Is it Ethical to Name and Shame

I am going to touch on a subject that relates to everyone on a daily basis.

As business owners, do we name and shame customers that cost us money? 

I don’t care what business you operate.  I guarantee all of you have at least one customer who believes they are better than you and everyone else. That one customer will simply refuse to pay for services/products rendered.

We have quite a few!

It is very hard to sit back and watch while they keep trading with their big franchise name knowing that the smaller operators cannot afford the legal fees or resources to fight them.  It is unfortunate, but this is the way the world works.

We all have that account code in our accounting package called “bad debt”; but my question is why can’t we name and shame them?

It is not deformation if your facts are true and you have appropriate evidence and documentation.  You have surely been told before to “rise above” and they will get what is coming to them.

But how will they get what is coming to them if no-one speaks up?

Ethics is defined in the dictionary as “moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity”.  Every business course that you study generally has the topic of Business Ethics which touch on exactly this: How do I become a good business operator and be fair in your dealings with others?

What it doesn’t touch on is: How to deal with the emotions you feel when certain businesses believe they simply don’t have to pay you because they are the big dogs.

There is a real problem with the economy for small business and this is what lets us down.  This is why the big dog will always remain the big dog and small businesses will always remain that – small.  Unfortunately, the steps required to chase a bad debt are very costly and not to mention time-consuming.

  • Numerous phone calls and emails which are ALWAYS ignored.
  • Letter of Demand – generally not acknowledged
  • Solicitor letter (costly)
  • Local magistrates court application – time consuming, costly and will take a while for a hearing date
  • Hearing – This could go either way depending on the JP/Magistrate if the other party has justified evidence.

Not to mention the emotional strain and sometimes physical strain that is put on you and ultimately your family.

Personally, I am yet to find a good outcome on bad debts.  It seems that these particular egotistical customers pride themselves on their BIG branding and rely on the fact that the little people will simply “give up”.  I urge you not to.

If we want to set a good example for our generations to come, the one thing I want to teach my children is if you believe in something and feel you deserve to be paid….Fight.  Fight for what is yours.

Perhaps by naming and shaming, we can transfer the balance of power back to small business.  It may reduce the big dog’s bark to a whimper.

Lauren Kropp

Director – Real Strategix.