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Help with lingering payment issue
Thread poster: ninles
ninles
Sweden
Local time: 19:09
English to Greek
+ ...
Jul 12, 2005

Hi there,
I would like to ask for some advice as to whether there is anything one can do if a job was (perhaps foolishly) accepted without a receipt? I have recently made the transition from inhouse to freelancer and have not yet come around to getting my official business in order. And yet, seeing as I had to work in between, I took a lot of work from a company I used to be employed with without receipt, the result being that they owe me a rather significant amount of money. I am planning to ask for a receipt and in the meantime do my paperwork so I can declare everything next year, but in the meantime, is there any way i can press the matter of my payment? The work I have done and the total amount they owe me are evident in the files and evidence I have saved. It was all supposed to be in good faith, seeing as I was supposed to have known in person and worked with these people for a while... so I foolishly trusted in them to not screw me over.. Although there are literally oodles of people that have had this happen to them with these people.. Can I still get legal help for my problem?
Any advice?
Thanks!


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:09
English to German
+ ...
Start by issuing an invoice Jul 12, 2005

Hi Katerina,
Whatever you do, you should issue an invoice first, as this will establish your claim. Given the circumstances, you should send it by registered mail with return receipt, to make sure you have proof of delivery.

Best regards,
Ralf


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ninles
Sweden
Local time: 19:09
English to Greek
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Would issuing an invoice.. Jul 12, 2005

...still help me establish my claim even though I don't have official receipts?
Do you think a paypal invoice would suffice?
Thanks


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:09
English to German
+ ...
*Written* invoice Jul 12, 2005

Hi Katerina,
You almost answered your second question yourself.
The fact that you don't have an official purchase order might turn out as a problem; still, if you haven't issued an invoice, there's no claim to start with.

Katerina Fetsi wrote:
Do you think a paypal invoice would suffice?

Most certainly not.
I'm not familiar with Swedish law, but under German law an electronic invoice is only legally (and fiscally) valid if a recognised authentication method is used. From a legal perspective, a Paypal invoice is a message requesting payment, but not an invoice.

That's why I recommended sending an invoice by registered mail.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:09
Swedish to English
+ ...
In Sweden? Jul 12, 2005

Katarina,

Are you based in Sweden and is the company you worked for based in Sweden? You can mail me through my profile if you want help from a Swedish perspective.

All the best,

Clare


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Adela Van Gils  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:09
German to Dutch
+ ...
invoice via e-mail Jul 13, 2005

Dear Ralf,

What do you mean by: an electronic invoice is only legally (and fiscally) valid if a recognised authentication method is used.

I dont understand very well. I always send my invoice by e-mail. Never had any problem, but to prevent that in the future its nice to know.

thanks very much.

Adela


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:09
English to German
+ ...
Authentication Jul 13, 2005

Hi Adela,
What do you mean by: an electronic invoice is only legally (and fiscally) valid if a recognised authentication method is used.

The German tax authorities will only recognise invoices sent electronically as eligible for VAT purposes if these were transmitted in a way that the authenticity of the invoice can be verified. Generally, that necessitates an 'electronic signature' that is authenticated by a recognised body (Deutsche Post provides that service, for example).
Now that's the German situation - I have no idea what the rules are in the Netherlands.

Ignoring the tax implications, you might still be faced with other problems when sending invoices by e-mail, as (i) you don't have a reliable proof of delivery (same issue with regular mail - which is whay I recommended that Katerina use registered mail); and (ii) the invoice could be tampered with. Some people even send out invoices as Word or Excel files - how could you prove which amount was there originally?

This is all fine with trustworthy clients - however, as we all know, not all of them are.

Best regards,
Ralf


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MonikaB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:09
English to German
+ ...
Authentication II Jul 13, 2005

Ralf Lemster wrote:

Hi Adela,
What do you mean by: an electronic invoice is only legally (and fiscally) valid if a recognised authentication method is used.

