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Client all of a sudden wants to pay via check
Thread poster: Elke Fehling

Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:11
English to German
+ ...
Oct 2, 2003

Hi everbody,

One of my bigger clients is a translation agency in Spain. I am working for them since April of this year and up to now never had any problems with them. The work is interesting and the payment is almost always on time.

Yesterday they sent me an email stating that from this month on they will be making their paiments via check. The reason they gave was some change in EU legislation.

Well, since July 1st of this year money transfers from abroad are much cheaper than they were before. As far as I know, provided that the client indicates my bank codes, the bank will charge the same amount as for a domestic money transfer.

So what is happening? Is the client lying? Or is he just not well informed?

I asked them about the increase in fees they are expecting and they told me that it comes up to approx. 20 Euros. I also asked them to pay my last invoice (due October 6th) via money transfer, but they told me that the check had already been sent... When I explained that this is very unconvenient for me because I am not in Germany at the moment and cannot open my mailbox from abroad they offered to mail the check to where I am now -> So they lied, the check had not been sent yet.

I am a bit confused about what to think about this. Checks are always inconvenient, they cost me money and they involve this 10 days period ("Scheckobligo" in German), where the money is credited to my account only under the reservation that the client`s bank will really pay for the check.

To me this is the first sign that the translation agency has financial problems. But what can I do? If I refuse to work for them under these conditions I loose a good client?!

What do you think about all this?
What experience have you made with translation agencies? Do they often pay via check?
Does it make sense (and is it "normal"?) to have the client sign a special contract that helps me in these cases?

Thank you for your help!

Elke


[Edited at 2003-10-03 17:22]


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Hans G. Liepert  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 18:11
English to German
+ ...
The check is in the mail Oct 2, 2003

Elke Fehling wrote:
...What do you think about all this?


One of the 3 great lies: The check is in the mail.
EU has not ruled out bank transfer, but banks are obliged not to charge for a foreign Euro-transfer more than for a domestic transfer.
A check is more expensive, necessarily, because it must be handled literally twice.
Ask your customer which EU regulation forces him to pay by check.
If you lose this client: It doesn´t hurt (I guess this was the 2nd of the 3 great lies)


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:11
English to German
+ ...
Cheques are outdated Oct 2, 2003

Hi Elke,
This doesn't make sense - either they completely misunderstood what the new regulations are all about, or there's something else that's wrong.

Cross-border payments by cheque are not only inconvenient, but also more expensive than intra-EU bank transfers. Provided that you supply your IBAN and BIC to your customer, they should be able to transfer money at the same fees they pay for payments within Spain.

Best regards, Ralf


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Anthony Green  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:11
Italian to English
Any indications about the legislation? Oct 3, 2003

I am one of the "guilty parties" who prefers to pay by cheque within the EU. The reason (at least unitl I read your mail) was very simple - a transfer to Portugal, for example, would cost me €20, whereas a transfer within Italy costs me just €2. Paying by cheque is a great saving in such circumstances, but it has the disadvantage of taking a long time.

So, if there is legislation which forces banks to charge the same price wherever the transfer goes within the EU, I would be the first one to be delighted, as would my translators. Could you point us to the legislation so that we can "inform" our banks?


Hans Liepert wrote:

Elke Fehling wrote:
...What do you think about all this?


One of the 3 great lies: The check is in the mail.
EU has not ruled out bank transfer, but banks are obliged not to charge for a foreign Euro-transfer more than for a domestic transfer.
A check is more expensive, necessarily, because it must be handled literally twice.
Ask your customer which EU regulation forces him to pay by check.
If you lose this client: It doesn´t hurt (I guess this was the 2nd of the 3 great lies)



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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:11
Partial member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
My experience Oct 3, 2003

Hi Elke,
I have no customers in Spain but I do have 2 customers (agencies) in France and they pay only by cheque, take it or leave it. Therefore I would not assume from this change that the agency has financial problems.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:11
English to German
+ ...
Various discussions in the forum Oct 3, 2003

Hi Anthony,
Anthony Green wrote:

I am one of the "guilty parties" who prefers to pay by cheque within the EU. The reason (at least unitl I read your mail) was very simple - a transfer to Portugal, for example, would cost me €20, whereas a transfer within Italy costs me just €2. Paying by cheque is a great saving in such circumstances, but it has the disadvantage of taking a long time.

What I don't get here: doesn't you bank charge you extra fees if you use cheques for cross-border payments?


So, if there is legislation which forces banks to charge the same price wherever the transfer goes within the EU, I would be the first one to be delighted, as would my translators. Could you point us to the legislation so that we can "inform" our banks?

This was discussed in a number of threads, e.g.:
www.proz.com/topic/12183
www.proz.com/topic/12208
www.proz.com/topic/11806

The Directive itself is here.

Note that there are certain conditions attached: most importantly, payments must not exceed EUR 12,500, and you must use the recipients IBAN and (SWIFT) BIC when instructing the payment.

HTH - best regards, Ralf


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Minna Wood MITI (Purring CAT Ltd.)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:11
English to Finnish
+ ...
More about IBAN (especially with UK banks) Oct 3, 2003

I have read all the related Proz threads about cross-border payments and IBAN as well as had a look at the EU regulation itself but they still left me with questions.

