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Tips to avoid not getting paid
Thread poster: Marion Schimmelpfennig

Marion Schimmelpfennig  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:18
Member (2003)
English to German
Nov 9, 2004

Hi all,

I have been a freelance writer/translator since 1991 - thus have a fair experience also with money matters - and thought that some of you might be interested in how I make sure that I always get paid. It goes without saying that I learned this the hard way!

1) I always insist on a written purchase order, be it by mail or fax or whatever.

2) I make sure I have all address details of the client first and know how to contact them.

3) I try to check their credibility by checking the Blueboard on Proz.com and/or asking colleagues and/or checking with other blacklists available. I also do a short internet search to see what comes up (you would be surprised what can come up!)

4) Before aceepting a job of a new client, I tell them that the first job of a new client has to be paid IN ADVANCE. If they are serious, they will have no problem with that. This is especially important with foreign clients as lodging an appeal in a foreign country is both difficult and costly. If the job is urgent and the money would only arrive after the deadline, I insist on a bank transfer statement of their bank via fax or email. Again, if they are serious, this does not pose a problem.

5) If you break the above rules (and you shouldn't!) or if an existing client does not pay (don't wait too long; six or more weeks is too long in my humble point of view), I threaten to contact their clients to tell them about their business practices (works fine with translation agencies) or I threaten to post the incident on the internet. This works usually much faster and is less expensive/time-consuming than assigning a lawyer. I would do all this, of course.

So far, this has worked fine for me. Maybe some of you have more tips?


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 03:18
English to German
+ ...
very interesting Nov 9, 2004

Hi! I was just now reading something similar here - http://www.proz.com/howto/30 . I find this site great in many respects, it really helps one not only in translation business but in many other ways as well.
Rgds,
Brandis


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:18
English to German
+ ...
Not much to add... Nov 9, 2004

...except for a few technical details, but that's beside the point.

Thanks for posting this...
So far, this has worked fine for me. Maybe some of you have more tips?

...I wish more translators would heed this advice. Jobs moderators would have less work if they did.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Marina Ferro
Local time: 03:18
English to Italian
+ ...
I wish Nov 9, 2004

I could apply rule 3 on my customers, helas, they would not accept it...

I'm glad you work with decent people!

Marina

ehr... I meant rule 4 of course, the one about advance payment. Please, excuse me, the flu is having the best of me

[Edited at 2004-11-10 08:45]


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Maria Luisa Duarte  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:18
English to Portuguese
+ ...
to be paid IN ADVANCE Nov 9, 2004

[quote]Marion Schimmelpfennig wrote:



4) Before aceepting a job of a new client, I tell them that the first job of a new client has to be paid IN ADVANCE. If they are serious, they will have no problem with that. This is especially important with foreign clients as lodging an appeal in a foreign country is both difficult and costly. If the job is urgent and the money would only arrive after the deadline, I insist on a bank transfer statement of their bank via fax or email. Again, if they are serious, this does not pose a problem.


Dear Marion!

I think your posting makes a lot of sence! But payment in advance may work in Germany, never in Spain. Anyway I've never been paid up front, an advance yes but never in full.

Best wishes
MLD.


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 03:18
French to English
Advance payment is a tough one, though! Nov 9, 2004

I have yet to work with a customer in France that would agree to this!

Cheers,

Sara


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Marion Schimmelpfennig  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:18
Member (2003)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
your experience with payment? Nov 9, 2004

Sara Freitas-Maltaverne wrote:

I have yet to work with a customer in France that would agree to this!

Cheers,

Sara


Hi Sara,

Thanks for your comment. So what is your experience in France? Many (new) clients who are "reluctant" or non-payers?


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 03:18
French to English
2 years in business and no outstanding invoices yet! Nov 9, 2004

I *have* had to report an outsourcer to Proz for non-payment of an invoice (which they then paid), but other than that, no problems.

I just try to use common sense.

