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A check instead of agreed bank transfer - what shall I do?
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Oct 25, 2007

Some time ago one USA/Canada based agency contacted me requesting for my translation services. As usual, we corresponded by emails with the person in charge and agreed on all usual tehnical issues and conditions: rate, payment term and way of payment (agreed to settle via bank), other things plaplapla. All seemed clear and fine.

The jobs were random and small-scale (urgent press releases from 0.5 to 1.5 pages). I waited just on a friendly basis to accumulate a certain amount for the bank transfer to be reasonable and did not issue them an invoice (as not to waste time for invoicing of each job and not to waste their money for sending me 50 USD by bank). All seemed OK so far.

A couple of days ago I received an email notification from their accountant that a CHECK for 127.71 USD was mailed to me (despite that I have NOT issued any invoice for them yet). Another thing - the payment due from them for my jobs is 263.43 USD. At least it is so in their "online database" that I can get into (with two jobs thei are refusing to pay marked "due payment 0.000 USD"). Third thing - they did not include those two jobs worth over 90 USD because their quality was not sufficient. And the ONLY problem with the quality was that the diacritic fonts were distorted because the their client did not have the right text processing software when opening the files - and their "huge" "Quality Assurance Team" did not even bother to look if all opens OK. Simply forwarded the texts received from me to the client (this is how an ISO-certified quality assurance works at some agencies). They could not indicate even a single problem with quality apart those distorted diacritic fonts that are seen OK in my computer and that, I am fully confident, is not a problem of mine (or, at least, they could notify that the diacritics are distorted BEFORE sending the job to the client and we, I am sure, could solve the problem). Now the refusal to pay these 90 USD is "motivated" that the "client was not happy"...So, how shall I make the client happy - dance around, or tell the client some stupid jokes about blondes to "feel them happy"?

So, all in all, instead of the amount of ca. 355 USD to be settled via bank transfer (and being friendly not invoicing them for each 40-50 USD to be paid), I am to receive a check for 127 USD that will take me half a working day to cash waiting at the bank, filling piles of papers, waiting for 8 weeks till the money arrives and paying for the bank services over 40 USD to get those 127 USD?

The questions:

1) do you think it is serious from the agency - how can they change the agreements on a unilateral basis (check instead of bank transfer and decrease in payment without any actuall substantiation)?

2) how can I get rid of their check ? I really do not want their check, let alone - the amount in it. Can I send it back to them?

Can you help/advise me to untangle this situation? Please help.

It seems I have "cleaned" my client list, but again some frauds are creeping into, wasting time, and positive energy that could be spent on serious and decent agencies...+ I think it is my last time I ever work with USA/Canada based agencies as it seems 9 of 10 of USA/Canada agencies are terribly disorganized, offer monkey nut rates, huge payment terms, and are really not professional (how can one blame the translator for "quality problems" if they use wrong software), they are changing the agreements as soon as they receive translations? It seems to be a tendency already...

And the money - it is not so big, but it was decently earned doing hard work (I am not a lawyer who can issue an invoice for several thousands just for getting up in the morning and thinking about the issues of the client for 10 minutes). Somehow, I do not want to leave it for them on a charity basis.

Regards,

MariusV


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 21:55
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
What can be done Oct 25, 2007

1. Don't cash the check. After a certain period (I think they are valid for three months), it will be cancelled autonatically.
2. Contact the big boss there. Try to get things strate - quote your emails exchanged with the PM, etc - and ask for explanation.
3. If it doesn't help, let them know you will post information about their payment practices for open access (BB for one)
4. It's the first time I hear about a client paying without an invoice sent... hardly any help though.
5. Don't jump to nation-wise conclusions - the location of an agency has nothing to so with its practices.

Good luck!
Oleg


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Carolin Haase  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:55
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Take action! Oct 25, 2007


1) do you think it is serious from the agency - how can they change the agreements on a unilateral basis (check instead of bank transfer and decrease in payment without any actuall substantiation)?

2) how can I get rid of their check ? I really do not want their check, let alone - the amount in it. Can I send it back to them?



1) Yes, I think they are serious- something similar happened to me once, maybe it was even the same agency...? Deducing money just like that on thin grounds is not acceptable- what about an email to the CEO? Same about the change of payment arrangements.

2. Send the cheque back with a nice letter explaining why you refused it and include a reminder for the amount that still needs to be paid plus mailing expenses - don't forget to set a payment date and to send it via registered mail.

I did this once and it worked....

Good luck!
Carolin

Carolin

[Edited at 2007-10-25 16:13]


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John Farebrother  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
French to English
+ ...
Get tough Oct 25, 2007

Send them your invoice for services rendered, specifying agreed method of payment and deadline;
inform them you will return the cheque if it arrives;
inform them you will pass the matter to a debt collection agency if payment is not received as agreed.


