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money up front??
Thread poster: Will Masters

Will Masters  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 25, 2011

hey

I'm relatively new to all this and so thought it best to ask for a more experienced opinion.

I've just been offered a translation of 20 pages by a company I've done translations for in the past. They've said that since it's not urgent in the email, and that the job is mine so long as I let them know by first thing tomorrow morning.

With it being for 20 pages, should I ask for half (or any) of the money up front or should I just take the full payment at the end of the translation? The reason I'm not sure what to do is because I have worked with them in the past and have had no problems. Obviously if it was a new client I would ask for half up front as I would not be 100% their reliability to meet the pre-set payment deadline.

What are your thoughts? What size texts would you normally ask for a portion of the money up front with?

Thanks if advance for any suggestions you could offer me


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Merix
Poland
Local time: 10:04
English to Polish
+ ...
At the end of the job done Sep 25, 2011

guille22 wrote:

hey

I'm relatively new to all this and so thought it best to ask for a more experienced opinion.

I've just been offered a translation of 20 pages by a company I've done translations for in the past. They've said that since it's not urgent in the email, and that the job is mine so long as I let them know by first thing tomorrow morning.

With it being for 20 pages, should I ask for half (or any) of the money up front or should I just take the full payment at the end of the translation? The reason I'm not sure what to do is because I have worked with them in the past and have had no problems. Obviously if it was a new client I would ask for half up front as I would not be 100% their reliability to meet the pre-set payment deadline.

What are your thoughts? What size texts would you normally ask for a portion of the money up front with?

Thanks if advance for any suggestions you could offer me


Nah, 20 pages is nothing really. Do your job and ask for the payment after it's done.

My policy: I don't ask a new client to pay up front under 100 pages. Everything above calls for special means Good luck!


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PRAKAASH  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 13:34
Member (2007)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Ask a small amount in advance Sep 25, 2011

Hi,

Ask for a small amount as a token money, I suggest.

I do it usually for new clients, however never with the old ones.

You will have less to loose, if your proposal is not accepted as you wouldn't have done any effort for that job. In case, client is not a genuine one, and he/she doesn't pay after job, you will feel your efforts wasted.

Moreover, genuine clients have never denied a small amount to me. It proves their genuineness and respect towards translators' feelings of working in an unsure environment.

For few times, they pay quickly, I never deny them in future and agree to their payment terms and conditions.

Regards,
PRAKAASH


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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:04
Russian to English
+ ...
Not with an established customer? Sep 26, 2011

Merix wrote:

Nah, 20 pages is nothing really. Do your job and ask for the payment after it's done.


I agree. The only time I've ever asked for money up front was when I was contacted by an outsourcer that was not a ProZ.com member and had no Blue Board record. They agreed, and they've been my best customer for almost 2 years now.

You say you've done business with this client in the past. If you had no problem with payments, why risk offending them? It might be different if they were slow paying, of course...


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Problem? Sep 26, 2011

You're not sure what to do is because you have worked with them in the past and have had no problems?

So if you've had no problems, then what's your problem????


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Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:04
Member
English to German
+ ...
Paranoid? Me too! Sep 26, 2011

guille22 wrote:

With it being for 20 pages, should I ask for half (or any) of the money up front or should I just take the full payment at the end of the translation? The reason I'm not sure what to do is because I have worked with them in the past and have had no problems.


Well, since you’ve never had problems with this customer in the past, why worry now?

Obviously if it was a new client I would ask for half up front as I would not be 100% their reliability to meet the pre-set payment deadline.
What are your thoughts? What size texts would you normally ask for a portion of the money up front with?


Honestly, I would never ask for an advance payment.

Thanks if advance for any suggestions you could offer me


De nada!



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Paul Stevens  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:04
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not with existing clients with good payment practices Sep 26, 2011

James McVay wrote:

Merix wrote:

Nah, 20 pages is nothing really. Do your job and ask for the payment after it's done.


I agree. The only time I've ever asked for money up front was when I was contacted by an outsourcer that was not a ProZ.com member and had no Blue Board record. They agreed, and they've been my best customer for almost 2 years now.

You say you've done business with this client in the past. If you had no problem with payments, why risk offending them? It might be different if they were slow paying, of course...


Couldn't agree more, James! I never ask new clients with a good Blue Board record for payment up front. I've asked a few others to pay up front, and, in most cases, that tends to be the end of the conversation, so I suspect that some of those instances might well have developed into payment problems. The one exception - like your own experience - was a new client who was happy to pay up front and they have been my best client for nearly 7 years now.


