Credit and Collections Issues for Bill-Me Offers (2,137 words)
Another strategy frequently used by publishers is to increase the urgency by emphasizing the benefits of the subscription and threatening to cut it off.
This example is from a Rodale Press third notice:
Have you overlooked something?
I'm talking about the bill for your subscription to ORGANIC GARDENING.
Time's running out ... your subscription is about to be cancelled because we haven't received payment.
It's not something we like to do, but we must (and will) if you don't act right away.
At the fourth notice, up the ante. At this point, it may be time to assume the customer has little intention of paying. For example, Rodale Press cancels the subscription if no payment is forthcoming from the third notice and uses the fourth notice to try to trigger a payment to restart the subscription.
Collectible marketers have less to leverage than magazine publishers and tend to use powerful words like "debtor," "delinquent" and "collection alert."
Suggests Harpham, "Say the customer will be delinquent. Say that they will be reported to the collection manager, then be sure the next bill comes from the collection manager."
Call in help when necessary. The next stage may be a third-party collection agency or reporting to the Credit Index.
Says Tomasello, "One benefit of The Credit Index is that it gives collection agencies something to threaten. When there is serious delay is an account—six to nine months—tell customers they will be reported to The Credit Index. That gets to consumers who are worried about their credit."
When to bring in a collection agency is a matter of opinion. Says Harpham, "Using a collection service adds seriousness. After four or five letters, a collection agency increases the impact. You should see an immediate up-tick in response."
But don't leave it to a collection agency to do all your heavy lifting. Some marketers are so worried about alienating customers that they keep their entire collection series very mild to keep their own hands "clean." In this case, calling in a collection agency is not only a big shock to the consumer, but it's also less effective.