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'Flushed my check': 3 ludicrous excuses for unpaid invoices

·2-min read
Business owners reveal ridiculous excuses they've heard for why an invoice hasn't been paid. (Source: Getty)
Business owners reveal ridiculous excuses they've heard for why an invoice hasn't been paid. (Source: Getty)

“My dog ate my homework.”

These are the types of flimsy, eyebrow-raising excuses we typically associate with children – but some adults are still pulling these out of the bag, much to the bemusement of some Aussie business owners.

With the new financial year coming up fast, some Aussies are wasting precious time chasing up unpaid invoices, especially in a year where companies’ bottom line have been hit hard by the pandemic.

And in chasing these late payments, Aussie business owners reveal some of the most ludicrous excuses they’ve come across.

“I can’t pay because I’m jet lagged,” is one that Ellora Events managing director Ben Neumann remembers.

Others were more childlike… or silly, depending on how you look at it.

"I accidentally flushed my check among the toilet paper,” recalls CreditDonkey research analyst Ronald Samson.

Yet another blamed windy weather, telling Sonder Brisbane co-founder Tim Holliday: “We haven’t had a chance to pay any of the overdue invoices as our iMac blew over on the desk with some wind and smashed.”

Late invoices: A $26 million problem

On average, small- and medium-sized businesses spend roughly 56 days waiting to get paid, according to ASBFEO research.

And it’s such a serious issue that 90 per cent of small businesses end up folding because of cash flow issues, according to a 2015 study.

The same study said small businesses were waiting on $26 million in unpaid invoices.

Data from payment platform Square shows that payments on the lower end of the spectrum – between $250 and $500 – actually take longer to be paid, at around 14 days.

Invoices on the upper end – upwards of $50,000 – are a bit better, but not by much, taking 9.3 average days to get paid.

But that still leaves some Aussies waiting more than a week to be paid for their products or services.

Meanwhile, invoice sizes that sit in the middle – between $2,500 and $5,000 – get paid the fastest, at 3.9 days.

And it seems Queenslanders are best at issuing payments on time, with an average wait of 4.3 days, while those in Canberra are the worst, at 5.9 days.

Those in beauty and personal care tend to be paid the fastest (3.3 days), while home and repair specialists are stuck waiting nearly a week (6.3 days).

“Cash flow is always critical to small businesses, but never more so than right now,” said Square Australia head of business development Colin Birney.

To get paid faster, Birney encouraged Aussies to ensure invoices are sent electronically and that there is a way for the payment to be made “within the invoice” to help speed up the process.

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