Optometric Management Tip # 7 - Wednesday, March 06, 2002
The NSF Check - Not So Fast
Any optometrist who collects fees from patients has dealt with this unpleasant acronym - NSF. Non-sufficient funds - also known as the bounced check - is a reality in business that could be due to an innocent error, or it could be the first sign that you are not going to be paid for services and materials that were already delivered.
We have found a pretty good way to handle this event:
Of course this technique doesn't always work - but it is worth a try because it makes you less dependent on the patient. We do charge a small re-processing fee for bad checks, and if the patient does not make good, we do not accept any future checks from that party.
- First, we instruct our bank to never automatically submit a bounced check to the host bank twice. Submitting twice is often standard policy, but the problem with that is that if it bounces a second time, the host bank will not process it anymore. A new check must be written by the patient. After a check bounces once, I want it sent to my office, so we can control what happens to it.
- When we receive an NSF check our office immediately calls the patient and asks them to bring in cash or a credit card to cover the dishonored check. We are pleasant and understanding with our patients if they have a good financial history. Usually the patient makes good promptly.
- If the bad check is not corrected in a day or two, we call the patient's bank that the check was written on, tell them that we have a check in the amount of $X from account Y by patient Z. We ask if there are sufficient funds currently to cover the amount.
- If we get an answer of yes, my assistant drives the check to the bank right away, and cashes it. If we get an answer of no (there are still not sufficient funds), we keep calling every day or so until we do get a positive answer. Funds are usually available eventually.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management