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 20:55
English to Norwegian
+ ...
stop Oct 25, 2007

Stop working for that agency.
It is not worth the aggravation.
Return the check. If they do not pay as agreed - take legal action or chalk it up to experience - whichever you prefer.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
for your 5th point Oct 25, 2007

Oleg Rudavin wrote:

5. Don't jump to nation-wise conclusions - the location of an agency has nothing to so with its practices.

Good luck!
Oleg


Dear Oleg,

Well, "nation-wise conclusions" is not rather ethical nor logical - there are good and bad agencies everywhere. But what I wanted to say is that I never have problems working for European agencies, but as soon as I take a job from USA - 99 % probability that there will be something wrong. Do not know why, but this is just my own experience or simple coincidences. I have nothing negative against Americans as a "nation"...


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Rosa Diez Tagarro  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:55
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
a misunderstanding? worth an e-mail or two! Oct 25, 2007

Hi, Marius,

Maybe this was some mistake they made (somebody forgot they should not send you a cheque, new staff around...) and there is some misunderstanding about the other jobs.

I would try and send them a firm but friendly message before taking further action. Just remind them about your payment terms and tell them about the other jobs, straight and clear.

It has sometimes happened to me, that I have been worried about a particular customer (delayed payment, unreasonable end customer, you name it) only to find later that when you explain your point of view and keep calm, many issues are satisfactorily solved.

Best of luck!

Rosa


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:55
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
I would not return the cheque Oct 25, 2007

Accepting the cheque does not imply that the full amount of money has been received and accepted.

I would cash the cheque and immediately credit it as a "payment to account" and send them out a reminder for the rest.

Astrid


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
have tried, but Oct 25, 2007

Rosa Diez Tagarro wrote:

Hi, Marius,

Maybe this was some mistake they made (somebody forgot they should not send you a cheque, new staff around...) and there is some misunderstanding about the other jobs.

I would try and send them a firm but friendly message before taking further action. Just remind them about your payment terms and tell them about the other jobs, straight and clear.

It has sometimes happened to me, that I have been worried about a particular customer (delayed payment, unreasonable end customer, you name it) only to find later that when you explain your point of view and keep calm, many issues are satisfactorily solved.

Best of luck!

Rosa


Dear Rosa,

Sent already the 4th email about that explaining the situation clear and exact (just as you say). These emails went like into the water. It does not seem they react. Will write one more tomorrow, will make a phonecall and will wait for a week or so. I hardly believe even if their check comes (I already do not believe they have sent it)...


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Vidmantas Stilius  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Cashing a cheque Oct 25, 2007

Dear Marius,

If you hold an account with a Lithuanian bank (procedures are similar in all of them), you do not need to spend half a day to hand in a cheque for cashing (you can fill out the form in advance, it's very simple). Cashing takes max 4 weeks, not 8 weeks. The charge for this amount would be ca USD 2.50 (and not USD 40).

Indeed, accountants leave much to be desired. A US agency used to send me cheques for amounts that never corresponded to the invoice amounts (up to USD 24.00 in my favour). I tried to explain things (made up lists of invoices, etc.), but in vain. So finally I gave up (after all, the amounts were in my favour).


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:55
English to German
+ ...
Don't!! Oct 25, 2007

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Accepting the cheque does not imply that the full amount of money has been received and accepted.

I would cash the cheque and immediately credit it as a "payment to account" and send them out a reminder for the rest.

Astrid


Hi Astrid,

Here is how it works in the US: As soon as you cash a check, even with the note "under protest" written on it, you agree to the amount as well as to the payment method. Marius' chances of getting the rest of the money will be zero then.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I do not need their check Oct 25, 2007

[/quote]

Hi Astrid,

Here is how it works in the US: As soon as you cash a check, even with the note "under protest" written on it, you agree to the amount as well as to the payment method. Marius' chances of getting the rest of the money will be zero then. [/quote]

Dear Nicole,

Thanks for your advice! I really DO NOT need their check. Just for a very simple reason - we agreed to settle payment via BANK TRANSFER. And if I accept their check, it will mean I accept their unileteral change to our transaction. Is that so?

Btw, can I simply send a photocopy of the check back to them (maybe directly to their CEO) with a registered formal letter that "Sorry, but I do not accept your check nor will use it as payment receipt because it is a rude breach of our agreement - here is the invoice that I ask you to pay via bank transfer just as we agreed and for the amount we agreed, and as soon as I get payment from you from your bank, I will send back your check. Please settle the payment within 30 days from the receipt of the letter as otherwise I will have no other choice as to undertake legal actions for debt collection and will make this issue public" ? Of course, will have to put it in a much more diplomatic and more formal way...


