The online dunning procedure: legal framework conditions and problems. External receivables management is very popular with many companies, but is still largely unknown in Germany. The old “rules” still apply here and the entrepreneur still takes care of his open receivables himself. This means a lot of effort, often for very little return. This is because many customers fall into arrears, either intentionally or by mistake. But then the work really starts, and a simple payment reminder is not enough. A receivables management partner can help here and save the entrepreneur a lot of work. It also ensures that the entire online dunning procedure runs correctly and that the claim can be enforced securely.
Payment reminder vs. reminder: a reminder by email is not an option!
Very few budding entrepreneurs, but also successful and experienced business managers, are really familiar with the pitfalls of the laws on dunning procedures. But there are a few things to be aware of. There are reminder fees that can be passed on to the customer, a precise definition of default and many measures that can only be enforced by a district court. It is difficult to keep track of all this, and without a lawyer you will quickly find yourself in a predicament. First and foremost is always the invoice, which is issued for a service rendered. If the customer does not pay within the specified period, he is in default. Often, a friendly payment reminder, which can be easily sent online and via email, is sufficient. If this does not work either, then it is time for the 1st reminder and the 2nd reminder. A reminder is also sufficient, but most entrepreneurs fail when it comes to writing correct texts for the reminder procedure. Of course, there are also samples and templates for corresponding texts. But, for example, the reminder fees have to be calculated individually for each case, and often the building blocks of the templates are not sufficient. This is where a debt collection lawyer has to take over, and his services are of course not free. At the latest when the last reminder has been sent by post and has not been paid, an order to pay must be applied for at the district court. If this is not successful, enforcement will follow. Here, too, the advice of a lawyer is needed to determine the amount of the reminder fees and the fees for debt collection and to help enforce the claim. By this time, an invoice has already caused many costs for the entrepreneur. Among them are costs that the customer does not have to pay. Of course, this must be avoided!
How a partner for external receivables management can initiate the dunning procedure online
A partner for external receivables management first takes over the administration of the invoice. This saves costs, time and effort. He makes sure to charge the right fees and enables the customer to meet the deadline set for payment. For example, he takes care of the letter reminding the customer that payment is due, and contacts the customer directly. At first, however, he does not take care of the collection, and consequently cannot charge a reminder fee for his service to the customer. To be able to initiate a dunning procedure online requires some expertise. You can initiate the dunning procedure online, but you always have to contact the customer by post in the case of a judicial dunning procedure. There is no online form and no ready-made letters that make online dunning possible. It therefore takes more than an e-mail to initiate the procedure and to be allowed to charge a reminder fee. The procedure is always the same, but this procedure also causes costs and effort. If the external partner cannot ascertain that payment has been received, he passes the claim on to a collection agency. The collection agency can then optimise the process and initiate legal dunning proceedings. From this point on, a reminder fee becomes due for the customer, which depends on the amount of the outstanding debt. The collection agency must apply for the judicial reminder procedure at a local court and the corresponding form can be filled out there free of charge. No further costs are then incurred by the entrepreneur.
Conclusion: external management of receivables saves time and costs
Even if the course of a payment procedure is often the same, and even if you can often use a template for the individual case, there are still high costs for the entire process. In addition, the customer can request an objection at any time. This objection may, under certain circumstances, stop the entire process. It does not release the client from the obligation to pay, but it does delay a successful conclusion. The objection remains free of charge for the customer and he can apply for it informally. For this purpose, too, there are now corresponding services that make it possible to fill out the corresponding templates online. There are now also online dunning providers on the German and Swiss market. This is absolutely permissible and is even expressly desired by the legislator. For the entrepreneur, however, this means even more effort. Because if the customer does not object permissibly, the entrepreneur still has an expense. An external partner takes over the entire effort and ensures that the process can be handled smoothly. The entrepreneur simply has to fill in the details on the invoice, and he has much more time. In practice, this is a very simple, high-quality solution. For example, it can save a lot of money, especially for small businesses or medium-sized companies.