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Summer invoicing blues
Thread poster: Jason Willis-Lee

Jason Willis-Lee  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aug 23, 2005

Hi.

This message is directed at any of my colleagues who issue invoices around May and June and get paid at 30-45 days. I would say that includes a lot of you.
My experience with late summer payments may be due to "business as usual in Spain" which basically means that accounts just go off on holiday for 2 weeks and leave pending invoices to stew under the Spanish sun meanwhile. Any advice on how to deter them from doing this? Should I just refer clients in May and June to the European Directive on late payments and threaten to charge a surcharge if summer payment is late? Any other smart ideas on how to deter accountants from packing their bags before clearing their list of pending invoices? If I had a penny for each time an account comes up with summer holidays as an excuse for late payment I would be a rich man indeed....Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated. Have a good day people!

Jason


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:29
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
Misery loves company! Aug 23, 2005

No solution, really! Just writing to sympathize with you. The same thing happens here in Italy, though to a lesser extent in recent years. It must be a Mediterranean thing!
I spent yesterday calling people to ask about payment of my invoices! And, naturally, my credit card bill arrived today... with MY summer spending!
Catherine


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 22:29
French to English
If you think Spain is bad...try France! Aug 23, 2005

Jason,

I have pretty much stopped counting on much of anything coming in in July and August. I prefer to choose my battles carefully with clients. Personally, I'd rather fight for rate increases than payment deadlines, but that's merely my personal preference. I cope with the lack of summer income by having a substantial balance in my professional bank account at all times so that I can pay my bills and subcontractors in a timely manner even if my clients don't always do the same for me.

That said, it *is* pretty annoying that certain clients just assume we don't mind being paid a month late (or longer) because of summer holidays...especially when they are already at 60 days + end of month + 10th of following month...which for me often means four months in reality because I bill at the *end* of each month...

Oh well...what can you do?

Can you ask your bank for a line of credit if you are short on funds?

Keep smiling

Sara


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:29
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
30-45 days is nothing Aug 23, 2005

Hi Jason,

Some of the invoices that I issued in the second half of May through till early June (generally to agencies) were paid at around 70-77 days, and at that only after extensive reminders. Maybe the agencies have a decline in work over the summer and stop paying their bills. There's very little that can be done about it, because you have to wait till at least the 70th day anyway before starting to take any official action against them.

Astrid


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 21:29
join the club indeed Aug 23, 2005

that's what i "love" about freelancing - if we're late with a delivery, we're practically crucified, but if the customer is late with their payment, that is a completely different story!!!

Just keep ringing them and keep on top of the issue til you get paid. It is not your problem if their accountant is on holidays, it is up to them to arrange cover for that person or do their best to clear as many invoices as possible before taking their holidays. It is not fair that you and the other service providers should suffer just because their affairs are not in order.

Orla

Sara Freitas-Maltaverne wrote:

Jason,

I have pretty much stopped counting on much of anything coming in in July and August. I prefer to choose my battles carefully with clients. Personally, I'd rather fight for rate increases than payment deadlines, but that's merely my personal preference. I cope with the lack of summer income by having a substantial balance in my professional bank account at all times so that I can pay my bills and subcontractors in a timely manner even if my clients don't always do the same for me.

That said, it *is* pretty annoying that certain clients just assume we don't mind being paid a month late (or longer) because of summer holidays...especially when they are already at 60 days + end of month + 10th of following month...which for me often means four months in reality because I bill at the *end* of each month...

Oh well...what can you do?

Can you ask your bank for a line of credit if you are short on funds?

Keep smiling

Sara


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Kathinka van de Griendt  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:29
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
But I am suffering! Aug 23, 2005

[quote]Orla Ryan wrote:

It is not fair that you and the other service providers should suffer just because their affairs are not in order.

Orla
[quote]

Hi Orla, well said but, alas, I don't think my clients heard you. They are probably still enjoying their sumer hols.


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:29
Partial member (2003)
Spanish to English
Early (polite) reminders Aug 23, 2005

It's too late for this year, but why not anticipate that they will "do the dirty" on you and completely forget you exist while they swan off on holiday somewhere, and remind them in good time in July that certain invoices have to be paid in August and ask them (politely) what they intend to do about it. This has worked this year for me and the invoice was paid in mid-August only a week late rather than having to wait till September, despite the fact that this agency is officially closed all month.

[Edited at 2005-08-23 10:23]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
indeed! Aug 23, 2005

No solution, other than getting organised and issuing invoices and warnings earlier to pre-empt the situation. It happnes mostly to me with universities, who take their leave in August, as also companies who close down in August. Thing is there is no solution for dealing with lumbering bureaucracy, the invoice simply goes into the in-tray ....no wonder Spanish employees suffer post-vacacion blues in September (it features on the news every single Septmeber as a news item of note!)

