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Excuses for non/late payment
Thread poster: xxxStrastran
xxxStrastran
France
Local time: 13:42
French to English
+ ...
Apr 22, 2008

Hello

I am just wondering if anyone knows about accountancy procedures as regards payments to translators/interpreters?

The reason I ask is that yet again (for about the fourth time in two years) I have been told 'our accountant is off sick'.
Are accountants prone to illnesses that the rest of us aren't? I am sick and tired of hearing this excuse for late payment.

I have explained to my client that whilst I am sorry that the person is ill, they should have procedures in place to replace that person during illness (you would not think I should have to explain this, really). I also asked if she and her colleagues are getting paid, which was met with a sheepish 'yes...'. Furthermore, surely, if one owes money, one's debtors come first? Payments should be made to them first, a record kept and the adminstrative mess sorted out upon the accountant's return.

Perhaps there are particular accountancy protocols of which I am unaware which preclude payments being made if an accountant is unavailable.

Regards

Patrick


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Ivana Kahle  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 13:42
Member (2007)
German to Croatian
+ ...
Excuses, excuses Apr 22, 2008

In my opinion (and in my experience) this is just an excuse not to pay. The magic words "we have forwarded your invoice to the accountancy" usually mean that your "contact person" is no more in charge of your payment. But he or she will not hesitate to contact your again when it comes to a new job offer. The only way to deal with it is to be persistent and not automatically available for the next job they offer you. The bigger the agency, the greater the risk that your invoice gets stuck somewhere.

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Ana Kübli
Croatia
Local time: 13:42
German to Croatian
+ ...
I agree with Ivana Apr 22, 2008

That's just a sad excuse. Sometimes it's the accountant, sometimes the invoice is not right or something is missing... People always find an excuse not to pay and at the same time, if you are late five minutes with your translation... they are calling after 3 minutes,:-)
Two years ago I made a mistake and agreed to do a translation for shamefully low fee, but at the time, I saw it as a "challenge"- how stupid of me. I bought new dictionary, which was not cheap, I must say, and started working on that translation. The whole project went on for months, first I could not e-mail the translation, because all mails got rejected, then the project manager was replaced by another, than there was a coordinator, but she disappeared within a month- allegedly she got pregnant and left the company, etc. etc. Later on, I found out that this company employed several translators, I think even around 30 or more and nobody got paid. Nobody! And there's nothing we can do about it, the company has some financial difficulties....
So, since than I always "google" the company, check the Blue Board for more information on company. I can't afford to waste time on such translations. It's easy with people whom you meet personally. If they don't pay, they will not get the translation....
I guess- you live, you learn, but it's nicer when you get paid...

Regards,
Ana


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Edwal Rospigliosi  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:42
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Beat this, if you can Apr 22, 2008

There is a big accounting firm in Peru. I worked for them once, and they found a lot of excuses to avoid paying me. The last time I called them, after two months of excuses, they told me that their accountant had just quit, so they needed to get a replacement, rebuild their accounting records and start over again. So, "would you please send us your invoice again?"

You see, this is an ACCOUNTING firm. Serving many big companies and businesses. Members of one of the biggest accounting franchises in the world. And they couldn't get their own accounting right, because they didn't have an accountant to do it. Talking about BS by the truckload!

As soon as I hung the phone I took a cab, went to their offices and, once there, I gave my best imitation of a tantrum in their lobby, in front of their customers, including some foreign visitors, and just when I was about to storm their meeting room, magically a secretary appeared with a hastily hand-filled personal check (they used business printout checks to pay). I took the check, signed the voucher and left.

They never called me again. I wonder why.

Those colleagues who were in our powwows know what firm I'm talking about.

[Editado a las 2008-04-22 19:28]


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Edwal Rospigliosi  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:42
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I just remembered... Apr 22, 2008

What happened many years ago, when I was just starting.

There was this guy who called me for a translation. He introduced himself as coming from an engineering company, showed me his business card, signed a P.O., so I accepted the work. Days later, when he came to pick up the work -printout, no e-mail attachment at those days- he said his final customer wanted to pay on delivery, so he would take the job there and go back with my payment. He signed a voucher, took the translation with him, and I waited for his return.

