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Direct client: how to deal with?
Thread poster: Chantal Kamgne
Chantal Kamgne  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:34
Member (2006)
English to French
Aug 21, 2006

This is the first time I am approached by a client who is not an agency, hence has no BB LWA. It may be surprising but I dont know how to negociate payment conditions with direct clients not in my country. Should I require part of the payment to be made upfront until I know the client? Note: it is a very short job, but the potential client is promising more to come.

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mystymy
Local time: 11:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
state price Aug 21, 2006

Just state your price, then ask for half upfront. They may not wish to pay upfront though.

Check out the websites, google, anything else to get background information. If it is just a short job, really short you can do it and then ask for payment. If they pay -you have a new client if not-well you know never to work for them again.

Unfortunately sometimes non-payment happens, that is why only perform the job, if it is really short, if it interests you, or if it is an area you wish to gain expertise (say astronomy or ancient poetry).

But then again there are direct clients who pay promptly and then you have a new client.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:34
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
No, you have to take a risk Aug 21, 2006

Hello Chantal,

No, it is not normally acceptable to ask someone to pay a deposit in advance. If you engage in business, then you have to be prepared to take risks. However, the risks only need to be small. If you do a small job for a client, the client should pay, within the time set, before you take on a second job. A good client will perfectly understand that.

To decide whether or not to take on the new client at all in the first place, you have to use your own judgement, though, if your only contact is by e-mail, that can be difficult. A telephone conversation might give you a better impression of the prospective client.

I would tend to trust a company, on the whole, more than an unknown individual. You do not say which country the prospective client is in, or whether you are talking about a company or a person. In some countries you can check the payment practices of companies at credit reference agencies, or check if they are on the Commercial Register.

Decide whether you can afford to take risks - and, if so, what the limit is on the initial credit that you are willing to grant. If you cannot afford to take any risk, then you will automatically have to turn down any prospective client who is an unknown factor to you.

Astrid


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:34
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
A little advance research might be helpful Aug 21, 2006

Hi Chantal,

If you haven't already done so, you might want to research the client a bit through Google, to find out what you can about the business - and if it is genuine, also make sure it's not one of those 419 scams. I received a scam attempt through ProZ a couple of months ago, so be warned.

I have no experience with asking for upfront payments, but I'm sure other colleagues who do will post here and offer some good advice. You also might want to search the forum for threads on this topic, as it comes up regularly.

Good luck.
Woodstock


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Sophia Hundt  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:34
Russian to English
+ ...
It's most likely ok to accept the job Aug 21, 2006

Chantal Kamgne wrote:

This is the first time I am approached by a client who is not an agency, hence has no BB LWA. It may be surprising but I dont know how to negociate payment conditions with direct clients not in my country. Should I require part of the payment to be made upfront until I know the client? Note: it is a very short job, but the potential client is promising more to come.


Dear Chantal,

I would accept it since it's a very short job and will probably not cost you much of your valuable time. Most likely it will be OK. But I would indeed Google the person first. You can certainly try asking part of the payment up front, as I don't think this would make a bad impression on the client, but I usually don't.

Regards,
Sophia


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sokolniki  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:34
English to Russian
+ ...
Small contract or email confirmation.. Aug 21, 2006

is a must, with all the details. Except for once, I had no problem with direct clients finding me on the ATA website, Houston Translators Association website or just Google. And some of them became return clients. In addition to contract or email confirmation remember to bring an invoice on the final day of interpretation assignment or send it together with the translation. For several days of interpretation better request to be paid on a daily basis - one client almost had a heart attack when he saw the final invoice for the entire week although he was well aware of the hourly rate. Also, remember parking/other related expenses reimbursement. I actually had more headache getting paid on time by agencies than by direct clients. Good luck!

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Dina Abdo  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 18:34
Member (2005)
Arabic
+ ...
Talking a very small job ... Aug 22, 2006

Why not just take your chances? A non-payer would go for not paying for a small job anyway. But if it's a good client, then why to miss a good opportunity. Beside, nothing's wrong with asking for an up-front payment ... I do that with new clients for high volume jobs, and even with trusted clients if the job volume is REAL BIG.

Some clients demand high volume jobs that may take you months of working and they set a term of not paying but after 30 days from the date of the invoice ... cool, but I need to make a living. So why not pay me an up-front sum, and pay the rest later?

Yet, in your case, I guess you'll have to take your chances after all.

Good Luck


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 23:34
English to Indonesian
+ ...
In my experience Aug 22, 2006

I always ask for up front payment for direct clients.

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Chantal Kamgne  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:34
Member (2006)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Individual Aug 22, 2006

Sorry I forgot to mention that the prospective client is an architect from France. But like some of you are saying the risk is minimal since it is not a very big job. Maybe I will take a chance.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:34
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Always take the risk for small jobs, I'd say Aug 22, 2006

Chantal Kamgne wrote:
This is the first time I am approached by a client who is not an agency, hence has no BB LWA.


Whatever BB LWA means, right? If the job is small, take the risk. There is nothing wrong with demanding payment upfront, but I have always worked on the basis of payment after the job is done, and I know many translators do that.


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Flo Demolis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:34
French to English
+ ...
Try the "pages jaunes" Aug 22, 2006

Hi Chantal,

You say your potential client is an architect who lives in France. One easy way of checking his identity is is to look him up in the yellow pages: http://www.pagesjaunes.fr/
I presume he has given you his name and address? If he is in the yellow pages, then I would go ahead. If he has a website, there will be a link to it from the yellow pages too. I would say that an architect who goes to the trouble of writing to you really does need a translation and has chosen you to do it. Don't wait too long, or he'll look elsewhere.

HTH

Flo Démolis aka FrenchtoEnglish


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:34
English to German
+ ...
You *can* take a risk, but you don't have to Aug 22, 2006

Astrid, I beg to disagree...


No, it is not normally acceptable to ask someone to pay a deposit in advance. If you engage in business, then you have to be prepared to take risks. However, the risks only need to be small. If you do a small job for a client, the client should pay, within the time set, before you take on a second job. A good client will perfectly understand that.


I find it perfectly acceptable to request partial payment in advance from an unknown counterparty; in fact, I have done so with large corporations in the past.

Whether advance payment makes sense with a small job is a different matter, of course... and this is where I wholeheartedly agree with you:


Decide whether you can afford to take risks - and, if so, what the limit is on the initial credit that you are willing to grant. If you cannot afford to take any risk, then you will automatically have to turn down any prospective client who is an unknown factor to you.

Astrid

Precisely - taking risks is part of being in business.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Sandra Petch
Local time: 17:34
French to English
+ ...
I don't think there is a big risk... Aug 22, 2006

Hello Chantal

Flo (French to English) has given you some good advice.

In some 12 years of freelancing in France I've never had a problem with payment (touch wood!).

I always send a written quote ("devis") and ask for it to be returned by fax, signed and with the words "bon pour accord". Everyone finds this totally normal procedure and you may like to do the same. In fact, many clients appreciate knowing in advance exactly how much the translation will cost.

Your client may find it strange that you should ask for payment upfront (this does imply a lack of trust).

Just be aware that payment times in France can be lengthy. 3 months isn't unusual!

Best of luck!
Sandra


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