I’m sure you’ve heard the expression how a “few bad apples” spoil the bunch.
Well, here’s an excellent example of how using a collection agency the WRONG way makes it harder for legitimate businesses, and the agencies they hire, to get paid for what is RIGHTFULLY owed to them.
According to a recent article a church in Florida recently sent a collection letter to a new member for failing to pay tithes and “membership dues.” And as you can imagine, social media jumped all over this story as another example of an industry (i.e. collections) that is “out of control.”
How not to collect on past due accounts
The story involves a Tampa resident who received a collection letter from the church she attended, Greater Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church, stating that she had to pay $1,000 per year in donations or she would no longer be a member in good standing at the church.
Needless to say, the woman who received the letter was shocked.
Now, forget how “nice” the people at the church may have seemed when she started attending the church. And forget how some churches may require members to “tithe” a portion of their earnings to the church. The simple fact remains that collection agencies help BUSINESSES collect what is owed to them for services rendered.
In other words, hiring a collection agency is often a last resort for a business to collect AFTER they have provided a service to customers, clients or patients AND when they haven’t collected for their work or service that has already already performed on someone (or many someones) behalf.
Simply put, the BASIS for using a collection agency is about honoring contracts.
Now, in the case of this church they were using a collection agency to collect in advance. According to the article…
“she would also be responsible for a yearly church anniversary fee of $250. In total, she was told that membership would require her to pay $1,000 in donations per year. She adds that she was told one of the fees was to help pay off debt owed by the church.”
And that’s precisely where the church dropped the ball. They were essentially trying to collect BEFOREHAND, i.e. sending out a letter to gather revenue before the fact, rather than after the fact.
Furthermore, cases like these give the collection industry an undeserved bad reputation, while making it harder for business owners to collect.
As you can imaging, when people heard about the church’s collection attempts social media users flooded the Mt. Moriah Facebook page with comments about their shady policies.
So what’s the moral of the story?
Before sending out a collection letter of your own design (or simply copying one you found online), speak with a professional collection agency about the debt you are trying to recover. And then sit back and let the experts handle this for you before your business (and the bad reputation that’s sure to follow) ends up all over facebook, twitter, and the morning news.
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After all, when you get down to it you really have two choices:
- you can keep doing what you’re doing (and hope for a different result), or
- you can find a collection agency that can help you recover what’s rightfully yours.
Either way it’s your money… you decide.