I was quite näive then, and the guy actually worked for that company -I had called him there one or two times- so I said ok. That was the last time I saw him. For a couple of months I kept calling him, sending messages, etc., without answer. He was never at his office, and when I found him, he gave me a "I will pay you on Monday" excuse.

So, after two months of excuses, I made a solicitor call to the company, but as always, he wasn't at the office. So, he asked for the general manager. When he talked to him, he found out that the manager didn't know what he was talking about. The guy had requested the job for himself, not for the company. The manager didn't like the fact that he used the company name, nor that he was about to get his company in legal troubles (both the PO and the voucher were signed on behalf of the company). So he called the guy to his office, and while we listened, he dressed down the guy and fired him on the spot.

I got my money directly from his last paycheck, and the guy called me a few days later, bitterly complaining about my rudeness, swearing that he had been about to pay me, yes, next Monday.



[Editado a las 2008-04-22 21:13]


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xxxStrastran
France
Local time: 13:42
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Frustrating isn't it... Apr 22, 2008

Thanks for your replies everyone.

I don't think I can beat that story Edwal!

Several factors have made me annoyed about this:

1) The company sent me an email three weeks ago saying 'you will be paid early next week'.

2) Even to get that email, I had to email them myself three times asking what was happening.

3) I had to call them to be told the accountant is off sick. I wouldn't have minded as much if they had been bothered to contact me off their own back to say 'we're sorry, but your payment will be delayed because blah blah'. At least that would have shown some effort and appreciation for the inconvenience.

4) They told me 'we are a small organisation'. In response, I pointed out that if they are still getting THEIR salaries, surely that means someone is doing the payroll? Silence...

I will not be working for them again, but as it was a one-off interpreting job this would be unlikely in any case.

Ho hum!


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Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:42
English to Russian
+ ...
there are some tricks which usually help Apr 23, 2008

In reply to correspondence with reference to an accountant being ill I usually reply that I have contractual relations with the company and not with this person.

Sometimes I call the person in charge of the accounting and based on the previous message exchange with the organization (blaming the 'always ill' accountant for non-payment) blame him/her personally (as it is clear and follows from the correspondence with the company) and try to clarify when and how the accountant will pay me.

There is always a possibility to contact the boss of the ill accountant, or even the boss of the boss. It's impossible everybody is ill there :0)





[Edited at 2008-04-23 07:40]

[Edited at 2008-04-23 07:41]


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:42
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Make a Blue Board entry Apr 23, 2008

Patrick Stenson wrote:

Thanks for your replies everyone.

I don't think I can beat that story Edwal!

Several factors have made me annoyed about this:

1) The company sent me an email three weeks ago saying 'you will be paid early next week'.

2) Even to get that email, I had to email them myself three times asking what was happening.

3) I had to call them to be told the accountant is off sick. I wouldn't have minded as much if they had been bothered to contact me off their own back to say 'we're sorry, but your payment will be delayed because blah blah'. At least that would have shown some effort and appreciation for the inconvenience.

4) They told me 'we are a small organisation'. In response, I pointed out that if they are still getting THEIR salaries, surely that means someone is doing the payroll? Silence...

I will not be working for them again, but as it was a one-off interpreting job this would be unlikely in any case.

Ho hum!


Frustrating indeed. I hope you'll make a Blue Board entry recording this experience, for all our sakes.
It's amazing, isn't it, how often bookkeepers get ill, in spite of the many holidays they seem to take ...
Best wishes,
Jenny


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N.M. Eklund  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:42
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
Pester pester pester Apr 23, 2008

Unless the company goes bankrupt and you can't get in touch with them anymore, pestering is the only thing you can do.

On top of all the standard pestering (write emails, call 2x/week, send registered letter, etc.), I found one solution that worked for me.
In my situation I suspected that I was not taken seriously despite my professional approach. Unfortunately, this sometimes happens with women in the workplace, even though most of the time it's not something done consciously. Anyway, once I realized this, I got a friend (male) to call on my behalf. Having a male voice speaking for me got the payment sent immediately, after months of stringing me along.

But, in the end, I think that just having a third party involved adds psychological pressure. It seems that, just like when you contact a collection agency, the situation takes on a new level importance and the client no longer perceives you as one sole translator working at home, but a business entity requesting payment.


