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Getting creative with the credit application

Thea Dudley

 

Dear Thea,

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We received a credit application but when they signed the app they included a copyright emblem and “All Rights Reserved Without Prejudice” on all the signature lines. I emailed the applicant and asked for a clean signature on our application. They immediately asked me to provide a lawful reason why we were requesting changes. I have never seen this before and not even sure what they are trying to tell me with this. How do I respond?

— Baffled in rights

 

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Dear Baffled,

Sometimes there aren’t any words and you have to laugh: a seemingly simple document, straightforward in its purpose, and along comes some creative genius who turns it into a Lifetime movie, complete with predictable plot and outcome.

Dude, seriously, I can’t accept this. The reason? I don’t have to. I am not required to. Private industries can make up their rules/requirements at will—like asking all applicants to put a heart shaped smiley face above all occurrences of the letter “i”. As long as you aren’t violating any state or federal regulations, you’re OK. Public companies have a few additional regulations, but to my knowledge, and the input of a few attorney buddies, they don’t have to accept alterations either.

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A simple “We accept no alterations to our credit application” will suffice. The real challenge is communicating with this character. The cleanest and shortest path to resolution is to email said sender that, while you appreciate the opportunity to do business together, the application in its current submission is not acceptable and you are requiring a newly completed app without their added creativity to be considered for an account with your company.

As you have probably guessed, this will not be the end of the story. Aren’t you curious? Over the years I’ve had weird stuff cross my desk. One had a red ink (at least I hope it was ink) thumbprint along with a declaration of being a “free man” who adhered to no recognized laws accept those of his Savior. Ok, I respect your right to do you, but ya can’t have credit here unless you agree, and adhere, to play on our terms. We have certain policies, and while some are flexible, playing tic-tac-toe on my credit application is not.

Quickest way to clear the air and end the email war: Pick up the phone and call. What is driving this signature creativity or any other alteration they made? What are they trying to achieve? Often a conversation closes the gap and you can get resolution. At least you have an understanding of what is driving the artwork and if a compromise can be reached. It’s an opportunity to explain your company’s view of what you can and can’t accept and why. I am not above compromising. Let’s face it, there has to be some logical reason driving the alteration and one that doesn’t involve my company becoming your “sponsor.”

Have some questions ready for that conversation. Do they sign this way at their bank? What about leasing or other finance companies? While the objective is to find resolution, never lose sight of what this comes down to— you are loaning money. It may be in the form of product, but that does not dilute that you are loaning money. How does that wonky signature impact your ability to protect and collect your investment?

The Golden Rule of lending money: Them that has the gold makes the rules. You are holding the gold. Skip the drama and have your poop in a group with a well-rounded application, complete with talk track.

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