by Melanie Kappel (13.06.2019)
Imagine you do business in Germany and a client is not willing to pay.
First of all I would start with a friendly written reminder (email or letter).
1. Send a friendly letter or email as a reminder to your client. Make sure that the person who signed or agreed to the contract receives your reminder (email/ letter). You could write something like: Dear client – we haven’t received the payment (please see sample - 1st reminder)
Don’t blame clients for not paying at this stage! There may have been a technical problem.
a) Don’t set a deadline unless you fixed one in your contract. You can mention what was agreed in the contract.
b) Mention the exact amount, date, number etc. of the invoice.
c) At the end of the letter you ask your client to check if the payment has been effected.
This 1st reminder has no legal consequences in Germany. Your customer service people have to know this. They stay in contact with your clients. They can help you and your company to remind clients that they haven’t paid.
CLIENT IS STILL NOT PAYING
2. If after 14 days (8 days at least) send a second reminder. Stay friendly but more factual! This is also a reminder without any legal consequences. Please refer to the 1st reminder. What should you write in this second reminder?
a) Set a deadline - at least 8 days – (Document XY)
b) Remind your client how high the exact amount, date, number etc. of the invoice is.
You can do it by email! If you want it more formal you can write a letter. If you want a way in between you can write either a letter with signature and send it per email as an attachment.
3. The third reminder is the reminder with legal consequences. Don’t be too friendly any more. Refer to the two previous reminders.
a) Set a final deadline (at least 8 days)
b) Remind ell your client how high the exact amount, date, number etc. of the invoice is. If you need to remind more than one invoice, please list them all with all the details.
c) You have to do it in writing! This is a legal requirement. Send a letter with your signature – if possible – but it has to be on your letterhead. You don’t have to send it as a registered letter, but it doesn’t hurt. You can also ask for acknowledgement of receipt.
d) Spell out the consequences of not paying.Why is it important for salespeople to know how reminders work legally?
Tip: This procedure works both ways: it also applies to customer complaints.
For customer service, sales people etc. it is important to know the legal aspects of the reminder. Why? In case clients complain about your service or product they have to send you at least the third remainder in writing with the same points mentioned above (3. a – d)).