Deadbeats on Display? Twitter – New AP Managment Tool

I was in a bad mood yesterday because I was chasing overdue invoices from three clients. I was grumpy, and needed to vent, so I put un an innocent comment ( well not so innocent) on Twitter. I asked:

When a client doesn’t pay a bill and dodges your phone calls, it is bad form to mention them by name on Twitter?

The responses I got ranged from friends telling me it was a seriously bad idea, to a few who felt it might be effective, to some who gave it thoughtful consideration and a few fun ideas in the mix: My favorite:

@wolfems who said, “I love it… Do it on Sunday and it can be a new tag, SundayShame. The new form of AP management.

While I doubt I will be posting DEADBEAT notices any time soon, it did raise a some  interesting questions. As the internet makes business more transparent, will it make all transactions transparent? And is that invasive or an improvement in business relationships?

I don’t have the answer, but would love feedback.  How do you feel about making more information public, and how are you using Social Media today to do just that?

11 Comments

  1. 1

    If you look at collecting type forums, they post experiences in their dealings with one another, which are paid transactions. Now, that isn't maybe the same in some professionals eyes as a true 'business' transaction, but some business has taken place. Which is why those same people take the time to make lists of 'good traders' and give recommendations.

    I look at the golden rule, do unto others….would I want someone to post something truly negative with my name? No. Should I conduct solid business practices – Yes. Which would prevent this entirely.

    I wouldn't ever recommend mentioning someone / company by name, because in the end it reflects back on your character. But if they have some sort of online persona that isn't their exact name, then I think when it's done tastefully it can be appropriate if the goal is to warn others.

  2. 2

    I'm all for the stern warning first, Lorraine. I don't have a problem outing deadbeats – as long as they are aware of the consequences. My sequence would be email > voice > in person (if possible) > attorney … and then if there's still no response = public.

    I'm in the middle of a startup right now and we have several outstanding invoices; however, we had agreements with the vendors that we could only pay once we received investment funding. I hope I don't see my name on the Deadbeat Sunday anytime soon!

    Doug

  3. 3

    It's certainly a violation of the social contract. People expect cashflow information to be kept private, especially regarding when and how bills are paid.

    However, you could establish up front with a client that you will publish all their accounts payable data, good and bad. This is akin to the secret salaries debate—anyone can follow the argument, but making the switch is too huge for most people to seriously consider.

  4. 4

    We actually work with clients, and carry invoices for several months. The longest was a client who paid $200/month for 18 months. I am ok with that as long as they talk to me.

    I probably wouldn't ever want to do this, but writing it made me feel much better! Thanks for the feedback.

  5. 5

    I don't think that posting a list of deadbeat clients will accomplish anything –except make the client angry enough to take legal action. What's more, it's not …..nice. On the other hand, a sternly-worded letter from your lawyer might be effective.

    I've often thought that it might be useful to have a "naughty/nice" list among industry colleagues so that we can avoid doing work for clients who won't treat us well.

  6. 6

    Being a small business owner with limited cash flow, as much as I'd like to, I'll parrot Jay's comment. Would I be happy seeing my name tweeted for this reason? No. But, do I have any problems tweeting about miserable (or exceptional) customer service experiences? Not at all!

  7. 7

    Keep it private! One day things can turn around and you don't want to burn bridges. I believe that chances are if you are hunting for payment so are many others. I have found that most people want to do the right thing and pay the bill. Unfortunately, when pay is slow on the receivable side it is slow on the payable side and so goes the chain. This economy needs a heightened awareness and sensitivity that will lend itself to helping to sustain one another in business until we see the great turn around and recovery of this economy.

  8. 8

    I PERSONALLY feel that posting about clients Is rude.
    they may have a legitimate reason in this economy for late payments eg medical, lawsuit loss of job ETC. and are embarrassed and unsure what to due about the situation.
    also one must be careful what you are posting about people in anger.
    I was fired 7 years ago from a major company here and just found out that my old manager from that company has a twitter account and is posting vile hate-filled lying posts about ME and I am not sure why?

  9. 9

    In a brick and mortar situation, isn't that like posting someone's bad check above the register? On the other hand, depending on the audience, it could serve to make the poster look just as bad as the deadbeat, and you don't want that.

    I'd leave public shame out of it. There's always The Ripoff Report.

  10. 10

    Outing people who owe you money does three things:

    1. It shows you cannot be trusted to handle difficult situations with discretion.
    2. If your client is experiencing problems, your post may kill their attempt to collect money or get the deal that will pay you.
    3. By outing your client, you are sending the signal to future customers that you will treat them the same way.

    You should only out people when you have decided to take them court. The relationship is shot at that point.

  11. 11

    As always my time spent reading Doug's post proved a good investment of my time. We all can relate to his premise, who hasn't been on both sides of the scenario and it is uncomfortable being in either position.
    No harm done in your venting and I found you evoked more response, all salient, than you likely expected.
    To me, Mr. Karr, this is yet another example of the true force and value within Smaller Indiana…we should never hesitate or underestimate how pertinent our current thoughts may be in bringing forth viewpoints from knowledgable and well-intended colleagues.
    Each respondent here added useful content and in doing so have again allowed me to enlarge my world with information while enrichening me in a far greater way by further showing their character and intelligence and providing again an example of how valuable a resource Smaller Indiana can be for all of us.

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