Two Kinds of Customers

Two (2) occupants of two (2) condominium residences were refusing to pay their share of association and water bills.  They, in fact, haven’t paid for over a year despite repeated follow-ups from the condominium’s treasurer.  The rationale of both occupants (who happen to be sisters, by the way) was that the condominium association wasn’t legal, i.e, it didn’t have any legitimate authority to exist and therefore collect from the residents. 

There are two (2) kinds of customers we deal with in business: the ones who pay and the ones who don’t pay. 

We welcome the former; we avoid (and hate) the latter. 

Customers who don’t pay include:

  1. Tenants who don’t pay on the due date;
  2. Shoppers who try to shoplift items out of a store;
  3. Buyers who use items but return them with excuses to get refunds;
  4. Clients who don’t reimburse us for services and threaten us if we attempt to follow them up. 

Ideally, we sell only to the customers who will pay.  Otherwise, we’d be spending a lot of time, resources, and effort trying to collect from the ones who don’t. 

Unfortunately, in real life, we somehow end up dealing with recalcitrant customers. And we often see ourselves preoccupied most of our time trying to get these people to pay what’s due us.  As much as we try to avoid them, these undesirable customers slip by and become issues we get stuck with.

Enterprises deal with non-paying customers differently. 

Credit card companies can be lax when they accept applications.  Sometimes they approve applications outright to build their cardholder base.  Credit card companies, however, write off a percentage of cardholders’ debt every year.  They rather not pursue credit card holders who outright are impossible to collect from.  They figure that the number of people who will not pay will be a small fraction of new applicants who would and thus, they would still be able to build their business profitably.  The credit card companies, of course, would blacklist deadbeat cardholders to make sure they won’t open new accounts in the future.    

Retailers lay out their stores so shoppers will need to pass through check-out counters before they can exit.  Security measures such as guards and closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs) screen for would-be shoplifters. 

We interview potential tenants before we rent our residences or offices.  We prepare ironclad contracts that would give us legal avenues to evict tenants who don’t pay. 

Some of us demand down-payments to cover the costs of our products & services when we are unsure about the credit-worthiness of our customers.  It won’t hurt as much when customers don’t pay the balance of their bills. 

The adage, “customers are always right,” only applies when we accept them and when they pay up.  If we believe they won’t pay, we don’t welcome them. 

Some customers pretend to be good payers.  They later delay their payments and stop altogether.  This was the case of the two (2) sisters who refused to pay the association dues of the condominium building.  They started out paying on time, but then after several years delayed payment.  They later paid only after several follow-up statements.  Finally, they stopped paying and threatened legal action if the association pursued them.

The association countered with its own threat to cut off services to the two (2) sisters but the latter is unperturbed.  The two (2) sisters obviously have no intention to pay for the services & utilities of the condominium building.  For the paying members of the association, it’s unfair. 

There are two (2) kinds of customers.  The ones who can & will pay and the ones who will not pay.  We appreciate the former; we dislike & avoid the latter.  We invest in the means to accept the former and screen off the latter.  We often find ourselves, however, spending much time & effort with the few who slip through.  We end up either writing them off, blacklisting them, or legally acting against them. 

We don’t classify anyone as customers until we accept them and they pay, agree, and comply to mutually beneficial terms & conditions. 

About Ellery’s Essays

Published by Ellery

Since I started blogging in 2019, I've written personal insights about supply chains, operations management, & industrial engineering. I have also delved in topics that cover how we deal with people, property, and service providers. My mission is to boost productivity via offering solutions and ideas. If you like what I write or disagree with what I say, feel free to like, dislike, comment, or if you have a lengthy discourse, email me at ; I'm also on LinkedIn:

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