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When the accountant "rules the company" or why shall I do the work of client's accountant?
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 19:28
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Jan 18, 2008

Well, I have a situation and would like to share some opinions.

I have one client, and somewhat bizarre invoicing requirements from their end. They send me, on a regular basis, small-scale jobs, and when it comes to invoicing, I really feel I am doing the work of their accountant - apart from the usual invoice I issue (well, the usual invoice shall include 1) type/title of service (translation from into in this case), 2) project/PO title (say project A1, PO Nr. 001), 3) volume (say, source words), 4) unit type (say, page, or source word) 5) unit price (say, EUR per source word), 6) sum (per project, if there are several projects) and 7) "total" (i.e. the amount to be paid/invoice amount), their accountant (who seems to be Nr. 1 person in their company) has "set" his/her own rules - each time they send a big excel table to fill in (their "standard invoice template"). Asked them why I need to do a double job - here is the standard invoice that contains all the things needed. They replied that this is their practice and requirement and if I want to be paid, I have to fill in their Excel sheets. OK, no problem. But for a couple of dozen of jobs it takes almost half a day just to fill that in (just for a single client for a couple of hundred euros), let alone, each time they ask to send the paper version of the invoice by registered airmail to their main office address. Let alone that their payment term is 60 days "at the end of the month" (i.e. for January jobs I have to fill in their Excel sheets, invoice them on February only and then have to wait till April to get the money). Let alone they always want to to charge me a fee for their bank transfer expenses and each time I have to say “sorry, we did not agree on that” ("the accountant told that this is our usual practice", but it seems that the PM who is in charge of our projects and who sits in the same office with their accountant are total strangers and do not inform each other on how and what was agreed on the specific project). The most interesting thing is that they are located in the EU (what about those 60 days then?), I work with other agencies from their country, and none of these other agencies ever asked me to do these things (so, it is not a matter of some bizarre formal requirements based on their country laws on accounting and payment procedures).

So, no problem to walk some extra step for a good client. But if there is a hundred of clients with a hundred of different "invoicing requirements", it will turn out that there will be no time for real work - one will have to do the work of their accountants, walk dozens of miles to the post office sending "paper invoices via registered mail" (OK, one registered mail is no problem, but dozens of mails per month also make some amount), let alone expenses "on my behalf" for transfers, etc. etc. (I do not charge them for the electricity I consume for my computer doing their jobs).

Do you think it is fair and logical? Maybe I should finally tell them - dear people, I do my own work, and you do your own work, I have my own expenses, you have our own expenses, I do not require a PO sent via a registered airmail to be able to accept the job “upon my standard procedures”, so please do not ask me to send invoices via registered mail from me, I do not ask your company certificate scan to start doing your translations, so please do not ask my personal IDs each time you need to pay me the money I earned, I simply do the work you need and do not have "special requirements" for accepting it, so please do not be that much inventive in your own "standard requirements" when I need to be paid for the work I done?




[Edited at 2008-01-18 09:09]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 19:28
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Send your standard invoice Jan 18, 2008

Or will your phone-company change their invoice form for your special requirements?
If your invoice includes all necessary information they have to pay you. Otherwise they must search for some other translator.
Cheers
Heinrich


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Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 19:28
Italian to Danish
+ ...
Just TELL them! Jan 18, 2008

... that they can buy your services at your terms (your type of invoice and nothing else and your type of payment terms). As Heinrich says, if this is not acceptable to them, they can buy elsewhere!

Alternatively, you can inform them about your hourly rate to be applied covering the time you have to do the job of their accountant. Time is money, also in this business.

Good luck!


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:28
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Minor complaint along same lines Jan 18, 2008

I work occasionally (only two or three times a year, on average) for a company which is not content with me just sending them invoices, but also requires a monthly statement for any work done for them in a particular month. This is something easily forgotten, among so many other jobs, and no-one else requires me to do this, so why should they? I continue to work for them, and they always pay eventually, but sometimes very late even when I have complied with their monthly statement form requirement.

