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How to claim cash from clients?
Thread poster: Dina Abdo

Dina Abdo  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 12:23
Member (2005)
Arabic
+ ...
Mar 23, 2006

This is crazy ... but I can't really think of a way, so I'm asking for your help!!

How do you send a client asking for your payment due since several months?? I have a large sum of cash kept here and there with different clients now!

I'll give you an example:

An agency I contracted with, they kept sending me jobs over the past 6 months and I never got paid until today! I usually get paid with PayPal, and they told me they don't support it, then they said they do. I dealt with different PMs and I can't even figure out who should I be sending my questions regarding payment to!! All PMs are so nice to me, the contract signed was a work of a professional, their Purchase Orders are perfect and they always ask for my invoices; but they just didn't pay me!

Some of my clients (some regular other new) owe me several payments. I have three of them asked me to wait for the payment because they can't cover it right now ... I did. Now it's been months and I heard nothing from them. Sent them reminder notes but had no response. And one of them is a very good client of mine actually, and I'm just too embarrased of asking for my cash again ... I'm sure he just forgot about it!! And I hate the idea I have to remind him!! He never did it before, and I always get paid on time, except for this time.

These are just some few examples! I don't wish to scare my clients away, but I also can't wait for months before getting paid! If I'm to wait for 3 or 4 months on every payment due, then how am I supposed to make a living!!!!

Now ... I'm seeking your suggestions on:

1. Any special ways I can ask for my payment with without having my client feeling pushed

2. How long should I wait before posting a negative comment on a BB record?

3. How can I avoid similar situations in the future?

Please help


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Ana Cuesta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:23
Member
English to Spanish
Keep it professional Mar 23, 2006

Instead of inquirying/explaining, etc., send them a REMINDER: PAST DUE INVOICE(S) which could be a copy of the invoice if it is just one or a list of invoices details if several. No need to add anything else, apart from the date, a Thankyou and your signature.

That should do the trick with the client which just forgot about your invoice, push it a bit for the ones which were letting it be, and constitute a necessary first step towards legally recovering your money if things get to that point.

Good luck!


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:23
English to German
+ ...
Good client? Mar 23, 2006

Hi Dina,
I would also advise to be polite, but firm.

And one of them is a very good client of mine actually,

To me, any client who's late in paying invoices is not a 'good client'...

and I'm just too embarrased of asking for my cash again ...

There is nothing at all to be embarrassed about - you're asking for fulfilment of a contractual obligation to yourself, not for a gift.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Dina Abdo  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 12:23
Member (2005)
Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Ana and Ralf ... Mar 23, 2006

for your responses. I think that I'm mostly asking about the point on which I should start going after my non-paying client.

I can be firm and I can be professional. I can submit polite notes as you both suggested. But if I get no response to my polite notes (and "if" isn't the case here as it happened to me already)...Then, how far can I go asking for my payment?

And a question remains, how long should I wait before considering a client a non-paying client? How long should I wait before posting a similar note on my client's BB record? Similar notes are insulting ... client's don't accept them easily, and the easiest thing they can do is to deny any past work I made for them for example. I've seen it before, "We never hired xxx's services". This would lead into a negative image of MY profile among others viewing the record too!

Am I thinking right here??


[Edited at 2006-03-23 10:13]


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Lakshmi Iyer  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:23
Italian to English
+ ...
No money, no more translations Mar 23, 2006

Hi Dina,

I had a client drag their feet over payment recently. I sent them a polite but very firm note informing them I wouldn't be able to take on any new translation projects - including the terribly urgent ones they needed done asap - until my outstanding invoice had been paid. I was sent a cheque the very next day.

It sounds as though your clients are taking you for granted, possibly because you've been understanding - too understanding, perhaps? I'd send them a list of all your outstanding invoices with a firm reminder that you will be unable to take on any more work until the invoices have been settled. Don't be embarrassed about asking for your payments RIGHT NOW: why on earth should you be embarrassed? It's not as if they're doing you a favour paying you: you earned that money. Believe me, they'll actually respect you for it.

