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Client that makes stories when needing to pay
Thread poster: Katarina Andersson

Katarina Andersson  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:48
Member (2006)
Italian to Swedish
+ ...
Apr 5, 2006

Hello,

since a while I am working for a client, which often has quite a lot of work, but they are hopeless when it comes to paying. They pay very low rates and you also have to remind them over and over again about the payments always being overdue. So far they have paid finally. But since I raised my rates as I have opened a vat-number, they totally ignore to respond on emails about payment, when I phone they promised to pay 'next week' etc. Now they sent me 2 new orders. So I asked the PM nicely to remind to settle my invoices, possibly, before I would deliver this translation etc.

Then she replies that my latest invoices have been blocked due to the fact that a customer has complained about a job done last year and that they still need to sort that out. However, she hopes that I will trust them and deliver this current job and wait for further info about the payments.

Now, this job was done last sept/oct and I have already been paid for that. As it was a large project with unreasonable deadlines, they hired another unexperienced young translator and I had to in a few hours try and put some reasoning into those chaotic translations. They paid very lowrates for my proofing, but said that it was the only way they could do it to keep up the clients time schedule. (Now I know that this is not the procedure of a serious job, but they begged me to help them as far as I could and I tried to do that.)

Coming back to the payment, I feel that this is just a trick of them to delay my payments more as they are a bit pissed of because I raised the rates and because they would prefer to ignore the 60 day payment terms, thus paying invoices once every 5-6 months to not need to do too many wire transfers.

What would you do? At this point I am really angry, and I haven't phoned them yet, because I am too angry with them today. However, I would just want to get paid, not pissing them off too much, because I fear they will not pay me if I say something improper or so.

Thanks,

Katarina.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:48
English to German
+ ...
Assert your rights Apr 5, 2006

Hi Katarina,

Then she replies that my latest invoices have been blocked due to the fact that a customer has complained about a job done last year and that they still need to sort that out. However, she hopes that I will trust them and deliver this current job and wait for further info about the payments.

Yeah, right...


Coming back to the payment, I feel that this is just a trick of them to delay my payments more as they are a bit pissed of because I raised the rates and because they would prefer to ignore the 60 day payment terms, thus paying invoices once every 5-6 months to not need to do too many wire transfers.

This is ridiculous - I hope by now you will have realised that this is not a good client.

What would you do? At this point I am really angry, and I haven't phoned them yet, because I am too angry with them today. However, I would just want to get paid, not pissing them off too much, because I fear they will not pay me if I say something improper or so.

Acting in a temper is never a good idea, so it's ok not to call them right now. I would not take on anything else unless pending invoices are settled.

Good luck,
Ralf


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 04:48
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Refuse projects until all outstanding fees are paid in full Apr 5, 2006

I believe you must be firm about it. It costs them nothing to keep delaying your payments. If they are truly interested in working with you, they will pay up.

Past experience has shown that keeping on being trustful and subservient to clients even as they violate your rights is not only detrimental to your cash flow and income, but it deteriorates your spirit and your trust in the translation business.

If you respect yourself, you gotta make others respect you, too.


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Katarina Andersson  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:48
Member (2006)
Italian to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks for your advice Apr 5, 2006

Hello again,

yes, Ralf I definitely have realised that they are not a good client:-( even though I for a long time really wanted to trust them.

Actually, I replied to the PM before (forgot to mention that previously) that I will not deliver any of the current translation unless they settle my invoices first etc. So far no reply to that. Tomorrow I'll call them, uff.

Thanks a lot,

Katarina.


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Tina Jylhä  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:48
Member (2005)
English to Finnish
+ ...
I used to have a client like that... Apr 5, 2006

but I would never work for them again. Deadlines were tight, subjects very challenging, they also didnt pay the agreed rates. When they wanted something, they wanted it immediately. But I had to wait for payments for months and worry, if I would be paid at all.
I sent tens of emails (no answer), phoned the PM, phoned the manager etc., was just told all kinds of possible excuses. In the end, after 5 months of waiting for 2000 euros, I called them to tell that I would give them 1 on BB, if they dont pay immediately and after that it took only one hour for them to call me to inform that they had transferred the money (200 € short, but at least I got finally rid of them!).
But guess what happened after that: the PM had guts to contact me twice to ask, if I could give them number 5 on the BB! I really enjoyed explaining to them kindly that they are not worth even 2. They offered me jobs also after that, but I have refused them.
This company has quite a high average value on BB (consisting of 1's and 5's), and sad bad true, I suspect that this value is partly manipulated by them.

