Late Payment of Commercial Debts
Home Tips Excuses Stories Disclaimer Prev Next

Excuse 22: You didn't take the right money?


This applies where the customer has given the supplier some means to collect payment, but the wrong payment was collected, or it was late or not collected at all. Assuming the accounts collection system is not broken, this usally means the payment/collection failed some how.

This also applies, and is more often the case as an excuse, where the customer thinks they have provided the supplier with a means to collect payment, but hasn't.

Underlying reasons

The supplier has means to collect payment and didn't
Obviously if the customer gives the supplier a means to collect payment (e.g. Direct Debit or continuous card authority), the supplier is implicitely taking on a responsibility to actually collect payment within terms. If the supplier doesn't, then it is their fault that the payment is late. If the penalty exists in contract law, there is probably a counter claim that the supplier is liable to re-imburse the cost having failed to make the collection that was expected.
The supplier tried to collect payment, but it failed.
This is much more likely, and assuming the failure is not the suppliers fault, then the penalty is perfectly valid.
The supplier does not have means to collect payment
This can happen where the customer does not understand how standing orders and direct debits work. If they pay by standing order they may expect that the amount will magically adjust if the monthly fees change or there are additional charges.


  • If the supplier failed to collect payment and should have, then clearly the penalty should be credited.
  • If the failure is the customers fault, then the penalty should stand.
  • If the customer does not understand the difference between standing order and direct debit, then get them on direct debit. Maybe credit as good will if they do.

Giving Direct Debit or card details for automated collection does put an obligation on the supplier to actually make the collection and do so in time. It is probably worth making this obligation explicit in the terms. We, for example, state we will try to make at least one collection within terms but do not guarantee to make more than one. This makes it clear where the responsibility lies if, for example, one collection fails, and we could technically have made another in time but didn't (e.g. we might choose to only make collections once a month or once a week, etc, for economic reasons).