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how to protect oneself from non paying clients-advice needed
Thread poster: Luke Mersh

Luke Mersh  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:52
Spanish to English
Aug 10, 2015

Dear colleagues.
I am writing this post to seek advise on how or what to do to proctect ourselves from non paying clients and scams.

As a newbie translator you all have given me sound advice on getting started and what to do and surely enough only recently all my efforts paid off and a client/ agency contacted me to do a large project in a short period of time.

This was my first paid job.

I check the blueboard and the company is listed but in another country and the reviews are mostly positive although the most recent are not.

Over email I asked them for all the details of the project, such as company name and address, word count, payment deadline and method among other things.

We agreed to the terms set out and I completed the project ahead of time and sent them the file with the invoice and all the necessary details.

Some time after the problems start and red flags go off , "we are having problems with Paypal, can we have your IBAN and Swift to pay you as soon as possible", so I email them my details and wait after the agreed time elapsed I email them again and they tell me payment was made, I call the bank and they tell me that no payment was ever initiated.

Then they tell me that their normal policy is 60 days and not 30, although they were the one who told me their conditions originally and I agreed to them.

As of this date no payment has been received.

What can I do to prevent this from happening again, work is very difficult to come by.
I have now created a PO which they have to sign and send back, but even this does not stop them from not paying.

please help.
many thanks in advance.


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 13:52
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
More non-paying trends Aug 10, 2015

Luke Mersh wrote:

What can I do to prevent this from happening again, work is very difficult to come by.
I have now created a PO which they have to sign and send back, but even this does not stop them from not paying.


I started translation jobs from 1970s. I find that progress in Internet and cyberspace makes it possible for us to meet with more non-paying clients. I understand that easier access to Internet invites more ill-performed clients to use services of the language providers.
A number of websites are available for translation marketing but they have conflict of interest: More clients are welcome to the websites (and websites gain more benefits) and ill information against entire clients are basically objected. Honest translators are exposed to higher risk of non-paying behavior.
I expect that translators-only websites are needed to protect us, in particular the newbie language providers.

Soonthon L.


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Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 16:52
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
the Blue Board Aug 10, 2015

Hello Luke,

You did the right thing checking the company's profile on the Blue Board. I think, next time you should actually pay more attention to the most recent entries. Unfortunately, things change over the time, and once a good company can easily become a bad payer due to the cash flow problems, new management etc.

I, personally, would refrain from accepting a job from the company with several recent "1"s.

In your case, I would suggest to make an entry on the Blue Board. It is also in the company's interests not to receive negative entries, so the entry may help with resolving this issue.


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Luke Mersh  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:52
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
how to protect oneself from non paying clients-advice needed Aug 10, 2015

@ Vanda

Thank you Vanda for your advice, I will definitely remember that next time.

I have listed them on the blueboard with an explanation.

I did give them the benefit of the doubt as I emailed them asking what had happened to the payment and they told me they were looking into the case, although I think this was just another excuse.

I waited a while before putting the entry in, as they were polite in their email.

But yes next time I will check the most recent entries.


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:52
Danish to English
+ ...
Set out your terms and make sure the client agrees to them Aug 10, 2015

On the one hand, I doubt that you can ever protect yourself completely against clients who choose not to pay, sadly.

On the other, you should always make sure you have agreed all details before you start working on any job.

It does not have to be complicated, but you must make sure to state, as a minimum, the following:

*Your price for the job
*Time of delivery
*Payment terms (time and method)

Also make sure to get the client's invoicing details, including their international VAT no. if you need this.

AND ask the client to agree to your terms BEFORE starting work...


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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:52
Portuguese to English
+ ...
If the client is in the UK Aug 10, 2015

1. Send a revised invoice as soon as payment is 30 days late

Use a late payment calculator to update your invoice. Late payment legislation provides for interest at 8.5% (the sum of the invoice times 0.085, divided by 365, times the number of days the invoice is late) and you can charge £40 debt recovery fees for debts under £1000, and £70 debt recovery fee for debts over £1000. Therefore, my revised invoice includes the notice below, which is based on the information available on various websites. Some colleagues may be using the same exact wording, but if not, feel free to copy this:

''This invoice is 30 days overdue. Interest is hereby claimed under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 at the rate of 8.5% from [day/month/year] to [day/month/year] in the sum of [insert amount] and continuing at the same rate up to the date of payment at the daily rate of £0.0395.

Compensation for late payment is hereby also claimed, under section 5A of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. Under the table of compensation set out in this provision, the following amount is owed [amount]. This invoice will be updated weekly and further delays in payment will also warrant compensation for debt recovery costs to be applied.''


2. Take legal action if the revised invoice is ignored by the client.

- Write a Letter Before Action (LBA). You can find more detailed information on these on various websites, including Which or the Citizens Advice Bureau. You can also ask a solicitor to send this letter for you for a very small fee.

- Write a Late Payment Demand (LPD) Letter. This will include all late fees and interest already included in your revised invoice, but having it written by a solicitor shows the client you mean business. The fee is very small again.

- Use the HMRC's Money Claim Online service. By doing this, you will essentially be taking your client to the Small Claims Court.

****************

Luke, I'm sure this information is available in dozens of threads on this website. It is also freely available on the CAB, HMRC and other websites. Have you researched about citizens' rights in case of late payment? With so many scammers around one should always be prepared and have a clear plan of action.

Good luck.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:52
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I hope you have just been unlucky Aug 10, 2015

I find that most clients pay without problems.

However, you can try to develop a nose for when you should say you are busy and walk away.

(Things like getting some exercise, getting on with your life, marketing yourself to better clients and tidying up your back-ups and glossaries are all more profitable in the long run than hassle with clients who don't pay!)