In the future, don't hestitate to issue a reminder as soon as a payment deadline has expired: if you wait for them to remember to pay you and keep accepting jobs in the meantime, they'll think you're not in any hurry to be paid.

Good luck - I do hope you get your payments soon.

Kaveri


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:23
English to German
+ ...
Depends on the countries involved Mar 23, 2006

Hi again,
It's impossible to give you specific guidance without knowing which cross-border legal issues may be involved. Before taking legal steps, you should seek advice on the costs involved.


But if I get no response to my polite notes (and "if" isn't the case here as it happened to me already)...Then, how far can I go asking for my payment?

Send a final reminder, preferably in writing or by fax.
Post a Blue Board entry.
Start collection procedures, either through a collection agency or through a solicitor in the debtor's country (beware of costs!).

And a question remains, how long should I wait before considering a client a non-paying client?

Personally, I consider a client's payment practices bad if they have exceeded agreed payment terms on two or more occasions, without a reasonable excuse (note that 'not having the funds right now' is not a reasonable excuse).

How long should I wait before posting a similar note on my client's BB record? Similar notes are insulting ... client's don't accept them easily, and the easiest thing they can do is to deny any past work I made for them for example. I've seen it before, "We never hired xxx's services". This would lead into a negative image of MY profile among others viewing the record too!

Don't hesitate to post a negative entry once your client is overdue. If they say you didn't work for them (but you can prove you did), contact a Jobs/BB moderator.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:23
German to English
+ ...
For whatever it's worth... Mar 23, 2006

...I can only agree with what my colleagues have said above. Go get your money! They would do the same if you owed them.

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Dina Abdo  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 12:23
Member (2005)
Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Well ... Mar 23, 2006

Kaveri wrote:

I'd send them a list of all your outstanding invoices with a firm reminder that you will be unable to take on any more work until the invoices have been settled.



Makes sense to me

Kaveri wrote:

It sounds as though your clients are taking you for granted, possibly because you've been understanding - too understanding, perhaps?


True! Something I can't deny and can't change easily!!

Kaveri wrote:

why on earth should you be embarrassed?


I don't know! I really don't know!! I just feel strange having to push them paying me! It all started when I decided having new clients. I never had similar troubles with my regular clients, but having these troubles all the time with my new ones only!

Kaveri wrote:

In the future, don't hestitate to issue a reminder as soon as a payment deadline has expired


Now that is a strategy I believe I should learn I think it's the only way to give them no chances for giving excuses such as "it was long time ago, give us some time to check it please" which was I received from a client a month ago ... and looks like he's still checking

Kaveri wrote:

Good luck - I do hope you get your payments soon.



Me too Thanks a lot Kaveri


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:23
Flemish to English
+ ...
5 ways Mar 23, 2006

1.Consult credit-collection agencies.
2 Next-time : ask a retainer.
3 Next-time : deliver half of the translation and ask for immediate payment.
3.Buy a airline-ticket to get the money at their door, wherevever they are. In some legal systems, a debt has to be collected at the door of the debtor.
4.Try to reclaim your money through the legal system (the longest way).
5. An effective method, I suggested before, which was considered "unethical", but which results in immediate payment. Applicable for those customers you never want to work for again.


[Edited at 2006-03-23 10:58]


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Dina Abdo  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 12:23
Member (2005)
Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Collection-Agency! That's new (to me)! Mar 23, 2006

Ralf Lemster wrote:

Don't hesitate to post a negative entry once your client is overdue. If they say you didn't work for them (but you can prove you did), contact a Jobs/BB moderator.


This makes it easier Ralf! Thank you

Williamson wrote:

1.Consult credit-collection agencies.
2 Next-time : ask a retainer.
3 Next-time : deliver half of the translation and ask for immediate payment.
3.Buy a airline-ticket to get the money at their door, wherevever they are. In some legal systems, a debt has to be collected at the door of the debtor.
4.Try to reclaim your money through the legal system (the longest way).
5. An effective method, I suggested before, which was considered "unethical", but which results in immediate payment. Applicable for those customers you never want to work for again.



Looks like you've been there a lot Williamson

One last thing; and please pardon my ignorance but ... what are collection agencies exactly?

