Big companies rarely pay their bills on time

I have worked in large companies, and therefore know how their inner mechanisms function. Big companies have things called "treasurers departments", and these people operate a "company within a company". Their role in life is to make money out of dealing in money, rather than the companies main business which will be selling widgets or whatever,

To this end they try to get people to pay them as quickly as possible - remember your phone bill, they can and do expect you to pay it within three weeks, or else........

And they also take it upon themselves to avoid paying small suppliers, or indeed any suppliers for as long as possible. When I scream blue murder to get my money after months of waiting, they hide behind "those are our terms" or "take it or leave it" or "we are Bloggs PLC, we are worth billions, who do you think you are questioning our ability to pay"

When we had a hotel in Yorkshire, we got business from ICI, particularly from European visitors to their Teeside plants. They wished to create a good impression on their visitors, putting them up in a "country house hotel" rather than a run of the mill place.

The idea was that their visitors did not pay, they signed the bill with us and we submitted it to ICI. Trouble was they took too long to pay their bills. Weeks, then months would go by, reminders, phone calls, all to no avail. My whole life seemed to be taken up writing, phoning, chasing these invoices. It was not a case of can't pay, is was delay paying.

Eventually my patience snapped. I told them, I could no longer send bills to them, unless they paid me within the length of time the phone company expected their bills paid. ICI then sent me a letter saying that they had their procedures for payment, something like 20th of the month following the month in which the invoice was sent, and even then it was not sent until after the end of that month. Unless I agreed to that, then they would take their business elsewhere. "Fine by me, I will not expect any more freeloaders"

Funny thing was about a month later they realised the error of their ways, their VIP visitors were not getting as good a hotel elsewhere, and they re-opened negotiations with me. Yes, they would pay in two weeks, if I agreed to send them invoices. I agreed, and the system worked fine after that. But I still believe I should not have been put in the position of making such a stand

Interestingly, the same sort of problem occurred with BT. We had a directors meeting, and the finance director actually paid me by cheque at the end of their stay, in order to avoid "problems" with payment. However their was a separate bill for about £100 from the setting up costs, and I had to send this a few days later. Weeks went by, no payment from BT. Letters sent, no payment from BT.

Eventually my own phone bill arrives from BT, two weeks later, BT send reminder that I have not paid phone bill. They expect me to pay in two weeks, they have not paid me after months. I do the obvious, I deduct what they owe me from my phone bill, and send cheque and letter explaining what I had done.

Next day, man from BT on phone to me, "you cannot do that" says he, "I have just done it" says I. Their internal accounting could not cope with such complications. In the end he had to agree that that I would wait till they paid me, then I would pay them back on the phone bill. It is a heck of a way to run a business.

  And if you want to stay in a nice hotel by the sea in Cornwall, Corisande Manor Hotel, Cornwall

                                                                                                       Corisande Manor Hotel, Newquay, Cornwall

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