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What to do if you didn't get paid?
Thread poster: Mark Budman

Mark Budman  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:17
English to Russian
+ ...
May 3, 2005

I did four jobs for a translation company in New York City. They paid me for the first two jobs in about 10 days. I e-mailed them the invoices for the last two jobs over three weeks ago and didn't get paid yet. I talked to them on the phone and they said it takes up two weeks for the payment to arrive (I am 200 miles away from them). What should I do?

Thank you,

Mark


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:17
English to German
+ ...
Payment terms? May 3, 2005

Hi Mark,
Which payment terms were agreed upon at the outset?

Best regards,
Ralf


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Benno Groeneveld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:17
English to Dutch
+ ...
payment in 10 days!!?? May 3, 2005

You were paid incredibly fast, my quickest payer takes about two weeks, some take three months.

Count your blessings and save your anger for when they stall payment for more than two months.

Benno


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Mark Budman  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:17
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Payment terms May 3, 2005

That was my first translation job done for an out-of-town company. They didn't specify turn-around terms.

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Matt Baird
Germany
Local time: 03:17
German to English
Always negotiate payment terms May 3, 2005

vrflash wrote:

That was my first translation job done for an out-of-town company. They didn't specify turn-around terms.

You should always define payment terms when negotiating a job, especially for new clients.

I agree with Benno, most clients tend not to pay so quickly. I normally require "Net 30 day" payment terms, although not all of my clients adhere to these terms. An important and rather large client generally pays at 60 days despite my requests for earlier payment. They pay, that is the most important thing so I don't feel the need to continue to pursue the issue.

I would wait patiently a few more weeks and if payment has still not been received send a second notice of your outstanding invoice. I recommend also establishing payment terms with this client before accepting any further jobs.

Good luck!

Matt


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Rina LS  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 03:17
Member
English to Serbian
+ ...
Just be patient May 3, 2005

[quote]vrflash wrote:

They paid me for the first two jobs in about 10 days.

Katarina: You are very lucky then. It is more ususal to be paid in 4 weeks or even over, but I agree with Mark upon outset terms. Everything depends on your agreement with them.

[quote]vrflash wrote:
I e-mailed them the invoices for the last two jobs over three weeks ago and didn't get paid yet. I talked to them on the phone and they said it takes up two weeks for the payment to arrive (I am 200 miles away from them). What should I do?

Katarina: For now, nothing. Just be patient.Two weeks is not a long period and if they do not pay afterwards, you can send them the reminder. I often do that when dealing with overdue payments. It does not seem suspicious to me (I mean your situation), but if you do not get paid after sending the reminder, there is a trick that could help. You can send the reminder via mail, and then one has to receive it personally and signed upon receipt, so you would have a kind of proof that they owe you some money. Anyway, I hope you do not need this.

Good luck. Be patient for a while.

Regards,

Katarina


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 18:17
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
One-month deadlines May 4, 2005

I make my invoices using Quicken and it automatically puts a one-month deadline for each project. When the deadline approaches, I usually resend the invoice — if you get in contact with those in charge of the finances instead of the project coordinators, the response is faster... But I wouldn't worry before the pre-established payment conditions expire and would only start charging the agency when such deadline is not respected.

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Mark Budman  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:17
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Negotiating terms May 4, 2005

They call to describe a job (it usually turns out much harder than they describe but that's a different matter) and give me the price over the phone. How can I establish terms? Verbally?
Don't they say that verbal contracts are not worth the paper they are printed on?

Thank you,

Mark


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 21:17
German to English
Some clients pay on a schedule May 4, 2005

When contracting with a client, you should always specify your payment terms, and inquire whether the client pays according to a fixed schedule. I have some clients who pay on the 15th and 30th of the month. If you get your invoice in by the 15th, you get paid on the 30th. If your invoice arrives on or after the 16th, you get paid on the 15th of the following month. Getting paid 30 days after receipt of the invoice in the US is fairly common, and there are some agencies that pay 30 days from the end of the month that the invoice is received. I do have one very nice client (an agency!!) who usually pays within a week, however.
Kevin


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 06:47
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Payments are made in periodic cycles May 4, 2005

I did a translation job for a company which concluded around March 25. And I have just got the payment for it. The explanation is that the agency follows a monthly cycle for payment and releases payment in the next month following the completion of the job. Since in my case it was the end of March, I got the payment in May. They probably do this to insure themselves against adverse feedback from their clients, which could be send back to the translator to get the corrections carried out. If the translator has been paid off, he/she may not be so forthcoming in carrying out the corrections!

So in your case there probably is still hope!


