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Thread poster: Allesklar

Allesklar  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 17:05
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
Aug 6, 2008

Situation:

Agency, 60 days stated payment terms, pays just about always late, usually between 2 - 3 weeks.
Each month I send them reminders, one for each week of late payment. I also sent polite mails to some of their staff discussing the situation and also outlining the bits that I do appreciate working with them. But finally I got annoyed and decided to stir things up a bit.


Here we go:

[me]

Hello,

My invoice No. xxxxx is now 5 days overdue.

I trust that you will arrange payment asap.

Best regards,


[them]

Hi Dirk,

Thanks for your email.


A payment in amount of xxxxx is scheduled to be done on Friday Aug 15, 2008. Therefore, you should expect the payment to arrive within the next days.


If we can be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact us at any time at


We thank you again for being a valuable vendor



Kind Regards

[me]

Hello xxxx,
>
> Thank you for your reply and I am glad to hear that my payment is on its
> way.
>
> However, could you please explain why it is scheduled two weeks after it is
> actually due?
>
> xxxxx's payment terms of 60 days are already twice as long as those of
> all other agencies I work for and the fact that the actual payment rarely
> comes on time is a regular disappointment. It also stands in stark contrast
> to the efficiency and professionalism that xxxxxx shows in all other
> respects, which only leads to conclusions that do not reflect well on the
> company.
>
> You will be aware that your company demands from its vendors to meet tight
> deadlines and I would consider it common courtesy that it should fulfill its
> own obligations in the same timely manner.
>
> Please do lift your game.
>
> Best regards,
>
> Dirk


[them]


Dirk:
We appreciate hearing your feedback. However, we don't need a lecture from you telling us to "lift our game". If you want to work with another company and stop working with xxxxx, make that choice. If you feel that other companies are better, then go work for them.

We don't need to hear your constant complaints about getting paid late. It wastes our time. If we pay you later than what you expect, or even what we indicate may be the time frame, that is a simple fact of business. We have many hundreds of vendors to pay, and you are not the only vendor on that list, so you have to be patient. You can also join our accounting department any time and see how America's largest corporations pay us: never less than 90 days, so you're doing pretty well. In fact, we often borrow money from the bank in the form of working capital to pay vendors like you, while we await payment from our clients. You should internalize that. You can't even say thank you to us as a customer-- so there's no possibility you'd move a finger for a vendor. But that's what we do for people like you. Understand that.

Also, we have no concern about what "other agencies" are doing. Other agencies don't give you very much work; and other agencies go out of business and don't pay translators at all. What about memory? Does xxxxx discount you with memory pricing? That's free money to you (getting paid for translations you don't even have to do).

The fact is, and you get consisten work from us and you get paid consistently. An email of appreciation to us as a good customer is the standard approach in business. Stop complaining, and stop wasting the time of our accounting department, and start being thankful that you have a good customer.

xxxxx
Accounting.



OK, I am open for suggestions what to write next


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:35
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Sorry, but... Aug 7, 2008

Sorry man, but you should not complain when you get payments at a predetermined schedule, give or take a few days. If they don't discount translation memory and if they give you good rates, you shouldn't have a problem at all.

The problems in the industry are very different from payments within 30 or 90 days... my average is 60-70 days and I never even noticed. The serious problems that both translators and agencies are facing are very different... and much more serious.


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
My opinion Aug 7, 2008

As a freelancer, you are "free" to decide who to work with and who not. For instance, I used to have a client which provided me with incredibly interesting and prestigious translations. They usually pay later than due, and if I don't remind them, they would not pay at all, but I don't care, because I like the texts they give me, so I never complained with them. This is entirely my choice.

As they told you in their letter, you are free to collaborate with them or not. The worst thing you can do is complaining and/or trying to convince them to change their ways. You are wasting time and energies, and you are irritating your client. It is just a "take it or leave it" situation, like many others in life...


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 03:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
Well, since you ask ... Aug 7, 2008

Allesklar wrote:
...
But finally I got annoyed and decided to stir things up a bit.
...
OK, I am open for suggestions what to write next


[you, Dirk]:

Ciao!

(s) Dirk


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jokerman
Germany
Local time: 07:35
English to German
+ ...
well, on the one hand .... Aug 7, 2008

... Eleftherios is right. A few days or weeks won't really do you any harm, especially if they accept your full price even for fuzzies and pay your standard rates without complaining. So basically, maybe you shouldn't have complained about it really in the first place (please don't get me wrong, no one can blame you really for insisting on the other party to stick to the agreement/contract, but I don't think a few weeks are worthwhile discussing).

