customer received work 2 months ago, and now he doesn't respond about payment
Thread poster: MaryamSlayhi
MaryamSlayhi
Lebanon
Local time: 14:03
English to Russian
+ ...
May 17, 2006

I work as a freelance translator in the direction ENG-RUS.
What should I do to get the payment from a customer - an agency in Ireland, for the work sent in the middle of March this year, 30 000 words. In our correspondence the company manager provided me with all ensurances for payment. After I sent the work he kept silence, although I asked him to make his own evaluation of the total price - as the document contained a number of repetitions, and he had told me before that they don't pay for those, so I supposed it must be the customer who should make the resulting calculations. After waiting for about a week, I reminded him about payment. He replied by: please, send your invoice. It was the first time for me to send invoices, as I had used to get payment via Western Union or cash, or money transfer but without preliminary invoices. I asked him to give me his resulting price, to put it into the invoice. He didn't answer. After that I had to interrupt this case, as I had to perform several trips outside my residential place. Now I am back and sent to him the invoice with my own calculations - as he didn't make his and didn't reply as well. I asked him to inform me about the expected time of the payment (the bank is in another country, and the user of the account is my relative, so I must inform him about the expected money transfer ) and also if he needs an original paper of the invoice. I didn't get any reply.
I have not come across such situations before, all my customers used to pay either promptly or they kept on corresponding untill the time of actual payment - informing me about a delay or some difficulties, etc. I mean they used keeping in touch, untill sending money and payment confirmation.
I have different ideas about what I can do in order to get in touch with the customer and manage to get the payment from him. But as it is the first time for me, maybe I am going to loose time in wrong attempts. I prefer to ask more experienced translators about what are the best steps in this case.
I am not a beginning translator - but as a freelancer I've worked not a long time, and usually with my native customers in Russia, Moscow, so we used to get mutual understanding, and as I have said I never passed across cush a confusing situation before. Also I used to work in a very famous Russian oil company, and got accustomed to a civilized and pure relationship in business. I mean that partners respect each other as far as themselves, and try to satisfy their mutual interests in a civilized way.
I would be very thankful to any advice in this concern.


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Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 14:03
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
customer received work 2 months ago, and now he doesn't respond about payment May 17, 2006

It's certainly odd, that the client doesn't answer your mails.

However, I think the usual practice is that either you or the client makes the analyse (how many new words/repetitions) and then YOU give the price (or an estimate at least) before beginning to work. Usually you agree on the payment terms (should the client pay after i.e. 14, 30 or 60 days from the invoice date), too. When you deliver the translation, you prepare an invoice and send it to the client, who shall pay it on the due date.


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xxxEmmanuelleAn  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:03
English to French
+ ...
One piece of advice May 18, 2006

Unfortunately there are some black sheep in this business...A 30,000 word translation is a big job. You should have checked the "reputation" of this agency prior to undertaking such a job. You can do that through Blue Board or Payment Practices mailing list. Apparently you have been corresponding (or trying to correspond) with this agency via emails. Have you tried to call them?
I know one very unreliable agency in Ireland which acted the same way as described in your post. Hope it is not that one!

Good luck!


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:03
English to French
+ ...
Invoice May 18, 2006

I am sorry about your problem, I hope you will get paid soon.

About invoicing, never ask the client to dictate you amounts. As the service provider, you are the one who offers a rate and you should also calculate how much that comes down to BEFORE starting the job. You and the client should make up a PO, which states the total amound owed for the job if performed as agreed. Once you are done, invoice right away. The best thing is to send the invoice along with the finished translation, in the same e-mail. The good thing about this is that if the client received the translation, then he obviously got the invoice also - no excuses for late payments.

Also, by searching the forums on ProZ, you will find many threads that discuss contracts. ALWAYS sign a contract with the client. If you put the contract in the body of an e-mail, the client can simply reply to it and just add that by replying to it, he agrees that he is bound by the contract. Never start working before having done this.

Also, either mention in the contract or in your separate terms of service that the translation remains your property until fully paid for. What this does is that your client - and your client's client - will not be able to use the document until it was paid for. It comes down to this: if the payment is late and the document has been published/used in the meantime, then the document was used illegally. However, if you and your client agreed upon a payment term of let's say 30 days, you can't do anything until the 30 days are up. If you know the name of the end client and where to reach them, you can contact them to tell them you didn't get paid. Often, the end client will talk to your client and he will eventually cough up the money.

However, don't just obey to whatever I say, start by checking the laws of your country on all of this. It would be a shame that you do something that is considered illegal in your country - you would be in even more trouble...

Good luck!

[Edited at 2006-05-18 07:30]


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Birgit Wahl  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:03
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Quite a big first job... May 18, 2006

Hi Maryam,
This was quite a big first job with this agency! I'd have taken a smaller job first to test their payment practices. They can ensure you as much as they like that you will get paid... Did you check the BB?
However, what do you think are they supposed to pay to you without having any invoice stating the amount? First you must send them an invoice (as you have done finally) stating the amount you want to be paid (if they don't cooperate with the price calculation - you're right to do it yourself). Then many agency take 30 days after receipt of the invoice (or even longer) to pay the amount due. So, in your case, you should wait and see if your customer pays the invoice within a reasonable period of time. If they don't pay, maybe there's someone else on Proz.com to propose a way to get your money collected.
But I'd first wait some more days.
Good luck!
Birgit


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 13:03
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
You and the client should make up a PO... May 18, 2006

I had some similar situations and what I learnt was "do your paperwork" - here's the first few HO Commandments

i) There's no payment without an invoice
ii) There' s no invoice without a PO.
iii) In God we trust, the rest pays cash.