Even though I didn't have any problems with getting an IBAN code from my bank Natwest when I requested it few months ago, it seems that they are still more or less clueless when it comes to IBAN and it still does not seem to be acknowledged there. I recently transferred an amount in Euro from Natwest to my bank in Finland for which I paid the standard transfer fee of £14. I did use the IBAN code for my Finnish account but the bank assistant didn't seem to know what it was for. Later I had to call the bank, as there was a problem with the transfer (the amount didn't leave my account until ONE WEEK later I had visited the branch and ordered it to be sent!!!), and I mentioned, again, IBAN transfers and the branch manager didn't know what I was talking about. I had to explain to him what an IBAN was!! This just shows how behind the banks are here in the UK.

Anyway, what I would like to know now is whether the cheaper transfer when using an IBAN really should apply to any personal banking customers or is it only available for business customers? On the Natwest website IBAN is only mentioned in their "corporate" page.

Also, should the lower transfer fees only apply to sender's charges? I know that my continental clients use my IBAN code when paying my invoices but Natwest is still deducting £6 from the received amount for their commission charges.

Can anyone shed some light on this, please.

Thanks.
Minna

P.S Sorry Elke for not replying to your questions but I am sure the others have made it pretty clear that cheques will cost all parties more than a transfer. So, your client is behaving very strangly, I think.


[Edited at 2003-10-03 14:35]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:11
English to German
+ ...
Euro vs. sterling accounts Oct 3, 2003

Hi Minna,
I recently transferred an amount in Euro from Natwest to my bank in Finland for which I paid the standard transfer fee of £14.

Can you confirm that you have a euro account with NatWest, or is your account with them in pound sterling?

Anyway, what I would like to know now is whether the cheaper transfer when using an IBAN really should apply to any personal banking customers or is it only available for business customers? On the Natwest website IBAN is only mentioned in their "corporate" page.

This applies to both personal and corporate accounts; the reason why you would find it in the "corporate" section of most banks' websites is that the vast majority of cross-border payments are made by business accounts.

Also, should the lower transfer fees only apply to sender's charges? I know that my continental clients use my IBAN code when paying my invoices but Natwest is still deducting £6 from the received amount for their commission charges.

This should apply to both sides of the payment, but only as far as euro accounts are concerned. Accounts in pound sterling are not covered by the new regulations.

HTH - Ralf


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Minna Wood MITI (Purring CAT Ltd.)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:11
English to Finnish
+ ...
Thanks Ralf! Oct 3, 2003

Ralf Lemster wrote:
Can you confirm that you have a euro account with NatWest, or is your account with them in pound sterling?

This should apply to both sides of the payment, but only as far as euro accounts are concerned. Accounts in pound sterling are not covered by the new regulations.


I see, this explains it. I only have a normal sterling account with Natwest. Need to talk to the bank about an euro account.

Rgds,
Minna


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Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:11
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you so far.... Oct 3, 2003

Up to now, the client didn´t tell me what exact EU regulation they are talking about. I seems they will "make an exception" and pay my last invoice by money transfer, but I suppose that they will probably try to send me a check again when my next invoice is due...

Elke


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Jeannie Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:11
German to English
+ ...
sounds like they are stalling Oct 3, 2003

Sounds like a poor excuse to me. It's easy to say a cheque got lost in the post. If a bank transfer doesn't arrive - and this can happen due to incorrect details - the client should at least have the original bank transfer form she/he can scan and mail you to prove this.

I would insist on bank transfer. Be peristent!


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:11
Member (2004)
German to English
Just to confirm Oct 4, 2003

This only applies to transfers within the euro zone or between euro accounts. Transfers from sterling to euros are still charged at a high rate. As for banks never having heard of IBANs - change your bank! I'm with First Direct/HSBC - they know what they're doing! At least now they do - some time before the legislation came into force I asked them for my IBAN and they didn't know but now they do. You could also tell your bank it's a SWIFT transfer. If they haven't heard of those definitely change your bank!!

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gurud
French to English
IBAN and 'clueless' NatWest Nov 5, 2003

[quote]Minna Wood MITI (Purring CAT Ltd.) wrote:



"Even though I didn't have any problems with getting an IBAN code from my bank Natwest when I requested it few months ago, it seems that they are still more or less clueless when it comes to IBAN and it still does not seem to be acknowledged there. I recently transferred an amount in Euro from Natwest to my bank in Finland for which I paid the standard transfer fee of £14. I did use the
IBAN code for my Finnish account but the bank assistant didn't seem to know what it was for. Later I had to call the bank, as there was a problem with the transfer (the amount didn't leave my account until ONE WEEK later I had visited the branch and ordered it to be sent!!!), and I mentioned, again, IBAN transfers and the branch manager didn't know what I was talking about. I had to explain to him what an IBAN was!!"

Do not be surprised to find NatWest "more or less clueless" about IBANs. That bank is more or less clueless about many things---minimal courtesies like answering customers' letters, eg. As to IBANs, I'd delete the "more or less". Switch banks--though not to any one of Britain's big four.


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