A debt collection agency can charge interest
In the event of late payment: request interest and calculate it correctly
Bremer Inkasso GmbH: Creditors are legally entitled to default interest
No matter how well entrepreneurs master their profession, they probably all know problems with customers who pay their bills too late. It does not matter whether it is a small or large company. Often your own liquidity suffers from such customer behavior, and it is not uncommon for you to be dependent on taking out bank loans yourself. While on the one hand the customer procures a (supposedly) cheap supplier credit through late payment, on the other hand this leads to interest burdens for the entrepreneurs, which further reduce the often already low income.
But there are ways for an entrepreneur to have the interest damage reimbursed by the customer. In the following, Bernd Drumann, Managing Director of Bremer Inkasso GmbH, answers the most frequently asked questions about (default) interest:
When can I charge interest on arrears?
“From the day on which the customer is in arrears with the payment of the invoice, interest on arrears and possibly higher (e.g. interest) damage can be claimed.
A customer can be in default 1. upon receipt of a reminder from the obligee asking him to pay the due claim. A customer comes 2. in arrears if a payment date that can be determined according to the calendar has been exceeded. However, the payment date must have been contractually agreed in advance. On the other hand, just one-sided information on the invoice is not sufficient. There is then no need for a reminder. And a customer comes 3. in principle, 30 days after the due date and receipt of an invoice in default of payment, if there is business between entrepreneurs. For consumers, this 30-day period only applies if this has been expressly stated in the invoice. "
How high can interest on arrears be charged?
“The basis for calculating default interest is the base rate. Since January 1, 2002, this has been recalculated by the Deutsche Bundesbank on January 1 and July 1 of each year in accordance with Section 247 of the German Civil Code (BGB) and published in the Federal Gazette. Since January 1, 2015 and at least until December 31, 2015, the base rate has been -0.83%.
The interest rate that can be regularly charged as default interest on pecuniary claims is five percentage points above the base rate per year. (For the validity period 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2015 that is 4.17%.)
A higher interest rate applies to payment claims (e.g. the price for deliveries or other services) in legal transactions between entrepreneurs (i.e. without consumer participation) - here it is nine percentage points above the base rate per year. (8.17% for the validity period 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2015.). "
How can you calculate interest?
“First of all, a few basic things: Interest that accrues from the due date of a claim is referred to as maturity interest. Merchants can charge maturity interest of 5% p. a. calculate unless otherwise agreed. Interest on arrears, which are typically higher between merchants (see above) and which are also owed by consumers, can only be claimed from the time of payment arrears. B. from receipt of the first reminder. In business transactions, interest on arrears is often only billed after the second reminder.
Calculation of late payment interest - an example:
Entrepreneur X has delivered goods to a customer Y (consumer). The bill is € 500. A payment term of 14 days after receipt of the goods was agreed in the contract. The delivery was made on 06/29/2015. The invoice was therefore due on July 13, 2015. Since the term of payment, which can be determined according to the calendar, was contractually agreed (see above), entrepreneur X did not have to issue a warning to put Y in default. X waited until August 3, 2015 for the money to be received and then sent Y a reminder plus the interest on arrears incurred up to that point.
He calculated this using a formula: K (500 €) x P. (4.17) x T (20) : 100 (Percentage points): 360 (Days per year (30 days per month) / commercial) = late payment interestthat entrepreneur X has been allowed to charge to customer Y so far. (K = € 500 open main claim, P = 5 points [Y is consumer] above the base rate of -0.83, i.e. 4.17) and T = 20 days in arrears, 07/14/2015 - 08/03/2105) 500 × 4.17 × 20 = 41,700: 100: 360 = € 1.16 interest on arrears. That looks harder than it is. There are also different interest calculators on the Internet, but when using them you should know and understand for yourself what is being calculated and how. If another interest rate has been contractually agreed, this will be used. "
Can't you just ask for more interest than the law allows?
“The answer lies in the question. You can't just do something that is not allowed - in the worst case, you may even be punished for fraud. The question must therefore be: Can't I simply charge more interest than the law allows me to pay interest on arrears? Yes and no. First of all, there is basically no compound interest on late payment interest that can be charged from the debtor. And 'yes', there are cases where you can claim a higher interest rate. In order to anticipate the 'no' - 'just like that' you cannot act in the following cases either, the basis for this must be proven!
Examples here are:
- If you have to take out at least a bank loan in the amount of the amount due, which you would otherwise have repaid (especially in the case of overdrafts), and this can be proven, the resulting loan interest can be claimed as compensation if it exceeds the default interest.
- If you could have invested the amount from the claim and received higher interest on it, which you have now demonstrably lost because the debtor has not paid, you can claim the lost investment interest as compensation insofar as it exceeds the default interest.
- If you have contractually agreed (effectively) higher interest in the event of default, you can assert this (contract = proof). "
Does it make sense to agree the amount of the interest in the terms and conditions?
“In general, the amount of interest does not have to be specified in the general terms and conditions, as it is regulated by law. If you want to set higher interest rates than the statutory rate, you can in principle do so. However, there are strict limits here, especially for general terms and conditions: Not only must the fixed interest rates not be immoral; the agreement must not come as a surprise or unreasonably disadvantage the other party. Particularly with regard to consumers, the agreed higher interest rates must not exceed the typically occurring interest damage (which should leave little room for maneuver at the current level of interest rates) and the contract must expressly allow the debtor to prove lower damage. "
Can I still charge interest on arrears afterwards?
"Yes. In § 288 BGB it says that a money debt is to be paid interest during the delay. Interest on arrears is therefore due to the law and can also be demanded retrospectively. "
What to do if the customer pays the main claim but not the interest?
“Here the answer just given can be quoted again: Interest on a monetary debt during the delay is anchored in law. Therefore, one can also demand default interest and, if necessary, assert it in court. It would of course be better if an out-of-court agreement could be reached. Under certain circumstances, advice and / or commissioning a specialist such as a lawyer or debt collection company can help. Chasing after defaulting payers costs nerves, time, money and personnel. "
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