Brochure - Fee Collection Tips
This is a summary of ideas found in the "Harbour Authority Fee Collection - Unofficial Tips" document. Please consult the full document for details on fee collection ideas.
Please also note that collections policies should be incremental, using simple methods at first and then applying more serious ones, if necessary.
- Take Prompt Action - collecting is more difficult the more time that passes
- Be a Personal Presence at the Harbour - personal reminders work best
- Demonstrate Good Value to Users - good service translates into greater willingness to pay
- Increase Awareness of the Importance of Payment - the Harbour Authority depends on payments to operate
- Post Reminders - post general reminders in public spaces
- Timing - send out invoices at beginning of season, when clients often can pay
- De-Personalize the Issue - business is business
- Understand the Situation - make sure you know the reasons for non-payment,to help in finding a solution
- Ask the Right Questions and Listen - ask questions that require detailed answers, not a "yes" or "no"
- Persistence - show you are serious about fee collection
Develop and Follow Strict Policies
- Collecting User Information - Detailed information makes it easier to track down delinquent users
- User Agreements - develop and use a detailed user agreement, outlining collection policies, that can serve as a binding contract
- Accounts Receivable / Collections Policies - develop and follow strict policies in these areas
- Advertising Policies to Harbour Users - ensure users understand policies that affect them
- Convenient Payment Options - accepting cash, cheques, and the use of bank cards and credit cards and even a collection box can make payment more convenient
- Advance Payment - Demanding advance payment eliminates unpaid fees
- Late Payment Charges - these can be an incentive for prompt payment
- Alternative Payment Options - incremental payments are one option
- Link Payment to Services - access to services (fuel system, parking, roadway access, storage space) can be conditional fees being paid, especially when outlined in a berthage agreement
- Different Terms for Transient Users - temporary users can be charged different rates than long-term users, who are more reliable payers
- Payment via Third-Parties - an arrangement could be made so that the fish buyer, processor or factory will take the harbour fee out of their payment to fishers
- Collection Agency - Overdue accounts can be sent to a professional collection agency
- Letter from Lawyer/Law Office - a letter from this source may be more effective than several sent by the Harbour Authority
- Small Claims Court - initiate an action in Small Claims Court to obtain delinquent harbour fees
Ideas requiring caution
- Peer Pressure - posting names of delinquent users to create public pressure could damage reputations
- Work in Lieu of Monetary Payment - users working off debts can create liability issues
- Directory of Delinquent Users - formally sharing information about delinquent users amongst Harbour Authorities (registry, telephone, e-mail) could damage the reputation of users
- Boat Seizures - legal advice should be obtained before using a bailiff to seize a boat
- Canadian Credit Bureau - informing the Canadian Credit Bureau of an unpaid debt can seriously hurt users' credit ratings, preventing necessary business-related borrowing
- Section 29 of the FRHR - under this Section of the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Regulations, delinquent users cannot leave the harbour before paying, sometimes leading to abandoned vessels
- Warehouse Lien Act - with storage part of a berthage agreement, the provincial Warehouse Lien Act may allow liens on property, but it may not be applicable to vessels
Ideas to Avoid
- Misrepresentation - do not use a fake identity (law enforcement officer, lawyer) or fake documentation (notices, letterhead)
- Ruining Reputations - never attempt to ruin a delinquent user's reputation by revealing details of the debt
- Intimidation - intimidation or violence (refusing to leave, abusive language, threats, telephone harassment) is forbidden
- Section 15 of the FRHA - the power to collect fees outlined in this Section only applies to debts owed to the Crown
Sample documents are provided at the end of the main document
This document is not intended to replace professional advice.
If legal advice or other expert assistance is required with respect to a specific issue or circumstance, the services of a competent professional should be sought.
The content of this document should not be taken as being either official or unofficial policy of any governmental body.
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