The owing circle

30 12 2014

Mr D is an old and reliable customer of mine. Yes, he sometimes owes me money but he always pays, eventually. That’s more than I can say for a number of other customers who start off well and then after a number of years just never return whilst owing money. My outstanding debtors list is depressingly long.

Mr D’s wife phoned yesterday – she was not happy. I have a large order of tomato seedlings for her husband that are ready to go and she had no way of paying for them. It transpired that she (I gather she is the money manager in the business) was owed some $100,000 by the Grain Marketing Board (the GMB is a government-owned parastatal) for maize delivered to them last year and a sizable amount by Olivine Industries for whom they’d grown a lot of tomatoes last year. While I wasn’t particularly interested in who owed Mrs D money I had to admit the reality of the situation; they weren’t able to pay me either. She had paid a 50% deposit on the order and I couldn’t realistically sell the tomatoes to another customer so I reluctantly said that she could collect the seedlings. I gave strict instructions to the clerk not to issue an invoice on the collection, just a delivery note, so that I did not have to pay tax on a transaction for which I’d received no money (the tax department always wins).

Driving home I reflected it was just as well that Olivine Industries did not take up on the quote I’d given them earlier in the year to grow a very large quantity of tomato seedlings. I also established that Mr D was not growing the current crop for Olivine either so I guess there is a realistic chance that I’ll get paid, eventually.