Commercial hay grower Barclay Lutz recently bought a Visa and MasterCard payment terminal for his office. From now on, new customers and existing clients who’ve had payment difficulties will have to pay him in advance via credit card, wire transfer or something similar. He’ll pay a 2-3% fee for each credit card transaction, “but you’re better off losing that 2% right up front than 100% six months after you sell the hay,” says Lutz, of Lethbridge, Alberta.
He says he’s owed $55,000 by a Texas hay dealer, and wants to help prevent other growers from getting stung. According to Lutz, the dealer contacted him in late winter, wanting to buy 1,000 tons. The dealer agreed to make biweekly payments, and Lutz began making deliveries.
“The first little bit of money came, but then two weeks passed and he said the wire transfer didn’t work,” says Lutz. “It didn’t take that long and we were up to $50,000. I started to get concerned.”
He flew to Fort Worth and met the dealer, who gave him a check for half the amount owed. But the check bounced when he got back to Canada. After that, it was “just one lie after another after another,” says Lutz.
He hired an attorney, and hopes to eventually get some of the money, but the experience convinced him to change the way he does business. “As far as our old clients go, we won’t change anything unless they’ve given us a reason to,” he says. “But for anybody new and anybody we’ve had an issue with, we’re definitely changing. We’re not going to do it the same as we did.”
Lutz still welcomes new hay customers, because “If you’re going to say no to dealing with anybody new, you might as well close the doors because you’re not moving ahead.” He also understands that some of his long-term dairy clients may have trouble meeting their financial obligations this year. “It’s not a good situation out there,” he says. “It’s a different ballgame now.”
He grows around 3,700 acres of irrigated and dryland alfalfa, timothy and orchardgrass, and also buys and resells hay, handling between 35,000 and 55,000 tons per year. He can be contacted at 403-380-3906 or email@example.com.
For background on how not to get scammed selling hay on the Internet, see the story, Mugged In Cyberspace, in Hay & Forage Grower's February issue or visit hayandforage.com/.
Is It A Hassle To Get Paid? Have you had trouble collecting money from customers? Do you have tips for other growers on how to ensure payment? We’d like to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and put "Getting Paid" in the subject line.