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Advice needed re. agency incompetence resulting in late payment
Thread poster: Anne Key
Anne Key
Local time: 18:34
Dutch to English
+ ...
Aug 2, 2005

Hello there,

Do any of you have any advice on how to approach an agency for incompetence?

Last week I submitted a 20,000-word translation on the understanding that I would be paid at the beginning of this month. However, one of their staff members failed to proofread the translation in time, resulting in the payment not being processed. I have been informed that I may have to wait a month before being paid.

As a freelancer, I am pretty frustrated about this, as I seem to spend 20% of my time chasing up late / non payers. However, I do not wish to 'burn my bridges' either, as I am dependent on this agency for work.

How could I best approach the agency? I worked evenings as well as weekends to deliver the translation by the agreed deadline (27 July), and have not increased my rates for 4 years. Should I mention these points in my letter / e-mail to them?

All suggestions welcome!

Many thanks,

Pikey


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paula13  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 15:34
Member (2005)
Don't put all your eggs in one basket Aug 2, 2005

Anne Key wrote:


I am dependent on this agency for work.

How could I best approach the agency? I worked evenings as well as weekends to deliver the translation by the agreed deadline (27 July), and have not increased my rates for 4 years. Should I mention these points in my letter / e-mail to them?

All suggestions welcome!

Many thanks,

Pikey


Is this the first time they pay late? If this is the first time this happens and you really depend on this particular agency that much, I think it would be a good idea to remind them how happy you are to be working with them (and all that nice stuff) before reminding them of all the things you do for them.
If it's becoming a habit, then I say be firm!
In the meantime, try to find other agencies you feel comfortable working with too so that if for any reason one of them pays late, you still have money coming in from other clients.


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CML  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:34
French to English
+ ...
Are the payment terms in writing? Aug 2, 2005

Did this agency issue a purchase order for the project? The terms of payment should have been clearly stated on it.

The late proofreading by a staff member sounds "fishy" to me. As an agency owner, I don't think that is the real story. Since you met your obligations and delivered the project on time, I would ask if they can offer you a partial payment now and the balance at another date. Try to negotiate a partial payment. It could be that there's a cash flow problem at the agency.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:34
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
One month is perfectly normal Aug 2, 2005

Hello Anne,

From my experience, having to wait one month for payment is perfectly normal. Many companies have specific deadlines by which the invoice must be submitted in order to be processed. Due to a delay with the proofreading (maybe not necessarily due to incompetence), your invoice did not make it in time. I don't think you need to be worried or upset until at least 60-90 days have passed. If they pay you within the next month, consider yourself lucky to work for such an agency.


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Anjo Sterringa  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:34
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
+ ...
What does the invoice have to do with proofing? Aug 2, 2005

Yes, I do think it's perfectly normal to wait a month for your payment - or even slightly longer. That's all in your/their payment terms. So if they agree to pay very quick, good for you... Not so good now apparently.
What I fail to see is the connection between your invoice and someone proofreading your translation. If your invoice is dated (say) 28 July it remains dated 28 July if they proofread it or not. Perhaps they mean they were not in time to 'clear' the invoice in time - but that is their responsibility. This sounds like one to add to another thread after 'the accountant gave birth' or 'it's in the mail'. I agree, it does sound fishy, but you never know. Keep in touch with them and keep on asking for the money though...


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Anne Key
Local time: 18:34
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Re: advice wanted Aug 3, 2005

Thanks for all the advice. Yes, I'm normally more than happy to wait for a month / two months for payment depending on the agreements drawn up with each individual agency.

However, this particular agency pays significantly less per target word than other agencies, and does so on the understanding that translators are paid immediately for their work, provided the deadline is met before the end of the month.

I'll contact them again today to see if part payment is possible. I've also taken on work for other agencies to avoid "putting all my eggs in one basket", as it were. Unfortunately, some of them don't pay on time either... Anyway, that's enough grumbling for one day!


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 19:34
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
EU Directive to combat late payment Aug 3, 2005

I have started to note on my invoices something to the effect of: 7% charge for late payment.

This is done only on invoices to agencies that have a habit of paying late, and so far it has really had a good effect, although I've had to discuss the matter with one agency.

The 7% I charge is below the rate stated in the EU Directive, but then at least I know that I am not charging too much.

I'm afraid I cannot find the link to the English version of the directive, but here's the name of it:

Directive 2000/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Councilof 29 June 2000on combating late payment in commercial transactions


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