Every now and then I hear someone from a utility say, “we don’t accept partial payments”. Just last week I was reviewing a prospect’s wish list for new software and one of the items stated “Would really like for us to be set up where our computer doesn’t allow partial payments.”

My first response when I hear something like this is always “What…?”  You have a customer wanting to give you money and you don’t want to accept it? That just doesn’t make sense!

In a perfect world no one would make partial payments

I totally understand that in a perfect world, everyone would pay their bill in full each month. In that same perfect world, everyone would also pay by the due date and you wouldn’t have to charge penalty or cut them off for non-payment, either.

But the reality is – we don’t live in a perfect world! Customers will be late and they will find themselves in position where they can only pay part of what they owe.

Something is always better than nothing

Your mission, beyond providing a quality utility service (water, sewer, electric, natural gas or some combination thereof), is to operate your utility efficiently. In keeping with that mission, getting paid for the service you provide in paramount.

If you have a customer who owes you $100 and all they can pay today is $60, why would you refuse to take their payment? Sure, if they don’t pay the remaining $40, they will incur a penalty and ultimately be cut-off. But why turn away $60 today when you have no assurance that the customer will pay the full $100 in the future?

Treat the cause, not the symptom

I understand a partial payment is not as convenient as payment in full. I suspect that, for utilities who don’t want to accept partial payments, this has more to do with how their software functions than anything else. The reality is, how your software functions (or in this case, doesn’t function) is no reason to turn away a customer who wants to pay you money.

If the reason you don’t want to accept a partial payment is based in how your software handles partial payments, perhaps you should reevaluate your software…