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Payment problem with client in the US
Thread poster: yantrans
yantrans
Singapore
Local time: 10:06
English to Chinese
+ ...
Nov 8, 2007

This agency is a translation company in Atlanta USA, with an office in China (but not really an office, only a single contact person), approached me with translation and DTP jobs. After more than two months since we did the work for them, now they say they're having a client not paying them so they have difficulties to pay me. Every time I asked their president, by email or phone call, sometimes replied sometimes not, he always say he's going to transfer the money within that week, and it never happened. It has already been 4-5 times, and now I'm tired of his trick but can do nothing. I tried to contact their local contact, who once met me giving directions of translation, but she's not responding, and at last she said she's broken up with the company and have nothing to do with the company now.

The problem is the president always says he'll pay soon but never keep his promise. I doubt if they're in the process of escaping this payment, or many other payments as they may be doing the same to other translators. Is there anything I can do?

I'll appreciate much of your help!

Thanks,
Yan

[Edited at 2007-11-08 08:59]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2007-11-08 11:14]


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xxxM TRANSLATIO
Germany
Local time: 04:06
English to German
Better Business Bureau USA Nov 8, 2007

Hi Yan!

Inform your client that you will report him to the Better Business Bureau if he does not pay by X date. Just google Better Business Bureau and you will find it.You can even file a BBB complaint online

Kind regrads,

mike


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yantrans
Singapore
Local time: 10:06
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Nov 8, 2007

Thanks a lot Mike! When searching this company in BBB, I found that in its reliability report, their File Open Date is November 2007, while they claim to be formed in 1999. A little bit strange, isn't it? Anyway, I'll try this and see if they'll keep their promise this time.

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sokolniki  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:06
English to Russian
+ ...
I would also recommend.. Nov 8, 2007

..going to the ATA website (the agency should be or is planning to be a corporate member like any agency in the US) and copy a Dan & Bradstreet collection agency info, to be used in your email describing your further actions to collect this debt.

Also, somewhere on the Internet there is a sample of First Collection Notice letter. If you cannot find it, let me know - I think I have it somewhere.

I had a similar problem with a French translation agency and it worked. They think you cannot reach them and that is the reason for this behaviour. Well, they are wrong. Try to explain politely that you can make their life miserable and it may help.

Good luck!
Bella


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yantrans
Singapore
Local time: 10:06
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
First Collection Notice Nov 9, 2007

Thank you very much Bella! I sent another email to the client and inform them if they continue not responding or play this "will pay and never pay" game again, I'll take the measures you recommended. Meanwhile, I tried to search a First Collection Notice sample on the net but could not find any. Could you please send it to my mail box: yan dot huang at yantrans dot com? I'm sure it'll be very helpful. Thank you again for your advice!

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yantrans
Singapore
Local time: 10:06
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
they still don't want to pay Nov 9, 2007

just a quick update -- I received an email from the client, saying although I'm correct (I told them their client not paying them is their problem not mine), there's nothing they can do until their client pay them. So maybe it's time to implement the steps mentioned above. Or maybe, it's true that because their client owes them a huge amount of money, so they don't have any fund in their bank account to pay me?

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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:06
English to German
+ ...
Lack of financial resources Nov 10, 2007

Hi yantrans,
Or maybe, it's true that because their client owes them a huge amount of money, so they don't have any fund in their bank account to pay me?

That may well be true - but still, this is not your problem, and it's no reason not to take the necessary steps.

Sadly, there are quite a number of badly capitalised intermediaries out there.

Good luck!

Best regards,
Ralf


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yantrans
Singapore
Local time: 10:06
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
measures to take Nov 11, 2007

Thanks Ralf for your encouragement. I'm prepared to take measures this time (I've experienced two non-payment before but could do nothing -- one when I received a bankrupt notice and the other it turned out the company was fake -- it just disappeared. But this time since the amount is big -- more than $2,000; and since the client is still responding up to now, I feel I need to try every possible way to get my payment back).

I'm just a little worried about the tone of the client -- after informing him that I'll post negative comments in Proz; file BBB; contact ATA and finally will contact a collection agency --all these measures don't seem to mean anything to him -- he still replied that there's nothing he can do. I'm concerned that if he insists not paying, the cost I use a collection agency (for example, the international pricing of D&B will cost me around $700 and no guarantee to get the payment in spite of the cost).

