“The Check Is In The Mail.” Not! AARGH!

It would seem quite basic. However, apparently it isn’t. That is, doing what you say you are going to do. In fact, it seems that frequently the exact opposite is what happens.

“The check is in the mail.” I can’t count how many times we have heard that and it has not been true.  In reality, it was never mailed and everyone figured this out in a few days. What was gained by this bold faced lie which was unquestionably going to be discovered so quickly? It beats me. It is as if the few days it takes to understand that the check was never mailed means something; as if it cures the issue at least for a few days. But then when reality sets in, you are worse off, because it was a lie. The problem was not solved but compounded, as now your next promise is without credibility at all.

Thus rather than telling the truth and revealing what and when you can pay and keeping to it, you destroy your relationship and undercut your credibility, and all for a few days of presumed relief.

Unfortunately the relief is not all that clear as you know you haven’t sent the check, and you know that you will be discovered in a few days and thus you sit with this reality, hardly enjoying the interim time period before you are discovered.

How about the truth? “I cannot send it to you today. I will check in with you next week and hopefully my cash position will be better.” This works. Everyone is aware of the reality of the situation and your word remains valid and dependable, so you can get up to bat again.

Maybe the creditor is unhappy, but far better he is unhappy with the truth then unhappy because you lied to him as well as not paying him.

It is such a silly yet so common practice. There is no win here, no upside, no relief, just a brief pause and then more pain. More pain than if you had just told the inevitable truth and created appropriate expectations.

In my business model I have a person dedicated to collections. Our clients are with us for a year or so and thus pay monthly, and my AR collection person deals with the same people every month. Some we trust and work with because they tell the truth and we understand and accept their condition, late or on time. Others lie to us constantly and are treated with far less cooperation because we understand they never tell us the real truth. As a result, we never expect them to follow through and we give them less room to maneuver as they are untrustworthy and their word cannot be relied on.

Those that tell the truth get all the cooperation they need. Those that do not get far less cooperation.

So I ask again, what was gained by telling us “the check is in the mail”? Nothing. Yet we hear this story constantly, over and over from the same people every month. It makes little sense.

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