I have been in credit and collections in the building materials industry for longer then any sane person would care to admit.  Over the years, I have amassed a wide and varied assortment of lame, unbelievable excuses for not paying. They’re a virtual cornucopia of crap, a tapestry of treasures.

I am sure that when your colleagues wove these excuses in their heads the excuses sounded plausible, even clever, and when said with enough bravado they hoped I would swallow them hook, line and stinker. Au contraire—usually I’d respond (at least mentally) with “Is this the best you can come up with?”

You will need to get your creative juices flowing to beat this year's list of already used, totally believable (wink) reasons for non or tragically late payments that I heard from professional contractors and building material dealers. DO NOT use the following reasons below, and don't accept them when your clients try to foist them on you. They’ve already been tried and shot down. Here they are:

  • “If you don't stop calling me, I will file for bankruptcy.” (Well go ahead, smarty, and do it before I spend any more time and money on you.)
  • “Mom took all the money and gambled it away.”
  • “Dad takes too large of a year-end draw, so we can't cover our bills right now.”
  • “I am just trying to help you out and get some money to you, you don't have to get all aggressive with the payments.”
  • “You can't get blood out of a turnip, I am doing the best I can.”
  • “The owner has been busy planning his son’s bar mitzvah so he hasn't been in much.”
  • “The product was in a storage shed on the job site and got stolen so we don't think we owe you for it.”
  • “I know I am behind. I contracted an infectious disease in my gut and have been real sick.”
  • “I am having trouble finding workers so I can't finish the job to pay you.”
  • “We are working on getting a loan. It is going to be another four weeks or so.” (This gem was heard numerous times from multiple companies. Thanks for waiting until the eleventh hour to start the process, THEN ask for my patience).
  • “A cat bit me and tore the ligaments in my arm.” (Geez, what kind of cat do you have?)
  • “On my way to pick up a check to pay you, I got I to an accident and had to have my thumb amputated.”
  • “My mom died suddenly, so I can't get checks out this week.”
  • "I gave the company to my son in law and he ran the it into the ground. So the way I see it, I don't owe you any money.” (Well you signed the personal guarantee there, Slick, so this debt is all yours).

And my personal favorite of the year, drumroll please!
"General denial."

That was the response I got to a lawsuit I filed against a company. Not unusual, you say. However, it was for a bounced check for insufficient funds. I would find this laughable if it didn't tick me off so much. How can you make a general denial?! After all, I am holding the aforementioned worthless check.  Classic.

So there you have it, my seasonal gift to you. May it make you smile. If the spirit of the season moves you and you want to share a few of your "treasures" from this past year, send them to me, I would love to hear them. We might be able to kick off the New Year with a follow up list.

Happy holidays!