Be tough with them and good luck


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:48
Hopefully this client does not represent a big portion of your income... Apr 5, 2006

If this is the case, just wait until they pay you, and then tell them you are busy whenever they need your services.

However, if this is an important client (in terms of volume) the above solution might be a little bit more difficult to implement in the short term.

I do not know much about the law in Italy (assumig your client is in Italy), but would it support you if you wanted to charge an interest on past due invoices? Just letting them know that you intend to enforce this right might speed up their payments to you.

In any case, diversify your clients' base and try to get rid of bad payers! Good luck!

[Edited at 2006-04-05 19:09]


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Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2002)
Swedish
+ ...
Lots of work is good - but the paid orders are better Apr 5, 2006

Hej Katarina,

In addition to the good advices which have been mentioned already, let the client know that you insist in payment right away.

We now and then hear that old story from some translation agencies that the end-client has paid yet and so on. That's an old, boring and well-known story for many translators - unfortunately.

- You have a business relationship with the agency, and not with the end-client (or whoever pays the agency). Payment terms between you and the agency are in no way affected by any payment whatsoever from any other actors in the long chain.

- Have them understand that you are planning to charge interests for late payment.

- What about copyright? Have you agreed on the copyrights if the agency hasn't paid you yet?

- Have them understand that there are different fora and lists on the internet where such black sheep are mentioned. Of course, make sure that client doesn't see as a threat, but merely as an information (agency might get even more unwilling to pay). Could be the last step before contacting a lawyer.

And maybe you should ask yourself if you really need this client. Stop taking on more jobs from them until they have paid. After all, they're sitting on your money and getting interests for that!

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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Aurélie DANIEL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:48
English to French
+ ...
Get rid of them! Apr 5, 2006

I assume the only reason why you have coped with this awful behaviour is the volume of work they provide?

If that's the case, although it may be a bit scary, just get rid of them as soon as you can. Market yourself aggressively and find new customers. This bad experience will help you to be more demanding, and you'll be better off in the end.
And I agree with all the colleagues who answered before me.

Oh, and the excuse "our customer has not paid us" (for whatever reason) is simply outrageous. This is bad, bad management, and you deserve better!


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Katarina Andersson  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:48
Member (2006)
Italian to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for all your encouraging answers Apr 5, 2006

And the reason for having hanged on to this agency for so long is that they gave me quite a lot of work, and when I was finishing up my Ph.D. and shortly after that I needed money and did not think that much of the problem of having to nag them constantly about payments.

However, lately it has started to get really tiresome because they really just ignore me every time I ask them about payments. And today was really too much when they starting talking about problems with a job that was finished almost 6 months ago...a silly excuse not to pay.

Anyway, I will take your advise and be tough with them:-)
And I really do not want to work for them anymore anyway, because the time frames are always very tight and they are rather chaotic etc. But then I still have problems saying no...
When the PMs phone you they are always very nice of course, and they in turn are used by the not very nice owner...but then that's not really my problem.

Thanks,

Katarina.


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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:48
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Self-feeding circle Apr 6, 2006

Katarina,
it's just a self-feeding circle. The more you work with this kind of clients, the less time you have to look for and find better clients.
I was in the same situation with a client of mine. He actually paid (even though after 70-90 days) without hassles, but the rate was low, and he had unreasonable demands: everything was always urgent, jobs would arrive at 3 pm to be delivered at midnight, source texts were usually badly written so a lot of unpaid time was spent in asking clarifications, then asking further explanations on unclear clarifications, and so on.
I had been working for that client since 2001 and I was afraid of losing a steady income (I have to support a family of 5). However, last August I had really enough and refused to take any new job. Well, after 6 months I can tell you that I replaced such client with other clients who pay better rates and have more reasonable deadlines. Looking back, I just ask myself why it took so long to leave that client. Sometimes it's just fear of the unknown that makes us continuing unhealthy relationships.

Laura


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Katrin Hollberg  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:48
Japanese to German
+ ...
Abolutely true Apr 6, 2006

Laura, you're so right!