So if the agency is honest, they should darn well start at the beginning and get a PO for you,otherwise THEY will never get their books in order - they may very well have a decent hangover right now from the way this thing got off tracks and that's possibly the reason for their silence.

Btw, usually there's a quote preceding the Purchase Order, so maybe you send them an offer and keep your fingers crossed - do not forget to state clearly the quote / offer pertains to "that screwed-up project,which I delivered ... etc etc ..."

Wish you all the best

smo



[Edited at 2006-05-18 09:24]


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MaryamSlayhi
Lebanon
Local time: 14:03
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for all May 18, 2006

Thanks for all who have suggested possible solutions. I will follow the advices about the Blue Board but by the way what is the meaning of PO?
Actually I have never called this agency, but they called me themselves, when being worried if the work would be delivered in time. Anyway from their e-mail I can know their real address, as well as telephones, and the end-client this time was the Irish National Police - Shehana, as well as the document concerned a very serious criminal process - they needed a Russian translation of the full case, as the quilty person was half-Russian, half-Lithuanian, and I guess they were going to continue this case in the Court Of the Russian Federation. They were on a great hurry, and I felt under a great press.
From time to time I see new posts of the same agency in this site, they have their official site as well.
We didn't make an actual contract before starting, but I made an attempt to make a sort of it, asking him to send a confirmation of the all conditions within the body of the mail, which contains all their official details, and also their stamp. For this he didn't reply, but I supposed that our settlements within mails, containing their official information, the name of the manager is enough in this case. And I think so now, although it is better to sign a contract I agree.
I certainly have a chance to call them directly but I prefer not to do it for some time and wait for their reply, meanwhile searching for the legal info and reminding them about their debt. As a telephone call seems to be an additional investment in this case.
By the way the whole amount is not as great as it could be, as we settled on a rather cheap price - 0,01 USD per word, so totally it is about 300 USD. The main thing here for me now is to investigate this case, collect the possibly full information about how to work as a freelencer on big orders, and in this concern again thanks for all for the information provided and the experience exchange.
Anyway I am going to all my best to get the positive result from this problem - I am guiding by a very strong principle, that we should not go on without solving a problem, so as not to repeat the same mistakes in future, as well as we should influence the community for the better, and if untill now this agency has had the ability to use new and not proficient in legal matters freelancers in a bad way, so I wish to make the best possible attempts to prevent this for future.
By the way, if we want to apply to law - should we apply to the law of our country or to the law of the country of the customer. Hes anyone come across such practice?
I suppose there can be a difficulty such as not paying taxes after getting paid...but to whom I should pay taxes, if I work for an Irish customer, live in Lebanon, while being the citizen of Russia, and get paid via USA bank. Untill now I have not thought about it. Each time we have various clients from different countries...So the law of which country we should keep in mind and apply and study - in such an international work?
I thank in advance all those who will be patient to read my post and to give essential advice - for their time and generousity.
Best regards for all.


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 13:03
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Sorry - PO is ... May 18, 2006

Purchase order: meaning the paper / document, saying that X wants Y to do/provide Z for the said amount of ...

Quote: Y writes to X, saying he/she would be ready to do Z for This amount of money in that amount of time (... so called terms...) It comes before PO and a lot of times it is not necessary, but a quote/offer makes it easier, because PO can say "as per your quote ...." - and you can say "... as per my offer stating XYZ words which you accepted...")

Invoice: Y sends a document to X,stating the amount to be paid for doing (having done) Z "as per your PO " number so much. Payment conditions ("30 days net" or whatever) and of course where the money is supposed go, PO number, date of invoice etc should also be included in the document

Delivery: makes sense to have some sort of an official delivery document (at least the mail with the receipt confirmation). Comes before or parallel to the invoice (why not invoice right the moment you deliver?)

For all the "improvers" who may converge on my wording etc - I'm just trying to help and make it sound simple ;\

PS: and if it is really 1c, you've beaten me by a mile-wide margin - my first order was in the order of 10.000 words a 3c US -.
PPS: ..and if you want to investigate, nothing simpler, call Irish Police

[Edited at 2006-05-18 13:59]


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 12:03
... May 18, 2006

Let me get this straight... you were paid only 1c per word for a large legal file to be used by the Gardaí (Irish police), presumably to be used in court?

You got ripped off big-time, I think. I am stunned.

Maryam, I don't mean this in a bad way, but you really have A LOT to learn about business procedures, if you don't know what PO or an invoice is or how to calculate rates. Luckily, there are lots of articles and posts on Proz about these topics and you'll obviously make sure you don't get into this situation again.

Even if you do a night course on basic business administration or bookkeeping, it is worth it the investment. Get a good accountant who can advise you on tax etc.
You are a business person as well as a translator, you have got to stand up for yourself and your business.


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:03
German to English
+ ...
Welcome to ProZ! May 18, 2006

Hi, Maryam,

It's a very good thing you found your way here before you got too far along in your freelance career and made a lot more - and maybe worse (expensive) - mistakes.

As Orla said, you seem to have a lot to learn about running a business (we ALL had to start somewhere some time), so take the advice given, and take the time to find your way around the website and learn everything you can!

I've been a translator for a long time, but I learn something every day here, and am very grateful for the helpful and supportive colleagues.

I hope you get your money, good luck.


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MaryamSlayhi
Lebanon
Local time: 14:03
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks for all May 18, 2006

I really feel my heart is moved by the attention of this warm and generous community, many thanks for all advices and I am going to follow them. Thanks for a business KG-1, I have been lucky before not to have obliged to know all that, but this was a first great lesson for me, and I am really going to improve it with this particular agency as well as to hold the simple business ethiquet rules next time. And thanks for kind wishes, I have really got a great support.

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