Collecting veterinary debt throughout lockdown has been challenging to say the least. Several factors helped fuel debt growth: growth in pet ownership, car park consultations and treatment being carried out in practice while owners waited anxiously outside. That’s fine and the process worked in terms of treatment.
The real problems occurred when it came time to pay. When our dog was treated, I met the vet in the car park and discussed the dog’s condition. The vet took the dog inside, treated him, and brought him back out 10 minutes later. All was well and I asked how should I pay. The instructions were to go home, call their reception and make a payment by phone, which of course, we did – the process worked.
However, not all pet owners will do that! Believe me, we’ve heard various excuses why payment wasn’t made! Here are just a few of them: “I wasn’t asked to pay”, “I thought the treatment was free due to Covid”, “I’ll drop the money off tomorrow…”.
We at DSL decided to help as many struggling customers as we could by being sympathetic to their financial and personal situation. Many customers lost family members, friends and neighbours to Covid. Many also lost their job. Add all this together and we’ve had a mountain of issues to deal with like never before. Yet, taking all this into account, we still had to collect monies owed to our customers.
The DSL team underwent special in-house training to spot vulnerable customers quickly and deal with them in a professional, sympathetic way. As a result of Covid 19, there have been more lower-value payment plans to administer than ever. We believe something is better than nothing, until the current financial situation improves.
This month the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) came into force. Debt recovery agencies, banks and finance companies must adhere to the new regulations if asked to do so by an authorised insolvency practitioner. The scheme is a free service and will give someone in problem debt the right to legal protection from their creditors. In Scotland, the moratorium period is similar but has different benefits and considerations.
There are two types of breathing space: a standard one and a mental health crisis one. Breathing space stops all types of recovery action for 60 days, and includes pausing most court enforcement action, contact from creditors and freezing most interest and charges on their debts.
A mental health crisis breathing space is only available to someone receiving mental health crisis treatment and has stronger protections. It lasts as long as the person’s mental health crisis treatment, plus 30 days (no matter how long the crisis treatment lasts).
Over the last year, DSL has seen a marked increase in people claiming to be vulnerable or suffering from stress. The collection team must use all their training and knowledge to determine if their claim is valid. The team then takes appropriate action to arrange a sustainable payment plan, or signpost the people to a charity for help. In a handful of cases, we had to call the police to check on an individual, who had threatened to commit suicide. Naturally, our collectors find these situations extremely upsetting.
Yet, it’s amazing how resilient our collection team has been throughout the Covid crisis. They also have families and experience all the pressures everyone else feels, but they still turn up for work and get their job done.
Collecting veterinary debt throughout lockdown has been challenging to say the least. Several factors helped fuel debt growth: growth in pet ownership, car park consultations and treatment being carried out in practice while owners waited anxiously outside. That’s fine and the process worked in terms of treatment. The real problems occurred when it came time […]
Customers have access to debt information and answers to queries whenever they need it? That’s what this brief post is all about.The DSL digital office is now available free of charge, clients can access debtor records in their entirety 24/7, send us messages regarding individual customers, amend balances, withdraw or send new debts securely.As debt […]
Now that the dust has settled almost two years since the introduction of GDPR regulations, we’re beginning to get a better picture of how these changes have impacted the world of veterinary debt collection. In general terms, most veterinary practices bought into the spirit of the regulations, even though few really understood what it all […]
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