Let's face it, it's impossible to get anything done in August in Spain.

Here's something that infuriated me though. I have been give TEN day's notice in AUGUST in SPAIN to update my electrical installation on the basis of a law that was approved in 2004!!!!! They take 3 years to get their act together, I get 10 days IN AUGUST!


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:29
German to English
+ ...
70 days?! Aug 23, 2005

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:
There's very little that can be done about it, because you have to wait till at least the 70th day anyway before starting to take any official action against them.
Astrid


On which planet? Consider the following:
10-20 day payment deadline
1st reminder with a deadline of 5-10 days
In Germany you are not technically required to send any more reminders! :
http://www.mahnung-online.de/mahnverfahren.html

Obviously it depends on where you live and what payment deadline you have agreed upon; clearly in many cases it doesn't make much sense to jump to this stage immediately, but I just don't see the point of general statements like "wait 70 days before starting to take any official action".

Or is this the special case in Spain, where Jason lives?


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Karin Adamczyk  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:29
Member
French to English
Plan accordingly Aug 23, 2005

Jason Willis-Lee wrote:

My experience with late summer payments may be due to "business as usual in Spain" which basically means that accounts just go off on holiday for 2 weeks and leave pending invoices to stew under the Spanish sun meanwhile.

Jason


You can't change the practices of another company -- all you can do is make sure you invoice on time and issue reminders if payments are late.

Since you know this happens every summer, the best you can do is plan accordingly (adjust your budget accordingly).

Take care,
Karin Adamczyk


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:29
German to English
+ ...
Summer blues indeed Aug 23, 2005

Jason, I totally commiserate. "So-and-so from accounting is on vacation..."

On the other hand, apparently a *lot* of translators (at least in Europe!) are on vacation at this time of year, so I in fact get more work than ever, which is at least a bit of a compensation. I find if one can postpone one's vacation until a bit later in the year (Sept/Oct) one can really "clean up" so to speak in the summer.

Maybe you can make it extra clear in your offers/conditions for those months that a certain percentage will be billed as late fees after 30 days (or whatever your payment terms). As far as I know this is standard and regulated in the EU; your local tax advisor will surely be able to tell you more.


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 16:29
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Other side of the coin ;-) Aug 23, 2005

Michele Johnson wrote:
On the other hand, apparently a *lot* of translators (at least in Europe!) are on vacation at this time of year, so I in fact get more work than ever, which is at least a bit of a compensation. I find if one can postpone one's vacation until a bit later in the year (Sept/Oct) one can really "clean up" so to speak in the summer.


This is exactly right, Michele, I have been trying to take a week off since the beginning of July but my phone rings constantly. So I'll avoid the crowds and inflated prices of vacation time (with the exception of 3 days in Chicago in JUly, but that was for the ATA) and enjoy a cooler, more colourful time in autumn.

The other advantage is, given all the delays everyone apparently submits to, the windfall should come just in time for Christmas shopping (and the first heating bills, for those of us at the 45th parallel).

Nancy


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:29
Member (2005)
French to German
+ ...
Why at least 70 days? Aug 23, 2005

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:
... because you have to wait till at least the 70th day anyway before starting to take any official action against them.


Why that? Did you agree on 70 days beforehand?

P.

[Edited at 2005-08-23 13:49]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:29
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Why 70 days? Aug 23, 2005

Michele and Peter,

Firstly, debt collecting itself costs money, so there is no point in initiating such procedures unless it is clear that the client does not intend to pay at all, and that takes some time to become apparent.

Secondly, it is not so easy to initiate debt collection procedures if the agency is in another country (e.g. the USA).

I do in fact have a good reminder system. I allow 30 days for payment in the first place, because I see that as fair and reasonable.

On the 31st day I send a friendly reminder (on the German invoices, a "freundliche Erinnerung" instead of a "Mahnung").

One week later the first official reminder (1. Mahnung) goes out, another week later the second reminder (2. Mahnung). After that, I phone them regularly, and ask awkward questions, such as "Are you in financial difficulties? Is there any reason why you cannot pay?" Sometimes they are embarrassed by these questions and do pay. Sometimes it takes longer. It takes till about 70 days from date of invoice to find out if the customer has no conscience at all.

Astrid

[Edited at 2005-08-23 14:57]


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:29
Member
English to Turkish
Mediterranean thing? Aug 23, 2005

I've been waiting for two months now for my North Sea-located client to finish his vacation and pay my two invoices. And they take longer vacations - both climate and affluence factors

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