On the other hand, their reply is simply outrageous. I certainly would never continue any kind of cooperation with a business partner who ever sends me such a rude message.

So, now that they've had the nerve to tell you either to shut up or leave, I suppose that your only option is to tell them to *conduct a certain sexual activity right off* - do it in a polite way though. And never look back.

[Bearbeitet am 2008-08-07 00:45]


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
When things get that far, I tend to be very blunt Aug 7, 2008

Some people consider that unwise, but I see no point in dancing around the issue. I'd write something like this:


Thank you for clarifying your position.

Your agency surely would not tolerate it if a translation were even one day late, much less two weeks. It is reasonable for your suppliers to expect the same level of consideration that you require of us.

Please remove my name from your database. Clearly your company cannot or will not meet its financial obligations. Worse, you lack the professionalism and basic courtesy to acknowledge that this is a problem.

I will be sure to share these concerns with other translators who ask me whether your company is reliable.

Best regards.

[Edited at 2008-08-07 02:20]


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 09:35
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Talk to their CEO, not Accounting Aug 7, 2008

The e-mail you quoted for us was from Accounting, right? Why not get to the heart of the matter and "stir things up" properly, eh?

For all you know, the e-mail they sent could be a template they send all their vendors who complain about payment terms.

You ought to make sure to talk to the person in charge. At least that way you won't have any illusions left as to who sets the rules at that particular agency. Maybe the CEO doesn't even know this is going on in Accounting? Perhaps you can surprise him/her.

Now, down to some specifics.

>>> We appreciate hearing your feedback.
MK: You gotta give them credit for trying to be funny.

>>> However, we don't need a lecture from you telling us to "lift our game". If you want to work with another company and stop working with xxxxx, make that choice. If you feel that other companies are better, then go work for them.
MK: Fair enough. You are free to go work for other companies. That decision is up to you, but before you do, consider the whole picture, not just payment terms.

>>> We don't need to hear your constant complaints about getting paid late.
MK: Blatant lie, if your own assessment is correct. Without your complaints, they would take even longer.

>>> It wastes our time. If we pay you later than what you expect, or even what we indicate may be the time frame, that is a simple fact of business.
MK: This should indicate to anyone that they are not to be trusted. Failing to stick to your own rules of the game, and then telling someone to accept that as a "simple fact of business," is outrageous.

>>> We have many hundreds of vendors to pay, and you are not the only vendor on that list, so you have to be patient.
MK: Do I give a shit?

>>> You can also join our accounting department any time and see how America's largest corporations pay us: never less than 90 days, so you're doing pretty well.
MK: Do I give a shit?

>>> In fact, we often borrow money from the bank in the form of working capital to pay vendors like you, while we await payment from our clients.
MK: That makes bad business sense for you, but as for me -- see above.

>>> You should internalize that.
MK: I'll leave it to you to come up with something else they should "internalize." TBH, as long as we're talking about the translation business, using words like 'internalize' alone should disqualify someone from being considered sane.

>>> You can't even say thank you to us as a customer-- so there's no possibility you'd move a finger for a vendor. But that's what we do for people like you. Understand that.
MK: Blatant lie again (if your own account reflects the truth, you praise them regularly).

>>> Also, we have no concern about what "other agencies" are doing.
MK: Apparently, their business model is not about staying competitive.

>>> Other agencies don't give you very much work; and other agencies go out of business and don't pay translators at all.
MK: Is that a fact? Are they loading you up with 90% of your daily capacity to claim this? I'm very curious.

>>> What about memory? Does xxxxx discount you with memory pricing? That's free money to you (getting paid for translations you don't even have to do).
MK: Apparently, they fail to appreciate what CAT tools are meant for. Translators.

>>> The fact is, and you get consisten work from us and you get paid consistently. An email of appreciation to us as a good customer is the standard approach in business.
MK: Grammar and spelling issues aside, they have a point, but again, you said earlier that you do let them know your appreciation. Who's being ungrateful here, I wonder?

>>> Stop complaining, and stop wasting the time of our accounting department, and start being thankful that you have a good customer.
MK: In the end, that's what the main issue is about: are they a good customer or not? That's for you to decide. And, like I said already, there are other factors besides payment terms.

HTH,
Mikhail

[Edited at 2008-08-07 03:33]


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:35
Dutch to English
+ ...
Sorry man II ... Aug 7, 2008

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:


Sorry man, but you should not complain when you get payments at a predetermined schedule, give or take a few days. If they don't discount translation memory and if they give you good rates, you shouldn't have a problem at all.



