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Old 27.04.2020, 12:30
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Re: Received a late invoice

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Did you try asking them how they made such an error and why it has only come to light now. Ask them for an explanation before deciding it is fraud. Fact of life many small businesses are awful at bookkeeping but it doesn't make them crooks
a) I did not say that it was definitely fraud. However, I have certainly not ruled out the possibility. A fraud would only be transparent to someone who was in a position to see a systematic fishing attempt, involving a large number of ancient bills, where it must have been clear that at least some has already been paid. Obviously, I am not in that position.

b) I did not ask them for an an explanation. I did not need to. They presented this as such:
Vielen Dank für Ihr rasches Abklären. Dank dem genauen Zahlungsdatum haben wir die Zahlung nun auch bei uns gefunden.

Ich bitte höflichst um Entschuldigung für die entstandenen Umstände. Die Zahlungserinnerung können sie vernichten.

Nichts für ungut.

This is exactly what I would have expected them to say.

The date of my payment was 11 days after the date on their bill. The transaction amount was SFR1000. So quite a lot must have gone wrong if I am to believe it was a genuine error.

The obvious other questions to ask are:

Did you send out many other such old bills ?
What proportion of the recipients produced evidence that these had already been paid ?

I am not going to ask because, even if they answered, I would not have confidence in those answers.

Anyway, I am not doing this to attract attention to myself, or for sympathy. It is simply a warning to others regarding such risks and the benefits of some record keeping. As I said before, the distinction between fraud and incompetence would hardly matter to someone who was unable to demonstrate that they had already paid the bill.
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