May the Beast turn Crispy

I had a pretty big argument with the Beast yesterday.  The very first policy that we did with him had a premium due date on 13 Sep (Sat).  The client made payment on 10 Sep to my overseas office.  This was cleared and remitted by my overseas office on 12 Sep to us in Singapore.  Our banks cleared the money on 16 Sep and so on 17 Sep, I rushed my finance department to transfer the money to the Beast.

The Beast was very unhappy about this.  He sent an email asking for an explanation on why the premium was late.  My reply was that the client did pay on time, in accordance to the 45 days payment terms in the policy and that we were arranging to transfer the money to him.  The Beast then replied saying that the money did not reach him and thus a policy condition has been breached.  He said if he issued a notice of cancellation, then it would be for us to explain to the client why the policy was cancelled.

I thought this was ridiculous.  Knowing that this client is based overseas and that the premium would be originally collected by my overseas office and the fact that it happened over the weekend, I think the timeframe taken for all the transfers was reasonable!  So I did what Bigmac told me to do – I replied giving the timeline of all the money transfers, and also stated that being partners in this business, I was uncomfortable that the Beast would issue a notice of cancellation without further discussion with us, and over a short administrative delay.  I then suggested that during our renewal next year, in our direct policy to the client, we will state a 45 days payment term, but in our backend agreement, we should have a 60 days payment term to allow for the due transfer process to take place.

The Beast reared his ugly head.  He shot back an email saying that our conduct was "unprofessional" and that it has been an "unsatisfactory first time doing business" with us.  He ended his email saying that he would review this again next year and consider if he wants to renew the policy, due to the "tardiness of premium payment".

WTF man.  I checked with my finance department as well as my colleagues – clients will always pay the broker w/in the stipulated payment term… and obviously between the broker and the insurer, there is an understanding that it takes a couple of days for banks to effect the remittance!  In fact, some insurers have standing arrangements with us such that both finance departments do a netting off of all the monies owed/due at the end of the month. 

Anyway, Bigmac spoke to the Beast last night and the Beast said that during the inception of the policy, he gave the client certain discounts and highlighted that the premium must be received by him by the 45th day after the inception date.  Thus, it is wrong for us to pay him a couple of days late.  I still think he’s being a jackass.  Is he not aware that even between banks, if the payment due date falls on a non-business day, the due date automatically shifts to the next business day?  Moreover, if you tell clients that they need to pay by the 45th day, obviously the client doesn’t care how much time it takes for banks to transfer the $$ to you.  To them, as long as they give instruction beforehand for the money to be taken from their account and sent to yours, that’s considered "on time" payment.

Not to mention that in this case, the Beast is fully aware that there’re many parties involved in this transaction and thus the money changes hands a few times.  If we have done everything practicable within our means to transfer the money to him, what more does he want?  Am I expected to carry a briefcase of cash and deliver it to his office on a Saturday? 

What an asshole man.  To think he has asked us on 3 previous occassions why he never sees any of our bank business.  The next time he says this, I’m going to roll my eyes and go, "DUH".

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September 2008