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Chasing payment in France
Thread poster: Lagom
Lagom  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:18
Swedish to English
Aug 9, 2007

I am chasing payment for an invoice that was due to be paid by a French agency over a month ago. The project manager says that she cannot help as she 'knows nothing' and that I should contact the company accountant.

I am not used to having to chase clients and I am also unfamiliar with the French system. Could someone please offer some advice on the steps to take with regard to chasing payment from a French company?

Many thanks,
Ben


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 07:18
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
do not make yourself nervous Aug 9, 2007

I do not work for Frech agencies a lot, but being late with payment and several reminders is OK for them (like being 2 hours late for an appointment in France). And if you write to company head manager, and he/she asks to contact the accountant for that as he/she does not know anything about that, this is also normal. So, if you get payment with some 60-90 days of delay, this is normal with the French agencies. So, write to their accountant expecing a reply in a week or so (maybe earlier). And also add a note that you need money transferred to your bank account (not payment via cheque - I had a couple of agencies who sent me a cheque despite we agreed before the job that all goes via bank transfer. And even those cheques were written incorrectly and my bank did not accept them). So, be patient with the French agencies and if you want things just 1:1 as agreed, incl. payment exactly as agreed, French will be difficult to deal with - just do not get nervous if a French person is late

NB - I have nothing negative against French people or French agencies. This is just from my own experience. And this is the reason why I avoid French agencies.


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Lagom  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:18
Swedish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your opinion! Aug 9, 2007

just do not get nervous if a French person is late


Hi Marius,

Thanks for your opinion!

In fact the project manager got back to me this afternoon with the phrase 'I don't know anything about anything' and suggested that I chase the accountant!

As far as I am concerned my contract/agreement was with the project manager and I expect them to sort it out and not just pass the buck - especially as they and the accountant are most probably sitting opposite each other!

I'll give them until noon tomorrow and then hit the phone and mail again!

Ben


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 07:18
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
yes Aug 9, 2007

The project manager sits just next to the accountant or has to walk to another room in the office or leave a message to the accountant that "this and that translator requested payment" if the accountant is away - at the worst. But the PM will give you accountant's email at the very best and then you will have to write one more email with the invoice attached, explaining who are you and what you want, and wait a couple of days till the accountant replies. And be ready for at least one more reminder to the accountant when the payment date promised by the accountant becomes due And keep your fingers crossed that the accountant does not work part-time (say, coming to the agency once per week for 3 hours). And if you call the boss, he/she will also tell you to contact the accountant

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Dubravka Hrastovec  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 06:18
English to Croatian
+ ...
This might help Aug 9, 2007

http://www.proz.com/topic/79444

Our France-based ProZ colleague Lori Cirefice has given some practical advice how to proceed in debt collection matters in France...


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xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 06:18
French to English
+ ...
August Aug 10, 2007

FYI - Not sure where your agency is based etc. but one thing is certain, a very, very large part of France packs its bags and goes on holiday in August. I live in a street full of shops and 90% of them have closed for the whole of the month (they also take advantage of the closure to refurbish with all the noise and mess, but that's another story).

Basically getting any sense or even any answers out of people in France before the beginning of September would be an enormous exploit. At the moment I'm chasing a plumber for a friend who is abroad and I can tell you that all their phones recite the same message..... (sorry, we are away...).

This doesn't solve your problem but I suggest that during August, you review your options and not expect too much for the next few weeks.

One last point, from what I know, payment deadlines of 30, 60 or even 90 days are common in France (plus the famous "on the 10th of the following month"). What conditions did you have in your contract with them (order form)? That may go some way to explaining your predicament.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:18
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
France in August Aug 10, 2007

MariusV wrote:

The project manager sits just next to the accountant or has to walk to another room in the office or leave a message to the accountant that "this and that translator requested payment" if the accountant is away - at the worst. But the PM will give you accountant's email at the very best and then you will have to write one more email with the invoice attached, explaining who are you and what you want, and wait a couple of days till the accountant replies. And be ready for at least one more reminder to the accountant when the payment date promised by the accountant becomes due And keep your fingers crossed that the accountant does not work part-time (say, coming to the agency once per week for 3 hours). And if you call the boss, he/she will also tell you to contact the accountant


Or indeed the PM may actually be the "comptable" wearing another hat. But seriously, getting paid by French agencies is often (not always) a pain, especially in August when the "comptable", boss, etc. are invariably away on holiday. No excuse really, as I'm sure the staff, rent, etc. get paid even when/if the "comptable" is away. Bookkeepers seem to take more than the average number of holidays. Maybe we should all give up translating and become bookkeepers ...
I do work for one French agency that is meticulous about paying on time, but ... les autres, c'est l'enfer (with apologies to Jean-Paul).
And then, the entire French nation closes down for August when everyone who is anyone is at the seaside.
Keep badgering them.
Méfie-toi!
Et bonne chance,
Jenny.


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