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Dealing With Delayed Payments

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Last editedOct 20223 min read

Within business, payment delay refers to the number of days a company waits between receiving a bill and paying it. Late payments, on the other hand, specifically refer to payments that have not been made by the due date and are therefore overdue.

While lengthy periods of delay can be a cause for annoyance when waiting for invoices to be paid, they can actually help prevent payment errors. This is because the delay is often used to double check bills, invoices and/or payment information.

In this post, we’ll explain what payment delays are and how you can go about dealing with them.

Delayed payment definition

A payment delay is the period of time a business or institution waits between receiving a bill and paying it. They may have a longer delay because they wish to carry out checks on the bill before parting with the sum due, or because they want to wait until a more financially opportune payment to pay it.

Delayed payments are not necessarily late payments. Indeed, it is common practice for vendors to allow clients 30 days upon receipt of their invoice for payment to be made. These are known as net 30 invoice terms

However, both can prove troublesome for business cash flow, especially at a time when supply chain complications and rising utility costs can conspire to erode profit margins.

How to deal with delayed payments

Delayed payments can have a negative effect on cash flow and you may find yourself out of pocket while waiting for the payment to arrive. However, there are a number of ways you can prevent and/or tackle delayed payments:

  • Build rapport with clients. A strong professional relationship not only increases the chances of prompt payment but also the likelihood that the client communicates with you if there is a problem.

  • Maintain open communications with clients to prevent a payment from slipping through the cracks.

  • Find out in advance how long you expect a payment delay to be. That way you can plan your cash flow projections around it instead of finding yourself in financial difficulty when the payment doesn’t arrive when you expected it to.

  • Consider sending invoices and bills earlier than you typically would so that you will receive payment in good time.

  • Establish clear delayed payment terms on every invoice or bill. This prevents any additional checks being carried out which may extend delays.

  • Include all necessary information on the invoice or bill. This will prevent any additional checks being carried out which may extend delays.

  • Retain all relevant contracts, payment agreements and invoices in case the payment ends up being overdue.

  • Use Direct Debit to your advantage. These are backed by guarantees and can prevent payments being delayed due to system errors.

  • Offer convenient payment methods to minimise the risk of procedural errors when clients use unfamiliar payments systems.

  • See how GoCardless can help you get paid promptly. GoCardless can help you get paid on time as it allows merchants to directly pull payments from their clients’ bank accounts, effectively eliminating late payments and the cash flow issues that follow.

In fact, according to a 2021 study conducted by Attest, GoCardless customers have 51% fewer incorrect payments compared to those who receive payments from clients in the traditional way, and they get paid 47% faster. This leads to significantly lower stress levels and a decrease in debtor days (ratio measuring how quickly cash is collected from debtors).

Delayed payment in online banking

You may also encounter delayed payments when issuing online payments with your bank.

Most online banking payments are processed without delay. However, if a payment seems unusual in any way, i.e., is of an unusually high amount or is being sent to a new recipient overseas, the bank may increase the payment in order to investigate further.

This essentially means your payment is going through some extra security checks in order to be authenticated. While this may be inconvenient with intentional payments, it can be hugely beneficial in the case that the payment is indeed fraudulent or suspect.

If the bank determines that your payment is not valid, they will return the funds to you and the code ‘REJ’ or ‘RET’ plus 4-8 digits will show up on your statement.

We can help

GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. 

Enjoy frictionless invoicing with secure paylinks attached to the invoice to aid prompt payment. And because it facilitates fast, easy and secure bank-to-bank payments, you don’t have to contend with the hefty fees from processing card transactions. 

Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help
Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

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