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Agencies' payment practices
Thread poster: Glyn Haggett
Glyn Haggett  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:36
German to English
Mar 17, 2006

I recently stopped working for an agency following a number of problems with obtaining prompt payment.
This week they contacted me again, asking me whether I would be prepared to do a job for them and giving me the chance to set my own terms.
As it happens, I turned the job down this time, but I got to wondering what I might have reasonably asked for. My best idea would be to ask for full payment in advance (i.e. safely received in my account before any part of the translation was returned), but I do not think many customers would stand that. Any ideas?


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Steven Sidore  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:36
Member (2003)
German to English
Do you need the work? Mar 17, 2006

Negotiations tend to fall in favor of the person with the least invested. It sounds like you need to determine how much you have invested in the job that's been offered.

How does that translate into action? If you don't need the work, then demand payment up front. If you don't need the work but see real value in mending fences, then demand a hefty advance payment. If you really need the work, well, your options are limited and you'll probably have to accept the risk that's involved. The overall amount of work is also a factor.

I've got plenty of work, so I usually can afford to scrap misbehaving outsourcers, but I did recently 'take back in' a wayward agency after they promised their cash crunch was over. I chose option 2--200 euro down on a 400 euro job, which limits my overall hit to 200 euro if things again go bad.

Good luck!

Steven

[Edited at 2006-03-17 13:26]


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OlafK
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:36
English to German
+ ...
drop them Mar 17, 2006

In the UK a bank transfer can take up to 4 or 5 days, so advance payment isn't really an option unless you have a very generous deadline. When does that ever happen? There are thousands of agencies out there, far more than the market can support. Many of them are bad or late payers undercutting the more respectable agencies. Who needs them? If nobody works for them they go out of business. Let's get rid of the cowboys!

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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:36
English to German
+ ...
Risk management Mar 17, 2006

Hi Steven,

How does that translate into action? If you don't need the work, then demand payment up front. If you don't need the work but see real value in mending fences, then demand a hefty advance payment. If you really need the work, well, your options are limited and you'll probably have to accept the risk that's involved. The overall amount of work is also a factor.

I've got plenty of work, so I usually can afford to scrap misbehaving outsourcers, but I did recently 'take back in' a wayward agency after they promised their cash crunch was over. I chose option 2--200 euro down on a 400 euro job, which limits my overall hit to 200 euro if things again go bad.


Active risk management at work!
Thanks for posting it.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Egmont
Spain
Local time: 00:36
Afrikaans to Spanish
+ ...
prompt payment Mar 17, 2006

According to my experience only some Swiss enterprises do it...

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M Stompor
Local time: 00:36
English to German
Colleagues, do not accept "slave" conditions! Mar 17, 2006

Glyn Haggett wrote:

I recently stopped working for an agency following a number of problems with obtaining prompt payment.
This week they contacted me again, asking me whether I would be prepared to do a job for them and giving me the chance to set my own terms.
As it happens, I turned the job down this time, but I got to wondering what I might have reasonably asked for. My best idea would be to ask for full payment in advance (i.e. safely received in my account before any part of the translation was returned), but I do not think many customers would stand that. Any ideas?


1. I think that all translators should show mutual solidarity:
Do not work for outsourcers that intend a payment "60 days after the date of invoice" or so, even for "urgent" (24 hr/48 hr) jobs!!! These outsourcers "may ask the credit counseling dept. of their house bank, which would surely make good offers if they would need a credit" as I sent some times ago to two of such agencies. (The replies(!) contained something vague with "cashflow" and so on ...).
I think, a reasonable maximum time limit for payment is 15 working days after translation delivery or the receipt of the invoice!
Exceptions should only accepted for "non-urgent" and very large jobs!

2. I have recently made some bad experience with a not completely paid job (the job was a translation for "my" computer/mobile phone shop across the street!). Therefore I developed some ideas, how to "enforce" a rapid and complete payment.
My favoured idea is:
a) negotiating the following conditions
b) if agreed, commencing to translate
c) finishing the complete translation (and saving it properely!)
d) sending the second(!) half of the translation text to the recipient together with the invoice for the complete(!) translation and telling him, that the first half will follow immediately after the payment is booked on the translator's bank account
e) waiting, what happenes
f) sending the first half, when the payment is booked.

The idea behind was:
- One can hardly start to translate a text "from the centre" - if a second half is delivered in a reasonable quality, the client may be relatively sure, that the first half was translated too.

- The translator can hardly derive benefit from a "non sent first half" of the translation, whereas the client can do so from the money he owes the translator.

- The client should have a vivid interest to receive the first half of the translation as fast as possible too - and this will make him "to excel himself" (If the translator's client is an agency, the latter may settle the "cashflow" problem
with its clients again (these, possibly must learn, that it is the same like in a grocer's shop: pay (for your "urgent" needs) and leave the shop with the item - and not anyway else!

Of course, making such an "utopian idea" true, requires the mutual solidarity of all colleagues around the world.

Shouln't we try it?

What is your opinion, colleagues?


