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It seems that I paid for working (bounced check)
Thread poster: Claudia Iglesias

Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 01:28
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Jul 23, 2004

Hello

Well, it can happen to anybody and it happened to me.
I was contacted by a US based company for a proofreading job to do during a week-end.
Everything was fine (communication, answers to my questions) until I delivered the files and my invoice.
No acknowledgement saying that they had received them. I had to write again for that, it was OK.
Payment was due within a month. Five weeks later I asked for the delayed payment and they apologized, and assured that they would get back to me with an update.
I had been contacted for that job via a translator who lives in the USA (but I was dealing directly with the client). I asked my friend to call them. I received a check (by the way the amount is only $30), eleven weeks after the job was delivered because of (and thanks to) that call. When I asked for the reason of non payment given to him he said that it seemed that they thought that they would never have any news from me.

I have a local account in dollars with a due date to deposit each month, so I had to wait for some (more) days in order to deposit.
Today I received a call today from my bank. The check was refused and the reason is "UNCOLL/UNAVAIL FUNDS".
I had to pay US $10 for bank fees.

Of course I'm going to contact them again (and I'll give them a new date for paying).
I'd like to know what would be the quickest way to receive a guaranteed payment.
I have a P.O. Box in Miami (I haven't tried it yet), but the same thing can happen again.
In my invoice I stated that there would be a monthly penalty of 1.25 % for late payment but I've never applied it. What do you think, should I apply it?

I'd like to know what would you do if you were in my position.
I'd also like to say clearly here that I'd prefer to offer that money to somebody that I don't know than letting them with it.

The company is in Totowa, New Jersey (just in case a fellow translator can contact them directly).

Thanks for your opinions, I'm absolutely furious.

Claudia

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2004-07-23 20:46]


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Natasa Grubor  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 07:28
Member
English to Serbian
+ ...
Use some not so polite approach Jul 23, 2004

I had the same problem with an agency who always found 1000 excuses and someohow always happen making mistake with my bank account. I sent them bank instruction for several times, and after 2 months when i got furious i sent them unpopular mail.
ie.. i translated text for Phillips company, but got job from translation agency. My mail for the agency was like "you seem very unprofessional, and i will be forced to inform Phillips headquarters in your country about you".
Well... i got money withing 4 days.. but never got a job for that agency again.

Good luck


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 22:28
English to French
+ ...
worth the trouble? Jul 23, 2004

Ola Claudia!
I think you're going to a lot of trouble for 30$.
Why don't you just tell them they're not worth your
time and you're going to tell translators all over the
world (hint-hint) about them, make sure no one ever works
for them again. Reputation is everything in this line of
business.
Suerte!
Sarah


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aivars  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 02:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
Use the next hour to make $30 Jul 23, 2004

I know it's irritating to deal with small time crooks but for that amount I would use my time in something more productive than get involve in chasing them.

Unless you enjoy it of course. 1 in 20 transactions go awry. Have them make a PayPal payment to a contact you have [if you don't, we have. If we collect the money, we'll give it to you in the Buenos Aires Powwow]. A check for $30 to South America is a waste of time.


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Moneybookers or Paypal Jul 23, 2004

With a check of $30 I would have to pay $10 for the banking fee, so it would not make much sense. In such cases my clients outside of Europe agreed to send it via Moneybookers or Paypal.

Because otherwise they would have to pay the banking fee (check or transfer) or I would reject the job.
But I do accumulate small amounts until end of month.


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:28
I agree with Sarahl Jul 24, 2004

sarahl wrote:

Ola Claudia!
I think you're going to a lot of trouble for 30$.
Why don't you just tell them they're not worth your
time and you're going to tell translators all over the
world (hint-hint) about them, make sure no one ever works
for them again. Reputation is everything in this line of
business.
Suerte!
Sarah


I know how horrible it feels to be cheated like this, but the more time you spend trying to get your money back, the more money you will spend. I would just make sure the agency is on the Blue Board (along with your comments), and in any other list where translators all over can find out about them and their despicable practices!


