Who is Tracking Declined Payments?

Jan 20, 2012

Do you have a system in place to track and follow up on declined payments from your customers? If not, I insist that you set one up today.

I’ve heard too many horror stories of a business owner who sold X only to find out months down the road that the person didn’t pay because of a declined credit card (or some other payment issue). This has resulted in thousands of dollars of lost income in some cases, yipes!

It is simply bad business, not to mention heartbreaking… especially if the timing is such that it’s too late to appropriately collect the money.

Put simply, what you need is:

  • To put someone in charge of declines – make it their responsibility to follow up on overdue payments (and bring to your attention if need be).
  • A spreadsheet to keep track of all declines or overdue payments so you can see at a glance what is going on (ours lives in Central Desktop*).
  • Have that person run a “declines report” at least once a week from your shopping cart system (we do this on Fridays) and record any declines in the spreadsheet.
  • They can then follow up with that person to arrange for payment – we start with an email (using our template), then follow up a few days later with another email if need be, and then a phone call if still no response. Then it is escalated to me as the business owner.

You will also want to consider what your standards are around this process. For example, if someone owes a payment of $50 or less and doesn’t respond after 2 emails and a phone call – is it worth it to keep chasing them down? Probably not as you could spend more money for the person chasing them down than their payment is worth.

The good news is that 9 times out of 10 people are willing to pay – it’s simply a matter of following up with them. Easy peasy.


  1. George Huang

    Tina, I once had a client who wasn’t billed for over 12 months! So, you’ve mentioned basic best practices here and they are important!

    BTW, didn’t you use to use Basecamp? I take it you like Central Desktop better. Why?

    • tinaforsyth

      I used basecamp years ago and in theory I really like it – they are all about keep it simple and I love that. but in practice it was missing key features that I wanted – ie: being about to setup an automatically recurring task. I haven’t used it in years so I don’t know if that’s still the case, but i’m loving Central Desktop. They have all the features I need (plus more that I don’t use) and seem to be very open to ongoing improvements/additions over the years based on customer feedback. Some folks find CD a bit confusing at first as it is a pretty robust system, but once you know how to use it the “simple” way I think it’s great. (FYI you can grab my Central Desktop 101 guide in my free Systems Toolkit – download at top of this page)

  2. Cdavies

    Tina, you are so right. I work with businesses all the time that don’t take the time to review their accounts receivable reports-especially declined CC reports and declined cards are going to be a rising concern to businesses and it needs to be on their radars. It is important to have proper systems in place for tracking follow up and know when to outsource or let go.


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