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Accounting Best Practices, Fifth Edition by Steven M. Bragg Englewood, Colorado

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7–36. Issue a Payment Procedure to Customers

When a company sends an invoice to a customer, the customer assumes that the usual payment arrangements apply—the industry standard number of days to pay, ship back defective goods without notice, and call the company salesperson if there are any questions. If the company’s systems are not set up to handle transactions in this manner, this can cause trouble.

A better approach is to develop a short payment procedure for new customers. It should certainly list the company’s payment terms, but then go further to list company contact information as well as the exact process for returning goods and how to claim a credit. The procedure can even extend to the use of an application form for payments via Automated Clearing House (ACH). This approach can greatly reduce the number of problems that the collections staff normally deals with.

Getting the procedure into the hands of all customers can take some work. It can go out with the next batch of invoices, or be delivered by the sales staff, or be issued as a separate mailing. If any of the information on the procedure changes, the distribution must occur again, which can be a chore if there are many customers.

Cost: Installation time:

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