I also work without PO's for long-standing customers on regular jobs. Bad idea, I know, but no problems yet, and I have a hard time imagining asking for a PO for each and every tiny job.

If I feel that there is a risk or if I have a "bad feeling" I simply turn down the job. Makes life much easier!!

Your tips are excellent, though, and a good idea for those who want to ensure zero risk.

Regards,

Sara


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Marion Schimmelpfennig  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:18
Member (2003)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
separating the wheat from the chaff Nov 9, 2004

mauina wrote:

I could apply rule 3 on my customers, helas, they would not accept it...

I'm glad you work with decent people!

Marina


Mauina, that's exactly what I aim to do: working only with decent people, thus separating the wheat from the chaff. I understand that it might be difficult in other countries to apply this rule (I think you meant no. 4), but if you all agree to existing practice, nothing will ever change...

How about contacting all the colleagues in your country that you know (or can get to know through Proz.com) and convincing as many of them to try out advance payment for the first job?


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Russell Gillis  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:18
Spanish to English
Advance payment: a great idea, but in practice... Nov 9, 2004

Hello,

I first want to say that I completely agree on getting advance payment, but the problem is getting this to actually happen!

I think if you have done step 3 properly (agency/client has an excellent reputation), there really shouldn't be a need for step 4, or advance payment. I think step 4 would be the logical choice when you can't find out anything about the agency/client.

I have only asked for advances on two occasions, and that was because they were larger projects. With good agencies, it can be a bit insulting to them if you are demanding payment up front.

Otherwise, this is great advice!

Thanks!

Russell


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:18
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Payment in advance Nov 9, 2004

I'm with M. L. Duarte. Payment in advance in the Spanish State is an unknown concept, and in fact it is tough persuading some direct customers to lay off the standard industry 90-day rule for suppliers.

I would be surprised if anyone agreed to it around here, and companies can be as serious as you like, but can still find another translator immediately, precisely because it would never occur to the other translator to ask for immediate payment. Kind of sad, when you think you can't pull that kind of stunt with late-night electricians and plumbers, but hey.

Mervyn Henderson


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:18
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Payment in advance (2) Nov 9, 2004

Somebody I know offers 10% discount for prompt payment, so your customer feels good about getting something a little cheaper, and it works fine, he says. I don't know if you could work this for immediate payment.

Yes, it might seem a bit of a cop out, undercharging, but wait, there's more, I have refined this a little ...

When a new customer asks for a rate, you can mentally add on that 10% to what you would normally charge this customer, tell them the inflated rate, and just as they're saying What the hell are you saying, you tell them you can chop off 10% for quicker payment. The theory is good, and I intend to move forward to the practice stage with the very next new customer.

Can it be that simple? Is there something I've missed?

Mervyn


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 03:18
English to German
+ ...
There is yet another practice in Germany I know Nov 9, 2004

Here it is - bills can be discounted at 3% on 10 days and 30 days net.
Rgds,Brandis


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:18
Flemish to English
+ ...
From 90 days to immediate payment. Nov 10, 2004

An encrypted password on a delivered translation made a customer who had the "habit" of paying after 90 days, run to the bank and pay the invoice immediately.
An agency I know off devides large volumes into parts and requires payment after delivery of every part. Healthy policy.
90 days is out. European rules say : 30 days or you may add the interest rate of the ECB + a % to your invoice.
If you are too lenient, you will have to wait for payment until you have to take Ryanair to pick up the check at the door of certain agencies.


[Edited at 2004-11-10 08:16]


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 03:18
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Yes, it's that simple Nov 10, 2004

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

Can it be that simple? Is there something I've missed?



Yes, it is that simple. I studied business administration, and pricing and discounts was just one of the things we covered. You calculate in that extra percentage when pricing your job. It's all to do with what they call "supplier credit"... Basically what it comes down to is that you are giving your customer a loan for the amount of the invoice until that invoice is paid. So that percentage that you add to your invoice is the interest for the period of that supplier loan.

Don't see it as a discount!

HTH

Alison


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