Anyone who has lived in America will know the importance of having a car. Unless you live in a city with good public transport you’re unlikely to get anywhere without your own wheels. That’s why so many car dealers there are quick to set up payment plans for their clients. A while back they came up with a unique method of dealing with that universal of problems – the late payer. Chuck Lutes, owner of Affordable Auto Sales in Florida, installs a device on every car he sells that alerts drivers when they have a payment due. Day by day, the alert gets increasingly insistent and on the fifth day, the car won’t start. Lutes says the device, called On Time/Payment Protection Systems, has dramatically increased customers’ on-time payments. According to his computer data files, only 65 percent of his customers were making payments on time before he installed the system. Now, about 95 percent of his accounts are current. As soon as a payment is made, the customer is given a code to punch into the module that stops the alerts until the next payment comes due. The device will not shut a car down while it’s in operation. If the payment is five days late, it simply won’t start again. Shockingly there are people even in the West Country that are slow to pay their bills. I’d be interested to hear readers’ ideas on possible alert systems for local slow payers. Could we get Harry Potter style invoices that shout at you and set fire to your desk when you don’t pay on time?