Dear Crabby,

I am the credit and collection manager at a plastics recycling company and have been here for about 15 years. Our company buys all kinds of scrap plastic and after putting it through our recycling process, we sell it as raw material to other manufacturers.

Here’s what happened. We have a customer on the west coast that owes us about $150K. We were doing business with them on and off over the years and up until now, they had not been a problem. However, after the last shipment, the payment started to delay.

I first called to the A/P manager who mentioned to me that things were getting a little tight, but they would make payment by the end of the month.

Then, when payment was not forthcoming, I called again and got a little bit of a run around. I couldn’t talk with the A/P manager directly and could only leave messages. I was also sending emails asking him to respond. Unfortunately, there was no reply. That was six months ago.

Subsequently, I started going up the chain. I tried contacting the accounting manager by phone and email and here too, nothing. Then I tried getting in touch with the CFO, and my calls and emails were completely ignored. Finally, I tried contacting the President. I called several times and one time his secretary answered the phone. Fortunately, I was able to have a frank conversation with her about the outstanding payment and she told me to call back between 5:00pm and 6:00pm that day and he would most likely pick up the phone.

As instructed, I called in the evening and sure enough the president answered. I immediately introduced myself, apologized for calling him directly and then explained why I was calling. Either I must have ticked him off or he was having a very bad day because after I explained about their outstanding payment, he became quite huffy puffy. He went on a minor tirade, belittled me saying that I had no right to contact him, and that his A/P manager is handling everything.

Unfortunately, his tirade got the best of me, and I responded in a snarky manner. I explained that the reason I ended up contacting him is because neither his A/P manager, accounting manager nor CFO have responded to my calls and emails. I further said that after all these calls, he was lucky that we haven’t pursued the situation through litigation.

He abruptly hung up!

Three weeks later I received a call from another customer letting me know that there was a very unflattering review about our company on social media, specifically mentioning my name and that I had threatened the owner of the company.

Now, I’m at a loss as to how I can get rid of that comment on the internet, let alone still get paid?

Signed: I really messed up!

Dear Messed Up,

How I understand when our emotions can get the better of us. I’ve been there myself when all we are trying to do is do our job the best we can, and then something like this happens. You already know that we must keep our heads cool, even when others are losing theirs.

Here’s what I suggest:

Send a letter, either coming from you or your president, to your customer’s president letting him know that you are sorry about the tone of your voice on the call and would still like to resolve the matter. If there is a positive response, step by step, see if you can get paid and eventually get the negative comment removed. If this customer needs your product, perhaps he will respond positively.  

If there is no response, then I would suggest you contact your legal counsel and see what they advise to:

(a) getting paid (using outside collection support and/or proceeding with a suit) and

(b) getting the negative comment removed

On some platforms you may be able to flag reviews that violate the platform’s guidelines such as submitting false or highly misleading information. The platform will then review the content and determine if it should be removed.  

If the comment cannot be removed, under the direction of your legal counsel, you may want to counter that customer’s comment on the same platform with your perspective of what happened. That can sometimes help to clarify and lend more objectivity of the situation for readers. Conversely, it could also make matters worse. I’ve seen cases where a creditor and debtor have slugged it out on social media. It’s case by case.

Going forward, you may want to consider letting some past due accounts go to third party collection much sooner than what you have been doing. If you are getting the runaround for months, then outsourcing much earlier may avoid this type of debacle in the future.

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! All Rights Reserved

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