I've seen some discussion here that sometimes when you mention a collection agency it's enough to get paid. Hope it'll be the same for my case.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:06
English to German
+ ...
Trying to enforce a claim on an insolvent customer Nov 11, 2007

Hi again,

I'm just a little worried about the tone of the client -- after informing him that I'll post negative comments in Proz; file BBB; contact ATA and finally will contact a collection agency --all these measures don't seem to mean anything to him -- he still replied that there's nothing he can do.

Which may well be true - if he doesn't have any funds.

I'm concerned that if he insists not paying, the cost I use a collection agency (for example, the international pricing of D&B will cost me around $700 and no guarantee to get the payment in spite of the cost).

The classic dilemma when trying to enforce a claim on an insolvent customer: if you insist on enforcing, and he's really left with nothing, that's precisely what you'll get, leaving you sitting on the costs. OTOH if he's just saying he doesn't have anything, not enforcing would let him get away with it. (No, I don't have a perfect solution either.)

I've seen some discussion here that sometimes when you mention a collection agency it's enough to get paid.

That works with debtors who (i) have some assets left, and (ii) still care about their professional reputation.

Best regards,
Ralf


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yantrans
Singapore
Local time: 10:06
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Now they want to revenge Nov 20, 2007

Last Monday I sent them a First Collection Notice, as the final demand of payment, describe the total amount they owe me, the measures I'll take, including post in Proz and other translation community, complaint in BBB, send message to end client to claim the property right of my translation as it has not been paid for, and will contact a collection agency. I also defined a timeframe of one week for them to make payment.

So when nothing happened this Monday, I implemented all the measures descibed. So result is immediately -- the end client forward my email to them to ask them "clear up this issue" as the end client has already paid them months ago (remember they told us they can't pay us because the client hasn't paid them?).

And then this morning, I received three threat emails from them, with similar contents, that our contacting the end client is a mistake, they will not pay us in full, they will contact my local govenment office and their local lawyer in Shanghai, and they will "make it one of my team’s FULLTIME job to make posts and contact the industry and note your behavior".

Suddenly I became their target just because I want to get the payment belongs to me and expose their non-paying behavior. Is there anyway I can protect myself?


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:06
English to German
+ ...
Intimidation tactics Nov 22, 2007

Hi yantrans,

Last Monday I sent them a First Collection Notice, as the final demand of payment, describe the total amount they owe me, the measures I'll take, including post in Proz and other translation community, complaint in BBB, send message to end client to claim the property right of my translation as it has not been paid for, and will contact a collection agency. I also defined a timeframe of one week for them to make payment.

Everything ok - the only potential problem I see is in contacting the end client. Depending on whether you signed a non-disclosure agreement, and on the contents of such (if signed), this might constitute a breach.


And then this morning, I received three threat emails from them, with similar contents, that our contacting the end client is a mistake, they will not pay us in full, they will contact my local govenment office and their local lawyer in Shanghai, and they will "make it one of my team’s FULLTIME job to make posts and contact the industry and note your behavior".

Yeah, right. How many posts have you noticed?

Suddenly I became their target just because I want to get the payment belongs to me and expose their non-paying behavior. Is there anyway I can protect myself?

Assuming that you delivered on time, and in line with job specs, I don't see why you would need to protect yourself. Standing your ground is part of running a business.

Best regards,
Ralf


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ingoociukas  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:06
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
One of us Dec 4, 2007

Dear Colleagues,

I have recently started to experience a strange behaviour of my clients in the US regarding the payments. I would like to share with you my recent experience and find out your views. I have done two urgent translations for a client @$0.05 per word (I know it's a low rate but I just wanted to be helpful). They supposedly only got one of the translations and paid me only for the one they got. However, Payapl withheld their payment and after investigating the case for almost a month they reversed it to the client. So I am left with nothing. I have contacted the client and still waiting to hear from them. For some reason their communication is slow after I delivered the translations to them. I have checked their Blue Board entries but only few translators left negative entries. I have not made an entry fearing to receive a negative WWA from them. I just do not know how to be sure how to not get into a situation like this next time.

Thank you.


