Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Dear Accounts Departments

I know that it caught you by surprise last month. These things do creep up on you without notice, so I hope this helps.

Just to let you know, in advance, that there will be a Christmas this year.

It is scheduled for 25th December, and there is a serious risk that the 26th December (known as "Boxing Day") will be a holiday too.

It almost certainly means your accounts staff will be on holiday, your accounts department may even be closed for some time around the end of December, and it is more than likely that the person that signs the cheques will be taking some holiday.

Please take this in to account and get the payment signed off BEFORE this all happens. Otherwise you'll have more late payment penalties next year.

Or better still pay by BACS or Direct Debit, FFS.

</rant>

14 comments:

  1. Oh if I had a quid for every time we had this... It's not like we give customers 45 days before a service starts or anything on average to pay the bill...

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    1. I know, it is crazy. This is one on 30 days, so more than enough time to pay. They still insist on cheques which normally arrive on the very last day. We have taken to charging a £5 admin fee for cheques now as they are so rare (does not really cover the time for someone to take them to the bank!). Oh well, at least we have the Late Payment of Commercial Debts regulations.

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    2. Any time I see someone doing this I always wonder if they're doing it for cash-flow reasons and if they're in trouble. I will admit you do still have some old fashioned MD's who like to sign every cheque to keep a feel for the money but they are a dying breed. Hopefully if the change in the law the treasury has planned takes effect we will be able to clear cheques by taking a photo of them and then sending them later to the bank like the US does (http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/dec/26/banks-smartphone-photos-cheques)

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    3. That does seem odd - i.e. why not have phone based money transfer than actually have a cheque! As for signs of being in trouble, I tend to agree. One reason we like DD is that we get to know when the bank cancel DD or bounce the payment, long before we would ever know if it was cheques being a bit later.

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    4. I suspect the (illusion of) control is a large factor - for years a small company I work for part-time paid the BT bills by cheque, after getting in a bit of a mess (a mix of paying the broadband bill by BACS with the PSTN line's reference number, or vice versa, as I recall, followed by a "cease and reprovide" tariff change which got executed as a cease). It's finally on direct debit now, for both the line (still BT) and broadband (now Be and looking for a replacement).

      Having worn the accountant hat in that company for years (small business - accounting software is software, hence comes under the software developer's remit...) DD made more sense all round.

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    5. Ironically, with the payer's hat on, I dislike the people that insist I pay by DD as they often fail to follow the simple rules for DD payment. We have a policy of reclaiming all DDs that do not follow the rules. Some times it is very big sums, and occasionally they concede that it would be easier if we sent them a BACS payment (which we do, on time, obviously).

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  2. I had kind of the reverse. I ordered something for "next working day". And had to argue with the company that unless they specifically state it, doesn't generally mean "The next day that our dispatch person happens to be working (and not on holiday)". (It wasn't christmas or some other holiday).

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  3. I always wonder why cheques still even exist as I don't think any shops still accept them and pretty much any bank account now has the ability to pay by bacs or dd.

    With contact-less card payments I sometimes wonder if even cash still has a place these days - the only times I can remember using cash is for parking.

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    1. I recently had to deal with a solicitor and in the contract was an insistence of payment by cheque. Apparently that's standard.. they blamed 'money laundering rules' which sounds like BS to me.

      I had to carefully explain that I have no cheque book and have no intention of getting one for this one transaction.

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  4. Many banks - and certainly Barclays - will accept cheques paid in by post. I find this more efficient than making a trip to the branch.

    Cheques still seem popular with charities having constitutions that require two people to authorise payments. They achieve this with a bank mandate requiring two signatures on a cheque.

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    1. But that has been available electronically by banks for decades. I recall PRESTEL based banking systems that works on two signatories from long ago. So cheques are really not needed for that.

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  5. Dear Mr Kennard,

    We acknowledge receipt of your missive regarding the predictability of Christmas. Unfortunately, our accounts system is unable to handle a notification issued this far in advance. Please could you resubmit your notification no more than (2pi)^2 days before the relevant invoice, as we will not remember to do this, and we consider timely reminders to be our suppliers' responsibilities.

    Sincerely,

    Incompetent Accounts Departments everywhere.

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    1. I have no reply to that but :-)... classic.

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