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xxxBrandis
Local time: 18:28
English to German
+ ...
need some time to relax may be sleep.. Jan 18, 2008

Hi! just send your standard invoice and set clear terms for invoice clearance, if you do not get the payment, report at BB. complicated NDAs, Tax regulartory forms, billing and payment practises and time zones damage my sleep and I can follow only my own system. That is when I have my peace of mind and be a normal individual and be all the more productive. Best regards, Brandis

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:28
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I agree with Heinrich and others here Jan 18, 2008

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

Or will your phone-company change their invoice form for your special requirements?
If your invoice includes all necessary information they have to pay you. Otherwise they must search for some other translator.
Cheers
Heinrich


Marius, it sounds like far too much hassle. Drives one barmy! Send them your standard invoice with full details, and perhaps a statement at the end of each month.
I'd drop this client if I were you and concentrate on those (the majority) whose payment and invoicing conditions are reasonable.
Best of luck
Jenny


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 19:28
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
:) Jan 18, 2008

Jenny Forbes wrote:

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

Or will your phone-company change their invoice form for your special requirements?
If your invoice includes all necessary information they have to pay you. Otherwise they must search for some other translator.
Cheers
Heinrich


Marius, it sounds like far too much hassle. Drives one barmy! Send them your standard invoice with full details, and perhaps a statement at the end of each month.
I'd drop this client if I were you and concentrate on those (the majority) whose payment and invoicing conditions are reasonable.
Best of luck
Jenny


Yes, I think I should put into "take or leave it" basis. Also, I have told them the same thing several times. And again the song is the same Let alone those 60 days (despite that they always paid on time). I think that each side shall do its own work and can only do the work of others if one wants to do that (not against one's will)...


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:28
French to English
Compromise/streamline? Jan 18, 2008

Hi,

Sounds like a pain.
When I first read it, I thought, no, not worth it for 200 EUR.

I read it again, it sounds as though they are not actually asking for anything that you would usually omit from an invoice. It's just they want a specific format, so you do the same thing twice, no?

I have one client (an agency), who asks for exactly that info, in that order, on the invoice.
So, I keep a spreadsheet over the month, and, at the end of the month, just copy it into a Word document. Add the word "Invoice" at the top, and my bank account number at the bottom, and the job is done


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Nicole Y. Adams, M.A.  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 03:28
Member (2006)
German to English
+ ...
Charge extra ;-) Jan 18, 2008

MariusV wrote:

But for a couple of dozen of jobs it takes almost half a day just to fill that in (just for a single client for a couple of hundred euros), let alone, each time they ask to send the paper version of the invoice by registered airmail to their main office address.


[Edited at 2008-01-18 09:09]


Tell them it's no problem but you will charge them your hourly rate for the time it takes you to fill it in, plus the time it takes you to go to the post office to send out the hard copy, plus the postage for the recorded delivery, and see what they say.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:28
English to French
+ ...
I do have one such client Jan 18, 2008

I have a client who wants me to fill out an Excel sheet and use that as an invoice. This does make my invoicing procedure a bit more difficult, but it is not that much about the time I waste (I find that I don't waste any time this way, because filling in their sheet takes about as much time as making my own invoice - a few minutes) than about the organization of files on my computer (I use TO3000 and this messes a bit with job numbers, PO numbers and the like, but I set up a separate procedure for invoicing this client and so everything works out fine). But this client pays by direct deposit (they pay all fees, naturally), they pay within two weeks and they pay good rates, so I can make the small concession of using their invoicing policy in exchange for all the other benefits.

In your case, they are being plain unreasonable. Their payment terms are crap, and they would be such even for France and Italy, where clients routinely pay after very long delays. They try to trick you into paying their business expenses after having paid your own (by having you pay the transfer fees). I think that in your client's case, if you still want to work with them, a good renegotiation is in order. You would need to tell them that enough is enough, your terms and conditions are such and such, and only if they are willing to respect them will you be happy to continue working with them. If they are not willing to respect your terms and conditions, I would simply ditch this client. Who needs this headache? It is nothing short of bullying and harassment...


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Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 11:28
German to English
Great idea, Nicole! Jan 18, 2008

Nicole Y. Adams, M.A. wrote:

MariusV wrote:

But for a couple of dozen of jobs it takes almost half a day just to fill that in (just for a single client for a couple of hundred euros), let alone, each time they ask to send the paper version of the invoice by registered airmail to their main office address.


[Edited at 2008-01-18 09:09]


Tell them it's no problem but you will charge them your hourly rate for the time it takes you to fill it in, plus the time it takes you to go to the post office to send out the hard copy, plus the postage for the recorded delivery, and see what they say.


Marius, this sounds very familiar to me - I'm pretty sure I have come across this agency before! I have a few clients with strange invoicing requirements, and to be honest, life is too short to mess about with things like this. I became a freelancer to be my own boss, not to fill out things in triplicate for other people! I personally am trying to "weed out" this type of client from my client base, and to work only for those people who do not cause me extra stress! I'd suggest you submit your own invoice, and tell them that this is YOUR company policy - they can take it or leave it!


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