Late payment excuses

Late Payment Excuses

As the Coronavirus pandemic has taken hold of the UK, it has caused significant challenges to businesses, including:

1. A big drop in sales
2. Weakening cashflow.
3. Reduced order book.
4. Concern for the future viability of the business.

It is important to understand that these issues will be with businesses for a long time after they fully re-open, and that this will have an impact on their ability to pay on time.

Late payments have always been a problem for businesses, as it significantly affects their cashflow, and here at Credebt we are passionate about helping businesses get paid on time, every time. We use a proven process that helps with that and will be introducing an app later this year to automate it.

In the meantime, we wanted to share with you some common excuses for late payment, and what you can do in response:

1. We have ceased trading or are about to enter into Administration

If this reason is used, then you are within your rights to ask for proof. If this cannot or will not be provided, continue with your collections process, as only non-genuine businesses will object to providing this.

Proof could be the name of a proposed Insolvency Practitioner or details filed at Companies House.

2. We can’t pay as we don’t have any money

Again, ask for proof.

This can be done by asking for 3 months’ bank statements and Management accounts.

Also ask if they have received any Government backed support such as CBILS or Bounce Back Loans.

If they are unwilling to provide this information then it is likely to be an excuse, not a reason. 

If they have received Support and have had cash injected into the business, then you should expect payment to terms, as this is the reason it was lent to them in the first place.

3: We can’t pay it in one go, can we pay in instalments?

The same proof should be sought as above, but if their cashflow has indeed been impacted, be prepared to agree a payment plan that will take the Customer no longer than 3-6 months to pay the debt owed.

Also, consider proforma or advance payment for future supplies to ensure the position does not worsen.

4: The invoice has a query on it

Ask them not only to provide the details of the query, but also to provide details of when this was originally communicated to your firm. If the invoice is from before the lockdown, they should have previously made an attempt to query this invoice.

If they provide details of the query, resolve it quickly but also be prepared to reject queries for older invoices and rely on your terms and conditions, which should highlight the time frame in which queries are accepted.

If they state that they were closed for a period during lockdown so have only been able to query this now, again, ask for proof.

5: We can’t pay until our customers pay and they’re also struggling

Again, ask for proof such as bank statements as well as how many customers owe them money and how much.

If they are unwilling to provide this then proceed with your collections process.


We are in a period of extreme uncertainty and we all have to support each other through it. But let’s be 100% clear: this is your money owed and if your customer does not want to pay or for whatever reason cannot pay, then they should be open and honest with you and provide proof

If they cannot or will not be open with you about the situation then you have to do what is best for your business and continue to pursue full payment of the debt owed.

How can we help?

Remember that we are the experts in this field and we are more than happy to help you with any issues you may have.

Feel free to contact us for a no obligation chat in total confidence, or arrange your Free Debtor Collateral Review to find out your Position. 

Call us on 0845-6385256 or email

Do you suspect fraud?

Download our FREE guide with the essential do's and don't's.


Just fill out your details and we'll email it to your inbox immediately

Check your inbox!

Can't fund a client?

Get our FREE guide and find out how you can improve the ledger profile and associated systems and processes to make them fundable


Just fill in your details and we will email it to you immediately.

Check your inbox!