When People Don’t Pay

Recently I’ve had to deal with two uncomfortable situations where people are resisting or refusing to pay for products or services. The first of the unpleasantries was with a customer in a non-profit group in which I serve; and the second was with our renters. I’ve concluded that there are two reasons why people don’t pay: one is they don’t perceive high enough value of what they are getting and the second is that they believe they can get away with it.

With the non-profit group, a man wants to, in essence, pay a third of the registration cost because he did not fully utilize the materials in the past. It is a delicate situation because I do not want to respond in a way that alienates this person. I believe this individual does not understand the implications of what he is asking us to do and sees it only as a personal choice. But at the same time our organization can not survive with people not paying for what our program costs and there are copyright and legal issues should we go forward with what this person wants to do. The precedent set with other customers would cause the entire program to collapse.

With this tricky financial dilemma, what God is telling me is to be rested, clear- headed and be on my “A” game before I respond to this person. There is a way to communicate truth charitably and God will give me the words to do so when the opportunity presents itself.

Our renters, who we almost had to evict six or so months ago for non-payment of rent, have slid back into the pattern of paying just a portion of the rent here and there then promising to pay the rest by a certain date, which passes by without payment. It’s easy to lose track with money coming in at different times and we’ve already pushed back the rent due date, supposedly to better accommodate their paycheck schedule. They attribute the cash flow problems to the high utility bills.

This may sound harsh….but, my husband and I can’t be their bank. We have tried to accommodate them where we can, but they don’t honor even the accommodated agreements. We provide a well-maintained rental property at a below market cost; they would find it very difficult to find anything as nice for anywhere near the rent.

Willingness to lend a helping hand is the essence of being Catholic. But this is an enduring pattern of not paying whichever bill they are able to get away without paying.

Many mistake being a Christian with being a doormat. We are here to help ourselves and others grow. Sometimes that involves a firm, uncomfortable, but loving conversation about money.

Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Discern whether your boundaries with money and other people are what they should be.