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Refer to the account which cannot be paid immediately.

Regret inability to pay and give reasons.

Suggest an extension of period for payment.

Hope that the suggestion will be accepted.

Customer explains inability to pay


This letter is from a regular and reliable customer. It makes a reasonable request and a supplier refusing it would run the risk of driving away that customer. If the supplier refuses, the customer might pay the outstanding amount, but could then start buying from a competitor. In the process the supplier could lose many valuable future orders.

Dear Sirs


Your invoice number 527 dated 20 July for £1516 is due for payment at the end of this month.

Most unfortunately a fire broke out in our Despatch Department last week and destroyed a large part of a valuable consignment due for delivery to a cash customer. Our claim is now with the insurance company but it is unlikely to be met for another 3 or 4 weeks. Until then we are faced with adifficult financial problem.

I am therefore writing for permission to defer payment of your invoice until the end of September.

As you are aware my accounts with you have always been settled promptly, and it is with regret that I am now forced to make this request. I hope that you will find it possible to grant it.


Yours faithfully


Customer explains late payment



Further to your letter of 4 July I enclose a cheque for £1182.57 in full settlement of your invoice number W 563, with my apologies for late payment.

This is due to my absence from the office through illness and my failure to leave instructions for your account to be paid. I did not discover the oversight until I returned to the office yesterday.

I would not like you to think that failure to settle your account on time was in any way intentional. My apologies once again for this delay.


Yours sincerely



The preliminary steps in debt collection are as follows:

A first end-of-month statement of account.

A second end-of-month statement of account with added comment.

A first letter worded formally.

Second and third letters.

A final letter notifying that legal action will be taken unless the amount is paid within a stipulated period of time


A customer whose account is only slightly overdue would understandably be offended to receive a personal letter concerning this. This is why the first 2 reminders usually take the form of end-of-the-month statements of account. Even where the second of these statements is marked with such comments as 'Second application', 'Account overdue - please pay’ or 'Immediate attention is requested', this is unlikely to give offence.



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