The attorney, after looking into the situation, will usually recommend the course to be taken, and will await the consent of the creditor before taking legal steps to enforce payment. If suit is to be brought, he will generally demand that the client forward court costs.
In selecting the attorney in the debtor's town to whom the claim is to be sent, the creditor usually con sults one of the law lists or attorney directories, to which reference has already been made. He for wards the claim under the guarantee of the law-list publisher, who usually offers to be responsible for the prompt payment of all moneys collected by the at torneys on his list, provided he is promptly informed by the forwarder of the claim, when and to whom the claim is being sent. Of this, however, more later.
9. A wrong mental attitudc.—What must be re garded as a serious mistake in the composition of a collection letter is th.: attitude not infrequently as sumed by the credit man who undertakes to offer ex cuses for requesting payment of a past-due account. "We regret that we are compelled to ask you for a remittance, but we have some unusually large pay ments to make within the next few days, and we sin cerely trust you can help us out by sending us a check for the amount of our bill. If you cannot send the entire amount, send at least a good part of it." This is a form of collection letter which is common enough. but which invariably weakens the collector's hands and that usually puts the collection of the claim further off than ever.
Such a letter is harmful—in the first place, because the debtor is not likely to believe the reason alleged, even if it were strictly true—which in all probability it k is not; in the second place because, as a collection argu ment, it is extremely illogical. The debtor may rightly argue that he and his creditor appear to be in precisely the same condition : both must make collec tions before they can pay their bills. Accordingly, he cannot be expected to pay his debt until he has col lected the necessary amount from his debtors. And since collections at this time are very bad (they always are at such times) , it will, of course, be impossible for him to "help out" the supply house with a check, how ever much he may wish to do so. The creditor, by
his unwise attitude, has furnished the delinquent with the very argument he desires for not paying his bill.
Looked at from the creditor's standpoint, the prompt payment of a debt is a right, and from the debtor's standpoint an obligation,. For the credit man or the collection correspondent to permit any other view of the matter to appear in his letters to a delinquent, is to yield an important advantage. This view of the subject is by no means incompatible with the display of perfect courtesy, or even with the mani festation of a kindly personal interest in the debtor. Needless to say, discourtesy and grouchiness have no more place in a collection letter than in a sales letter.
10. Use of the collection a medium between the wholesaler-creditor, on the one hand, and the attorney in the debtor's town, on the other, the modern collection agency has come to fill an impor tant place. Many wholesale houses choose to for ward their claims thru a good collection agency in preference to sending them to the attorney direct. The cost to the creditor is the same, whatever method is selected, but it is usual for the attorney to divide his fee with the forwarding agency, in the proportion of two-thirds to himself and one-third to the agency. Opinion is divided as to which of these methods is the better. On the one band, it is claimed by the advo cates of direct forwarding that the claim receives bet ter attention when no division of attorney's fees has to be made; on the other hand, those who favor forward ing thru an agency insist that such a house has a dis tinct advantage in a fuller knowledge of collection work and in the possession of better equipment for the efficient handling of claims than that which is commonly possessed by the ordinary wholesale house.
Of this more will be said in the next chapter: we merely note here that in a large number of instances better and speedier collection service is undoubtedly secured thru the modern, efficient collection agency than can ordinarily be obtained by the creditor who forwards his claims direct.