Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
A gentle payment reminder
Thread poster: Mervyn Henderson

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:25
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 25, 2008

I gently reminded a customer about payment this morning (they are 9 days late), and I was struck by the calm manner in which I did so. I say this because I used to have a lot of problems here, and my reminders always had a generous charge of (pointless) sarcasm and bitterness. I lost more than one customer that way, too.

Looking back on it, I know this situation arose because I wasn't making enough money to make ends meet. Times were tough-tough-tough, and it just didn't help when customers paid late. Things have changed considerably in recent years, and really this morning's operation was just another item on a list of things to do, not something that will obsess me horribly the whole day like it used to.

While I do NOT agree with people paying translators whenever they like, in the realisation that this amounts to a free loan for them, I was idly wondering how true it is that we are often content to blame late payers for the situation, rather than consider that we might not be addressing what is our very own business problem. The more you earn, the less likely you are to complain about this kind of practice.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Speak for yourself Nov 25, 2008

Even at the first whiff of non-payment I get annoyed, whether I'm loaded with work or not. If I not going to get paid for a translation I would prefer to watch the box, work on my muscle defintion etc.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:25
Member (2008)
Italian to English
four months ! Nov 25, 2008

Yes, I recently foolishly accepted a second job from an agency in Italy that pays 3 months from the month in which the invoice is issued - and even then they have to be reminded several times.

Because they did eventually pay me, I accepted this job, whereupon they told me that before invoincing,I would have to wait to receive a "summary" from them after the end of this month. MEANING, before I get paid I will have to wait FOUR MONTHS.

I am not going to work with this agency again.

I know there's an EU law that is supposed to make this sort of thing illegal. From now on I'm going to try to enforce it.

[Edited at 2008-11-25 13:05 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:25
French to English
+ ...
No Nov 25, 2008

Tom in London wrote:

I know there's an EU law that is supposed to make this sort of thing illegal. From now on I'm going to try to enforce it.


Only if no other payment terms are agreed to (if this is the case, 30 days is the statutory payment period). If you accept the job along with the agency's payment terms, you have agreed to the terms and this is not illegal under EU law. Someone else (Ralf Lemster, perhaps?) alluded to this in the past couple of days.

Edited as I've found Ralf's comment:
http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/121456-payment_terms_freelancers_go_2nd_class.html#998368

[Edited at 2008-11-25 14:10 GMT]

[Edited at 2008-11-25 14:10 GMT]

[Edited at 2008-11-25 14:11 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Joanna Wachowiak-Finlaison
Malaysia
Local time: 18:25
English to Polish
+ ...
Which reminds me... Nov 25, 2008

...to send a second "gentle" reminder to a slow payment agency. One more and they're going on a BB...

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:25
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not a question of not getting paid Nov 25, 2008

Hi Tatty,

I have no fear of not getting paid. After a few years I reckon you develop a sixth sense right from the start about who is dodgy and who is not. I have only not been paid once, and that happened for 120 euros when a company folded. They had the good grace to just tell me about it, say there was nothing they could do, and I accepted it because there was nothing I could do either. Having said that, a few months later they wanted my house address to send me the IRPF [income tax for those outside the Spanish State] withholding form, as if I HAD been paid, and at that point I replied with a few well-chosen words.

It's slow payment I mean. But as I said, it doesn't bother me as much as it used to (or as much as it ought to), because many others pay, and even if they don't all pay on time, there are enough of them to stop me having to rob Pedro to pay Pablo.


Mervyn


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:25
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not in my case Nov 25, 2008

Perhaps I'm the exception to the rule, or it's just my legal background and training that kicks in, but I chase payments the moment they fall due.

I don't wait, it has nothing to do with my income or cash flow. I earn a high income and could comfortably live for a long time on my savings - provided the damn banks the deposits are spread among don't all go under! - but my attitude regarding collections certainly hasn't softened over time, as my income has increased.

I'm onto my debtors the morning after due date. An email goes out politely enquiring when the transfer was/will be made. If no answer is forthcoming, I'm on the phone the next day, up the chain of command. It pays off, I have no defaulting debtors. Luckily, I can also spot a dodgy client a mile off. I specialised in liquidations as a lawyer and that proved invaluable practice in identifying every warning sign/lame excuse under the sun.

Politely of course, firm when needed - for as you've rightly said Mervyn the sarcasm/bitterness gets you nowhere, no matter how tempted you are to let leash with it. It's just something that is on the to-do list I keep in my diary.

Just as it's a PM's job to chase translators for translations that are not submitted on time ... they wouldn't wait a week or two, would they?

Especially in the current economic climate, I think it's very important to be on top of your debtors. When 30 days suddenly become 32, then 35 ... it's time for the alarm bells to start going off.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:25
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
Alarm bells Nov 25, 2008

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

Especially in the current economic climate, I think it's very important to be on top of your debtors. When 30 days suddenly become 32, then 35 ... it's time for the alarm bells to start going off.



Totally agree with this. I have noticed recently that some clients are not paying quite as fast as they used to. Certainly a trend to keep an eye on.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:25
English to German
+ ...
It made me think Nov 26, 2008

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

that we might not be addressing what is our very own business problem. The more you earn, the less likely you are to complain about this kind of practice.


