Exact time of invoicing
Thread poster: Jacques DP

Jacques DP  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 09:04
Member (2003)
English to French
Mar 31, 2008

Hi there!

When I accept a job, there is a delivery deadline. Just before the deadline, I deliver my translation and send my invoice. (Nothing very strange so far I guess!!)

Now, with some clients, there is one or more post-delivery check(s) to do. I can be asked to do a post-layout check, or check suggestions from a reviewer, or even integrate in the TM (for future projects) some "final modifications" made by the client, which can reach me until one month after delivery or even later.

I don't mind doing such post-delivery checks, as they contribute to the excellence of the end result, and are quickly done anyway.

The point here is that I have always invoiced such clients at delivery time, and then proceeded to any checks (which I had agreed to do) whenever they submitted the documents to me.

But now a new client refused my invoice and asked me to wait for the completion of the post-delivery check to invoice them. I told them I was not expecting that, they replied I should have; that these checks were part of my service and therefore I could only invoice them when the checks were done.

I have two problems with this:

1. A post-delivery check typically takes 1/100 or less of the time needed by the translation itself. So it seems a bit artifical to have the whole payment delayed just for this.

2. Since I am waiting for the client to submit whatever document they want me to check, I am penalized by the time THEY take to complete their process, which I have no control on. I can easily imagine situations in which invoicing will be delayed for weeks and I will have to "beg" the client for accepting my invoice or accept to be paid 2 months after delivery rather than 1 month because of this.

Of course we can just talk about it and agree more precisely on when the invoicing occurs.

But I was curious to know about your own practices in this matter

Thanks,

Jacques

[Edited at 2008-03-31 21:46]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 10:04
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
You decide Mar 31, 2008

Its a bad sign if someone refuses your invoice on such grounds. I would suppose they just want to prolong payment. Its up to you when you send the invoice.
I invoice End of Month for regular clients. Post translation checks can come months later. If they require more time than a few minutes I invoice seperately on an hourly base. Mostly they involve opening a pdf, reading it carefully for misspellings and wrong hyphenation and drawing up a report, no minor tasks at all.

Regards
Heinrich


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ChrisGT  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:04
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
Diddo for me! Mar 31, 2008

Heinrich said it all and that's what I do also.

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:04
English to French
+ ...
Request a post-delivery check deadline Apr 1, 2008

How about you tell your clients that, for obvious reasons, you cannot remain available for such post-delivery tasks indefinitely, and request that they submit any such tasks to you within a reasonable delay? Also tell them that you will invoice on the date when the final job is delivered, regardless of any other tasks they may have for you once the work is delivered.

What I am wondering about here is why you agree to work on these tasks at all. I wouldn't, unless it was part of the main PO and with a timeframe agreed upon beforehand. I have had similar experiences in the past, and not only does this delay the payment, but it can potentially disrupt you business activities with other clients. How can you even have a schedule and organize your workday when you have clients sending you stuff, let's say, two weeks later, when you happen to be working on a document for another client with a stressful deadline?

If some of your clients really require this method, why not invoice them separately for the post-delivery tasks? This way, you get paid for the bulk of the work on time and their accounting is easier to handle for them, too.


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xxxinge van dri
Local time: 09:04
German to Dutch
+ ...
My opinion Apr 1, 2008

In the country where I live, invoicing at the same time as the translation would be perceived as: "I did the work and now must be paid immediately", as a kind of lack of trust, and not very polite. But maybe this is cultural. Besides, my "invoicing department" doesn't work at the same time as my "production department".

I do as Heinrich, I invoice once per month for regular clients (I prefer making 8 or 10 invoices per month instead of 50), and I do all my paperwork on saturdays.

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

How about you tell your clients that, for obvious reasons, you cannot remain available for such post-delivery tasks indefinitely, and request that they submit any such tasks to you within a reasonable delay? Also tell them that you will invoice on the date when the final job is delivered, regardless of any other tasks they may have for you once the work is delivered.

There is also something like client service. But after invoicing, new tasks, even post-delivery, are new translations, and if they take longer than, say, five or ten minutes, require a new purchase order. Another reason to do your invoices at the end of the month, this is clear for the client.


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:04
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Post-delivery checks/editing to be charged separately Apr 1, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
If some of your clients really require this method, why not invoice them separately for the post-delivery tasks? This way, you get paid for the bulk of the work on time and their accounting is easier to handle for them, too.


I fully agree, Viktoria. Such activities should always be charged separately (on an hourly basis if no significant new translation volume is involved) once they exceed a certain pre-defined timeframe, say, one week after delivery of the initial assignment. Do try to negotiate such a provision with your customer(s).

On a related note, I see nothing wrong at all with sending invoices directly with the job, or shortly (a day or two) thereafter. I am running a business, after all (isn't this what we're all doing?), and must keep my cash flows tightly under control. But I guess there is more than one way to handle this...

Steffen


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:04
English to French
+ ...
Cultural differences aside... Apr 1, 2008

van driel wrote:

In the country where I live, invoicing at the same time as the translation would be perceived as: "I did the work and now must be paid immediately", as a kind of lack of trust, and not very polite.



That may be so, but I also hear that in your country, "normal" payment terms such as 30 days net are practically non existent. I hear it is more like 60 or even 90 days from the invoice date. Now, if you factor in the fact that many of those clients actually pay at a certain date after the payment term expires (like 15th of the month AFTER the 60 days are up) and the fact that invoicing right away is considered to be rude, I believe it is then safe to assume that people in your neck of the woods consider it rude if you don't extend credit to them for three or four months, without even charging interest. It would then seem they consider it rude if you don't let them use your money to make more money...

I am just mentioning this to remind you, and others, that this is business. The people you deal with do not have to like you and you don't have to like them - but they do have to respect your business just like you need to respect theirs. There is a neat term to describe this concept - it is called business ethics. If the practices overseas are that bad, it may be because too many freelancers let the clients have their way for too long, don't you think? I read somewhere on this forum that in France, it is actually illegal to pay past 30 days from the invoice date according to EU regulations. It is the freelancers who do not enforce these legal provisions, it seems. It sounds a lot like submission... Why would your accounts receivable be of less importance than your clients' accounts receivable?

[Edited at 2008-04-01 09:47]


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Jacques DP  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 09:04
Member (2003)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all, and some comments Apr 1, 2008

Thank you all for your sensible and interesting comments and advice.

I realize that I used to treat post-delivery checks as part of "after-sale service" (this after-sale service being agreed upon at negociation time and taken into account for fixing the price).
But since such after-sale service is not really a standard practice in this business, this opens some room for misunderstanding.

In fact, one of the reasons why my client had a problem with my invoice sent at delivery time may be that he feared I would not feel responsible any more for the post-delivery checks I had agreed to do...

To answer briefly Viktoria's questions, I would say that the post-delivery checks are usually quickly done, and that though they are requested at unexpected times, I am not obliged to do them immediately, and I usually send them the next day or so, when I find a moment for doing them. So they don't disrupt my business too much. And anyway, as I said: I take them into account when fixing my rate.

It would definitely be cleaner to charge them separately, but this is not always very practical, for various reasons, and I think my current clients like the way we operate.

The new client has now accepted my invoice (as originally sent), but I still need to make things clear for the future. I will finish this project to see how it turns out and make some proposal based on our reflections. Thanks again.


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