I do not have any clients who pay later than 30 days after the delivered translation/invoice...

Try to create your own workplace atmosphere which comforts you and your clients as well. I rely on slowly establishing business relationships that will last for a while and always ignore requests done by the sort mentioned above.


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Katarina Andersson  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:48
Member (2006)
Italian to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks again to all of you Apr 6, 2006

After my email answer stating I would not deliver any translation until I would receive the due payments, they this afternoon sent an email saying they had assigned the jobs to another translator...nothing more. And actually I saw that they last week had put adds on translatorscafe' looking for Swedish mothertongue translators.

Anyway, my friend who's a lawyer have now gioven me some advices too and will help me deal with this tiresome agency.

Katarina.


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gad
United States
Local time: 21:48
Member
French to English
The oldest trick in the book for bad payers Apr 7, 2006

lampedus wrote:

Then she replies that my latest invoices have been blocked due to the fact that a customer has complained about a job done last year and that they still need to sort that out. However, she hopes that I will trust them and deliver this current job and wait for further info about the payments.

Now, this job was done last sept/oct and I have already been paid for that. As it was a large project with unreasonable deadlines, they hired another unexperienced young translator and I had to in a few hours try and put some reasoning into those chaotic translations. They paid very lowrates for my proofing, but said that it was the only way they could do it to keep up the clients time schedule. (Now I know that this is not the procedure of a serious job, but they begged me to help them as far as I could and I tried to do that.)

Coming back to the payment, I feel that this is just a trick of them to delay my payments more as they are a bit pissed of because I raised the rates and because they would prefer to ignore the 60 day payment terms, thus paying invoices once every 5-6 months to not need to do too many wire transfers.


Yes, I think it is a trick. It's too curious that the customer supposedly complained only when it comes time for you to get paid.


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gad
United States
Local time: 21:48
Member
French to English
Glad you didn't change it to a 5! Apr 7, 2006

Tina Jylhä wrote:

But guess what happened after that: the PM had guts to contact me twice to ask, if I could give them number 5 on the BB! I really enjoyed explaining to them kindly that they are not worth even 2. They offered me jobs also after that, but I have refused them.
This company has quite a high average value on BB (consisting of 1's and 5's), and sad bad true, I suspect that this value is partly manipulated by them.


They asked you for a 5? Why didn't they just follow good business practices and EARN a 5?


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:48
English to French
+ ...
Complaining after months... Apr 7, 2006

...is not only downright LAME, but also illegal in most countries. I have no idea about Europe, but in Canada, the law states that any client has the right to report unacceptable services/goods within ten days following the date of delivery. After that, said service/good is deemed to be fully accepted by the client and there is no further way to negotiate - unless otherwise agreed in a contract. I had someone tell me 9 months later (!) that they weren't going to pay as the client refused to pay for my "bad" translation - which I can guarantee was far from bad. I told the lady about the law and she paid. At least she had the decency to never contact me again for work - or maybe she was just ashamed to do so? Anyways, this is an old trick and eventually, someone will try to fool you with it.

I think this is what the other colleagues haven't mentioned yet. ALWAYS make a contract, in which you specifically state that the client has ten days or whatever is allowed by law in your country to disagree on quality. Also state what can be done in such case - sometimes, they will only contact you a couple weeks later saying they had somebody else proof your work and they are deducting the money for the proofing from your pay. Then, you discover that they actually NEVER proofed your work, as they published it exactly in the same shape you sent it back. Then there is dispute, and you have to worry - often to no avail. Also, you can put a clause in your contract where you reserve the right to correct your work yourself if they can tell you exactly what the problem is. As for routine proofing, of course, the client is responsible, they have to pay for it and they can't lower your pay to afford proofing.

Also, if the law in your country provides for this - as someone else mentioned it earlier - try to put into the contract that the translation remains your property until the full amount due for it is paid. In other words, if they don't pay within the specified dates and they have already used your translation, you can sue them - for more than the contract's worth. Then it becomes a copyright suit, not a mere non payment - which is taken much more seriously by involved parties, including the court.

Oh, and NEVER EVER let people influence your BB rating EVER EVER, even if they promise you whatever they will. Besides, how will you trust BB ratings after that? We all need to keep being honest on those, otherwise, the BB isn't going to be of any use.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2006-04-07 05:06]


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