It sounds to me as if an agency that can claim my cash on my behalf ... am I getting it right? And if yes, is it going into a legal process or what?


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:23
Flemish to English
+ ...
Credit-Collection Mar 23, 2006

For Europe : http://www.intrum.com/
If successful a credit-collection agency retains a percentage of the invoice as costs for its efforts..
If an invoice isn't paid, they take legal action.
However, I saw a link somewhere where the costs are charged to the non-paying client.
5. Was putting an encrypted password on your translation. But that is considered "unethical" by most members.
For others: google them.

[Edited at 2006-03-23 11:46]

[Edited at 2006-03-23 11:47]


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Nizamettin Yigit  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:23
Dutch to Turkish
+ ...
Past due invoices Mar 23, 2006

Hi Dina,

There are two sets of andswers for you:
- First set how should you collect past due invoices?
- Second how should you protect yourself from having more past due invoices?

First of all we should not forget that there should be up to 5% risk margine. What this means you should be prepared to have 5 percent of people not paying you with a legitimate or false reasons. If you reach statistically reliable number of data 5% is stil safe.

Beyond that here are my points:

- You should never feel ashamed of asking your money. Since this is a contract/agreement based transation or way of doing business they (the ones who dont pay or breake the aggrement) should be ashamed.

- Send your invoices after safely delivered notice or confirmation. If they did not confirm that they received the invoice send them a reminder e-mail or fax so they can confirm in written.

- Give alwasy a few days for international transaction before it is reflected to your bank account.

- If you stil did not receive/collect your money, send your first reminder and exactly same invoice again.

- Try to reach them and be always polite and firm.

- In the mean time send reminders via fax, e-mail and post every two weeks. (not every day or every hour, because you should act professionally)

- After minimum 6 past due notice invoices or untill spending the same amount of invoice for postage stop. Send them a first warning, firm an legal. Demand payment in certain amount of time. If you accept interest add interest into your invoice and update your invoice.

- The third warning is your final notice. Once you sent your final notice you are legitimately right to start a collection procedure. This final notice invoice should also show interest, fees, collection charges etc.

In the mean time if you have contact information of the final customer, the project owner, inform them as well.

Now to answer the second question:

- You may apply some or all of the answers of the first question.
Plus these may help you.

- Always ask written confirmation, contract, and all the information of company. Tax number, chamber of commerce regist number, telefon, fax, mobile if needed and e-mail.

- Always agree on a price and have them accept that in written.

- Dont do any work for the person who hesitates to provide their information. After 12 years first non paying customer was hesitating customer!!! Speaking of experience!!!

- Do not just jump into a project without trying to get information about the agency via databases etc. There are corporate credibility databases as well. Look into that...

- If you dont or can not find information about someone, ask your fellow translator who may have past experience. There are discussion groups for that purpose.

- If you find informations that makes you worried ask partial or complete prepayment.

I am % sure that it is not limited with these. Yet, I believe these may be helpful!!!

Good luck!

Nizam



[Edited at 2006-03-23 12:05]


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Dina Abdo  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 12:23
Member (2005)
Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks ... Mar 23, 2006

...for the link Williamson, and absolutely helpful tips Nizam

Thanks everybody


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 02:23
English to French
+ ...
Keep it professional Mar 23, 2006

Dina Abdo wrote:

And I hate the idea I have to remind him!!
don't wish to scare my clients away [/quote]

Hi Ustada Dina

I think the best way to approach this kind of quandary is a cold and professional attitude, "This is Dina Abdo of AMT, I am calling regarding invoices, etc." And yes, I would call them on the phone, and I would ask to speak with the accountant. PMs don't always handle money issues, accountants usually do.

Good luck, ustada!


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Dina Abdo  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 12:23
Member (2005)
Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Followed your advice :) Mar 23, 2006

sarahl wrote:

"This is Dina Abdo of AMT, I am calling regarding invoices, etc." And yes, I would call them on the phone, and I would ask to speak with the accountant.


As all suggested me contacting the clients directly, I went for calling them this evening and I'm getting more promises. I guess I'll have to wait until I find out which of their promises will come true

Thanks ya a7la ustada


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