…Collectors are ready to step in
Lower oil prices might reduce the number of bounced checks that fuel dealers see this heating season, but several agencies stand ready to help when customers fail to pay. Oil & Energy recently reached out to agencies that serve fuel dealers to learn about their services.
Owner Brenda Howard said Electric Checks uses a third-party electronic check representation service to help dealers collect bounced checks. Banking laws enable a company like Electric Checks to resubmit a NSF check to the customer’s bank twice to request payment. This service is available to the dealer at no cost because the bad check writer pays a service fee allowable by state law.
Electronic representment is particularly effective when a bank will confirm that sufficient funds are available to cover the check, which many banks are willing to do. If the account has enough money, Electric Checks’ payment processor can submit the check immediately, and it will be processed the same day, with the dealer getting paid by an electronic credit within 6 business days. If the bank will not confirm sufficient funds, Electric Checks will still represent the check, and the dealer will get paid provided the account can cover the check.
Representment works very well for fuel dealers, because there is very little work on the dealer’s end and no dunning, so the customer relationship can continue, according to Howard. Dealers also appreciate that they get paid in full. She advises dealers to contact her as soon as a check has bounced, rather than contacting the customer. The check must be less than six months old and under $2,500.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-643-9134.
HRI Consulting Group
HRI is a collections agency that uses a variety of tactics to recover funds that customers owe to companies such as fuel dealers, according to President Randy Sarf. Once a company determines it cannot collect on a customer debt, they can refer to it HRI, which uses phone calls, letters, summonses, judgments, foreclosures and marshal services to get the company’s money. “We apply the remedy for the situation,” he said. HRI moves quickly and aggressively and has in-house lawyers who step in if legal action is required.
HRI typically charges 25 to 50 percent of the amount collected, depending on the size of the debt. “Whatever money I get back is found money,” Sarf said.
Oil companies that have problems with receivables generally are not doing enough due diligence at sign-up. To cut down on receivables, he recommends that dealers run credit checks on new customers. HRI will perform due diligence on new fuel customers in exchange for collection services, he added.
For more information, email email@example.com or call 516-673-4053.
Transworld Systems Inc.
District Manager Paul Donatio, said Transworld Systems has several levels of services. Accelerator provides five first-party contacts (in the dealer’s name), and Profit Recovery provides five third-party contacts from the collection agency, with each demand increasing in intensity. Both the Accelerator and Profit Recovery result in payments directly to the dealer, which maintains the relationship, according to Donatio. “Our goal is to keep the customer coming back to the dealer.”
The next level of escalation is Verbal Collections, where the agency directs the customers to pay Transworld Systems’ collectors, and Transworld pays the dealer the following month, the manager explained.
Transworld charges a flat rate to collect on overdue balances, and clients can choose to enter accounts manually on a secured website or upload a file. Dealers also have access to their online portal where they can see how the accounts are responding.
Donatio advises clients not to let bills for spring deliveries get beyond 60 days. “Once spring comes they don’t need fuel until the following fall so they think they can stretch out the payments,” he said. He also advises getting as much information as possible at sign-up and getting a credit card on file.