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Novice freelancer faces payment problem - what should I do?
Thread poster: Alanna

Alanna
France
Local time: 04:50
French to German
+ ...
Jul 19, 2005

Hello,

I haven't been a freelancer for long, which probably explains why I didn't have the reflex of checking the BB before accepting a job at a rather good rate from an agency I hadn't worked with before. I only did that when I was just about finished with teh job and realised that this particular agency (in Belgium) had gotten two very bad non-payment comments, and what is more, the entry was linked to that of the previous agency of the same person, with more negative comments, the most recent one saying he'd declared bankruptcy.
Needless to say, I was a bit shaken, but still delivered my translation a little before the deadline and, assuming good faith, sent out my invoice.
That was over a month ago, I sent a friendly reminder last week, but so far, no reaction.
All the contact was carried out by e-mail, I sent my invoice as a PDF attachment.

What should I do? The amount is a bit over 200 EUR, I am mentally prepared by now to write it off as a valuable lesson learned (and consult the BB in the future) but on the other hand I don't want to give up as long as there is the slightest chance I might see my money. (One comment said the agency had paid, though late, and the translator said he/she might consider working with them again.)
I am living in France, and as I said, the agency is in Belgium.
I checked the forum for topics on the same or a sililar subject but haven't found anything helpful.
I would be glad for your advice or for directing me to another source (a forum topic I overlooked or anything else).

Thank you!

Alanna


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:50
English to German
+ ...
Post a BlueBoard entry Jul 19, 2005

Hi Alanna,
Sorry to hear it.
As a first step, have you posted a Blue Board entry yourself?

Best regards,
Ralf


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Burkhard Ziegler  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:50
Russian to German
+ ...
Ansprüche an den Konkursverwalter übermitteln Jul 19, 2005

Hallo!

I beg your pardon and understanding and pardon for writing in German...
Ich bitte um Verständnis, dass ich auf Deutsch schreibe...


In Belgien sollte es doch auch so etwas wie ein Konkursverfahren geben?

Wenn bereits ein offizielles Konkursverfahren eröffnet wurde, müssen Sie Ihre Forderungen an den Konkursverwalter stellen.

Ob ein Konkursverfahren eröffnet wurde, können Sie wohl am ehesten bei der Hausbank (siehe Briefkopf) der Agentur erfahren.

Dazu sollten Sie Ihre Unterlagen (Übersetzungsauftrag, Rechnung, Nachweise über die Übermittlung der Übersetzung) sorgfältig aufbewahren. Bei einer E-Mail sollten Sie die kompletten Kopfdaten speichern.

Aber mit Ihren 200 EUR werden Sie nur geringe Chancen haben, etwas zu bekommen, denn die Gläubiger mit höheren Forderungen werden aus der Konkursmasse (wenn noch etwas vorhanden ist) anteilig abgefunden.


Gibt es noch kein offizielles Konkursverfahren, können Sie nur die Agentur "nerven" mit Mahnungen usw.




Ach ja, auch Firmen mit einem Super-Blueboard-Eintrag können plötzlich bankrott gehen, unter anderem auch, weil deren Kunden nicht zahlen. Ein allgemeiner Teufelskreis (gegen den anscheinend nur noch Vorkasse hilft) ...


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craigs
Local time: 22:50
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Novice replying w/question: Jul 19, 2005

In such cases of anticipated difficulty or non-payment, is it improper or not advisable to hold the translation in full or in part until the payment is effectuated, sort of dangling the carrot?

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Alanna
France
Local time: 04:50
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I've done nothing else so far and here's why Jul 19, 2005

Thanks for the comments.

Ralf,
I haven't posted on the BB yet, I'm still assuming good faith (for another week or so). But yes, of course i will add my five cents on the BB, hoping other translators approached by that guy will check BEFORE accepting.

Herr Ziegler,
die Firma, die Konkurs angemeldet hatte, war die vorherige, nicht die derzeitige Agentur dieser Person.

Craigs,
I guess I should have thought of that. As I said I'm a novice freelancer and I'm learning my lessons the hard (and stupid) way these days. Next time I'll know what to do.

Alanna


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:50
English to German
+ ...
How long do you want to wait? Jul 19, 2005

Hi Alanna,
I haven't posted on the BB yet, I'm still assuming good faith (for another week or so). But yes, of course i will add my five cents on the BB, hoping other translators approached by that guy will check BEFORE accepting.

May I respectfully suggest not to wait any longer, but to post a comment? If they do pay in the end, you can change your comment, but I believe it's time to wake up and realise what's apparently going on here.