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:58
English to Tamil
+ ...
How about certified banker's cheque? Jul 24, 2004

In our place we call it demand draft. This is how it works. I have my best client in New Delhi, whereas I live in Chennai, more than 2000 km away. For my bills he takes a demand draft from his bank in New Delhi making it payable in that bank's branch in Chennai. In this context he pays the money to his bank at Delhi and they give him a demand draft, which is actually the bank's own cheque, payment of which is guaranteed in Chennai. I get the DD in Chennai through registered post and deposit it in my bank, not necessarily the customer's bank. My bank presents it in local clearance and credits the amount to my account free of cost. Demand draft costs money and the client pays it as I make it clear to him that my payment is to be made for the full bill amount in Chennai. A demand draft costs only a small percentage of the dd amount, say for Rs.10,000 one has to pay Rs. 100. And there is no question of dd bouncing or the client stopping the payment once I get the dd in my place.

I fail to see why it is not possible internationally. For example there are many foreign banks having branches in our city, say Deutsche Bank. This bank is sure to have branches all over Europe and the USA. More often than not, even the client's local bank may have a branch in my place. He goes and takes banker's cheque payable in Chennai, India and sends it to me by international courier. He can even specify my account number in the payee's column of the banker's cheque to discourage pilferage.

I have posed this query more than onec in the proz threads but till now nobody replied to this suggestion. Claudia, I think you will be an exception and reply to this point. After all India was a British colony and this Indian practice is sure to have been inherited from the UK. I suggest you ask your banker before replying.

Regards,
N.Raghavan


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:28
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Charge financial costs Jul 24, 2004

There is an accounting item under which you can collect costs for returned financial instruments. How you are supposed to apply/collect it depends on your country. Please clarify, but in practice those $10 are to be paid by the client.

Please note that this is separate from interests/penalties.

[Edited at 2004-07-24 01:31]


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Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:28
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why should one have any consideration with such type of agencies? Jul 24, 2004

Hola Claudia,

Us, translators, work in good faith. Why do you hesitate in applying your rate for late payment to someone who has not corresponded to that good faith-based, hard, high-quality work of yours, or taking any further action? Use the Blue Board and, just like sarahl says, tell the world about that agency. You can lose 30 (more) bucks but they can lose their reputation, if they have any good one. It is irritating that agencies like that one demand high standards (which is not a problem for translators) and tight deadlines, but when it comes to payment don't correspond accordingly. Shame on them!

Elías



[Edited at 2004-07-24 01:43]


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Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:28
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
it's the principle that counts Jul 24, 2004

I had an agency try to get away with not paying a measly $15 one time. It didn't take a lot of time or trouble to email them and let them know specifically where (what lists, sites) I would be "helping" their reputation. I had a check two days later.

You should charge them the $30 plus interest plus the $10 fine and make it clear that you will be sharing this information as widely as possible if you don't receive payment via express mail (or whatever way you choose).

If all ttranslators started saying, oh it's just a small amount of money, I don't have time to chase this, just imagine...


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davidgreen
German to English
could be a federal offense Jul 24, 2004

I've heard that writing a bad check for work performed is considered "theft of services" which is a federal offense in the US (similar to pumping gas and driving away without paying).

Although the amount is smaller than "larceny" it's much more serious than say, for example, shoplifting a television.

You might check into the veracity of this, and I think you should certainly charge late fees, the $10 bank fees and instruct them to deposit cash into your bank (they just have to go to a local branch of your bank).

I'm a big fan of following things like this through regardless of the amount (the principle is worth some time, isn't it?).

Good luck,
dave


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Lesley Clayton
France
Local time: 07:28
French to English
+ ...
Bounced cheque Jul 24, 2004

It seems to me that if they haven't got $30 in their bank account, then they're in very serious financial trouble - remember, the cheque bounced!

I think you will have to kiss goodbye to that money, but it might just be worth a little e-mail saying that as their financial situation appears to be so dire, could they please give you the details of who is handling their liquidation so you can add yourself to their list of creditors. It's a long shot, but it just may frighten them into paying you rather than being thought of as going into bankruptcy.

I think the fact that they sent you a cheque, even though it bounced, is an acknowledgment in itself that they owe you this money.


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xxxchance
French to Chinese
+ ...
They are not going to pay you. Jul 24, 2004

Don't waste your time but input your comments in Blueboard.