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Will Masters  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Sep 26, 2011

thanks guys for all the thoughts and opinions on the subject

Obviously I didn't want to run the risk of offending them having worked with them in the past and been paid (more or less) on time, my only query was the length of the text and so wasn't sure if asking for any money up front was the norm.

Thanks again for the advice


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
In your dreams Sep 26, 2011

Payment up front? A non-starter in my experience.

Here's how I perceive it: When you ask a potential client for money up front, you are in effect saying "I don't trust you, and am probably desperate for cash too"... which is not a good start to a relationship IMO. My approach is "nothing ventured, nothing gained" - in other words, to get on in life sometimes you need to take risks - and anyway, what's the worst case scenario? You do the job and they eventually don't pay you - so you have learned a lesson. However, if they do pay you, and even better, if they do so promptly, your trust will have paid off and you can feel free to work with them in future.

I usually try to follow the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" - and 99% of times it pays off.



[Edited at 2011-09-26 08:02 GMT]


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:04
Hebrew to English
It's weird, but there's no point swimming against the tide.... Sep 26, 2011

What should happen: Payment upfront. There's nothing weird in this, you pay for a product and then the product is given to you. In most commercial enterprises this is how it works. When you go into a shop, you pay first, get goods afterwards. Neither party knows or trusts one another, so it's a pretty logical system...although I suppose there are arguments that in normal salaried jobs you normally work in arrears so this may be a form of post-payment too.

What actually happens: Payment after. This is just the way it is. In my opinion it's bizarre/not preferable for the translator as it shifts a lot of risk onto the translator, it might be ok-ish with a client you're very pally with (i.e. i know and trust you and know for sure you'll pay so it's ok). But in translation, you "have" to do this with almost every client, whether you know them well or not.

...the flip side of this trust system is the rather disturbingly frequent threads on here about late/non-payers. Unfortunately this risk is one that translators seem to have taken on the chin (as a collective/profession). It's a bit self-defeating in my opinion (because when it does happen, 9 times out of 10 it's the translator that loses out, not the company/client)....but it's the way it is.

Why you can't ask for money upfront: because there will always be a flood of translators behind you willing not to ask for it upfront.

I think every translator will have their own policy on this, but in most cases I think most would agree that post-payment is the norm (whatever their personal beliefs about how the system should work). I think if you get an offer from someone with no records, and you smell a rat, then maybe. Otherwise no way.

Anyway.......at this stage in your translation career I wouldn't worry. Try looking at it like this:

1. You have had no problems with them before, they paid you then, they'll more than likely pay you now.

2. Worst case scenario: they don't pay. First of all there are various ways and legal avenues to go down to rectify this. But presuming you can't. What have you lost? Your time. What have you gained? Valuable experience (in client/translator relations/risks AND in translation itself) - being a student I would think this is worthwhile...AND an addition to your translation portfolio (it wouldn't matter that payment was an issue-it could still be included).

So I think you're really in a win-win situation here. And from the positive things you have said about the client I really don't think it is likely that you will have any issues come payment time.


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Paul Stevens  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:04
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Learning a lesson Sep 26, 2011

neilmac wrote:

Payment up front? A non-starter in my experience.

Here's how I perceive it: When you ask a potential client for money up front, you are in effect saying "I don't trust you, and am probably desperate for cash too"... which is not a good start to a relationship IMO. My approach is "nothing ventured, nothing gained" - in other words, to get on in life sometimes you need to take risks - and anyway, what's the worst case scenario? You do the job and they eventually don't pay you - so you have learned a lesson. However, if they do pay you, and even better, if they do so promptly, your trust will have paid off and you can feel free to work with them in future.

I usually try to follow the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" - and 99% of times it pays off.



[Edited at 2011-09-26 08:02 GMT]

I don't quite agree with you about the risk-taking element for some potential new clients, Neil. I (as you correctly put it) learned a lesson quite a few years ago by taking on a job when I knew nothing about the client's reliability in terms of paying invoices, e.g. no Blue Board record or other info. available on the Internet regarding their payment practices. The end result was that the client didn't pay and whilst the amount involved was not significant, it left a very bitter taste in the mouth and caused a lot of hassle and waste of valuable time.

Having learnt the lesson, it is not therefore a risk that I wish to take again. I would rather ask for payment up front from a potential new client in such cicumstances and lose such potential client than take a gamble on the client being a relibale payer as there is clear potential for being left with an unpaid invoice and lots of hassle. As I mentioned above, one of my clients, a few years ago, was happy to pay up front for their first job and they have been my best client for some time now.