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:55
English to German
+ ...
Return the original check Oct 25, 2007

MariusV wrote:



And if I accept their check, it will mean I accept their unileteral change to our transaction. Is that so?

Btw, can I simply send a photocopy of the check back to them (maybe directly to their CEO) with a registered formal letter that "Sorry, but I do not accept your check nor will use it as payment receipt because it is a rude breach of our agreement - here is the invoice that I ask you to pay via bank transfer just as we agreed and for the amount we agreed, and as soon as I get payment from you from your bank, I will send back your check. Please settle the payment within 30 days from the receipt of the letter as otherwise I will have no other choice as to undertake legal actions for debt collection and will make this issue public" ? Of course, will have to put it in a much more diplomatic and more formal way...

[/quote]

Hi Marius,

1. Correct. If you accept the check, you would agree to the change to the transaction.

2. Return the ORIGINAL check, not a copy, via certified mail, together with printouts of your email correspondence / PO, with the parts highlighted where the payment method is stated and keep copies for your own records. Otherwise nothing will happen for months until a US check is officially void. If they have to "block" the check at their bank, it will cost them about $30.00, which in return they might try to deduct from your payment...

3. Don't offer additional 30 days after receipt of the letter. The payment is overdue already.

Note: Sending money via bank transfer takes forever (and your payment would have been automatically late). A wire transfer works immediately, but is expensive. It is possible that the accounting department simply followed company policies and wasn't allowed to spend that much money on banking fees. Maybe the PM forgot to forward the special instructions. Sometimes the right hand doesn't know what the left hand does..


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
maybe a simplier solution? Oct 25, 2007

Nicole Schnell wrote:

MariusV wrote:



And if I accept their check, it will mean I accept their unileteral change to our transaction. Is that so?

Btw, can I simply send a photocopy of the check back to them (maybe directly to their CEO) with a registered formal letter that "Sorry, but I do not accept your check nor will use it as payment receipt because it is a rude breach of our agreement - here is the invoice that I ask you to pay via bank transfer just as we agreed and for the amount we agreed, and as soon as I get payment from you from your bank, I will send back your check. Please settle the payment within 30 days from the receipt of the letter as otherwise I will have no other choice as to undertake legal actions for debt collection and will make this issue public" ? Of course, will have to put it in a much more diplomatic and more formal way...



Hi Marius,

1. Correct. If you accept the check, you would agree to the change to the transaction.

2. Return the ORIGINAL check, not a copy, via certified mail, together with printouts of your email correspondence / PO, with the parts highlighted where the payment method is stated and keep copies for your own records. Otherwise nothing will happen for months until a US check is officially void. If they have to "block" the check at their bank, it will cost them about $30.00, which in return they might try to deduct from your payment...

3. Don't offer additional 30 days after receipt of the letter. The payment is overdue already.

Note: Sending money via bank transfer takes forever (and your payment would have been automatically late). A wire transfer works immediately, but is expensive. It is possible that the accounting department simply followed company policies and wasn't allowed to spend that much money on banking fees. Maybe the PM forgot to forward the special instructions. Sometimes the right hand doesn't know what the left hand does..


[/quote]


Dear Nicole,

Maybe I could make a simplier solution? I think instead of the time wasted with them I could earn more cash working with normal clients.

1) I "simplify" the situation by demanding the actual amount that is actually due even by check.

2) cash the check even for whatever amount

3) forget about them

4) make this issue public on proz BB

I think that it is much better than wasting time for emails with them, phonecalls, etc. - during same 4-5 hours I can easily make money working for a decent client. And if they think their reputation costs only a couple of hundred USD, let it be so. But will never delete a "1" posting from BB?


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:55
English to German
+ ...
I know it's annoying Oct 25, 2007

MariusV wrote:

1) I "simplify" the situation by demanding the actual amount that is actually due even by check.

2) cash the check even for whatever amount

3) forget about them

4) make this issue public on proz BB




Hi Marius,

1. Definitely demand the actual amount.

2. If you want your money in full, don't cash the check

3. After the ordeal: good idea

4. BB entry: What would make me slightly hesitant is the fact that they sent you money before receipt of an invoice. Which is a nice touch, actually. I am the laziest invoice writer on this planet. Good agencies send money anyway when it's due. But that's only a personal experience which shouldn't influence your decision.

However, if you are dealing with one of those black sheep, why would you let them get away with it and work for free? This way we are literally BREEDING them.

The thing with the distorted fonts is pathetic. Send them screen shots or PDFs of how it is supposed to look like with a friendly reminder regarding upgrades and demand the full payment for your work.


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