Dear Crabby, 

I have been the credit manager at my company, a confectionary goods distributor, for the past 35 years and our customers are retail shops across the nation. 

Although I’m in my sixties, I still have a lot of energy and motivation to do my job. That said, the other day I was confronted with a situation that made me feel like I was “behind the times.” 

Three of my staff are younger than 30 years old and they are all very hip with their smart phones and the accompanying technology. I actually get a kick out of how fast they are able to type on their tiny keyboards with their thumbs.

One of them suggested that we send out our past due notices to customers on their smart phones, especially since many store owners and managers are relatively younger and do a lot of their business on their phones. 

My impulse is to hesitate on this because I feel that even if one is easily contactable on their mobile phone, I tend to think it’s a personal item. Although my staff however thinks I’m being too conservative and old fashioned, I would prefer to be cautious and try to avoid any kind of legal situation. 

Am I losing my edge and not moving with the times?

Signed: Feeling Old and Out of It

Dear Out of It,

First, I think you are doing great and hope you have many more years to contribute to your company. Since many of your generation (full transparency here – and mine) continue to work, it’s not one’s chronological age, but the ability to do the job that needs to be done. 

I believe there are several very good points to using the mobile number to get in touch with a customer for a past due account. But whatever you would like to do, my recommendation is that you always confer with your corporate counsel. In this very litigious day and age, it’s important to always have your legal ducks in a row. 

Before I address the advantages of using a commercial customer’s mobile number to send a business notification, do you currently have permission to use their number? 

As part of the credit application updating process, you may want to include a section that clearly indicates that if the primary contact number is the customer’s mobile number, that you also have their permission to send notifications by text messaging and to leave voice messages. In addition, even if the mobile number is not the primary contact number, here again there should be an area for them to initial or check on the application giving you permission to use it. 

Once you have the permission question clarified, the notifications could include order status updates, invoices, contractual documents, late notices, demand letters, etc. If, as your staff has stated, that many of the retail shop owners are younger and smart phone tech savvy, then I think sending them all the communication via their smart phones is an effective way to do business with them. In fact, it may even support more business opportunities since your company’s promotional items could also be sent as well. 

Hope the above is helpful. Please let me know what happens. 


Dear Crabby is a credit, collection, and human resources advice column by Nancy Seiverd President CMI Credit Mediators Inc. Your thoughts and comments ( are most welcome!

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