Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cleaning House

Around this time every year, I spend some time evaluating past due items from drivers to determine whether or not we ever expect to receive payment. The list always reads like High Fidelity - a long line of bad relationships and falling outs. Some drivers had loads go bad and just disappeared. Others got advances from our customers without telling us. Some swore they would repay small loans and never did.

Always, the long unpaid balances are the result of someone failing to make good on a promise. Unfortunately, no press is interested in these cases. No government bailout is coming. No, instead companies like mine are simply forced to absorb such costs of dishonesty as a cost of doing business. Courts (and lawyers) are rarely if ever interested in helping recover these losses. After all, most of the bad debts result from a lack of funds no the part of the borrower. It's microlending gone all wrong. But again, if the government continually teaches people "don't worry, we'll fix it" then why should anyone care about accountability anymore?

I'm not angry, for the record. I'm not even sad. I'm just used to it. That's probably the saddest thing about it. No one should ever have to get used to being taken advantage of or left holding the bill. One joke around here is "I've eaten a lot of food I've never even seen" meaning we have paid for a lot of products that were disposed of.

I take heart in one thing, though. These problems are still the exception. The vast majority of advances are repaid. Loads are hauled and we pay the driver, then get paid ourselves. Short payments are the exception. So I still have hope, and I still have faith in the general honesty of people. After all, I have never laid eyes on the majority of my customers, yet we have a sound relationship of trust based largely on the spoken and written word. The words of people. Individuals. That still means something. So I can live with a few writeoffs.

-- Robert


le35 said...

I think that the point you make is great. Even with the bailout. Most people still paid their mortgages. Although there were a whole bunch of people, those that are dishonest are still the exception, not the rule

Robert said...

That's what I was driving at, yes.

Lately I've found myself looking at negative information in my life (or the world) and trying to find the silver lining. Or at least the light at the end of the tunnel.

That's one of the ideas behind tomorrow's post as well.