Also, to protect your legal position, I strongly suggest to send a proper invoice (in many countries, and particularly cross-border, e-mail invoices have no legal value whatsoever...), preferably by registered mail with return receipt.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Alanna
France
Local time: 04:50
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Taking first steps Jul 19, 2005

I just posted on the BB and will send off the invoice by registered mail ASAP.
Thanks again for the advice.

Alanna


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Benno Groeneveld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:50
English to Dutch
+ ...
Waiting a month is not especially long Jul 19, 2005

in my experience. I only start worrying if payment is two months or more late.

For future reference: I once had a problem with a translation agency that was more than four months late paying. I accepted a new job from them, did the translation, but waited with sending it in. When they called to ask where the translation was, I asked them when they were going to send my money. A check was cut and sent very quickly.

Benno


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:50
Italian to English
+ ...
In Italy agencies almost always pay after 90 days Jul 20, 2005

I wouldn't even start worrying until the fourth month after sending the invoice! Not that I approve of such huge delays in paying invoices, but there's not a lot I can do about it.

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Burkhard Ziegler  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:50
Russian to German
+ ...
Agency bears credit risk independent if final customer faces bankrupticy Jul 20, 2005

Alanna wrote:
I just posted on the BB and will send off the invoice by registered mail ASAP.


Ich spreche und schreibe aber auch Englisch

Thanks for the contribution to the community (posting on blue board).

As you've sent a reminder by e mail, just attach the reminder to the letter with the invoice. "Recommandé" and "Avis de réception/remis" is advisable, as you might face trouble that somebody might say "I did not receive the letter."

Keep your E-Mails togther with the header data. You can also ask your e mail provider to provide information if your message with invoice, translation and reminder was delivered to the destinatarie's e mail.


Furthermore I understood your former posting as follows:

The final customer, the customer who made a contract with the agency you are dealing with faces bankrupticy.

Nevertheless the agency must pay your invoice (a presume, you renderred correct services according to the contract). If there is no other agreement they have to bear the crediting risk!!!

So far the theory. In fact, even one non-paying (bankrupt) debitor can cause a vicious chain of non-payment and bankrupticy.


Good luck. Not only newcomers face these problems.

Burkhard Ziegler

[Edited at 2005-07-20 10:55]


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Peter Neydavood
Local time: 22:50
English to Arabic
+ ...
Name and address of the end user Jul 20, 2005

Hi Alanna,

You have translated a text for an agency. Do you have the name and address of the end user of the job?


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Alanna
France
Local time: 04:50
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Replies Jul 20, 2005

MELT wrote:

Hi Alanna,

You have translated a text for an agency. Do you have the name and address of the end user of the job?


The job was part of a website, so I know who the end client is.

And it's not the end client who is facing bankruptcy but the previous agency of the outsourcer who gave me the job - at least, that's what I gathered from the BB entries.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:50
English to German
+ ...
Contacting the end client (as the ultimate step) Jul 20, 2005

Hi Alanna,

Hi Alanna,

You have translated a text for an agency. Do you have the name and address of the end user of the job?


The job was part of a website, so I know who the end client is.

And it's not the end client who is facing bankruptcy but the previous agency of the outsourcer who gave me the job - at least, that's what I gathered from the BB entries.

The way I understand MELT's posting, he/she suggested contacting the end client, should the outsourcer not pay up.

I would note that this should be the ultima ratio, having explored all other options without success.

Best, Ralf


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Alanna
France
Local time: 04:50
French to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Following your advice Jul 20, 2005

That's how I understood it.
I sent off the registered mail today, I will see if that has any effect. There is still the reminder after that... I'm not giving up yet, you gave me new hope


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Peter Neydavood
Local time: 22:50
English to Arabic
+ ...
Copyright notification and enforcement Jul 22, 2005

Ralf Lemster wrote:

Hi Alanna,

Hi Alanna,

You have translated a text for an agency. Do you have the name and address of the end user of the job?


The job was part of a website, so I know who the end client is.

And it's not the end client who is facing bankruptcy but the previous agency of the outsourcer who gave me the job - at least, that's what I gathered from the BB entries.

The way I understand MELT's posting, he/she suggested contacting the end client, should the outsourcer not pay up.

I would note that this should be the ultima ratio, having explored all other options without success.

Best, Ralf


Hi again Alanna,

No need to call end user now. You may just send the following message to the agency:

“I invite you to pay my money within 10 days or no later than [XXXXX] otherwise I will apply to the Copyright Law and hold a copyright of the job I have done for you and your clients with all rights reserved.
After the above date in case you continue to ignore me I will send a Certified Return Receipt Mail to your clients to impress the case and bar you and your clients to use my translation in any means as a whole or any parts of it. You and your clients may not, under any circumstances, reprint my translation in any form, or host it on any web site without explicit written permission from me.”

This threat by itself may help you to receive your fees.


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