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When I first opened my chocolate business in Ecuador,  I naïvely assumed that getting paid would be a reasonable and not too time-consuming task. How wrong I was. Getting paid for your goods or services is not only onerous, but arduous and time-consuming. My experience is that  this is the rule and not the exception, just like dealing with paperwork. It will always take 10 times longer than you think, and you will have to visit at least two or three more offices or service windows than you expected. It’s hard to get paid, whether it’s chocolate or anything else. I have confirmed this issue with many of my business colleagues.

Need to get paid? Be prepared for hassles, waiting, and often, responses lacking in kindness or warmth, to your inquiries. If you can’t adjust to this form of doing business, don’t bother starting a business in Ecuador.

Companies will usually ask for 15 to 30 days credit. No one uses credit cards as the bank commission fees are ridiculously high. If you’re fortunate enough to have a unique product that people really want, and you are well established, you can ask for cash on the spot. Still, some businesses will balk. This is our strategy after 5 years. We may lose some business because of this policy, but I’d lose more sleep at night and have more stress all day trying to collect from deadbeat accounts.

Or, as some of our purveyors do, you can make the process for requesting credit so onerous that it is well nigh impossible. Bank references, commercial references, last three months of tax filings, financial statements-you can ask for all of these. It’s a polite way of simply not extending credit, though you might lose business, or you might find yourself reviewing a lot of paperwork and having no good reason to deny credit-though arbitrary decisions are usually not questioned here.

It’s a fine line to walk when it comes to collecting. The Ecuadorian way is to use cutesy, kind phrases as if you’re asking for a favor when collecting on invoice. “No seas malito, ayúdeme con esta factura,¨which translates roughly to “Please, lend me hand, help me out by paying this invoice.” If you’re straightforward about it, you may find yourself being stonewalled, delayed, and just basically ignored. If the pay date comes and goes and the company is behind on payments, and requests more product or services, there’s only one safe way to play it. Politely tell them they have an outstanding invoice and that the account is suspended until it’s paid in full. Don’t extend credit for multiple invoices for large amounts of money.

Never ever be rude or threatening, it will get you nowhere. In general, be prepared to be treated by your clients as if they were doing you a favor buying your goods or service and an even bigger favor by paying you. Respond only with courtesy, patience, compassion and humility, and cut your losses early when necessary.


Welcome to Destination Ecuador!

Welcome to Destination Ecuador! My family and I have been living in Ecuador for the last four and a half years. We’ve dealt with the worst kinds of red-tape, searched out or ended up making hard-to-find ingredients ourselves, imported equipment for making chocolate confections, learned the import-export business...Continue >>

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