Well, I can't complain about my clients and my income at all.

However, Murphy's Law will happily apply when it comes to unforeseen expenses:

Right when my year's worth of federal and state taxes were due, I had to buy a new car. Right when - for the first time in my translator career - a client considered it perfectly appropriate and/or funny/entertaining/absolutely okay to be several weeks late with a significant payment. I had to touch my reserves because paying my freelancers has first priority. Thank you, dear agency! Paying interest is fun.

The spook and the fury lasted for one month, everything went back to normal, but for the first time I felt really vulnerable. Again, it made me think: How much reserve do we have to keep? To keep up with business practices that seem to be going down the drain and while the magic word "crisis" has gained popularity as an excuse beyond belief.

Hmpf.

Rant over.



Direct link Reply with quote
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:25
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Then again ... Nov 26, 2008

... the more you earn, the more you spend, or the more you have to spend on keeping up the status you are now busy acquiring. Exiled kings and moguls beset by financial problems have it frightfully bad because, although they still have plenty of sponduliks, more than you or me anyway in a relative sense, they simply can't move from a huge palace with footmen everywhere to a mere luxury mansionette with a sullen housekeeper, because they still have to keep up with the Joneses.

As for crisis, have you noticed it's the upper échelons, the bankers, the decision-makers, that are talking most about the crisis, not us? And naturally so, because they stand to lose Bentleys and Rollers in 2009, not a VW or similar.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:25
English to German
+ ...
Ah, the crisis. Nov 26, 2008

To be honest, I read this word more often in our forums than in the New York Times.

My own bank went out of business, but my company is not affected.

Let's watch Fox News and see what we are supposed to be afraid of today.



Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxVerse 5B
Local time: 11:25
English to Serbian
+ ...
... Nov 26, 2008

Seems like the world crisis hit only the agencies, and it somehow skipped freelance translators.



Direct link Reply with quote
 
Melina Kajander
Finland
English to Finnish
Baffled... Nov 28, 2008

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:
Perhaps I'm the exception to the rule, or it's just my legal background and training that kicks in, but I chase payments the moment they fall due.

No, you're not an exception - I do the same, and I have no legal background... And I feel everyone should do the same.

Mervyn Henderson wrote:
While I do NOT agree with people paying translators whenever they like, in the realisation that this amounts to a free loan for them, I was idly wondering how true it is that we are often content to blame late payers for the situation, rather than consider that we might not be addressing what is our very own business problem. The more you earn, the less likely you are to complain about this kind of practice.

"Our very own business problem"? Am I missing something in here - in what way exactly is it the translator's fault if a client pays late..?? Of course it is fully the late payer's fault if he pays late, who else's? And the translator has every right to get angry in that situation. Can't see any logic in this...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:25
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Whose fault? Nov 28, 2008

Hello Melina,

I do appreciate your point, but I feel there's a misunderstanding here. Firstly, let me say that late payers do NOT deserve any sympathy. Ever.

But don't write in a fullstop there. As in so many instances of our short sojourn on this planet, though, we tend to blame others. We always blame others if we can, in fact. Translation aside, right now I can think of two or three problems I still have that I am quite willing to blame others for. If I can. If I let myself do so. But I won't.

" ... but it's not my fault" must be one of the most uttered sentences worldwide. We can't stand thinking it's our fault, and it's so much easier to go into denial.

Like I said at the beginning of all this, however, I found I was only getting annoyed about late payment because I was desperately trying to pay bills. The difference is that now I can pay bills more or less comfortably because I sharpened up my act and spread my risk over more jobs and more customers, so I notice it less. Late payment wasn't the problem. The problem was me.

Payment is not the overriding problem. Solve the problem. Forget about fault. Update your profile, enhance your potential, learn, go for it, promote yourself, start directing your business the way you want it to go, and the difference will come. Believe me - it's an ex-loser telling you so.

I have to stop now, because I'm about to start work on one of those best-selling self-help books (only joking) ...


Mervyn


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:25
Dutch to English
+ ...
The argument has to be taken full circle Nov 28, 2008

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

Like I said at the beginning of all this, however, I found I was only getting annoyed about late payment because I was desperately trying to pay bills. The difference is that now I can pay bills more or less comfortably because I sharpened up my act and spread my risk over more jobs and more customers, so I notice it less. Late payment wasn't the problem. The problem was me.

Payment is not the overriding problem. Solve the problem. Forget about fault. Update your profile, enhance your potential, learn, go for it, promote yourself, start directing your business the way you want it to go, and the difference will come. Believe me - it's an ex-loser telling you so.



I hear what you're saying Mervyn, but now that you've figured out why things perhaps didn't run smoothly in the past, surely the next step would be to sharpen up the only remaining part of the act - collections - and not wait nine days before following up and sending out a general reminder?

The danger of the current situation is that one can become too complacent that the "money will come in soon, there's enough coming in anyhow", until one day, for whatever reason, it doesn't - see Nicole's example above - and things can quickly go pear-shaped. In the current economic climate especially, I don't see the need or logic in waiting quite so long to follow up.

Have a great weekend
Debs






[Edited at 2008-11-28 16:19 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

A gentle payment reminder

Advanced search







Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »
Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search