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Do you ask for a partial payment in advance?
Thread poster: xxxtechnospeak
xxxtechnospeak  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:27
English to French
Dec 11, 2008

Hello,

Suppose you are contacted by a company abroad and you have never translated for them (not a big well-known company). Do you ask for a partial payment in advance, say 30 or 50%?

What is your usual practice and on what basis?

Thank you for your help.

Christian


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:27
English to German
+ ...
Yes - 30-40% Dec 11, 2008

Hi Christian,


Suppose you are contacted by a company abroad and you have never translated for them (not a big well-known company). Do you ask for a partial payment in advance, say 30 or 50%?

Doesn't have to be a company abroad, but if the (potential) job involves a serious amount of money, I would require a 30-40% advance payment, with the balance due upon delivery.

HTH, Ralf


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 12:27
French to Spanish
+ ...
In my case... Dec 11, 2008

...I don't ask for advanced payment if the job is under, let's say, USD 500.
(Make an invoice, send it, beeing paid... and the job is already done... a waste of time).
Otherwise, I always receive 60 % in advance, and not only from new clients... from any of them.
In case of a new and not a big well-known company, we know that's dangerous... yes, in your case, I'll ask for 60 % in advance.

Good luck.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:27
Member
English to French
Getting a good feeling about the prospect Dec 11, 2008

Hi Christian,

First of all, I work almost exclusively with agencies or value-added translation resellers, so my experience doesn't include end users. I would probably have another policy with unknown end clients.

I've had a few inquiries-turned-to-deals from unknown prospects who have little Internet visibility and little or no profile/BB on proz.com. I usually don't ask for advance payment because I am not sure that, if I were the prospect, I would accept to send money to an obscure translator I know nothing about apart from a few pages on the Net, however business-like (s)he may sound. There must be social engineering courses out there that describe how to build an fake e-identity, complete with history, behaviour patterns and personal details.

A typical first project where I might not ask for advance payment is worth a few hundred euros. Too much to simply discard it and too little to go under the pan in case the venture turns sour. I also usually invest in a phone call to wherever the prospect states he is. I check whatever I can check on the net and make my decision based on the communication flow with the prospect, how the negociation goes, how interesting the project is, and what I have found out on the net. In all instances where the negociation led to a deal, their projects were mid-sized, ready to be dispatched and with ample deadlines. Too good to be true? They turned out to be interesting experiences, with efficient support and payment as agreed.
I also keep all senses awake while on the job to get a feeling of the interaction with the customer. It's good to have a tricky question about the content in order to gauge how they react, cooperate and assist. This monitoring helps confirm that there will be no trouble. And I make sure I deliver triple-A-grade translations so that they won't have the slightest query to hang on to and leverage to delay payment or request a rebate. In other words, I avoid such thoughts as "what's the point of polishing the piece if I end up not being paid at all for the job?". You're always less willing to pay a painter who did a crappy refresh than somebody who really took the job seriously.

To keep me high and motivated throughout such projects, I repeat to myself that honest people are the norm (at least it was last time I lost my credit card without noticing it), and crooks are much scarcer. Some people will attract the latter whatever they do, and some won't.

In all instances so far, the risk taken has paid off, even more so since some of them have come back and became "regulars".

The only payment default I encountered in 9 years of full-time practice was an established French agency going bankrupt out of the blue with 3700 euros of my accrued invoices in 2001. My 6th sense may be much more acute since then, because it hurt.

Good night,
Philippe


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:27
English to German
+ ...
Risk management Dec 11, 2008


A typical first project where I might not ask for advance payment is worth a few hundred euros. Too much to simply discard it and too little to go under the pan in case the venture turns sour. I also usually invest in a phone call to wherever the prospect states he is. I check whatever I can check on the net and make my decision based on the communication flow with the prospect, how the negociation goes, how interesting the project is, and what I have found out on the net. In all instances where the negociation led to a deal, their projects were mid-sized, ready to be dispatched and with ample deadlines. Too good to be true? They turned out to be interesting experiences, with efficient support and payment as agreed.
I also keep all senses awake while on the job to get a feeling of the interaction with the customer. It's good to have a tricky question about the content in order to gauge how they react, cooperate and assist. This monitoring helps confirm that there will be no trouble. And I make sure I deliver triple-A-grade translations so that they won't have the slightest query to hang on to and leverage to delay payment or request a rebate. In other words, I avoid such thoughts as "what's the point of polishing the piece if I end up not being paid at all for the job?". You're always less willing to pay a painter who did a crappy refresh than somebody who really took the job seriously.

