Credit guru Thea Dudley has spent more than 30 years in LBM credit management. Now she's here to answer your credit and collection questions. Got a question for her mailbag? Contact Thea at theadudley@charter.net

Dear Thea,
Regarding your column on when bills are due, you defined paying by the 10th of the month as “The bill is due, in house - my house - by that date.” It has been a few years since college but I do remember the business law course. The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) governs many business transactions. And per that code, "terms" are met when check payment is postmarked on the 10th, not when it arrives on the 10th. Government receivables also work the same wayIf you want your payment by the 10th, your terms must expressly state this.
I enjoy your column, but maybe there are a few of us out there with accounting degrees which included business law.

Signed, Accounting insight in Atlanta

Dear Accounting insight;

Thank you so much for your email and your input. Always welcome! I wanted to respond not only to thank you but also address your comments and provide some additional insight and the rationale behind what I wrote in that column.

I spoke at length with two attorneys regarding the UCC and got varying responses on what the code says, and I also can draw on my decades of work in collects. Bhe bottom line for me is that the UCC doesn't really come into play here.

Rather, it’s up to the contracting parties to define specifc payment terms—terms based on a general understanding of how particular words are used in an industry. In LBM, you’ll find the general view is that net 10th means that the total outstanding amount due on an invoice is expected to be paid in full and received by the creditor within the specified number of days (in our example here by the 10th).

We in LBM expect the bill-payer to include mail time when counting the day. As best as I can tell, for the majority of dealers and distributors and manufacturers, a letter postmarked on the date due isn’t good enough.

Of course, if you would prefer to follow your interpretation of the UCC, that’s your choice. What’s important here is that you and all other collections people in LBM should make it explicitly clear when you expect to be paid. Ambiguity and collections make bad bedfellows.

This discussion highlights how payment is viewed depending on what seat you occupy on the bus. Thanks for reading my column! It's well read readers like you that keep me on my toes.