The German tax authorities will only recognise invoices sent electronically as eligible for VAT purposes if these were transmitted in a way that the authenticity of the invoice can be verified. Generally, that necessitates an 'electronic signature' that is authenticated by a recognised body (Deutsche Post provides that service, for example).
Now that's the German situation - I have no idea what the rules are in the Netherlands.


Hi Adela,

As was recently discussed in the Dutch forum (http://www.proz.com/topic/34174), the situation in the Netherlands is basically the same as in Germany.
However, most people just send/accept mailed invoices. As Ralf said, that's fine as long as you are dealing with trustworthy clients, but not sticking to the rules can of course lead to problems.

Regards,

Monika


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Anjo Sterringa  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:09
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Get established! Jul 13, 2005

I am planning to ask for a receipt and in the meantime do my paperwork so I can declare everything next year, but in the meantime, is there any way i can press the matter of my payment?

In most European countries getting your paperwork done is a matter of days. You may not be able to issue an invoice if you do not have the corresponding tax ID, although that may be different in Sweden. What you certainly cannot do is expect payment this year and declare it next year....

I would (1) ask for confirmation of reception of the translations (supposedly you have some confirmation?), (2) make sure that you can legally issue an invoice ASAP and send them the invoices by e-mail in pdf format, and if they don't confirm reception within a day (which you seem to think will be the case)- send them by registered mail.


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 19:09
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Invoice in pdf! Jul 13, 2005

Of course this won't take care of your 'receipt issue', but you could set up your email to ask for a receipt. Only problem is, that your client may have set up their email to deny sending receipts or notify when asked for at receipt, and then you may still not get a receipt (I don't always send receipts as it takes up hard disc space!).

The thing about pdf-conversion is that - at least in Denmark - this is a legally accepted version to send to ensure that the invoice is not tampered with at the other end (complies with the "new EU rules" that Ralph also talks about for Germany.

In the end, I tell my clients that I will notify various translators' websites of their non-payment, and up until now this has worked! (Knock-on-wood).

Good luck.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:09
English to German
+ ...
PDF on its own is insufficient in Germany Jul 13, 2005

Hi...
Just to avoid misunderstanding:
The thing about pdf-conversion is that - at least in Denmark - this is a legally accepted version to send to ensure that the invoice is not tampered with at the other end (complies with the "new EU rules" that Ralph also talks about for Germany.

This isn't deemed sufficient in Germany, as (i) unless the PDF is created using the protection features, it can be tampered with; and (ii) the sender of the file cannot be ascertained without authentication.

Better than .doc or .xls in any case.

Best, Ralf


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ninles
Sweden
Local time: 19:09
English to Greek
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
One question.. Jul 13, 2005

PCovs wrote:
In the end, I tell my clients that I will notify various translators' websites of their non-payment, and up until now this has worked! (Knock-on-wood).

Good luck.


One question about that: I could do that at some point if push comes to shove. But I have heard that their tactics include threatening back with marring your own reputation... Is there any base to this story, if I get that treatment, should I take it at all seriously, or just ignore it as hollow?


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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:09
Swedish to English
+ ...
F-skatt Jul 13, 2005

Regardless of the company's payment practice or where they're based, Katarina, if you don't have a company registered in Sweden - and so have your F-skattesedel and are registered for moms (VAT), you can't issue an invoice that has any legal basis. Go to skattemyndigheten and register yourself as enskild företagare. If you receive payment from the company before you do this you'll be working "black" and probably end up paying hefty fines for tax avoidance. Nor can the company legally pay you before you have an F-skattesedel and moms number.

If you need more advice on starting a company in Sweden there's a book from Björn Lunden publishing, Enskild Firma, which is very useful.


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ninles
Sweden
Local time: 19:09
English to Greek
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not based in Sweden Jul 14, 2005

The thing is I am not yet based in Sweden officially, as my place of residence is Greece (moved recently and don't know if I'm going back yet). But I know I've learned a great lesson at least.. Thanks everyone for the great advice! It's great to have a place like this were us new to the job can get some help..

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