Monday, December 10, 2007

Bounced checks…

Dana writes: could you send out tips on how to handle bounced checks! I had a party ship to the hostess and in the meantime one of her guests checks bounced. Now I can't get the customer to return any of my phone calls. Is there anything I can do? Please consider this topic. Thank you for your time.

Dear Dana - Thank you for writing. Your question is quite timely - especially at this time of year when most of us are doing LOTS of business and processing many forms of payment from our customers.

It can be very frustrating when a customer writes a bad check and is clearly avoiding contact with you regarding this. Thankfully, this is a rarity in this business and at TSF we can literally count on less than two hands the number of bad checks we have taken in all of our years in the business. So, that's the good news.

You probably realize that bouncing checks is illegal, so you have the law on your side (if it comes to that, but usually never does).

There are a couple of things that you can do when a customer's check is NSF.

1) If the bank is convenient - you have the right to show up at the teller's window everyday and see if there are funds available in the customer's account to cover the check. Unfortunately, if you have incurred any bounced check fees, you won't recoup those, however, at least you will get the cost of the product covered.

2) Of course, (as you have done) - your first option is always to contact the customer directly. Leave one polite message asking that they take care of the bounced check with cash or a cashier's check. Give them a week to reply and then leave a message that lets them know that you are calling about the check they wrote you that was returned. Let them know that you have left one message already and since you have not heard back from them - that you are so sorry, but wanted to let them know that you have to turn all bounced checks from the prior month to the District Attorney by Friday.

This is the phone call that will get results.

A couple of things that you will want to consider for the future:

1) Don't be afraid to let customers know that you have a bounced check fee. All businesses do and you need to cover your costs. I usually charge what my bank charges plus $5.00 for the hassle involved.

2) If you find yourself working in booth/fair situations - where you are selling inventory to people you do not know - be sure that you get additional identification from the person writing the check. If you really want to play it safe, you can get a credit card number as a back up form of payment.

We hope this helps!


yearoftiger said...

Thanks for the information, I asked Lord Google for information regarding bounced checks and your site came up. Very insightful and informative. As a new business owner, I certainly appreciate the info!

yearoftiger said...

Thank you for the advice, I asked Lord Google about handling a bounced check and I got your website. I really appreciate your insight, being a new business owner.