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What to do when a client doesn't pay you for the job you made
Thread poster: Ivana de Sousa Santos

Ivana de Sousa Santos  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:55
French to Portuguese
+ ...
Apr 5, 2005

Hello everybody!

I've got this problem since October 2004 and I've been trying to solve it with my client.

I've made a proofreading job for this client in October 2004. A couple of weeks later, he asked me for an invoice. In December, a week before Christmas, I asked him about the payment and he told me his client had already sent him the money and he was waiting for that before Christmas. I was told that he would send me the money as soon as he received form his client.

Some weeks later, I wrote him an e-mail asking him about my money and I had no answer from him. I called him and everytime I did so I was told that it was the wrong number. I had already talked to him to that same telephone number. Fortunately I had the e-mail contact of the translator who had sent me the translation for proofreading and I wrote him an e-mail asking him if he knew anything about our client. As a matter of fact, the client had moved to another place. I was given his new telephone number and called him. He told me he was having troubles being paid by his client.

On February 19, after I insist a lot with mails after mails, he wrote me an e-mail saying his client had disappeared and asked me to see what I could find out about his client who's from France, since I'm in Europe and he's in Brazil.

I asked someone in France to contact this person and this person only got an answer from the answering machine. She left a message as if she was interested in a translation job, but had no answer from that French guy up till now.

I told my client that he should contact a collect company and he doesn't want to do that because he claims that these companies ask for 50-60% of the amount in debt.

I'm afraid I won't see this money ever.

My question is: what can I do in order to receive my money?

I am going to write an e-mail to this Brazilian client and I am going to ask him about my money and I want to write this e-mail in a friendly way. I'm going to see what he will answer. But I suspect that he doesn't want to pay me the money.

If he answeres back saying that he can't afford to pay me that money because his client disappeared and bla, bla, bla, what can I do legally, in order to sue him?

I know I must put an entry in the Blue Board and I will do it accordingly to his answer, but there must be something I can do to receive this money.

I would also like to ask my Portuguese colleagues for an opinion on this subject.

Thank you in advance to all of you for any comments.

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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:55
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Tell your customer... Apr 5, 2005

That *he* is your customer, and that the fact that he is not being paid by his customer doesn't relieve him from the obligation of paying you.

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Jonathan Spector  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:55
Hebrew to English
Blacklist Apr 5, 2005

I agree with Riccardo. It is of no concern of yours whether your customer was paid or not. I never believe those things anyway. The only effective recourse is to expose your customer as a non-payer so that nobody else will do free work for him.

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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:55
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
His client is none of your concern Apr 5, 2005

This guy employed you and he is responsible for paying you. Whether he is paid by his client is a risk HE must bear, NOT YOU. I am sure he understands this but is just trying to shift the damage from himself onto you.

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Ivana de Sousa Santos  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:55
French to Portuguese
+ ...
Thank you for your replies so far, but... Apr 5, 2005

... what I really want to know is if there is any legal means of getting the money: an organisation, a company that will collect the money, etc.

Of course I will expose him as a liar if he keeps on telling me the next time that he can't pay me the money. But I want to do more than that. I would like to write a threatning mail afterwards, saying that I will expose him in several translation sites and that I will do "THIS" and "THAT". Only I don't know what can I do to get the money from a foreign client.

I know that my contract is with him, and that it's him who must pay me. But when the guy answers you that he can't pay because his client owes him more than $US 9000 for the translation and he can't afford to pay his clients because he didn't receive that money, what can you do to make him pay you.

I really want to get paid. I did the job. It was the worst job I've ever made because the translation was very big and had plenty of mistakes and this guy was always rushing me and putting pressure on me for the job to be finished quickly.

Thank you for reading me once again.

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Louise Dupont  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:55
Member (2004)
English to French
The Blue Board Apr 6, 2005

Whatever you decide, write a comment on the Blue Board to warn others about this guy.
This note on the Blue Board made one of my client pay me after many months. They receive an email telling them that someone wrote a comment about them and sometimes it makes their ego react....

Good luck!

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globalglasgow  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:55
English to Portuguese
some simple steps Apr 6, 2005

There are some simple steps you can follow in order to avoid situations like that:

- Only deal with 'proper' organisations. When accepting a job, make sure you get either a company registration number or a VAT registration number from your customer. If you are dealing with another freelancer, make sure you get their full name and self-employed registration number. Don't deal with 'dodgy' contractors, don't do 'cash in hand' jobs.

- Make sure you get an acceptance of the contract in writing, either in the form of a formal PO, or even just as a simple email confirmation.

- Make sure you have professional indemnity insurance.

If you follow these steps you could easily get a solicitor to file an official complaint against the person/company and your insurance should cover it.



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