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Facing bankruptcy
Thread poster: Chiara_M

Chiara_M  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:35
French to Italian
+ ...
Dec 26, 2005

Hi all,

I've been told that an agency based in UK I worked for went bankruptcy. They owe me some hundreds euros and I'm a bit upset.

I'm trying to collect information about the subject. As the agency is based in UK and I live in Italy I don't know how to deal with it.

I've just surfed the Insolvency Service website (http://www.insolvency.gov.uk/eiir/IIRNameSearchMapIE.asp) and that agency is not in the list yet. It's probably a matter of time.

If they really went bankruptcy what can I do to have my money?

If anyone may help me I'll greatly appreaciate.

Chiara

[Edited at 2005-12-26 09:49]


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Ford Prefect  Identity Verified
Burkina Faso
Local time: 13:35
German to English
+ ...
Contact the receivers Dec 26, 2005

You need to find out who has been appointed receiver (administrator) of the company in bankruptcy - this should be published in the bankruptcy notice. Assuming the company is actually going to be wound up because it is unable to pay its debts, you, and everyone else who is owed money by the company (the creditors) needs to inform the receivers of how much they were owed, and may eventually get a share of the proceeds from winding up. You certainly won't get everything you were owed, if the company was really seriously in debt and has almost no assets (a translation agency might just be a computer, fax machine and box of paperclips in someone's spare room) - you might get nothing at all.

Looking on the bright side, if a company you have obligations to (such as not contacting their clients directly) ceases to exist, your obligations to that company also cease to exist.


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 20:35
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Evidence of Translators' Powerlessness Dec 26, 2005

This is one of the weaknesses of the present delayed payment mode. While we are waiting for our payment, the agency may go bankrupt and we get unpaid for our work.
So, what is the possible solution to this problem?


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:35
English to German
+ ...
Advance payment Dec 26, 2005

Hi Hipyan,
I don't agree with your notion that translators are "powerless" - it's just that many freelancers are not aware of the fact that they run independent businesses, and hence have the power to define the terms at which they are prepared to enter into business.

This is one of the weaknesses of the present delayed payment mode. While we are waiting for our payment, the agency may go bankrupt and we get unpaid for our work.
So, what is the possible solution to this problem?

Demand (partial) advance payment.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2002)
Swedish
+ ...
No ready-made solution Dec 26, 2005

Hipyan Nopri wrote:

So, what is the possible solution to this problem?


There is no ready-made solution to this problem, and the problem is of course not only in our business. An don't forget those agencies which are not bankrupt, but just ignoring your reminders and refusing to pay the money.

Asking for upfront payment can be a good idea, but of course only if it's about a huge project. Invoicing the same day as delivery, with date of payment within 2 or 3 weeks, is from a psychological point of view far better than waiting too long before sending out that invoice. And don't wait too long until sending reminders. Informing a non-paying client that using the internet means that we, as translators, can pull certain levers and report to BlueBoard.

Also, before taking on a job from a new client, gathering information about the client's payment willingness, years in business etc. would be a good idea. Some clients have the method of going bankrupt every other year, and all of sudden you find the same people behind a newly founded agency again..

Not getting paid (for which reason whatsoever) doesn't happen to translators only, but thanks to different databases and fora there are plenty of ways of minimizing the risk.

Erik

**********************************
Erik Hansson ( SFÖ )
Technical translator DE-SV
Hansson Übersetzungen GmbH
Am Birkenwäldchen 38
D-01900 Bretnig-Hauswalde, Germany
Phone +49 - 3 59 52 - 321 07
Fax +49 - 3 59 52 - 322 02
E-Mail info@hansson.de
Internet www.hansson.de
Internet www.technical-translators.net
Internet www.wintitus.de
ProZ profile http://www.proz.com/pro/21654
***********************************


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Chiara_M  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:35
French to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Unforseeable risks Dec 26, 2005

When you do business as a freelance you have to be prepared to face unforseeable risks, I know. This is just what happened to me. But if everything seems normal (which is: a regular purchase order, a regular agreement with an usual 30-days payment term) you may not expect the agency will go bankruptcy. In addition, when I was told about that (bankruptcy) my payment terms weren't overdue yet.
Anyway it's much easier to deal with late payments, in my opinion.
Chiara


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:35
English to German
+ ...
Insolvency rarely happens 'overnight' Dec 26, 2005

Hi again,
When you do business as a freelance you have to be prepared to face unforseeable risks, I know. This is just what happened to me. But if everything seems normal (which is: a regular purchase order, a regular agreement with an usual 30-days payment term) you may not expect the agency will go bankruptcy. In addition, when I was told about that (bankruptcy) my payment terms weren't overdue yet.

Did you check that outsourcer's reputation and business practices beforehand? (Obviously, I'm thinking about the Blue Board, but not exclusively so...)

Insolvency rarely happens 'overnight' - most of the time, there are tell-tale signs, such as delayed payments, excuses ("customer hasn't paid"), etc. preceding the event.