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yantrans
Singapore
Local time: 10:06
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sorry to hear... and lesson learned Dec 5, 2007

ingoociukas wrote:

Dear Colleagues,

I have recently started to experience a strange behaviour of my clients in the US regarding the payments. I would like to share with you my recent experience and find out your views. I have done two urgent translations for a client @$0.05 per word (I know it's a low rate but I just wanted to be helpful). They supposedly only got one of the translations and paid me only for the one they got. However, Payapl withheld their payment and after investigating the case for almost a month they reversed it to the client. So I am left with nothing. I have contacted the client and still waiting to hear from them. For some reason their communication is slow after I delivered the translations to them. I have checked their Blue Board entries but only few translators left negative entries. I have not made an entry fearing to receive a negative WWA from them. I just do not know how to be sure how to not get into a situation like this next time.

Thank you.



It's sad to hear so many similar experiences again and again. Sometimes I even think there's really not much translators can do to protect ourselves from dishonest payers. We can lookup BB record, but no one can guarantee a good client will always keep the same; we can ask down payment before starting with new client, but that may mean a high possibility of losing the job opportunity. And when something awful did happen, like this time, I did all I can do as a translator, only have to give up all the efforts I made eventually.

For my case, it seems very likely that all this company's previous threats are only bluffing. Following my post in TranslatorsCafe forum, they made up many false accusations towards me such as wrong invoicing, projects delay, even personal slander. I suggested to have a conference call with them to clarify these issues one by one, but then they disappear again -- no more post in the forum, no more email reply, and no more answering phone call. Now I'm prepared to forget all this mess and continue my life, as though it's a big amount, it's not worthy to spoil my day after day.

Regarding your problem with this client in the US, maybe I don't have much say as myself didn't succeed to get the payment after all the methods taken, but I think for now maybe the most efficient way is to call them, when they still answer the phone to discuss all the details in this issue. Because if you take strong moves before identifing their trap, like I did, the client will make excuses on these details, and make everything like your fault, though before they never mentioned a word about this, and all they told you is to wait for their liquidity problem solved. Then although you have hundreds of emails to prove you're right and they're wrong, the problem becomes too complicated that not a collection agency will help you to clean the mess by going through all the emails, especially when they stop replying you anymore.

That's why I decided to forget this nightmare. But if there's any lesson learned, I'd like to conclude the followings:

1) if it's possible, try to accept jobs from known client only. Of course that may result in a huge reduction of business, but working with reliable and friendly clients, is a pleasure itself no less than getting money paid.
2) when I accept small jobs from new client, I'm prepared to do it for free in the worst case.
3) for large amount from new client, always ask down payment. They may say no, but I can save time which may be wasted in the translation, and in tracking the payment after translation.
4) when there's a late or non-payment, settle down all the details with the client even though they always praised your hard work and never mentioned anything wrong with your work. Reasons mentioned above.
5) Always enjoy your day. It's not your fault and you don't deserve the annoyance and pain caused. When left "nothing", at least I have a peaceful mind and pleasant mood.

Thank you all who gave me suggestions in this thread. Wish you all a joyful Xmas season in advance!

Regards,
Yan

[Edited at 2007-12-05 08:31]


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Maximiliano Jozami  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 23:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
Collection Companies Dec 5, 2007

I had the same problem with a Chinese "agency" suppossedly owned by an American "Dr.". They used the same dirty tricks, I am wondering whether they are not the same...

Anyway, there are some collection companies that won't charge you anything at all if you don't get paid. I used one based on Argentina, and they got my payment in China; they charged me 25%. They are part of an international network, so I guess they wouldn't have any problem at all taking your case. Anyway, I already posted their website address at a different topic, so I am afraid that if I post it again, the mods will think I am only advertising their services.

So, if you want me to give them their contact info, just sent me a private message.

Best regards...


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Nitin Goyal  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 07:36
Member (2007)
Panjabi to English
+ ...
Any debt recovery agency in CANADA? Jan 2, 2008

Any debt recovery agency in CANADA?

I also have a bad outsourcer located in Canada. He has not paid me for two consecutive jobs.

The most frustrating part is that he not responding to my mails at all. I have already made an entry in the blueboard, but no response still.

Can somebody suggest me, what else can I do in this matter?

Some legal/ debt recovery agency in CANADA?

Nitin


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