if they are throwing checks around, there is no reason for me to wait for them to mail me another check when I am holding this one today.
Just when I thought that was behind me, another check arrived today from the same funeral home paying the bill that I already applied payment to with their “extra” check. I sent the entire check back to them with another letter reminding them how we arrived at this situation.
Those situations are always so much more pleasant than dealing with the short- pay checks. I received one of those today. It is common for big companies to take a discount for paying their invoices in a timely manner. However, some clients seem to take a discount with no rhyme or reason. I still haven’t figured out why I have to give a discount to large companies just because they paid their bill in less than 30 days. On a $500 run, I am required by the terms of some contracts to provide a discount of 1% to 3%. On the high end, that is $15. Okay, not enough to buy a nice rib-eye steak but I still question it. My utility company and phone company don’t give me any break for paying on time. But I suppose that is a topic for another blog post.
So, when you get a check that is short, what do you do? Is there some magic number where you just figure you are going to eat the loss and move on or do you pick up the phone on every short-pay and ask them why it was short?
— Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor
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