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Is it normal a 49,32€ cable fee from Canada?
Thread poster: Ivana de Sousa Santos

Ivana de Sousa Santos  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:30
French to Portuguese
+ ...
Feb 3, 2006

I've just received money from an agency in Canada and, for my surprise, the amount was 49,32€ less than the amount expected.

I've immediately contacted this agency and I was told "I'm sorry I didn't mention but you are supposed to pay the cable fees because it's a norm in translation agencies". I know it's not a norm because I work for several foreign agencies (in Europe + US and Canada) and I've never paid for any cable fees for anyone of them.

I know my bank didn't charge me anything because I've received the Credit Warning today.

Is it normal a 49,32€ cable fee from Canada for an amount of 222,32€ to be paid?

Of course, I'm reluctant to work for this agency once again because I cannot afford to lose almost 50€ each time I work for them. This time it was some 200€, but next time I could make a 50€ job and it would only pay the cable fees.

It is a new client and I liked to work for them. They are very nice and available for anything. But can one work for an agency again under these conditions?

I'd like to read your opinions, if this is normal or not and have a clear understanding of this situation. Has it ever happened to anyone of you?

Thank you in advance,

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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:30
English to German
+ ...
Possible Feb 3, 2006

Hi Ivana,
Purely from a technical perspective, this is possible. Can you see the code "OCMT" in the credit note? This should show you the original amount of the transfer.

Besides transfer fees, conversion could also play a role - was the payment instructed in euros or in Canadian dollars (in which case you would need to check the conversion rate)?

Best regards,

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bohy  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:30
English to French
+ ...
checking fees... Feb 3, 2006

I checked the statement of fees for my US business bank account:
there is a $40 for foreign outgoing wire transfer, and $15 for incoming.
There should be also a charge which is a percentage of the amount transferred (2-3 percent maybe).
When I checked with my French bank a few months ago, about wire transfers, there were two different fees (I don't have the figures here, though, but they were similar).
Note also that the sending and receiving banks both collect some of your money, usually.
You raised a very interesting question. I suspect that global market is mostly benefitting banks.
Apart from that, I do not know if checks or card payments have less fees than wire transfers.

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Ivana de Sousa Santos  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:30
French to Portuguese
+ ...
Hi Ralf Feb 3, 2006

Thank you for your reply.

Actually, my credit note hasn't got any code "OCMT". It only states that 173€ were transferred into my account from XXX, Canada. It clearly states as well that they didn't charge me any fees.

The client sent me her payment order and it is not clear for me, since it states several amounts. I must ask her to give me further explanation on that. I don't understand whether the payment was instructed in Euros or canadian dollars because both amounts are stated in there.

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Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:30
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
IOU 200 bucks Feb 3, 2006

Hi Ivana,
Well, if I owe you 200$, that’s how much you’ll get. If I choose an expensive way of getting that money to you, that’s my decision because I’m the one who’s paying to get that money to you.

Or do IOU 200 bucks less as much as you’re willing to pay to get the rest after you pay my bank transfer fees for me? Hang on, gas bill’s just arrived, I’ll fax that off to you too.

Let’s look at it this way.
What happens if you get paid first?
Say you are selling something, let’s say a CD player, or maybe a translation. Selling price is 200$. Buyer sends you 150 because of bank charges. Do you send CD player/do translation, or note saying, “Gee dude, why you didn’t pay me?” Sorry, no CD player for you.

Best of luck with sorting this out.

Jo Macdonald
Italian English Freelance Translation
Via Arno 14/G
47042 Cesenatico (FC) Italy
Phone +39 (0)547 675373
ProZ profile:

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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:30
French to English
Another view Feb 3, 2006

Let me play devil's advocate here. I have no idea whether the agency you worked with usually works with translators in Europe or with native translators in Canada. If they do work with Europeans, they would most likely know about the bank transfer charges. If not, they possibly don't know about them because in Canada, cheques are the most common form of payment. We don't do transfers here since it costs us nothing to cash a cheque (I realize that this is expensive in Europe).

I think in this case, you could inform the agency about the charges and work out an agreement (perhaps splitting them halfway). You could also find out whether they have a Paypal account to do future payments that way. I'm sure you can reach an understanding with them.

Good luck.

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Ivana de Sousa Santos  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:30
French to Portuguese
+ ...
What I have so far... Feb 3, 2006

- I wrote an e-mail to the client this morning (after having slept on the subject and after reading the postings here). I told her that in my opinion it was not fair/correct that I'm the one who has to pay for the bank fees. I kind of wrote Jo's opinion, which is my opinion too, saying that if I provided her with a 222.32€ service, I should receive that and not that amount minus bank fees.

- I also told her that I didn't quite undertand tyhe values oif the payment order she sent me because according to that I was supposed to have received 198€ and I only received 173€.

- Now I have a problem and I asked the client what to do. I now have to write a receipt to her, but what amount must I put in it?
- 222,32€ (the amount I worked for, but to which was taken money to pay the bank fees. Must I declare in my income that I received a sum which I actually didn't because I paid for bank fees too?)?
- 198€ (the amount I should have received according to the client)?
- or 173€, (which was actually what I received)?

And what is she going to state in her tax income? That she paid 232,32€? 198€? or 173€? We must state the same thing.

I also told her that I couldn't work for her because I couldn't afford to lose almost 50€ everytime I do a job to her.

She also said that they don't make payments thorugh PayPal. I told her that if she did it would cost no-one of us any fee.

The client was very nice, though, and she said she's going to look into the matter and come to me as soon as possible.

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Russell Gillis  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:30
Spanish to English
Seems steep for Canada Feb 4, 2006

Hello Ivana,

I send money by wire transfer on the rare occasion, and the bank charges me a flat fee of $30.00 CAD (currently about 22 euros). I do my banking with one of the large banks in Canada, so I can't see why any of the other banks would charge more than double that rate.

I get the feeling the agency is adding on its own expense (you can ask them for a copy of the wire transaction - it would show what they actually sent, and what they paid in fees).

I am surprised that your bank isn't charging anything, because my bank automatically charges $10.00 on each transfer. This $10.00 doesn't show up anywhere on my account. It gets skimmed off automatically before the bank deposits the money.

As far as agencies charging for transfers, about half of the agencies I deal with charge for transfers. I think it is because of the "inconvenience factor". Most of them would prefer to send a cheque.

I wouldn't write off this agency right away. Maybe you can let a few invoices accumulate before having them send payment.

Best of luck!


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Jörgen Slet  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:30
English to Estonian
+ ...
Checks can get even more expensive Feb 4, 2006

I got a 250 USD check from a Canadian agency once, cashing it took 3 months or longer and I received 185 USD minus local Estonian charges (~6 USD) - the Canadian bank had charged 65 USD as their fees just for verifying the check.

But as most US and Canadian agencies try to force the translator to bear the agency's bank charges, and very few are willing to use Moneybookers, I still prefer checks. I just let the local bank verify possible charges first, it takes ~3 days, which is nothing compared to the time it takes to cash it (a month or longer).

BTW I made an inquiry and the Canadian bank sent this to my bank:

71B: Details of charges

Does any of this make sense to anyone ?

[Edited at 2006-02-04 12:53]

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