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Payment problems: sorry, bit of a rant
Thread poster: Anne Key
Anne Key
Local time: 13:47
Dutch to English
+ ...
Oct 31, 2007

Hello everyone,

I know this topic has been endlessly discussed, but I felt the need to rant about late payment practices.

I have worked for this particular agency (based in the Netherlands) for seven years, and believed - naively, perhaps - that we had established a good working relationship.

However, this agency is becoming increasingly unreliable on the payment front. In June, I completed an assignment for them, and waited until September to receive payment. I accepted another assignment in September (reluctantly, jobs were thin on the ground so I had no choice). I specified a payment deadline of 30 days. I am still awaiting payment.

Most worryingly is the fact that this agency has failed to respond to any of my emails, phone calls and faxes. They recently relocated, and have not forwarded their new address details.

Although this agency has not shown any previous signs of non-payment, I am increasingly concerned that they are facing cashflow / liquidity problems.

I have sent a few "friendly reminders", but am seriously considering reporting the agency to the Blue Board, to protect other translators. Is this accepted / common practice?

Again, my apologies for the rant. I'm disappointed and frustrated by the fact that an agency, which I once regarded as a good client, appears to have slid down the slippery path of late / non-payment

All the best,

Anne



[Edited at 2007-10-31 17:57]


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 15:47
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
I have written this before Oct 31, 2007

We only accept jobs from outsourcers complying with EU "Directive 2000/35/EC" and respective National Laws:

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/regulation/late_payments/implementation.htm

If somebody starts ranting "yes, but our payment practices are 60, 90, 120 days, or forever", we just answer "how do you expect us to work with the client who does not have any respect his Country's Laws (link to respective Law from the link above added).

In 90% of cases works like a charm and we are not interested in the rest 10%.

As specifically to your case- please do not hesitate to post in the BB- if the outsourcer intends to stay in business, reaction usually is fast. If not- be prepared to take legal action.

Uldis

Oh yes, Directive 2000/35/EC and respective National Laws basically state that payment should be done in 30 days NET, UNLESS AGREED OTHERWISE. And we never agree "otherwise".

U.

[Rediģēts plkst. 2007-10-31 22:40]


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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:47
English to French
+ ...
this link is worth gold Nov 1, 2007

Anne, sorry to hear about your trouble. Report the agency and their new address to the BlueBoard please.

Uldis, thanks for the link, I made a copy of it and I think I might include it in my Terms and conditions !


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:47
English to Dutch
+ ...
Same here Nov 1, 2007

Only the agency that does not respond to my emails anymore is located in Germany.

First couple of jobs were handled perfectly, they even paid early. But not this one.
Sadly, there are a couple of colleagues who have given them a bad Blue Board rating and it does not seem to impress them. I'm thinking of finding a debt collector (the amount is nearly EUR 1400....)


As for this Dutch agency, their new address should be traceable. Companies don't just disappear into the great nothingness. Have you tried conctacting the CoC (KvK)?

Good luck!
Margreet


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jmadsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:47
How to convince agencies... Nov 1, 2007

Thanks! Always good to have legal arguments and references

But how do you convince agencies that they cannot unilaterally set the payment terms at e.g. 60 days, and that you as a freelancer are entitled to set the payment terms since you are the service provider and they are the client?

Jørgen


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Marion Rooijmans
Netherlands
Local time: 14:47
English to Dutch
+ ...
Good question Nov 1, 2007

Jørgen Madsen wrote:

But how do you convince agencies that they cannot unilaterally set the payment terms at e.g. 60 days, and that you as a freelancer are entitled to set the payment terms since you are the service provider and they are the client?



I'd like to know that as well. I often feel clients won't send me any work if I don't accept their terms


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:47
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
There's the rub Nov 1, 2007

Marion Rooijmans wrote:

Jørgen Madsen wrote:

But how do you convince agencies that they cannot unilaterally set the payment terms at e.g. 60 days, and that you as a freelancer are entitled to set the payment terms since you are the service provider and they are the client?



I'd like to know that as well. I often feel clients won't send me any work if I don't accept their terms


I am certain this is true. I very rarely* get paid within 30 days, although often it's only just over a month. I'm sure if I said I wanted to be paid faster, they would just not bother using my services any more. The most important issue as far as I am concerned is whether they actually pay. As there are so many stories out there about clients who haven't paid quite large sums of money, I am grateful to have long-standing relationships with agencies that always pay me, even if it takes them longer than 30 days to do so.

*clarification - I obviously don't pay enough attention to this detail. It would appear that I have three clients who usually pay me within a month, another around 45 and the rest take longer.

[Edited at 2007-11-01 15:56]


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 15:47
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
It's quite interesting! Nov 1, 2007

Nikki Graham wrote:

Marion Rooijmans wrote:

Jørgen Madsen wrote:

But how do you convince agencies that they cannot unilaterally set the payment terms at e.g. 60 days, and that you as a freelancer are entitled to set the payment terms since you are the service provider and they are the client?



