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90-day payment policy - what should I do?
Thread poster: Carmen Iulia Ciumarnean
Carmen Iulia Ciumarnean
Local time: 18:15
Romanian to Italian
+ ...
Sep 18, 2008

Hello everyone,

I work with a foreign agency in Italy and I have translated for them 3 projects. They sent me their payment agreement :"Payment done 90 days from the invoice". I have asked the project managers about it and they directed me to the administrative department...I have written an e_mail and no answer about the payment...still, one of their project managers called me and told me he has another big project for me (about 170 pages). What should I do?...I gues it is very strange that I continue translating for them and maybe not get paid...and I translate big projects, not projects of 10-20 pages...The payment for the three projects I have already done is due to December...but how can I be sure I get paid?...And they, meanwhile, keep sending me big projects...can anyone advise me?

Thanks and good night all,
Carmen

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-09-18 21:34]


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briski  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:15
Italian to French
+ ...
Hello Carmen Sep 18, 2008

Ufortunately, here in Italy this procedure is quite "normal".
But I would anyway advise you to check BB of proz...if they are not on it, I would start thiking if going onwards or not....

You have two choices:
1) either you decide that this is a serious firm and that you can trust them and you decide to keep on working for them

OR (which is the option that I would suggest if they don't have any BB record)

2) wait until December before you accept any other work for them, especially because you say that they propose big workloads.

You have another option for the case you are asking advise: you might ask them, since it is a big workload, to pay you part of the job in advance (don't know how much..maybe 30%??) and if they don't accept... I am sure you will do the best choice: wait until December or refuse!

Unfortunately, my experience with Italian firm paying after 90 days wasn't positive...they owe me more that 1500 euros that I will never see...but maybe you will be luckier!


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:15
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I would pass Sep 18, 2008

I would pass on this job. At around 300 words per page, it would take you at least one month to complete this job during which time you would not be able to accept any other jobs. Then, you will not get paid for three months after that. Can you survive for four months with no income?

You should never have to wait longer than 30 days for payment. If the company does not have enough money in their accounts to pay for the job, then they should not accept it.

Freelance translators are not banks lending credit! If only we would get some self-esteem as a group and realize how valuable our services are, grow a backbone and stop accepting ridiculous and undignified rates and terms, perhaps companies would stop these insulting offers.

Carmen Iulia Ciumarnean wrote:

Hello everyone,

I work with a foreign agency in Italy and I have translated for them 3 projects. They sent me their payment agreement :"Payment done 90 days from the invoice". I have asked the project managers about it and they directed me to the administrative department...I have written an e_mail and no answer about the payment...still, one of their project managers called me and told me he has another big project for me (about 170 pages). What should I do?...I gues it is very strange that I continue translating for them and maybe not get paid...and I translate big projects, not projects of 10-20 pages...The payment for the three projects I have already done is due to December...but how can I be sure I get paid?...And they, meanwhile, keep sending me big projects...can anyone advise me?

Thanks and good night all,
Carmen

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-09-18 21:34]


[Edited at 2008-09-18 22:35]


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
I would not accept Sep 18, 2008

Hi Carmen,

I am Italian and have worked with agencies which paid after 90 days in the past (actually only one), but only because they gave me incredibly interesting and prestigious jobs, and I felt repaid for the time I had to wait for payment. But at least I always knew in advance that my client would pay.

Seeing that you did not get paid until now, I would tell them that they pay first what they already owe you and then probably I would consider the possibility to continue the cooperation.

Generally speaking, I tend to avoid clients with these payment practice. If everybody did so, they would eventually change them!


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
You're a translator, not a moneylender Sep 19, 2008

European law establishes 30 days as the norm for payment of invoices. Three times the normal limit isn't a payment policy: it's a loan.

[Edited at 2008-09-19 00:47]


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Tina Colquhoun  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:15
Danish to English
+ ...
Spot-on advice to all translators Sep 19, 2008

>Freelance translators are not banks lending credit! If only we would get some self-esteem as a group and realize how valuable our services are, grow a backbone and stop accepting ridiculous and undignified rates and terms, perhaps companies would stop these insulting offers.<

Couldn't agree more, Jeff.

Tina


[Edited at 2008-09-19 01:03]


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 13:15
English to Spanish
... Sep 19, 2008

Hi Carmen,

I agree with Steven: 90 days is a loan, not a payment policy.

