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Always Do The Right Thing

Apr 17, 2008
Two days ago I had lunch with a good friend of mine. Throughout lunch, he looked tensed and worried. When I enquired, he said that he had done some work worth about $26,000 for a public listed company. However, they have yet to pay him and the jobs had been on-going for the last few months!

I almost choked when he told me that! I said, "What is wrong with you? Have you sent in any reminders, or at least spoken to the accounts people?" He shook his head; he said, since they were a big company, by doing so may offend them! He felt they may refuse to do business with him in the future, if he asked them to pay for his services!

It was my turn to shake my head, now. I told him frankly, "It is your duty to give the best service possible, and it is also your job to collect payment for the services you have rendered. It is okay to give a little time for customers to settle their payment; but if it takes too long that it causes you distress, then, it is not right."

At this point, I asked him whether he had paid his suppliers for the materials he had purchased for work in the project. He said he had not and that it had long passed due. In view of this, his suppliers too were not happy with him.

I looked at him and smiled. I said, "Just because you did not want to offend your customer by asking for payment, you have now put your suppliers, as well as yourself, in a difficult situation."

I remarked in an easy manner, "What goes around comes around. If you cause problems to your suppliers, one day you too may face similar problems. So, be careful!" He looked serious, trying to
grasp what I said. What I said to him caught him off-guard.

I continued, "it is perfectly ok to ask for what is due to you. You are just collecting payment for the services you have rendered, you are not robbing them?!. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is wrong if you don't ask! Sometimes, invoices can be misplaced, or the person involved may have overlooked the matter. In that case, I suggest that you call the person concerned, and diplomatically enquire about your payment situation." He reluctantly, agreed.

This conversation took place two days ago. Earlier today, he joyfully told me that his payment was being processed and he would be receiving it in a few days. It seemed that someone had overlooked his invoices! If he had not asked, they would have forgotten about it all together!

I told him, "I am very happy for you. Try not to make the same mistake again. If you had asked earlier, you would have saved a lot of headaches for your suppliers and yourself. Remember this, my friend, always do the proper thing!" He understood and took note of what I said, 'To always do the Right Thing'.
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