Incidentally, Neil, I'm not sure if the 99% figure which you mention applies only to cases where there is no information available regarding a potential client's payment practices, but if that figure (which I would certainly challenge as being far too high) were true, I suspect that if the remaining 1% of cases were to happen, that might be enough to put you off wanting to risk it again. Or perhaps I'm generally just more cautious than you and only apply my standard payment terms to new clients where there is at least some reasonable information available about their likelihood of paying invoices.

[Edited at 2011-09-26 09:53 GMT]


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matt robinson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:04
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Who gets paid in advance? Sep 26, 2011

To be honest, if anyone offers to pay me in advance I either laugh or I suspect a scam. I have only negotiated payment terms other than payment on full completion once, and it was for a 350 page document from a client I had never worked with before. Even then the terms were payment of 25% on delivery of 25%. I took the risk and I had no problems (they also took a risk).

In the grand scheme of things 20 pages is not a huge risk, so I wouldn't rock the boat, especially as you have worked with them before without any problems.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:04
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
A different approach--payment prior to delivery Sep 26, 2011

Upfront payment will in many cases be refused, for all of the previously mentioned reasons.

But for private clients, and agencies with no established BB record (or those with entries that give cause for concern) that you are dealing with for the first time, you could offer the following:

Agree to do the job, on the condition that you will receive full payment once the job is done. Upon receipt of payment, you will send the work to the client.

This is worth doing if the job in question does not exceed around $600. If the amount involved is more, then I think it fair to ask for a third of the total up front, and the rest prior to delivery (in order to protect yourself against having the client simply cancel the job and leave you with nothing after you have done a substantial amount of work).

I somewhat disagree with a number of the posters here, in that I am not squeamish about letting potential clients I've never dealt with know (in the nicest way possible) that I have no grounds to trust them, and that I am not willing to put myself in a position of being ripped off by them. I usually state this in terms of "sound business practices" and I invite them to think of what they would do if they were in my shoes.

This is the approach I take in the above-identified circumstances, and I only remember one individual refusing such terms (and this person seemed to be a fraudster interested in extracting free work, so this also was a good outcome).

Keep ever in the forefront of your mind the First Commandmant of the freelance translator: Thou shalt not let thyself get screwed.

[Edited at 2011-09-26 12:02 GMT]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:04
Flemish to English
+ ...
In God we trust, all others pay cash. Sep 26, 2011

or payment on delivery as it is the case with most purchases.
You deliver and the customer gets the encrypted password (preferably one consisting of figures, letters and signs=are harder to crack) of your translation after he has paid you.
Office 2010 has a nice feature, whereby the customer can make remarks, give feedback, but can't make any changes to the text.

Is this uncommon? Not quite. For many online-services ,you first have to pay before delivery of the service/software or the goods. Try to book a flight with Ryanair or Easyjet and pay after 30-60 days. I think you will not get far.

You are not the banker of an agency.
Of course, the translation sector seems to be the exception to the rule for just about any aspect of business.

[Edited at 2011-09-26 11:32 GMT]


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:04
Hebrew to English
Agree with Robert... Sep 26, 2011

Although I don't think it applies in guilles22's case (in this instance), as the client he describes seems above board, I think there are definitely times when asking for a % upfront is just common sense...

...usually when you know for a fact you are dealing with a potential dud. Some translators may just say "if they are potentially dodgy then just reject the job immediately". Instinct can only help so much, and paranoia is counterproductive - and sometimes it's hard to tell for sure, so I think there are times when even when you suspect a client may be a bit iffy, you still consider taking the job. These kind of occasions are when an upfront % payment request drifts into the realm of acceptability.

Naturally, like Robert you have to dress it up in rather diplomatic language...I usually say something along the lines of protecting myself from "unethical business practices"...basically painting a professional face on the fact that you don't quite trust them (and probably for good reason - no records, bad blue board record etc).

I did this recently for an agency that had a less than glowing record, they then asked me to translate a full page as a test.....alarm bells........I refused the full page test, offered to translate a a hundred odd words for a goodwill gesture and included that if I get the job I would prefer part payment before completion...using all the diplomacy I could muster.

Whilst I got a cursory thank you from them, I also got fobbed off with some lame excuse and told to wait.......*chirp chirp chirp*. It's a good job I didn't hold my breath.

I have the feeling that if I had been more compliant (done the full page, asked for nothing) then I might have "won" the job, (I actually think it was a scam but..) I suspect in any case I would have ended up burned.

So Robert is absolutely right. Certain situations necessitate caution...and erring on the side of caution.

(but not for you this time guilles I don't think!)

Edited for a typo



[Edited at 2011-09-26 12:26 GMT]


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