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:36
Flemish to English
+ ...
Password Mar 17, 2006

I used to work for an agency, which paid after a lot of hassle and 60 days end of month. I put two passwords on the text. The lady from the agency called and asked me what was wrong and that the translation was urgent. I told her to go to her online-banking programme and transfer payment for the translation. Otherwise she could always sent the translation with the passwords to the customer. Never have been paid so fast. Payment arrived the same day. Never heard of that agency again.
Not a bad idea to sent half of the text and keep the second half...


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M Stompor
Local time: 00:36
English to German
... but your idea is still better, esp. for "urgent" jobs! - But how does it work in detail Mar 17, 2006

Williamson wrote:

I used to work for an agency, which paid after a lot of hassle and 60 days end of month. I put two passwords on the text. The lady from the agency called and asked me what was wrong and that the translation was urgent. I told her to go to her online-banking programme and transfer payment for the translation. Otherwise she could always sent the translation with the passwords to the customer. Never have been paid so fast. Payment arrived the same day. Never heard of that agency again.
Not a bad idea to sent half of the text and keep the second half...


Dear Williamson,

Could you give some instructions how to "weave" such keywords into the translation texts and how the procedure works in detail?

(I admit, I am no expert in PC application!)

I think this knowledge will help a lot of colleagues to "pay their rent regulary"!

Thanks in advance!


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olivier saint germes
Spain
Local time: 00:36
Spanish to French
+ ...
Thank you M. Stompor!!! Mar 17, 2006

Your idea is great.
I'm going to use it with at least 2 or 3 clients I know.
That's a very good idea to demostrate that the job is done and that the client can do what he want.


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Rita Bilancio  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:36
English to Italian
+ ...
good idea!!! Mar 17, 2006

Williamson wrote:

I used to work for an agency, which paid after a lot of hassle and 60 days end of month. I put two passwords on the text. The lady from the agency called and asked me what was wrong and that the translation was urgent. I told her to go to her online-banking programme and transfer payment for the translation. Otherwise she could always sent the translation with the passwords to the customer. Never have been paid so fast. Payment arrived the same day. Never heard of that agency again.
Not a bad idea to sent half of the text and keep the second half...



I think this is really a good idea!


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Rita Bilancio  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:36
English to Italian
+ ...
asking to pay in advance Mar 17, 2006

This practice is not appreciated but if you know it is difficult to
get paid on time you have 2 possibilities:
1) Tell them you're busy( but you are not solving the problem completely as they will call you in the future and ask again for your collaboration);
2) If it is a rather urgent job, explain that you're going to ask them a 25% in advance and the rest to be paid upon delivery of your translation and not after because this is your new praxis. If they consider you a professional they'll agree, otherwise they'll look for somebody else who will have the same trouble.

[Edited at 2006-03-17 17:13]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 01:36
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Really Mar 17, 2006

Egmont wrote:

According to my experience only some Swiss enterprises do it...


Do Swiss translation agencies pay promptly? My experience are to the contrary. But last month an Indian agency paid within a week by bank transfer.
So one can not go by the nationality.
Regards
Heinrich


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M Stompor
Local time: 00:36
English to German
LWA is a good instrument, but should be modified a little bit (as outlined below) Mar 17, 2006

Well, some agencies may pay because of their interest, to work again with the particular translators, others because they have some "conscience" or "fear the wrath of the God(s)" they may deify.
But I suppose, that keeping a clean reputation is also a motivation.
I think, the "LWA-index" is a good instrument in this respect

(But I - maybe somewhat hairsplitting - would like to propse a "correction" or amendment and - at the same time simplification and improvement - with respect to the determination of the LWA (its "unit").

Normally (from a "scientific point of view") a likelihood has a value between 0 and 1 or 0% and 100%)
Is there any (serious) reason, to no modify the system in a corresponding manner, i.e. to use percentage values instead of "school marks" (0 or 0% = "never again"; 1 or 100% = "always")
An advantage would be a "finer ajustment" of the calculated average values and a much more simple averaging from the translator's feedbacks.
Of course, such a modification would require some new programming labour, but it would make the "LWA" a "much sharper sword" in rooting out "non- and latepayers" and "hidden credit borrowers"...)


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Nicola Bigwood  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:36
German to English
+ ...
Strike! :o) Mar 17, 2006

Hi there!

I have one particular agency I work for who are very good at contacting me frequently with work, but are very slow when it comes to payment. So far I have repeatedly e-mailed when payments are overdue, even indicating jobs that are due soon as well, just to drive the point home! I am now receiving payment for work but in a very strange order, completely unrelated to when I did the job or sent the invoice.

In reading the comments from everyone else, I just wondered whether another alternative would be to 'go on strike', i.e. explain that you are happy to do more work for them but, given that you keep experiencing problems with payment, you are not willing to do more work until you have received payment for previous work. After all, surely this is reasonable and better business practise?!

Good luck!

[Edited at 2006-03-17 20:07]


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Glyn Haggett  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:36
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
I agree with your main point Mar 17, 2006

Nicola - I can see where you're coming from with the idea of not doing any more work until you've seen payment for previous work, but I suspect you will have the problem others have mentioned above of losing the client altogether at some stage. It is then a question of whether you can afford to lose the client; I sometimes think it is better to "bite the bullet" and stop working for a client if they are causing too much stress, personally or financially, but you can then find yourself regretting it if you are short of work at a later stage.

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