Bill Bennett

Bill Bennett

The bad times are back

For a decade I didn’t have a single bad debt for my freelance journalism and writing business. Apart from one or two minor administration issues, the average time it took to get paid was less than two weeks.

When Covid sent New Zealand into lockdown, the work slowed, but the invoices kept on being paid.

Then, about 18 months ago, I noticed customers starting to string out payments. The average payment time climbed. Soon after, I had my first bad debt in 15 years of freelancing. There have been a couple more since. The bad debts aren’t huge, but collectively they mean I’ve worked for a couple of months without getting paid.

It was worse in the early 1990s here in NZ and in the mid-1980s when I was in the UK. But either way, it looks like the bad times are back.

This isn’t just a whinge (although I accept it is a touch whingy) it’s about the wider economy. It’s about business confidence and investment opportunities.

Technically we’re not in a recession, but that’s not how it feels and I know I’m not alone. It’s what I hear when I talk to friends, my customers and my business suppliers.