I'd like to know that as well. I often feel clients won't send me any work if I don't accept their terms


I am certain this is true. I very rarely get paid within 30 days, although often it's only just over a month. I'm sure if I said I wanted to be paid faster, they would just not bother using my services any more. The most important issue as far as I am concerned is whether they actually pay. As there are so many stories out there about clients who haven't paid quite large sums of money, I am grateful to have long-standing relationships with agencies that always pay me, even if it takes them longer than 30 days to do so.


It's quite interesting - on the one hand, what does matter is clients' reliability ( and lingish тets can be put up with). On the other hand, there's a very interesting correlation: clients who pay lowest rates have longest nets (sometines up to 90 days + payment end of month, with occasional delays in payment "due to managerial problems"); clients who pay rates well above the average level have nets between of two to four weeks and work like a clock... until something really serious happens. Luckily, I didn't experience anything of the kind but a colleague of mine recently told me of a client he's been working for during five years or so without a single hitch in the payment, and here you are: the client simply disappeared (the amout due is quite substatial!)

Things to remember:
- No relationship nor client can be regarded as 100% reliable
- Never stop looking for additional (and better) clients - in particular, for these occasions
Have you noticed one important thing? QUOTE I often feel... I'm sure if UNQUOTE Have you tried - setting your own terms when you don't like those offered? It works!

Cheers,
Oleg


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Annelise Meyer  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:47
English to French
+ ...
I still learn things, thank you!! Nov 1, 2007

Uldis Liepkalns wrote:

We only accept jobs from outsourcers complying with EU "Directive 2000/35/EC" and respective National Laws:

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/regulation/late_payments/implementation.htm



Hi Uldis,

and thanks for the link, will try and impose my own terms of reference to my future clients... The funny (?) thing being I never even thought of writing down any kind of terms, since the clients usually provide them...!
Same problem as many, i have been expecting a payment from a Belgian company... for way too long! I sent them an official request, next step the Blueboard and the debt collector... Hopefully I won't need them...!
Cheers,
Annelise


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Anne Key
Local time: 13:47
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Nov 1, 2007



[Edited at 2007-11-01 15:05]


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:47
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
Sweeping generalisations Nov 1, 2007

Oleg Rudavin wrote:

It's quite interesting - on the one hand, what does matter is clients' reliability ( and lingish тets can be put up with). On the other hand, there's a very interesting correlation: clients who pay lowest rates have longest nets (sometines up to 90 days + payment end of month, with occasional delays in payment "due to managerial problems"); clients who pay rates well above the average level have nets between of two to four weeks and work like a clock...


Perhaps you should have said "in my experience". Some of the best rates I've ever had were from clients who not only took a long time to pay but had to be reminded again and again (I'm talking direct clients). I finally got my money, but decided not to bother working for them again. Too much hassle and uncertainty.


Have you noticed one important thing? QUOTE I often feel... I'm sure if UNQUOTE Have you tried - setting your own terms when you don't like those offered? It works!


Did you not notice one important thing? I did not say I was putting up with terms I thought were unacceptable. There are more important issues than being paid within 30 days, as far as I am concerned. Certain agencies have payment methods that cannot easily be changed to accommodate someone asking for 30 days.


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 15:47
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Sorry if I sounded too ostentatious Nov 1, 2007

The ideas I wanted to emphasize are as follows:
- Long net is no problem n intself; reliability (or, rather, unreliability) is. I'm fully with you here, Nikki.
- Even the best clients can go bankrupt; that means, a few years of flawless cooperation doesn't necessarily mean thing will go on in the same happy way forever. That's something every freelancer should always remember - and take proactive steps to protect their business from serious damage in case one or a few good clients join the ranks of no-so-good ones.
- Dissatisfaction of many translators with their clients/incomes has primarily to do with their inability to find better clients (therefore, they stick to the existing ones; and one of the reasons of that is fear of losing a client - hence the quotes). Some clients' ways can't be changed - exactly! But do we really need clients whose terms we don't like? There are many others who would accept our terms.

P.S. And then this new keyboard that produces all those "lingish тets"


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Anne Key
Local time: 13:47
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Update Nov 2, 2007

Hello again everyone, and just a very quick update:

I've contacted one of the "Affiliated Associations" today in the hope that they will be able to help / offer suggestions.

I must admit I feel rather foolish at the moment: I've been working for this particular agency for 7 years and really enjoyed communicating with them. I believed we had established an excellent rapport, which partly explains why I continued working for them. In addition, they always paid on time - until this year.

Fortunately I have enough other clients to prioritise. However, on this occasion I feel I may have let my heart ("excellent rapport") rule my head / business sense.

Thanks again for your suggestions, and for listening to my ramblings,

Anne




[Edited at 2007-11-02 09:17]

[Edited at 2007-11-02 09:19]

[Edited at 2007-11-02 09:21]


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:47
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Change of management - takeover? Nov 6, 2007

A possible reason for this formerly reliable agency's new attitude could be that they have been taken over by new management, presumably under capitalised.
This happened to me last year. One of my best agency clients was taken over by new management. Almost at once their payments were always late and they had to be reminded more than once. Then work declined steeply and now I never hear from them. It's a shame, but it happens.
Best of luck,
Jenny.


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