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Checking payment practices
Thread poster: Mary McCusker

Mary McCusker  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:16
German to English
+ ...
Apr 18, 2005

I've just had a rather unusual experience with a new client. Normally, if I cannot find any payment practice history on a new client who approaches me, I ask the client to send me the name and contact of one or two translators who work for him/her on a regular basis. Of course this is not the ideal way to take references, but at least if I have a positive response I know that the client has some kind of track record with translators.
I accepted an assignment from a new client on Friday based on a PO, but since I could neither find nor elicit anything on the agency, I asked him for some names of translators he worked with regularly. He became extremely agitated and said he's worked in the business for many years (five) and that I should trust him. I have to say, even though I did not think much of his reaction, I think he sounded sincere and sincerely offended. I am just wondering a) what other translators do when they can find no payment information on a client and b) specifically what they might do in this case.
I do have the client's VAT number. He is located in Strasbourg.
Since the project is not a large one and I have already spent a few hours on this, I have decided to go ahead with the rest of the project.
I'd be interested in any input on this topic.


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 09:16
French to English
Try the registre des commerces Apr 18, 2005

You can do a search here:

http://www.infogreffe.fr/infogreffe/index.jsp

Then you can at least find out if they are for real and not in bankruptcy.

You also might want to post on the French forum to see if anyone knows them (but I don't think you're allowed to name names). Have you tried creating a Blue Board record and requesting feedback through the BB tool?

HTH.

Sara


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Mary McCusker  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:16
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Already in Blue Board Apr 18, 2005

Many thanks for the site coordinates. I'll do a search. The client is already listed on the Blue Board but there are no comments. I've checked on two payment practices lists and heard nothing.
I am generally wondering what others do in such cases where information is scarce or completely unavailable.


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 09:16
French to English
Benefit of the doubt within reason. Apr 18, 2005

Mary McCusker wrote:

I am generally wondering what others do in such cases where information is scarce or completely unavailable.


I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I do reasonable checks (payment practices board, the registre de commerce for French-based companies). I make sure they exist, I get a signed, stamped PO and I don't commit to a huge volume the fist time around to minimize the risk.

If they balk at all about getting you a signed PO immediately (i.e. before you start work) or give you a bad feeling in any other way, steer clear.

In 3 years, I have had to write two registered letters to obtain payment, both first-time jobs for new companies similar to your situation. I have never had to go any further in terms of legal action. Needless to say, I never worked with either company again once I got my money!

Even if you really feel you need the work, follow your instincts. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it. Something better will come along tomorrow!

Good luck!

Sara


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martineh
English to German
+ ...
Content of letters Apr 18, 2005

Sara Freitas-Maltaverne wrote:


In 3 years, I have had to write two registered letters to obtain payment, both first-time jobs for new companies similar to your situation. I have never had to go any further in terms of legal action. Needless to say, I never worked with either company again once I got my money!

Sara


Hi Sara

Can you tell me what you say in these "registered letters" of yours, as they seem to work quite well!

Many thanks
Martine


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:16
Trust, and advance Apr 18, 2005

Mary McCusker wrote:

I am just wondering a) what other translators do when they can find no payment information on a client and b) specifically what they might do in this case.
I do have the client's VAT number. He is located in Strasbourg.
Since the project is not a large one and I have already spent a few hours on this, I have decided to go ahead with the rest of the project.
I'd be interested in any input on this topic.


When I have new clients without "credentials", so to speak, if the job is small, I give them the benefit of the doubt. If the job is large, I ask for 50% of the total cost to begin the translation, and 50% upon completion. So far, this has always worked for me!

[Edited at 2005-04-18 17:24]


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Mary McCusker  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:16
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the input Apr 18, 2005

Thanks for providing information on your experience. The client has in the meantime sent several translator names. Part of my dilemma was that I had received two offers from old and trusted clients and had to weigh this against a client who seemed not only reluctant about providing names, but annoyed. In the end I jumped...

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Jesús Marín Mateos  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:16
English to Spanish
+ ...
Good for you Mary. Apr 19, 2005

Hi Mary,
I don't know if I am a bit too 'servant-like' towards clients/agencies but I would never dream of asking for references/names of translator to an agency I am going to work with.
It generally happens the other way round: they require references from us but your approach seems fine although I don't think it helps start a trust relationship.
Good luck.


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Mary McCusker  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:16
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Question of 'power'? Apr 19, 2005

Jesus Marin wrote:

Hi Mary,
I don't know if I am a bit too 'servant-like' towards clients/agencies but I would never dream of asking for references/names of translator to an agency I am going to work with.
It generally happens the other way round: they require references from us but your approach seems fine although I don't think it helps start a trust relationship.
Good luck.



I think your response is quite on target. I was musing about why the client seemed so upset about my asking for references and I think it is precisely that he feels there should be a relationship where the client is 'in charge'and not the translator.
I am always happy to supply references if requested on the quality of my work, so I guess that I feel that my clients should also be happy to do so (on the quality of their payment practices). The few other times I've asked (I tend to work mainly with long-time clients, but I do like to branch out occasionally), the clients seemed to be more than willing to supply some names. I've had quite trusting relationships with these clients ever since, so I can't say that my request has generated any ill feeling, at least not so far.
Perhaps chemistry is also important in the client/translator relationship. I've had some clients who are so peremptory that I simply cannot bring myself to work for them a second time.
Thanks for your input - another interesting perspective..


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 09:16
French to English
Ah, the magic letter... Apr 19, 2005

martineh wrote:


Can you tell me what you say in these "registered letters" of yours, as they seem to work quite well!


Martine



Actually, since I am in France, it is simply a form letter (in French) I found on the Internet demanding payment within one week or else! (Or else I will initiate the legal procedure for obtaining payment). I think it's the fact that it's a regisered letter (means business in France) that works...

Sorry I don't have any truly original tricks up my sleeve to share with you!

Sara

[Edited at 2005-04-19 13:05]


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