It’s so frustrating. You have a client that just won’t pay his invoices. You sent the invoice, you sent a reminder, you’ve emailed, you’ve called. Every time you talk he promises the check is in the mail or has another reason that he hasn’t paid you yet. You have one last resort, one last idea, you’ll shame him on social media. You’ll tweet him and leave a message on the company Facebook page. You’ll mention his company by name in professional networking groups. He’ll have to pay you then, right?
Going to social media seems to be a lot of people’s default answer for solving problems whether they are business or personal. This is especially true for people who work in social media and use it as a regular form of communication. But, when it comes to invoice collecting it’s exactly the wrong choice for three main reasons.
If your company is owed money by an individual the The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is generally understood to include social media. That means it is illegal to try and contact people who owe your company money via social media. The FDCPA does not apply to business-to-business debt, but legally it’s still risky to call out another company for bad business practices in public. You could open yourself up to libel or other legal claims.
In the heat of social media conversation, you might also inadvertently commit yourself to accepting a lesser payment, late payment, or other unfavorable terms. Things you say on social media can be saved and used to show that you agreed to something that you did not intend to agree to.
Although you may be in the right regarding who owes whom money, social media conversations have a funny way of backfiring. You never know how a conversation will go and you could come off looking like the aggressor and the bad guy. Taking business claims to social media definitely looks unprofessional and may give other businesses a reason to wonder if they should do business with you.
Simply put, shaming another company is not efficient. If the company cares about their reputation, and can pay you, they probably will do so without you resorting to publicly shaming them. If you are not being paid than either the company cannot do so, or has no intention of doing so. Why waste time and effort, and risk your own reputation in this manner?
A much more efficient way to get paid is to bring in a reputable, professional collection agency. Most reputable collection agencies will take money if they are able to recover some of your money. This makes hiring a collection agency a very low risk proposition. A collection agency can discover why the bills are not being paid and find ways to get your money that save you time, preserve your reputation, and possibly even preserve your relationship with the client.
It’s understandable that when you’re frustrated by an unpaid invoice you might turn to social media, especially if you use social media for other aspects of your business life. But doing so is unlikely to yield results, and can harm your business.