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Payment during the first calendar quarter
Thread poster: Astrid Elke Witte

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:36
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Feb 26, 2005

I have been translating for seven years, but only as a freelancer since the beginning of this year. Since the beginning of January I have had what might be termed an extremely healthy number of orders - but now it transpires that nobody wants to pay for the translations I did in January!

The strangest part about it is that I tend only to work for agencies who have been unanimously graded a 5 on the Blue Board. I have just looked at a half-dozen or so of these entries again. All the translators who have commented on these agencies swear that they pay on time. I assume on time to mean about a month later.

Do I have to believe that people are grading agencies with bad payment practices a 5, just in order to get further work from them? Or is it a fact, that everybody except me knows, that agencies simply do not pay anyone in the first quarter of the year? I have noticed this habit to some extent in previous years, but was not a full-time freelancer at the time.

Are no translators ever paid by agencies during the first calendar quarter?


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Lindsay Sabadosa  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:36
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Have you contacted the agencies? Feb 26, 2005

I haven't had that problem so far (thank goodness!). I can only assume it has something to do with the agencies you worked with. Are they steady clients or new clients? If they are steady clients, send them an e-mail to ask what's going on (in light of the fact that they've always paid before). If they are new clients and you maybe only did one or two projects for each, it could just be a silly misunderstanding. I once had a client type my PayPal address incorrectly. I sent him an e-mail saying that I knew he had a great BlueBoard rating so I was concerned that I had yet to be paid. We figured out the problem and I was paid immediately. In other cases, there have been similiar issues (misplaced invoice usualy) but I've always (knock on wood!) been paid as soon as I asked what was going on. If there are all rated well on the BlueBoard there is a good chance that things will work out. Remember, though, that most US agencies pay within 30 days but my clients in Europe tend to pay after 45 or even 60 days. So doule-check what their terms of payment are. In any case, good luck and happy translating!

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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 17:36
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
What payment terms did you agree with them? Feb 26, 2005

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Are no translators ever paid by agencies during the first calendar quarter?


That would be a new one on me!

What payment terms did you agree with the agencies? Some agencies take up to three months to pay their invoices. Also, if you worked for them in early January, but didn't actually send them your invoice until the end of January, then that will also delay payment.

Why not phone the project managers and ask when you can expect to receive payment.

HTH

Alison


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Graciela Carlyle  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
don't asume, ask Feb 26, 2005

Hi Astrid,

My normal procedure with a new client is firstly look through all payment practices lists for details, if the rating is good conversation goes on and I agree with them all the conditions of the job, including terms of payment (which for first time clients is immediate payment - waiting up to 7 days to allow for transfers time or post).

If I notice a delay I send a gentle reminder to find out the reason. I haven't had any serious problem so far (touch wood too!!).

What were the terms agreed with these agencies before starting work?
If the perm was 30 days, it might be possible that the agencies take 30 days from end of month in which you send them the invoice, pushing the payment date to the end of February/beginning of March.

Best regards,
Grace.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:36
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Who sets the payment terms? Feb 26, 2005

Thank you, all, for your various answers. However, I notice a common assumption that it is correct for the agency to set the payment terms, with or without the translator's knowledge of them. Since I previously worked in an office full-time, this is a strange concept to me. I naturally assumed, when starting in business on my own full-time, that I, as a supplier of the translations, should be the one to set the terms. I therefore do so. I write on my invoices the deadline by which they have to pay. Therefore, as far as I understand, it is not up to the agencies to decide, instead, when they wish to pay. Or am I wrong?

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Annira Silver  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:36
Finnish to English
+ ...
Never heard of it Feb 26, 2005

Hello, Astrid,

I've never heard of such an excuse, and it's certainly not common practice. The longest commonly applied payment terms in Central Europe are 30 days from invoice date or 30 days from end of the month following invoice date, and the trend is that the further south you go, the slower payments tend to be; Scandinavians are usually fast, Mediterranean countries often slower.

