• Chasing Invoices Via Social Media

    I noticed an interest in chasing unpaid sales invoices via social media and I thought it would be good to add something about this to our existing comprehensive credit control guide.

    Chasing Unpaid Invoices Via Social Media

    The first question is whether this is the right channel to use or not?

    I think the truth is that if you have resorted to using social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ to chase your invoices, you have probably missed out a key step in the credit control process, establishing early on the contact number, email, name etc. of the people you should contact about the payment of your invoices. These allow you to make contact privately in order to chase payment.

    Naming And Shaming Late Payers

    Whilst there may be an argument for using social media channels to make a non specific enquiry about who to contact (assuming you don't have the contact details as above), the only other use would be the "naming and shaming" approach that I have seen recently via media such as LinkedIn.

    I saw a couple of examples recently where a supplier published the details of a customer that had not paid them, including personal details such as their mobile phone number (a possible breach of data protection regulations) in order to embarrass the customer regarding non payment. In the examples I saw, where there was a customer response it was defensive and counter attacked the supplier - something that is unlikely to lead to you getting paid.

    Some may put forward the Government's mandatory late payment reporting as support for this kind of action. However, this initiative is quite different, in that it calls on larger companies to regularly report their payment performance for publication. Completely different from being rubbished on Twitter by a disgruntled supplier!

    Using social media to apply pressure to late payers may sound like a good idea, but it is discouraged according to Government advice, and we think it is unlikely to further the cause of getting you your payment. At the same time, it exposes your business to some serious potential risks.

    Risks Of Publication

    There could be all sorts of ramifications if you start making information about debts between you and your customers public, via social media (or any other method of publication for that matter). These could include:

    • Breaching the confidentiality terms of the underlying contract with them.
    • Infringing their data protection rights.
    • Breaching consumer credit regulations (if they are individuals).
    • The risk of defamation or libel - particularly if you have not understood some aspect of the situation.

    On balance, social media is best avoided as a credit control medium - its far better to establish their relevant contact details up front, and use them to follow up, albeit with escalation to higher authorities if required.

    Help With Credit Control

    If you need credit control help, consider using a professional credit control agency.

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