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 20:17
English to Russian
+ ...
Please don't hussle them just yet:-) May 4, 2005

You could irritate them real bad... It might give them a clue that you could be not all that experienced in the translation world, especially in freelancing.
30 days is standard in USA, but if you are a part of a large assignment, then they would have to collect all pieces, edit/proofread, send to the client, prepare their invoice etc. So even if the term is "30 net", you should expect some payments within 45 days unless the agency is really big and they can afford payment before the end client pays them. Luckily I don't have 60-day payers, but I used to have one client who would stall payments on a regular basis, up to 3-4 months. but always paid. So by the time their check would come I'd take it as a surprise bonus:-).

It is important to understand that when you are stepping into a freelance world you must have some money stashed away for living expenses because the first serious check will come in 2-3 months, since you have to do the work first, and that is if you had that work in your hands from Day 1 of you freelancing.

When you are established and the flow is steady, then the checks start coming as regulary as the payroll and you just don't think that that particular job has been completed 1-2 months ago.

Sincerely,
Irina


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Graciela Carlyle  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
set your conditions to provide the service May 4, 2005

Hi Mark,
vrflash wrote:
They call to describe a job (it usually turns out much harder than they describe but that's a different matter) and give me the price over the phone. How can I establish terms? Verbally?
Don't they say that verbal contracts are not worth the paper they are printed on?


I would suggest the following: when you get their phonecall describing the job and giving you the price (do they give you the price??), tell them to send you the material and you'll confirm soon.
Once you have it, evaluate if it's worth what they told you, make your adjustments to price/deadline if they apply, write all the details, write your terms of payment and send it to them for a written confirmation (this would be a Purchase Order).
Your payment term can be anything from anticipated total/partial payment to whatever you're willing ot accept (my average is 15 days for established clients).

For now, as you don't have any payment term agreement with them, I would wait up to 30 days since you sent the invoice, and if you haven't received payment by then, enquire into the matter.

Hope this helps!
Grace.


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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:17
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
always follow up conversations on the phone with written confirmation May 4, 2005

When you agree something over the phone, always send whoever you spoke to an email/letter stating the terms you agreed. Ask them to confirm receipt and the fact that the terms are as agreed. Before doing the job, ask them to send you a purchase order or send them one.

30 days is the standard time for an invoice to be processed and paid but it varies from client to client. In reality, once you have a relatively steady flow of income, it doesn't really make any difference when you get paid. Some of my clients only pay at the end of the next month, some pay on the day when I do the job, some ask if I would mind being paid within 45 days and I usually say "no".

In my view, the whole problem in this "work now, eat later" scenario is not the fact that you may get paid a month or even two after you do the job, it's simply the fact that you get paid _after_ doing the job. In a shop, you always pay _first_, then you take the loaf of bread home and eat it. The problem with us is that we give someone our services and then sit around hoping for them to pay. Of course, if you prepare yourself correctly, you should, theoretically, eliminate the risk of not being paid.

The reason you should negotiate everything beforehand is that you eliminate any kind of misunderstanding (you think they should pay now, they think next month) - everybody knows when payment is due and there is no need to hassle your client needlessly.


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 18:17
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Said x Written May 4, 2005

vrflash wrote:

They call to describe a job (it usually turns out much harder than they describe but that's a different matter) and give me the price over the phone. How can I establish terms? Verbally?
Don't they say that verbal contracts are not worth the paper they are printed on?

Thank you,

Mark



Most of the times, my clients contact me by emailing me a description / sample of the job and asking me to give them a quote. I only have one client who says, "we'll be paying this much," and I usually accept their prices because it's only $0.0025 USD off of what I would charge them per word. Besides, they rely on me so much that they transfer the money through PayPal even before they receive the translation back.

I have clients who send me Purchase Orders or Work Orders, stating what the project is about, who is the translator in charge of it, and how much they will pay for this. Some others just wait for my invoice attached to the project and pay me within a couple of weeks. I rarely have to send a copy of the invoice after the 30-day deadline and I usually follow this procedure with a company I've been working with for a year now, so the director of finances feels pretty comfortable whenever I send her a message about the payment deadline with the attached invoices and ask for her prompt payment.

I guess the best thing you could do is to take a look at the job before you accept it. Try your best to get a written confirmation from them, either by email or (better!) from a PO or WO. As for the "harder than they describe part", I honestly believe that some people that send out these translation projects are not translators themselves and/or do not with your language pair — that's why they're hiring you! I don't think they couldn't possibly be a reliable source whether a translation is going to be piece of cake... It's up to you, the translator, to take a look at it and decide whether you're up to the challenge and let them know about your deadline and payment conditions or accept their terms.


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