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xxxhazmatgerman
Local time: 13:42
English to German
Prevention instead of cure Apr 23, 2008

Dear colleagues,
before I knew "proz" or had an internet connection my first relatively large project was offered by a technical software company. We had never had any business relationship before so we agreed on the following:
1. Material was provided by company.
2. I made a quote of all-inclusive fixed price and delivery dates based on material and conditions.
3. We agreed on delivery in two installments.
3. We agreed on payment in three equal installments: on signing of contract, on delivery of translation and on fulfilment of contract, i.e. final acceptance of translation by customer.
It worked out fine.
For a large project (large to me, at least) where 4-figure+ sums are involved I'd not do it any other way, for it gives both customer and translator a fair chance at getting satisfactory work and on-time pay, as well as bargaining power should either party underperform.
Hope this snippet is of interest. Any curative remedies - especially legal ones - IMO will severe the relationship for ever.
Regards.


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 14:42
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
My story to the book Apr 23, 2008

I did a few small jobs for an agency in a southern European country and the amount seemed impressive enough (a few hundred euro) to invoice. This country is not as energetic as New-York, and agencies based there prefer paying after 90 days - well, it was about 6 or 7 years ago when I was still learning the procedures.

90 days is quite a long time, and human memory is not 100% reliable, so I discovered the non-paid invoice during spring cleaning of my accounting - at least 5 months after it was issued.

I contacted the agency and received an immediate reply that the person in charge of payments - let's call him Massimo - is off for a vacation and will contact me ASAP when he is back: in 10 days .

3 weeks later I remembered I received no messages from Massimo, so I wrote again asking if he was back from the vacation. Oh yes, they told me, but he's out of the office at the moment, and they would ask him to resolve the issue as soon as he's back: most likely, next morning.

2 weeks later I wrote yet again asking if they were able to tell Massimo about the situation. This time, it was Massimo himself who replied. He sayd he was really sorry about the situation which was completely their fault becase they QUOTE first, forgot to pay, and then, lost the invoice UNQUOTE.

To be fair, Massimo asked that I add 10% to the amount as a compensation for the delay, and the money arrived to my banking acount in two days.

Cheers,
Oleg


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 14:42
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
better excuses Apr 23, 2008

"Our accountant is sick" translated into normal language means "We cannot pay you now".

I have seen other more inventive excuses, like "our accountant got into a car accident", "our boss is on a holiday for 6 weeks", "our accountant is giving a birth" (yes, same excuse twice per year

You delivered your job per agreed deadline? Was someone interested if you were sick or not? Does not matter who is sick, and who is "giving birth" - there was an agreement to pay. Give them a generous, but a strict deadline (say a couple of weeks) and if they do not pay even then, make a BB post.


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xxxStrastran
France
Local time: 13:42
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Apr 24, 2008

Thanks again for your replies - they are all very useful!

I will indeed be making a BB entry, once the mess is sorted out.

It's interesting what you say, N. M., about getting a male colleague to phone on your behalf. This was a conference interpreting job and my colleague that day (female) has suggested that she might do just that. In any case, the two of us are going to pressure them as much as possible!

An interesting part of this situation is that during the conference the organisation gave a detailed presentation of their budget - so we know for a fact that they are rolling in money! I explained as much on the telephone, pre-empting any 'financial difficulties' excuses

I once had another customer tell me that they could not pay me for two months because their accountant had broken her ankle! I did not argue as this was a regular customer I was happy with, and sure enough after two months I received a large lump sum with their apologies.

However, what really annoys me about the 'accountant sick' excuse is that it is designed to make you feel bad about asking to be paid. It is emotional blackmail, nothing less.


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:42
Swedish to English
+ ...
Did she normally use her feet to write cheques? Apr 24, 2008

Patrick Stenson wrote:
I once had another customer tell me that they could not pay me for two months because their accountant had broken her ankle! I did not argue as this was a regular customer I was happy with, and sure enough after two months I received a large lump sum with their apologies.

I managed to keep two of company's sites up-to-date on a day-to-day basis with my right arm broken (and yes, of course, I'm right-handed). But then again, my maths is somewhat lacking...


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