It was one of those calls where you both feel the same way for opposing reasons. It began in early December.
Yes, I was calling a customer who has paid their bill on time the past few months but has owed us $2.23 for months now due to many previous months of paying us random sums whenever the spirit moved him and always leaving a balance. Yes, it is *only* $2.23, hardly worth shutting someone off for (we’re a small local ISP) Yes, I’ve spent more than $2.23 on paper, ink and postage the past few months sending past due notices to the customer.
Yes, it’s totally ridiculous. But when I told the owner I thought it was totally ridiculous to be chasing these people down for less than $5 he pointed out that combined all those people owe quite a sum so go forth and collect it.
And he has a point. It is *only* $2.23, so just pay it and be done with it.
Customer though thinks we should just write it off – cuz’ it’s only $2.23.
He won’t charge it to the card on file because ‘it costs as much as the charge’, which I take to mean he has a debit card that charges him a fee for transactions or maybe after so many transactions because he charges his bill automatically every month. Or maybe he’s making it up… doesn’t really matter. I cannot add the $2.23 to next month’s payment, the system won’t allow it. It’ll charge it as a separate $2.23 which he refuses to do.
He can’t send a check, he has no checks and the bank would charge him to send a check on his behalf through online payments. Money orders cost as much as the $2.23 so they are out as well. So can’t I just write off ? It’s only $2.23.
(I could suggest taking him off autopay for a month & him getting the bank to send us one check for the monthly fee plus the $2.23 but given his past payment history I don’t trust him to make that payment)
He gets hostile & eventually, by mid-December, threatens to send $2.23 in pennies because “that’ll show you.” I have no idea how much postage is for something weighing as much as 223 pennies but I am guessing it’d be close to that amount.
No pennies arrived. No cash at all arrived. 2 weeks pass. Yesterday he calls back because his bill day was the 1st and he got one of our ‘pay up or be cut off’ notices that go out automatically. He mailed us $2.23 in cash weeks ago!!! Weeks!!! What do you mean you never received it? One of you must have stolen it! (yeah sure buddy, we took your $2.23 and got a super big gulp for all 8 of to share)
He demands credit for the $2.23 he mailed in because it’s hardly his fault if we didn’t get it or someone stole it. Can’t I just write it off? No I can’t. It’s only $2.23! Yes, it is only $2.23 so why not just pay it? Back & forth until I say, sorry, but we’ve reached disconnect point. Suddenly he knows the owner! The owner will be furious to hear I shut someone off for $2.23.
First, everyone knows the owner. He’s run some kind of telecommunications business in this town since 1986 & hardly anyone hasn’t been a customer of his at some point. Second, because everyone knows the owner, no one gets perks for it. If he wants something done special for a customer *he* initiates it. We get into zero trouble for not following through on “but owner said” if there are no notes. Third, my calling the customer was totally the owner’s idea! So I went with the company line.
ME: “Well sir, he might be, but I’d need to hear that from him. In these types of situations, he prefers you call him directly and then he’ll call me.”
Cust: “So transfer me to him.”
ME: “Oh, he’s not in the office right now, but give him a call on his cell, he always has it on him.”
Cust: “Give me the number; I don’t have it with me.”
ME: “Sorry, we have orders not to give that out.”
Obscenities ensue so I hang up & big surprise! hear nothing from the boss so I shut off the customer, over only $2.23
Furious customer shows up this morning & throws 2 one dollar bills and a quarter at the billing person and demands change. We aren’t that kind of place. We don’t keep cash on hand as people don’t generally come in with it (or at all really), so we didn’t have 2 cents to give him, though after much (overly dramatic if you ask me) searching of pockets and wallets we did eventually find 2 pennies. His parting comment “I don’t know how you people stay in business if you cut people off for $2.23 instead of just writing it off”
Sorry, but “I find it inconvenient to pay you.” is not reason to write off a debit. Even if it is only $2.23.