In this business, as in any other, it's worth having a system of credit control - it's part of being a professional. This means
- sending your invoice with each job or immediately after
- stating your payment terms clearly on every invoice
- sending a first, friendly reminder 7 days after payment is due
- I send a second reminder in another 7 days, asking for an explanation or reason for non-payment
- 7 days later, I notify the client that it is my duty to the community to inform it of their poor payment practices; if the payment still doesn't arrive, I carry out my threat and make an entry on BB. Naturally, I don't accept any more work from slow payers.

The more you pussyfoot around and allow slow payers to get away with it, the more they are likely to exploit you. Agencies are businesses, and extended credit is money in the bank for them.

Good luck and be firm!

BR, Annira


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:36
Member (2004)
German to English
Slightly irrelevant to the issue Feb 27, 2005

but I had a real surprise this year when everybody (and I mean everybody) who owed me money suddenly paid it by the end of January - even if I had been waiting for a while. It was a real shock but now of course after that rush of cash there is very little due till the end of Feb making budgeting interesting to say the least. In this job you just never know when the money is going to hit the account and your financial management skills have to be just as good if not better than your translation ones.

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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 17:36
English to Swedish
+ ...
Wee logical error in the Blue Board program Feb 27, 2005

There is a wee logical error in the Blue Board program. Unfortunately a number of unscrupulous agencies have discovered it and make good use of it. The scam works like this:

1. You get an unsolicited offer in your inbox for a minute job with a fat fee.
2. You accept the offer and do the job.
3. You get paid in full well before due date.
4. Happily you enter a 5 for the agency on the Blue Board.
5. Instantly the agency writes a polite "Thank you very much!" response on the Blue Board.
6. You get a second job offer from the agency, this time a BIG job with a generous fee.
7. You accept the offer and do the job.
8. They don’t pay and they don’t answer your emails.
9. You get angry and want to warn your fellow translators with a posting on the Blue Board.
10. When you try to enter your warning on the Blue Board you get met with the following message: "You cannot edit your entry for this outsourcer because the outsourcer has posted a reply to your original comment."

Need I say more?

ProZ was informed about this problem more than a year ago, but have not yet made any improvement.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:36
English to German
+ ...
Just contact a Jobs moderator Feb 27, 2005

Sven,
Although we're going slightly OT here, I need to respond.

All you need to do in such a case is to contact a Jobs moderator, who will remove the original comment and response, allowing you to enter a new one.

The reason why moderator interaction is required is to make sure this function isn't used to enter into an on-going discussion.

Best regards,
Ralf

[Edited at 2005-02-27 09:35]


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 17:36
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
It goes like this... Feb 27, 2005

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

I naturally assumed, when starting in business on my own full-time, that I, as a supplier of the translations, should be the one to set the terms. I therefore do so. I write on my invoices the deadline by which they have to pay. Therefore, as far as I understand, it is not up to the agencies to decide, instead, when they wish to pay. Or am I wrong?


Under German law, a contract comes to pass when the two contracting parties both offer a "Willenserklärung" - or declaration of intent. When both parties accept the respective other party's declaration, you have a contract and you start work.

However, there are also "General Terms and Conditions of Business". That is the small print which almost every agency has. And that is where you will generally find the payment terms. You'll generally also find a phrase - to paraphrase it very loosely - stating "Even if your terms are different, our terms have precendence, unless we agree something different in writing".

So even if you state your payment terms on your invoice that's not tantamount to agreeing these terms in writing. If your agency's terms and conditions say something else, then they have precedence. Just stating something on your invoice is "unilateral" (eine einseitige Willenserklärung") and is not binding - in contrast to the terms and conditions which are binding in all cases (see the AGB-Gesetz).

HTH

Alison


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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 17:36
English to Swedish
+ ...
Dear Ralf Feb 27, 2005

You wrote: "Just contact a Jobs moderator".

I wrote to:

- "Support"
- Jason
- Henry
- 2 Moderators (including you)

No result.

The reason this scam is so easy to implement is that "moderator interaction is required".

