How to collect from foreign agencies
Thread poster: Elvia Rodriguez

Elvia Rodriguez  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:14
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
Mar 21

Hi,

I am in troubles here. I had been working with an agency, nice projects and nice people. Suddenly, out of the blue they stopped paying invoices 4 months ago. They are not answering emails nor Skype messages and the amount due is not small.

Their reason: "Bad not paying customers, so we cannot pay you".

As I am located in Mexico and the agency is in USA, is there any method to collect besides the reminders or the reports by Proz?

I am not the only translator in this situation with this agency.

Thank you for your comments.


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Lianne van de Ven  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:14
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
It seems to be happening a lot lately Mar 21

I have seen at least 5 posts about non-paying clients in the last 24 hours. I don't remember exactly which forums people post. Each situation is unique, but there is a lot to learn from these discussions. I don't have time to reply in detail but I suggest that you look around, either on these forums, or by googling [not paying site:proz.com] or other suitable keywords.

Success.

And btw, I forgot to say that their bad clients is absolutely NO reason for them to not pay you! That's one of those things to get clear about when reading these discussions!

[Edited at 2017-03-21 19:06 GMT]


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Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:14
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Post your experience on the Blue Board Mar 21

Check the Blue Board directory for the record of the agency that is not paying, and make an entry. If you are not being paid, you should include a non-payment complaint when you make the entry.

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Elvia Rodriguez  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:14
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Mar 21

Oh I did. Another translator wrote a bad review. I wrote mine and included my non-payment complaint. I am not sure if that would help for something.

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 08:14
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Blueboard has helped me sometimes Mar 22

But those last years I haven't had any case of late paying or non-paying. Is your case maybe related to the WALL?

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Norskpro
Sweden
Local time: 07:14
Member
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Help from a Mexican representative? Mar 22

Is it possible to contact a Mexican Chamber of Commerce in the US?
I am not sure how they would be able to help, but you could try.
Maybe they can suggest something.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:14
French to English
Practical advice Mar 22

One common point arising from discussions on this type of problem, is to make sure you act quickly. If the agent is in financial difficulty, the longer you wait, the less likely you are to be paid.

Second practical thing to do is to send a formal final demand for the money you are owed. Make sure you indicate :
- the date the agency sent you the job
- the date you returned the job
- the amount they had agreed to pay
- the date they had agreed to pay
- state that as the deadline has passed, you ask them to pay the amount in full within 10 days
- state the consequences of non-payment (=that you will be obliged to take formal steps for receovery/legal action, etc).

Send this formal final demand in a way which gives you proof that you have sent it and proof that it has been received (signature).

When an agency is in financial difficulty, it is typical to say their client has not paid them and so they cannot pay you.
That is a false argument from a legal point of view. The agent is your client. It is their job to pay you.
Even if their client has not paid them, that is their client, their problem.
If the agent has no more money, it has of course become a problem for you too. That is why you have to act as quickly as possible.

Good luck with recovering what is due.



[Edited at 2017-03-22 09:13 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:14
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You can do several things Mar 22

Won't pay or can't pay? That's the crucial question you need to ask at this point. The action you take next (after sending that final demand that Nikki mentions) depends on the answer.

The courts are a fine way to get money out of clients, although I don't know how costly it would be in your case. I believe they all share one problem: they take ages to go through all their stages. But they also normally have a great outcome in that you, as the successful claimant (as you would be), will get the whole invoice amount due. Although you'd have to find out the specifics of legal costs and who pays them.

The other common way is to retain a debt recovery company, who will only charge you if they are successful. That way you'd normally get your money fast, but it would be the invoice sum less the company's fees (I hear 30% is a common proportion).

If this client of yours is facing real cash-flow problems and is liable to file for bankruptcy soon, getting your claim in very quickly, and getting whatever you can in your pocket, might be a good idea. If the agency has already filed, there's absolutely nothing you or anybody else can do except file your claim with the official receiver and wait. Maybe you'll get something one day, particularly if the company manages to recover. You can maybe check on their status. Here's a useful link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_company_registers#United_States

On the other hand, if you think your contact is telling the truth and wants to do the best for everyone, you could try negotiating payment over a planned term.

Meanwhile, the Blue Board will help us avoid similar difficulties. And ProZ.com staff will investigate the non-payment claims and might be able to help.

Good luck!


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:14
French to English
Can't/won't; Time to recover monies due Mar 22

Can't or won't pay. Sheila raises this very valid issue. If a client won't pay, taking serious action usually means the client will pay what he owes. Or he may start to show signs of life where he'd been playing dead until now. If the problem is that the client cannot pay, you may already be facing the fact that unless you put in money and time, you may never recover what you are owed.
If you realize that they cannot pay, you might suggest that they pay in three instalments, one now, one next month, one the mnth after, for example. That way, at least you get something and you may even recover it all. it has worked for me in the past.

Do note that many countries have rather efficient claims procedures for small sums. They are simple do-it-yourself procedures. They enable you to get a judgment rather quickly, as long as you can prove the elements I listed. However, if the real problem is that they cannot pay, then you will have a judgment, but you will need to take the next step and seek to have the judgment enforced. That is where time and cost sometimes mean it is not worth pursuing.
Note that if your company is going bankrupt, if you have not formalised your demand in any way, you have next to no chance of getting anything at all. Much to my surprise, I did actually get a couple of hundred euros a couple of years after a client had gone bankrupt. The liquidator sent me a cheque for a small part of what i was owed. It came as a welcome surprise. More often than not, you get nothing and just have to write it off as a bad debt. It's so annoying!

[Edited at 2017-03-22 15:47 GMT]


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Lianne van de Ven  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:14
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Two links for some additional reading Mar 22

Suing someone in small claims court in the US (California)
http://www.courts.ca.gov/1007.htm

Can suits be filed in small claims courts from overseas?
http://law.stackexchange.com/questions/5252/can-suits-be-filed-in-small-claims-courts-from-overseas


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