Have a nice week end, Claudia


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Giacomo Camaiora  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:28
English to Italian
+ ...
I agree with Sarah too! Jul 24, 2004

Rosa Maria Duenas Rios wrote:

sarahl wrote:

Ola Claudia!
I think you're going to a lot of trouble for 30$.
Why don't you just tell them they're not worth your
time and you're going to tell translators all over the
world (hint-hint) about them, make sure no one ever works
for them again. Reputation is everything in this line of
business.
Suerte!
Sarah


.... I would just make sure the agency is on the Blue Board (along with your comments), and in any other list where translators all over can find out about them and their despicable practices!



It isn't worth wasting your time on it, and enter the necessary comments on the Blueboard.

Giacomo


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 01:28
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you very much for your answers, comments, support... Jul 24, 2004

Hello

Yesterday I was so furious that I sent a message to them before seeing all your answers, and I gave them 3 days (until Wednesday) to deposit the amount of $ 40 (I added the financial costs Ceci) in a US account (I didn’t add the late payment penalties, Elías).

Today I read carefully your answers. I think that we can look for the lesson and the positive face of things, and here’s the first one:

Thanks to David Green I know now that a bounced check in these conditions is classified as “theft of services” (under the “theft” chapter). For the amount we’re talking about (>20 and < 500 dollars) it would be a “Class B” misdemeanor.

http://www.tncrimlaw.com/TPI_Crim/11_02.htm
Theft of services
"Services" includes [labor] [skill] [professional service] [transportation] [telephone] [mail] [gas] [electricity] [steam] [water] [cable TV] [other public services] [accommodations in hotels, restaurants or elsewhere] [admissions to exhibitions] [use of vehicles or other movable property].3
[...]
Promising performance includes issuing a check or similar sight order for the payment of money or use of a credit or debit card when the person knows the check, sight order, or credit or debit slip will not be honored for any reason].4

4 Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-11-106(a)(6)(A).
*******************************************************************************

http://www.texaspolicecentral.com/title_7.html#31.04.%20Theft%20of%20service

[/Quote]


I think that it can scare a client whenever you tell him:
“You can be found guilty of a misdemeanor: theft of services”.

Lesley Clayton, I’ll keep your suggestion (ask for the details of who is handling their liquidation so I can add myself to their list of creditors) for next week whenever I don’t receive the payment.

Answer to Sarahl, aivars, Rosa, Tayfun (second post), chance and Giacomo and to those who mention bank fees

Of course you’re right and we agree on the fact that the amount is so small that any action against them wouldn’t be worth (it would cost more than that). But as Elizabeth and Dave say, it’s a question of principle. Aivars, thank you very much for your offer, I think I found a solution (a US bank account) although we don’t know whether they are going to use it.
If I did what you suggest (use the next hour to make $30), I’d have the feeling of being working for them again, trying to compensate that lost. I prefer to use it against them, even if I lose more money. And there’s a problem. I’m so furious that I can’t do anything else than thinking about it.
As I said, I prefer to offer that money. That’s why I don’t mind charges for PayPal or transfer in the case they pay. If one of you says that on Monday he’ll be at their office and won’t leave without those $40, I’ll tell him, please, go and spend them as you want.
Several translators among you seem to consider that it’s normal to have from time to time a client who doesn’t pay. It’s not normal and we don’t have to get used to that.
To all those who mention the Blue Board: Of course I’m going to rate them. They are not a translation agency, they are an advertising company. But the names rated in the BB can also be found with Google, so anyone looking for them can see that there’s something written about them there.

teacher212, I hope that my message was clear enough, but I just could threaten them with making public their behavior.

Harry: my bank charges nothing for a US check, that’s why I accept that kind of payment. For US clients it’s very easy, and I suppose that bounced checks are not that common. (Am I wrong?)

Raghavan (thanks for your trusting comment): when I went to the bank to recover the check I asked what could I do. I remembered that in France you can ask the bank to keep the check ready until there’s enough money in the account.
The face of the employee showed that either it was difficult or he didn’t know very well what to do, but he mentioned a mean, and that it costs money. On that moment I wasn’t able to see things clearly, so I didn’t ask for more information.
What you’re talking about is called a certified check here. We use it (among others) when we buy something and the transaction must be done in front of a notary (buy a car for instance). It’s a check given by the bank that has blocked that money. It offers the guarantee of the bank. I’m sure that this kind of checks exists everywhere, and I also believe like you that internationally it must be possible. I’ll ask next time I go to the bank.

Thank you very much.

Claudia


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