If there is a BB record for the outsourcer concerned, please feel free to contact me through my profile.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Chiara_M  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:35
French to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It seemed to be an average agency Dec 26, 2005

Hi Ralf,

I had collected some advice before accepting the job. I had browsed some Payment Practice maling list and the idea was that the agency was reliable - just some minor late payment issues (which is quite common in my experience).

The agency is not listed in the BB, indeed.

By the way, I'll try to be inscribed in the creditors list.

Thank you all for your suggestions and comments.
Chiara


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:35
German to English
+ ...
Facing bankruptcy Dec 26, 2005

Hipyan Nopri wrote:

So, what is the possible solution to this problem?


Hipyan,

In your CV, you explicitly advertise your flexibility. You are available for work from 5.00 am to 9.00 pm, seven days a week. You advertise rates that are very low, then invite customers to suggest even lower rates. Perhaps you are giving the impression to potential customers that you are also flexible when it comes to receiving payment?

I am all in favour of meeting customers' needs, but perhaps you should consider doing so on your terms, not theirs. You can, for instance, set your own terms of payment (e.g. one month after receipt of the invoice, or two weeks, or whatever you consider appropriate) and make these a condition for accepting work. If a customer fails to pay by the agreed deadline, don't work for them again. The main reason so many customers have long payment dates is that a great many translators are willing to tolerate them. If the translator is happy to do so, there's nothing wrong with that, but it defeats me why so many translators complain about late payment from a customer, yet continue to accept jobs from them.

Marc


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Abdellatif Bouhid  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:35
English to French
+ ...
Good luck Dec 26, 2005

Hopefully, the agency will put your name in the list of creditors (it has to by law) and the administrator will contact you to confirm the amount owed to you. The administrator will collect from the agency's clients what they still owe, liquidate the saleable assets and distribute the proceeds among the creditors after taking his fees and expenses. Not much will be left. You can check if you can deduct your loss (bad debt) from your revenue of this year and have some tax relief that way.

Good luck and happy 2006.

[Edited at 2005-12-26 20:46]


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Harry Hermawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 20:35
Member (2005)
English to Indonesian
Demand partial payment: case studies Dec 26, 2005

Ralf Lemster wrote:

Demand (partial) advance payment.



I'm one who's pessimistic about such things. Is this common practice and possible? I have doubts maybe you can give me case studies that's motivating. Thanks.


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 20:35
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Invaluable Ideas Exchange Indeed Dec 27, 2005

First of all, I really appreciate all the proposed ideas in relation to this problem. The point of participating in this forum is to express ideas for the sake of solving a problem.
The problem is 'the potential risk of not getting paid faced by translators.'
So far, my experience proves that immediate payment works pretty well with individual direct clients and non-profit organizational clients. I asked them either to pay in advance or to pay right before I deliver my work. Unfortunately, it is not the case with translation companies (or maybe I was too tolerant?).
Anyhow, thank you very much Erik for your suggestion. Maybe we should be sufficiently decisive with regard to payment terms. But I ever read that 'late payment is better than no job' (Andrei Gerasimov).
Ralf: You are right. It is not in strict sense; I mean it 'relatively powerless', particularly with reference to the translators in developing countries. They are faced with a dillematic choice - accepting late payment terms or getting no job. While, they badly need a living.
Marc: Thanks a lot for your comment. In fact, my flexible rate does not correspond to late payment. However, as a new comer in international level translation businesses, I am actually searching for the finest rate to both agencies and translators, particularly in English-Indonesian language pair.
Thanks so much for all your comments. May our ideas exchange result in more advantages to us. I wish you Merry (last) Christmas and Happy New (next) Year.


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
The way you look at it Dec 27, 2005

Hipyan Nopri wrote:
So, what is the possible solution to this problem?

If they went bancrupt because they agreed high rates, I consider the loss as my contribution of solidarity.

If they went bancrupt because they agreed low rates, I consider the loss as an investment to purge the market.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:35
English to German
+ ...
Cannot disclose details Dec 27, 2005

Hi Harry,
Is this common practice

Not as much as I believe it should be.

and possible?

What stops you from demanding it?
As an independent businessperson, you defined the terms at which you are prepared to enter into business.

I have doubts maybe you can give me case studies that's motivating.

If you're looking for names of clients, I must disappoint you - I guess you were not expecting me to disclose names, were you?

Fact is, I have demanded and obtained partial advance payment before undertaking major projects for unknown clients. Note that these were direct clients, not agencies.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Chiara_M  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:35
French to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Dec 27, 2005


Hopefully, the agency will put your name in the list of creditors (it has to by law) and the administrator will contact you to confirm the amount owed to you.


Quite an interesting point. In such a case, you have to ask to be put in the list in Italy. And, of course, I didn't know the British situation.

You can check if you can deduct your loss (bad debt) from your revenue of this year and have some tax relief that way.


As to this, I'll pay taxes only on what I've really earned. And yes, it's my only relief.

Thanks again,
Chiara


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