[Edited at 2005-02-27 09:44]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 18:36
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
When did you send the invoices? Feb 27, 2005

As February is not over you shouldn't get nervous yet. Most of those who pay after 30 days pay at the end of the month, and you'll get the money in March. But there are clients who want other conditions. Just ask them when they are going to pay.

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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:36
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sven has hit the nail on the head Feb 27, 2005

Yes, I think Sven has hit the nail on the head. The first time I encountered the problem was a couple of years ago already, when I also had a full-time job and did not need the income. I did a small job for an agency and they paid very quickly, I graded them a 5 and they thanked me. Then payment for further jobs became, might we say, less speedy, and eventually deteriorated to about 5 months after I had done the translation...following a notification from them in the meantime that they had changed their payment terms to 90 days. At this point I gave up working for them, of course. However, they still have an average of 5 on the Blue Board.

When the Blue Board was first implemented, it seemed such a promising idea, but these days it no longer seems to accurately reflect the actual payment practices of agencies, which was its original purpose. In addition, it often seems to be used by part-time translators with other good sources of income to comment on how friendly, pleasant, etc. the staff at the agencies were to them, and to grade them a 5 for that reason, even though the money didn't exactly come in on time ... which only goes to confirm the good old business ploy of paying a friendly receptionist a few coppers ....

I think I just need to look round for more reliable sources of information on agency payment practices.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:36
English to German
+ ...
Did you change your entry? Feb 27, 2005

Hi Astrid,
Yes, I think Sven has hit the nail on the head.

I don't think so - in fact, he appears to have misunderstood my last post, which is why I edited mine, highlighting that I referred to individual cases rather than a general proposal.

How moderator interaction would further a scam is something you would need to explain, Sven.

The first time I encountered the problem was a couple of years ago already, when I also had a full-time job and did not need the income. I did a small job for an agency and they paid very quickly, I graded them a 5 and they thanked me. Then payment for further jobs became, might we say, less speedy, and eventually deteriorated to about 5 months after I had done the translation...following a notification from them in the meantime that they had changed their payment terms to 90 days. At this point I gave up working for them, of course. However, they still have an average of 5 on the Blue Board.

As I pointed out before - just contact a Jobs moderator, and we will remove the original entry, alongside the outsourcer's comment. This will allow you to post a new entry.

However, I also note that you posted a '5' entry for an outsourcer that has been banned from ProZ.com. No reply was posted, so you are free to change it - or to leave it as is, of course.

When the Blue Board was first implemented, it seemed such a promising idea, but these days it no longer seems to accurately reflect the actual payment practices of agencies, which was its original purpose.

The Blue Board was never designed purely as a payment-practices list - please check the Blue Board FAQ.

Payment practices are an essential component of assessing the likelihood of working again, but not the only element.

In addition, it often seems to be used by part-time translators with other good sources of income to comment on how friendly, pleasant, etc. the staff at the agencies were to them, and to grade them a 5 for that reason, even though the money didn't exactly come in on time ...

Once again, the numerical level is not exclusively based on payment practices - that is by design.

I think I just need to look round for more reliable sources of information on agency payment practices.

Well, here we agree - quoting from the FAQ:
11. How reliable is the Blue Board?

The entries posted here are not confirmed in any way, and represent the opinions only of those making entries. Things to consider when evaluating entries: activity levels, identity verification status, membership levels, registration numbers and other characteristics of posters.

Do not rely solely on entries posted. You are encouraged to form your own opinions concerning outsourcers from your experiences in working with, or negotiating with, outsourcers personally.


ProZ.com staff have started work on a revised Blue Board structure; this will include a more transparent display allowing users to gauge how reliable they consider invididual entries to be. We have also asked to incorporate indicators for the number of projects completed, and the length of time worked for a given outsourcer.

One of the various suggestions which we have taken on board is to introduce an 'expiration' date for BB entries posted, hiding them automatically after, say, 18 or 24 months. Any thoughts on that?

Best regards,
Ralf

[Edited at 2005-02-27 11:18]

[Edited at 2005-02-27 11:19]

[Edited at 2005-02-27 11:20]


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