Still, in the end, it's up to you to decide if you can handle waiting 3 months for your money or if other aspects of the job make it worthwhile, like Giuseppina said. Jeff makes a really important point as well, suggesting that you consider your cashflow while you wait.

What I don't clearly understand from your posting is if you knew about their 90-day payment policy before doing the first projects??? It seems to me that you didn't and that it caught you by surprise, since you have e-mailed them afterwards to inquire about your payment. Did they one-sidedly change the agreed payment terms??

Greetings

[Edited at 2008-09-19 01:34]


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 17:15
English to German
+ ...
charge interest.. Sep 19, 2008

Hi! I have been watching this tendency 60 days sometimes 90 days and after that people just forget about you. Charge interest and take a retainer, stay in the memory. BR Brandis

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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:15
Partial member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
No way Sep 19, 2008

I live in Italy, translate into Italian but I don't work for Italian agencies which pay after 90 days. It takes all motivation from me. In addition, it's 90 days from the end of the month of the invoice, so 90 days can easily become 120 days.
I think it's simply nonsense to wait for so long.

Laura


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K Donnelly  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:15
Italian to English
+ ...
Don't accept any more work... Sep 19, 2008

I also work with Italian agencies, but the payment terms are generally 60 days or 45 days, never 90 days. It also seems unusual that they are entrusting such large projects to you when you have only just started working with the agency. As for actually receiving payment, in my experiece Italian companies often pay late, so you might be waiting much longer than 90 days, if you are paid at all. It is much better to start a relationship with a new agency slowly, and make sure that you are happy with their payment practices before accepting large amounts of work.

-Karla


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Esther Lavedrine
France
Local time: 17:15
French to English
Doesn't surprise me Sep 19, 2008

I work with a number of translation agencies in France and most of the time, they have a 60-day-end-of-the-month payment period. The shortest one I have encountered is a 45-day-twice-monthly payment policy.
I wouldn't worry if your agency is reliable. It's true the payment period is long but you just have to manage your cashflow carefully.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:15
Italian to English
+ ...
90 days Sep 19, 2008

I work mainly with Italian agencies, and I'd say about half of them pay at 90 days, most of the rest at 60 and a couple at 30 or less. It is unfortunately fairly standard practice here in Italy, and for all the talk of "don't put up with it" and "we're translators, not moneylenders!" it will probably stay that way. It's not something that bothers me particularly. Once you've built up your client base and have work coming in regularly, you also have money coming in regularly.
I'm more concerned about the rate than the payment terms. I've been approached by agencies who boast that they pay immediately after delivery but will only offer 10 Euros a page - thanks, but no thanks... Of course, the ideal situation is to find clients who pay good rates with good payment terms.

I certainly wouldn't say that a payment practice of 90 days is an automatic sign of suspicion. However, I'd agree that with a new agency it's a good idea to wait until they've paid you for smaller jobs before you embark on a big project with them - that's just good business sense.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:15
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Credit control Sep 19, 2008

I'd be inclined not to accept further work from this agency until you've been paid for the jobs you've already done. I got caught once by a "60-day payer" agency in France - never really 60 days, I had to fight for every invoice - and later the firm went bankrupt, leaving many translators unpaid.
I'd explain to them politely, when turning down the offered job, that I operate a credit control policy, especially with new clients, and that I can't have more than € XXX outstanding. I believe it's perfectly normal business practice.
They might even agree to settle what they already owe you sooner, just to keep you on their books.
Best of luck, anyway,
Jenny.


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Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:15
French to English
60 / 90 days is typical in Europe Sep 19, 2008

I'm in the minority here....

These are typical, rather standard payment terms for many types of businesses in Europe. Freelancers are not employees that get paid at the end of the month, why shouldn't we follow standard business practices? As Marie-Hélène points out, it's a question of managing your cash-flow.

Whether a company pays at 30, 60 or 90 days does not say anything about how serious they are ... other, more important factors should be considered when deciding whether or not to accept more work (or any work at all).


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
14 or 30 days, or even immediately after delivery Sep 19, 2008

Lori Cirefice wrote:

60 / 90 days is typical in Europe

I think that 30 days is standard in Europe, at least in Germany (i.e. for translations into German), if no other payment target is agreed, 30 days is assumed.


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