... what a load of codswallop.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:35
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Drop them - if you can afford to Aug 7, 2008

Well, Allesklar, if I got an email like that after working for them reliably for ages and sending a firm but courteous complaint about persistent late payment, I'd be inclined to cease working for this agency - that is, if you can afford to. It's not so much the late payment, but the haughty and "up yours" attitude that grates.
I'd put them at the bottom of my list of clients and only work for them when I had no other work - a situation that rarely happens to me nowadays. When approched, just say you're too busy with other work at the moment.
You'd need to work out what percentage of work you'd lose by dropping them and whether you could make that up with work from other clients.
There are plenty of courteous and reliable agencies out there.
Mikhail has a good point. Maybe the CEO doesn't know about this and should be told - or maybe it's his own policy. Why not find out?
And I think an entry in the Blue Board would be a good idea.
Best wishes anyway,
Jenny


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xxxtazdog
Spain
Local time: 07:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
agree with Steven Aug 7, 2008

The arrogance and rudeness of their reply is absolutely outrageous. I would drop them like a hot potato and definitely make sure to post on the Blue Board and all other payment practices lists. And I would make sure to send a copy of the final e-mail sent to them (including their previous one) to the CEO.

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Allesklar  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 17:05
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks all Aug 7, 2008

Mikhail has expressed my thoughts particularly well.

I thought it was quite amusing how quickly I changed from "valuable vendor" to "bothersome whingeing timewaster". Also the self-righteous way with which they present their own poor cashflow management as a valid excuse for late payments is quite extraordinary.

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:
>>> Other agencies don't give you very much work; and other agencies go out of business and don't pay translators at all.
MK: Is that a fact? Are they loading you up with 90% of your daily capacity to claim this? I'm very curious.


No, I wouldn't have leaned myself that far out of the window if I depended on them. It is true, however, that they have the capacity to give you as much work as you can handle at just about any time. This is quite useful in times of a lull and also the main reason why I still accept work from them.

They are big enough for one hand not knowing what the other one does and I am prepared to give them the benefit of doubt and assume that the comments from my friend in accounting do not represent their general attitude.

Also, their PMs are very friendly - since they are the ones who want something from you - so I wouldn't have to deal with that person when I collaborate with them. Apart from that, personal pride is not much of an issue for me. Given the fact that they may still be useful to fall back on, I won't pull the plug from this end, but if they decide that I'm more trouble than I am worth, I won't be upset either.

Thank you all for sharing your opinions on this, here is what I wrote in reply (cc to the CEO):

[me]

Hello xxx,

Thank you for your frank reply, it's much easier to get to the point once we stop worrying about politeness and that can be a good thing.


You wrote:
We don't need to hear your constant complaints about getting paid late. It wastes our time. If we pay you later than what you expect, or even what we indicate may be the time frame, that is a simple fact of business.


A fact of business is that when you indicate certain payment terms, you are bound to an agreement if the other party accepts these. Having to remind you of your obligations also wastes my time.


You wrote:
We have many hundreds of vendors to pay, and you are not the only vendor on that list, so you have to be patient.


Are xxxx employees being paid on time? Would you accept this as an excuse if you weren't?


You wrote:
You can also join our accounting department any time and see how America's largest corporations pay us: never less than 90 days, so you're doing pretty well. In fact, we often borrow money from the bank in the form of working capital to pay vendors like you, while we await payment from our clients.


What you are describing here sounds as if cash flow and liquidity issues are causing you problems in meeting your financial obligations on time. You can either prompt your management to address these or try and make them go away by shooting the messenger.


You wrote:
You should internalize that. You can't even say thank you to us as a customer-- so there's no possibility you'd move a finger for a vendor. But that's what we do for people like you. Understand that.


The fact that I still do accept work from xxx indicates that there are things I appreciate about it. I have detailed these in other emails to your colleagues, sorry if that did not get through to you.

You wrote:
Also, we have no concern about what "other agencies" are doing. Other agencies don't give you very much work


Actually, they do.

You wrote:
and other agencies go out of business and don't pay translators at all.


Not the ones I work for.


You wrote:
What about memory? Does xxx discount you with memory pricing? That's free money to you (getting paid for translations you don't even have to do).


I calculate my rates according to the amount of time I need to do the job. If an agency wants to impose TM discounts (few of those I work for do), I adjust my basic word rate so that I still achieve my target hourly income. xxxx's rates are, in terms of figures, a lot lower than those that other clients pay me, however due to the nature of the jobs, both correspond to similar hourly rates for me.

You wrote:
The fact is, and you get consistent work from us and you get paid consistently.


