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Trucker to Trucker
Protect yourself from late charges

by Ray Kasicki

This has certainly been a tough year for small-business truckers. Meeting financial obligations like a big truck payment every month hasn't been easy. As the fall months rolled around, I sighed with relief. We made all our truck payments on time and we were proud of a job well done. So we thought.

After making more than a year's worth of monthly payments on time, I found out that according to the lender - I was late on 10 of those payments. I received a letter demanding $818.80 in late charges. This was after 14 payments had been posted without a word from this lender. Being the businessperson I am, I went ballistic and turned it over to my wife. She proceeded to call the lender. She went through the process of talking to four different people to get through at last to someone who had some knowledge and authority. We found out, even though we mailed our payments in what we thought was plenty of time, the lender didn't always post our payments as promptly as we sent them. After 14 months, it's hard to prove when they received our payment. It's a post office box. We then negotiated, saying there was a possibility of three payments that may have been late, even though we didn't think they were. Three late charges to the tune of $245.64 were better than paying 10 late charges.At this point, we decided to protect ourselves in the future. We started sending payments by certified mail. Another month went by and guess what? We got a letter stating the payment was late. This time we had proof of the date we mailed that payment and more importantly, when they received it. I went back to my wife and she contacted the lender and faxed them proof of the timely receipt. They then told us there would be no late charges.

So, let this be a word to the wise. Protect yourself, especially if your payments go to a post office box. You have no way of knowing when they pick them up. You have no way of knowing how long they sit on someone's desk waiting to get posted. Periodically check with your lender to make sure there are no late payments. Keep track of the date you send in your payments; if possible send it certified mail.

Protect yourself and your credit. You have to look out for yourself because no one else will. Lenders are out there to make money and many of them will do it anyway they can.