A perfect example of what I call risk management for LSPs. Great!

Cheers,
Ralf


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Depends on the amount Dec 11, 2008

Juan Jacob wrote:
...I don't ask for advanced payment if the job is under, let's say, USD 500.


Indeed. The same here. If the job is under 500-600 euros and not being paid does not put our finance at risk, we do it. For completely unknown companies we always ask them to be paid a 30% of the job in advance if the job is big. The consequence has always been that we were not granted the job, for which we are thankful in a way!


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Cristina Heraud-van Tol  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 13:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never Dec 11, 2008

I just risk it. If it's a very large job, I try to agree to get paid after delivering a batch.

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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 12:27
French to Spanish
+ ...
Never? Dec 11, 2008

Cristina wrote:

"Never.
I just risk it. If it's a very large job, I try to agree to get paid after delivering a batch."

You risk, and you try.

Try something less risky, I should say.


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Cagdas Karatas  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 21:27
English to Turkish
Partial delivery and payment Dec 12, 2008

In such a case, I would prefer delivering part of the project and asking the company to pay for it first. However, it is a well-known truth that most companies (outsourcers) hate not being trusted by translators although it is not a matter of trust but professionalism. On the other hand, a translator's time and labor are too valuable to be put at risk. I recommend that you do your best to safeguard yourself before anything else.

Good luck


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Rahi Moosavi  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:27
Member (2004)
Farsi (Persian) to English
+ ...
I have even charged full payment in advance Dec 12, 2008

Sometime ago I was approached by an agency with quite bad BB, they offered me a job and I asked for full payment up front which they actually accepted and came back with 2 or 3 more jobs later and I again asked for full payment in advance for each one and they did make the payment!! I am going to leave a note on their BB...

Anyway for first time clients, if I can't get hold of any significant background information, I do charge for 50% down payment. Most of them have agreed to this condition so far and we had no problems.


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Penelope Ausejo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
50% to direct clients (firms) Dec 12, 2008

I charge 50% to direct clients (firms) at the time of accepting the estimate and the remaining 50% at the delivery of the job with a 30 day maximum payment period. Direct clients for whom I work on a regular basis have a 30 day after invoice date to pay the full amount.

I don’t like working for individuals. If I do, they have to pay 100% in advance.

“Suspicious” agencies have to also pay me 50% in advance if their 1st job is large. The rest of the agencies have 30 days to pay me upon reception of the invoice.

All my clients have always paid within that period. I only had one Spanish agency not wanting to pay several years ago. They finally paid after some 3 months. I haven't had such an issue again (keep my fingers crossed!).


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 20:27
Turkish to English
+ ...
Good experiences with individuals Dec 12, 2008

Penelope Ausejo wrote:

don’t like working for individuals. If I do, they have to pay 100% in advance.
[...]

[/quote]

I have done quite a few small jobs on credit for individuals, and in every case they have deposited the payment in my account almost immediately following delivery. I wish I could say the same for agencies!


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Penelope Ausejo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
The reason are my rates Dec 12, 2008

The reason I don't like working for individuals is that my rates are, in most cases, too high for them. I usually have more work that I can handle and thus, I don't want to offer them my services at a lower rate.

Tim Drayton wrote:

Penelope Ausejo wrote:

don’t like working for individuals. If I do, they have to pay 100% in advance.

[/quote]

I have done quite a few small jobs on credit for individuals, and in every case they have deposited the payment in my account almost immediately following delivery. I wish I could say the same for agencies! [/quote]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:27
French to English
Do as you would be done by Dec 12, 2008

Is largely my motto for life in general, and so for work as well.

Philippe Etienne wrote:
I usually don't ask for advance payment because I am not sure that, if I were the prospect, I would accept to send money to an obscure translator I know nothing about apart from a few pages on the Net, however business-like (s)he may sound.

Hence this is my attitude, too.

Like Philippe, I do some research and, with a few emails usually being exchanged before final agreement is reached, you get a "feeling" for whether the person is out to rip you off, or is a genuine customer with genuine intentions to pay. Even a simple query such as "what shall I do with the graphics" can be enough to see what kind of person you are dealing with.

And make sure the first job/invoice is a few hundred euros at most.

I admit that the above is mainly looking at the issue from the angle of trust. If I don't trust you to the extent that I need to ask for advance payment, it is probably better if we don't do business.
As the recession/depression starts to kick in, I suppose we do need to consider the angle of perfecly honest and legitimate businesses simply going to the wall.


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