Top 3 Billing Issues Defined

Kyra Deprez

It can be almost painful to think about calling a client to tell them that their card is declined.

Things rush through my head, like maybe they are trying to skate on the bill. Or that they had some sort of terrible life emergency that made them max out their card. Or perhaps they are victims of identity theft, and they are super stressed and going to blame me when I call them. The truth is that 99.9% of the time it is just some sort of oversight, and on either end it is nothing to get worked up about. The sooner you get in touch with the client after the error has occurred, the easier it is to handle on both ends. While I no longer have this anxiety it was once there. So here are the 3 most common billing issues and how I like to take care of them.

Billing Issues

There are various reasons that a misunderstanding or mistake may occur in the billing process. The majority of the situations will be covered here, but something new could always surface.

  • Credit Card Declined
    • Check to see if the card has expired.
    • Call client within 24 hours to update card information.
  • Client forgot to leave a cash or check payment.
  • Clients check came back due to insufficient funds.

Credit Card Declined

We are very fortunate in that this issue does not arise on a regular basis. It is often that the card on file has expired, or the client updated the card. Again we keep the working neutral so that we do not make accusations or misrepresentations.

Expired Card: Hi Judy it’s Sarah with (company name) I was just calling because there was an error processing your card it looks like the card has expired. Do you have a moment to get me an updated card?

Declined Card:  Hi Judy its Sarah with (company name) I was just calling because there was an error processing your card for your service on Friday. I must have entered a number into the system wrong, would you mind getting me that card information again. 555-555-5555 I apologize for any inconvenience.

Card Error VM: Hi Judy, this is Sarah with (company name), could you give me a call back at your earliest convenience, it seems there was an error processing your card on file. 555-555-5555 Thank you and have a great day.

Clients check came back due to insufficient funds.

First we want to call the Client to get a permission to process the credit card on file.

Hello Client, How are you?

Great I just wanted to follow up on your service from (date, or approximate time) Great also I just received the check back from the bank it seems that there was an error processing the check. Would you like for me to bill the CC we have on file? ( Have the CC file open and ready to bill) Great, I will process that now in the amount of $201.47 that includes a $35 check return fee. (process the card, let them know it went through before getting off the line).

If you have to leave a voicemail keep it simple:

Hello Client, I am just calling because there was an error processing your payment please give me a call back at your earliest convenience at 555-555-5555. Thank you and have a great day.

Follow up with an E-Mail:

Mr./Mrs. Client Name Here,

Just a quick note to thank you for your order on [Enter Date Here] for [Enter Service Type Here].

This letter is to inform you that your check (Check # XXX) dated [Enter Date Here] and drawn to The Boardwalk Cleaning Co. in the amount of $XXX.XX was returned due to insufficient funds.

As I am certain that this is due to a small bank oversight, please contact me at (555) 555-5555 to arrange for payment and I will get your account up-to-date immediately. Please note that in addition to personal checks, we also accept payment via Visa, MasterCard, American Express & Discover credit cards.

Feel free to call me directly at 1 (555) 555-5555 if you have any questions.

Best Regards,

Client was Overbilled

If I client thinks they have been overbilled there are generally two main reasons.

  • They forgot about tax
  • We forgot to apply a discount that was offered

First we listen, yes mama, yes sir, or address them by name if they friendlier. Pull up the file, and verify what the issue is. Here is an example:

Bob calls:

Me: Bing Bang Cleaning this is Sarah how may I help you?

Bob: Hi Sarah I had service yesterday I the charge on my card is wrong.

Me: Ok can I get your name and I will look up your file?

Bob: Bob Underdog

Me: Bob it looks like we serviced your home for a basic cleaning on Thursday is this the bill in question?

Bob: Yes: I was told that it was going to be $75 per hour and the team was there for 2 hours, but I was billed $166, not $150

Me: $150 is the pre-tax amount so the total with tax was $166.47 would you like me to send you a copy of the receipt?

Bob: No thanks, I forgot about tax. (or Bob could go the other way)

Bob: Oh nobody told me about tax I wasn’t expecting to pay any more than 150.00. I had 150.00 in my budget and not a penny more.

Me: I understand Bob, however, in Texas maid services are a taxable item. I will make an exception for you since there was a miscommunication. Would you like the 16.47 credited to your account for a future service or put back on the card on file?

Lesson: Always give a price range and make that very clear. Always quote prices “plus tax.”

Bob calls and there was not a discount applied:

Me: Bing Bang Cleaning this is Sarah how may I help you?

Bob: Hi Sarah I had service yesterday I the charge on my card is wrong.

Me: Ok can I get your name and I will look up your file?

Bob: Bob Underdog

Me: Bob it looks like we serviced your home for a basic cleaning on Thursday is this the bill in questions.

Bob: Yes: I was told that it was going to be $75 per hour and the team was there for 2 hours, also there was no discount applied. The guy told me there was going to be $25 off.

Me: Bob I do apologize let me adjust that bill for you. Would you like that to be put back to your CC on file? You will receive $25 back plus the taxable difference, and again I am sorry for my error.

Bob: That would be fine. What would my price be for a service every two weeks, the team did a great job.

There can be a multitude of small reasons that a client will call in regards to billing areas. In our business, we charge by the hour, and bill in 15-minute increments for the first time cleaning. Recurring clients are set up with a set price. It is important to always be clear about your billing policies. For our purposes, these are the most important phrases to make clear.

  • A range of time say 2 to 3 hours, never: that will take 2 hours
  • When giving client a set price for the recurring services always quote a set price but not a time.
  • Always remember to apply a discount that you have offered at the time that you are setting up the services.
  • If you have not serviced in client in a couple of months verify the card on file is still up to date.

The main takeaway here is that having  a solid policy in place, in regards to billing errors, and following up as soon as possible will decrease your outstanding balances.  In turn, you will have more money in your pocket at the end of the day.

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