This is one of the reasons why I am still here. Please accept my thanks for that. This is also the reason why I bother to complain - I am hoping to prompt you to make changes which would be of mutual benefit, rather than just giving up on you.


You wrote:
An email of appreciation to us as a good customer is the standard approach in business.Stop complaining, and stop wasting the time of our accounting department, and start being thankful that you have a good customer.


Prompt payment is also a basic standard business practice and a show of appreciation for good services. Actions do speak louder than words. Pay me on time and you will never hear a complaint from me again.


Dirk





[Edited at 2008-08-07 07:07]


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Spencer Allman
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:35
Finnish to English
Tell them to stick it Aug 7, 2008

Nobody needs this.

But this was from the accounts department right? I would copy the email and send it to the person who raised the PO.

I too have had arrogant and rude accounts staff to contend with - some of them think the business revolves around them. Which is not the case: they are a mere cog.


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Rude much? Aug 7, 2008

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:

>>> Stop complaining, and stop wasting the time of our accounting department, and start being thankful that you have a good customer.
MK: In the end, that's what the main issue is about: are they a good customer or not? That's for you to decide. And, like I said already, there are other factors besides payment terms.


Wow. Was this the actual wording of the mail??

I agree with Mikhail, but at this point I think the rest of us are in the dark about how important this client is to you. I'm sure your workload from them will have to be a deciding factor for you.

But really, a letter with this wording is incredibly over the top, and IMHO, absolutely beyond the pale.

No matter what you ultimately decide, it might be interesting to see how a manager or executive responds when you send them a copy of the language being used by their employees. Or maybe if you can, a polite but pointed phone call might produce interesting results as well. I just can't imagine someone actually in charge of running the company would approve of such communications!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some comment Aug 7, 2008

Allesklar wrote:
> xxxxx's payment terms of 60 days are already twice as long as those of
> all other agencies I work for...


Whether their terms are different from the "industry norm" is irrelevant. They stated their terms, you accepted them, and that means you regarded the terms as fair. Why did you mention this in your letter?

> Please do lift your game.


Is this a common expression in your culture? I would not (and stil do not) know exactly what it means, although it sounds to me like a statement of extreme sarcasm. You've written a wonderfully polite but firm letter -- why ruin the effect by ending off with such an impoliteness?

"If we pay you later than what you expect, or even what we indicate may be the time frame, that is a simple fact of business. We have many hundreds of vendors to pay, and you are not the only vendor on that list, so you have to be patient."


The client's attitude is unbusinesslike. If there are more vendors to pay than their accountant can handle, they should hire another accountant. The cost of the extra accountant is off-set by the increase in profits from an increase in clients.

"You can also join our accounting department any time and see how America's largest corporations pay us: never less than 90 days, so you're doing pretty well. In fact, we often borrow money from the bank in the form of working capital to pay vendors like you, while we await payment from our clients."


This is irrelevant, but... tit for tat. You put irrelevant stuff in your letter, so you can expect them to put irrelevant stuff in their response. My advice comes too late, but here it is anyway: if you keep your correspondence free of irrelevancies, you are in a stronger position to politely point out irrelevancies in their responses.

"Stop complaining, and stop wasting the time of our accounting department, and start being thankful that you have a good customer."

OK, I am open for suggestions what to write next.


Stop complaining and stop sending reminders so frequently. They are not non-payers. They are late-payers.

Option 1: Update your records so that their payment terms are not indicated as "60 days" but as "90 days".

Option 2: Put more space between your reminders. Send a first reminder when payment is 10 days late (and say "ten days" in the letter), and then send the second reminder when it is 21 days late (and say "three weeks" in the letter).

And personally I find the aloof formality of the veiled threat "I trust that you will arrange payment asap." in poor taste, but perhaps that is just what business speak looks like in your culture. Be polite.


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Elena Robles Sanjuan  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:35
English to Spanish
They don´t consider you as a business, obviously. Aug 7, 2008

"The fact is, and you get consistent work from us and you get paid consistently. An email of appreciation to us as a good customer is the standard approach in business. Stop complaining, and stop wasting the time of our accounting department, and start being thankful that you have a good customer."

This is the classical statement that tells you that this company is way far from respecting that you´re trying to protect YOUR BUSINESS above all. What they´re really saying is:

a) They know about business, you don´t. You´re just a freelancer at their service.
b) Business people don´t complain. They keep their heads down whatever happens.
c) Their accounting department is far too busy to deal with managing their accounts properly.

Their e-mail is so full of arrogance and disrespect towards you and your business that I wouldn´t hesitate for a minute to tell them what Steven suggests. Nice, concise and clear.


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