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Making the translator pay all bank charges - a current American practice?
Thread poster: Caro Maucher

Caro Maucher  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:46
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
Sep 3, 2004

Hello all,

after working on and off again for 6 months for an American translation agency, I finally took the time to thouroughly check my Kontoauszüge and noticed - for each transfer, it states 20 USD less than what it said on my invoice. Somewhere further down it says 'less charges', so after checking back with my bank it seems I've been paying the bank charges both on my side (Germany) and theirs.
Now a friend just told me that an American translator who'd worked for her recently actually *offered* she could deduce the bank charges on hr side from his invoice.
I definitely never offered no such thing. Is this the way things are usually handled in the US?
This particular agency already doesn't pay too well for the work I do for them (subtitle translation), but on the other hand, I like the kind of work they offer. However, if I end up paying all the fees, it's really hardly worthwhile any longer.
So how should I react? Politely enquire whether there has been some mistake (haha)? Or hit the table and demand they pay the complete invoice in future, or find somebody else? Or ist this such common practice that I should have known and ought to blame only myself? What would you do?
Thanks so much,
Caro


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:46
English to German
+ ...
Agree in advance Sep 3, 2004

Hi Caro,
This was discussed on numerous occasions (just search for 'bank charges'...) - the answer is that there isn't a standard answer. What I would suggest is to raise the issue with your customer, and to agree in advance who's going to bear the charges, or whether you're going to share them.

What I do when I need to pay outside the EU is that I take my bank's charges - the recipient takes his/her bank's charges.

HTH, Ralf


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ntext  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:46
Partial member
German to English
+ ...
I think they should pay their own bank charges ... Sep 3, 2004

... and you should pay yours, if no other agreements have been made, and if their purchase order doesn't state otherwise.

That said, I have a feeling I know which company you're talking about, they have a reputation for being cheap and probably won't budge.

Other than that ... only you can decide whether your net profit off of these jobs is good enough for you.


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Andrei Albu  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 03:46
English to Romanian
+ ...
It has happened to me, too Sep 3, 2004

Hi, Caro,

This has happened to me as well, with several US companies. I opened a thread not long ago on the practices of a company whose bank allegedly charges up to 100 USD for international wires. I finally gave up working for them, and got the money (it was quite a large amount) through my ProZ.com wallet, with Henry's and Cathy's kind support.

And speaking about the subtitling company - we are probably both working for the same one; they did deduct USD from my invoices, too, as bank charges. On my last project with them, I clearly told them I was expecting to be paid in full, according to the rate that we had agreed per minute of translation. They did pay in full, but I have not worked for them ever since. I only continued working for their UK sister, so I do not know if they changed their practices.

It is difficult, though, to generalise from my limited experience with American companies. Other colleagues may wish to chip in with their own stories.

Best wishes,
Andrei


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Aleksandr Okunev
Local time: 03:46
English to Russian
Yes & kinda no Sep 3, 2004

Ralf Lemster wrote: agree in advance

Yes, yes, I have already been 'taught' to.

Ralf Lemster wrote: there isn't a standard answer.

Being and translating in business for over 10 years I was astonished to know that freelancers' clients do it. Beileve it or not, but willing to switch bank charges onto beneficiary outside his country is a taboo, a sin, bad manners in every country we had partners in.


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Elvira Stoianov  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
Local time: 02:46
German to Romanian
+ ...
The common American practice ... Sep 4, 2004

is to send checks.
I had several clients in the US, and they always sent me checks, even though it's not very practical, because in my country it takes 6 weeks to cash a check. The charges are not very high (1,5% I think), but the waiting period ...
I am surprised you were even offered a wire transfer, because even when checks got lost, my clients preferred to send new checks until it arrived.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:46
Spanish to English
+ ...
I have had these problems too... Sep 5, 2004

...not too often, but enough to now clarify beforehand, with overseas customers, whether EU or other:

1. method of payment

2. who pays charges

I once got a cheque from FR that took THREE months to clear, so no more cheques from outside of ES.

I have also paid hefty bank transfer charges, so I also make it clear that they pay the charges at their end, whatever about my end.


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Caro Maucher  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:46
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Okay, I get the point. Sep 5, 2004

Thanks to everyone for your replies, I really appreciate your help with this.
I reckon we should have agreed on who pays which charges beforehand, but it simply never occured to me that this might be a problem. Everybody else had always paid their charges, and I'd paid mine. Well, one lives and learns!
Since I'm still waiting for payment of one invoice, I'll do what Andrei did and tell them I want full payment, and if they consider this as being 'too expensive', I suppose that's just too bad. Maybe somebody else will have subtitling work for decent rates.

>a taboo, a sin, bad manners in every country we had partners in.
Thanks, Aleksandr, it was good to read that! (c:

Have a good week, everyone!
Caro


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 03:46
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
I can add Sep 5, 2004

that we always take all bank charges on ourselves and never would even think to transfer them to translator. On the other hand, we have had clients who used to transfer all bank charges to us. (Just about a month ago we received a prompt minimal charge payment from one client (few sentences in many languages), about 20 Euros, from which, after the bank took its own, we promptly received 2.00 EURo. We just do not work with such clients more than once anymore.

Uldis


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