Monday, June 13, 2011

Holy Twitter, Batman! Canadian author touches nerve in collections community

Posted by Diane Sears

An article in Saturday’s Winnipeg Free Press paints an irreverent Canadian author and journalist as a modern-day superhero for using Twitter to send a dunning notice – a technical term for a collections letter – to a publisher she says stiffed her out of $9,000.

But not so fast, people in the collections industry say. The story is the equivalent of an urban myth, perpetuated by a catchy headline that isn’t accurate, and it borders on making creditors look bad. It certainly didn’t sit well with us here at The Institute of Financial Operations and its affiliate International Accounts Receivable Professionals, where I happen to know real-life superhero AR Girl and her counterpart AP Man pretty well.

In “Rebecca Eckler Uses Twitter to Dun Publisher,” the daily newspaper says the author of bestselling memoir Knocked Up has set the scene for a new use for social media: debt collection.

In several tweets she posted last week under the hash tag #nomorenicegirl, she used language the Free Press says could not be reprinted in a family newspaper and chastised financially troubled publisher Key Porter Books, which shut its doors earlier this year right after publishing her latest novel, The Lucky Sperm Club.

The upshot, our friends at AR management publication say, is this:

“…The issue at hand isn’t really about ‘debt’ in the formal sense of the word at all, at least not in the credit and collection industry meaning of the term. If true … Ms. Eckler is owed a promised sum of money by her publisher. But she’s not a creditor in the traditional sense of the word. What we’re talking about here is a breach of contract issue, not a delinquent receivable. The cure for that ill is not a debt collection process, but litigation."

Michael Klozotsky, the managing editor of, builds a good case in his blog post "Using Twitter for Debt Collection Sort Of" – and a humorous one, too. Check out his zing about the Tooth Fairy vs. unicorns. He says we should ignore this use of Twitter for anything but what it is: an attempt to air a private dispute in public and elicit fun reaction from readers. Not an attempt to create a new debt collection tool.

In that case, Rebecca Eckler, rock on. But let’s leave your AR hero cape in the closet please.

No comments:

Post a Comment