Gitte´s advice about stating your terms and getting the client´s details will scare off one or two, but don´t worry, you would not want to work with them anyway!

Check out their website - are they members of the ATC or similar associations that set standards for their members?
http://www.atc.org.uk/en/
They will also help if you are not paid.

Are there real references from end clients? Not just gushings from some secretary that could be made up.
Some scammers can set up very impressive websites, but you will also see sober, convincing ones that tell you what you need to know without a lot of bells and whistles.

Besides the Blue Board, check other lists of scammers, and for instance join this group on LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Unacceptable-Translation-Rates-Naming-Shaming-3415770/about
It is worth following, but there are some long and IMHO not always constructive threads, so don´t waste too much time on it!

I hope you find some good clients who become regulars.


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Luke Mersh  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:52
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
thank you Aug 10, 2015

@Christine

I will read these websites and see what other people are doing.

I hope too to find some honest clients.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:52
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Several pointers there Aug 10, 2015

Congratulations on landing your first job but I'm sorry to hear that payment isn't going smoothly. I have a few comments which maybe you'll find useful.

Luke Mersh wrote:
a client/ agency contacted me to do a large project in a short period of time.

That would worry me greatly. They are taking a massive risk asking an unknown translator to do that. It's presumably clear from your CV etc, and probably from your emails, that you're inexperienced, so that massively increases the risk. Why would a business accept that level of risk? The same high risk is present on your side too, of course. You would ideally want to do a small job for a new (to you) agency, get paid on time, then consider larger volumes and/or urgent work.

the reviews are mostly positive although the most recent are not.

Definite alarm bells there then. Poor reviews some time ago might be acceptable but recent ones could quite likely equal cash-flow problems. A new country means expansion, new staff, new company regulations and requirements, maybe stretched resources... and cash-flow problems.

having problems with Paypal, can we have your IBAN and Swift...
tell me payment was made...
60 days and not 30...
As of this date no payment has been received.

Standard delaying tactics resulting normally from cash-flow problems, although in this case it could be that they haven't yet set up all the necessary infrastructure in the new country.

What can I do to prevent this from happening again

It's just a question of being more suspicious, I suppose, and accepting that however much you want the work, you want to be paid even more. However tempting the expected income seems, how likely is it that payment will actually come in? FWIW, I think it's quite likely this agency will pay in the end, unless they fold. So keep up the pressure.


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Luke Mersh  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:52
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
thank you Aug 10, 2015

@Sheila

Thank you Sheila.
My last correspondence with them was that they were looking into the problem and that I would get paid, but I have heard nothing since.

regards


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:52
French to German
+ ...
Blue Board and unprofessional behavior of agencies Aug 10, 2015

A lot of agencies pay only after 45 or 60 days as they do not have enough cash flow to pay before their customer pays.

I agree with Sheila that giving a new, urgent project to a translator they never have worked with and who does not have several WWAs is not really a proof of professionalism. The agency takes a high risk which a serious agency might not take...

It surely is a good idea to have a look on the Blue Board in order to see what there was going on over the last twelve months. But it is not always possible to trust the Blue Board neither. I already have been in contact with agencies which had a really great Blue Board and I decided not to work with them because they already seemed very unprofessionnal to me in the first mails we exchanged (e. g. asking for very long test translations for free, submitting a very very poor quality of texts for proofreading and expecting to have that done for 0,03 €/source word, expecting to translate 5 000 words a day, sending me projects which were not at all in my field...)

It also happened to me to work with agencies who had a really poor Blue Board because I had a good feeling and knew the colleagues who gave them a bad rating (colleagues I already had problems with as well...). I never had a problem with those agencies.

So I'd say when you regard Blue Board entries it helps to know some translators who gave the ratings. If there are really a lot of 1s, 2s and 3s of several translators, ask for advanced payment if you do a big project, if the agency already presents an unprofessionnal behavior before you actually work with them, just don't.



[Modifié le 2015-08-10 16:21 GMT]


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:52
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
My view yet no (real) advice Aug 10, 2015

In my point ofview, the BlueBoard is somewhat overestimated.
A real company does care about their prestige but then they pay in due time and don't need to fear lower evaluations.
Yet not so real companies change their names like a man changes his socks (that's a Lithuanian saying) and come up clean again after having messed up with the previous name. I had such case with a Spanish, or Basque, to be more specific, translation agency. A lie after a lie and no payment to this day.
So now I state clearly in my profile: advance payment for new clients.


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Luke Mersh  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:52
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
thank you Aug 10, 2015

@Inga.

That is all well when you are established, but when you start out all clients/agencies are new to you.

many thanks


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:52
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Spooking yourself? Aug 10, 2015

Luke, don't spook yourself with no need.
What does that mean to be established? Working almost an entire month days and nights, pushing your own kids away and then getting such "remuneration"?
My linguistic combination is not that much popular to have clients queing behind the door, but in the end of the day, the ultimate question is the following:
Is it to grab every client despite they don't pay? Or is it better to start sorting them out and spend time for marketing yourself rather feeding crooks?
Few of us here can say we are really well established and relaxed about the future.
So just work your way and leave that stigma of a "newbie" on a dusty shelf.


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Luke Mersh  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:52
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
thank you Aug 10, 2015

@Inga

Thank you very much again for your confidence and word of wisdom.

I still am not sure what to do about this.

I have been reading 'not to charge a late fee', but be polite and professional.

The agency in question was polite in response to my emails, but in spite of this I still have not received payment.

I want to do the right thing and be professional like you and others.

So all this information is being put to good use.
regards


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