client will not pay
Thread poster: Paola Guzzetta

Paola Guzzetta  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:46
English to Italian
+ ...
Jan 8, 2002

dear proz pals,

as you all know an unpleasant aspect of this profession is that you often do not know the client personally and the internet can be very dangerous at times.

last year i translated some files for a firm in Padua (total amount approximately 600.000 italian lire); i had invoiced the client twice already and he regularly paid.

but i invoiced them in august and not receiving any reply i soon phoned them (nobody was there and nobody ever answers); in addition to this their web site has disappered and my e-mails keep coming back. About a month ago I sent them a registered letter with return receipt (lettera con ricevuta di ritorno) which they received. What should i do know?

any suggestions are welcome.

Plus are there any ways a translator can protect himself from all this?


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Brenda Wong, M.A. (Translation & Interpretation)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:46
English to Chinese
+ ...
Some suggestions Jan 8, 2002

I completely agree with you that it\'s a professional translator\'s greatest nightmare! (I think a professional translator should have to worry about the quality of the work and not going crazy about non paying clients.) I do not know what you can do to get your money. (Maybe tell them you are going to expose them in the very popular TCR list at, and pray and hope that they\'ll come to their senses.) They are obviously avoiding you. But I think for future reference, maybe you can:

1) Demand to receive 1/3 prior to starting the work, 1/3 when the work is 50% completed, and 1/3 before work is delivered.

2) Demand to receive the entire payment prior to sending out the translation.

I often hear people say that you can\'t do that. I always wonder we are working with a client (and not for a client). It is a 50/50 deal. For example, when a plumber comes to your house to fix your pipe, can you tell the plumber to go back to his office to wait for payment (after he has submitted an invoice to you?) No way, Jose! So please educate me, why do we have to trust that we would get paid?!

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Sandra B.
Local time: 20:46
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A tip... Feb 16, 2002

How I understand you!

I had a similar problem some months ago. They were also not answer my emails, phone calls,etc.

I told them a lawyer would take care of this for me. Later on they paid me... Of course, I was bluffing, but it worked...

But it\'s indeed good to put their name in the Yahoo list.

I had already sugested to make the Proz service paid for companies and agencies that want to place an ad. It could be a way to filter non serious people.

Hope the system changes!

Good luck


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Bertha S. Deffenbaugh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:46
English to Spanish
+ ...
Did you get a PO from them? Feb 17, 2002

If you did, you can hire an attorney and get your money. It may take time, but I think you can succeed.

I once heard of an australian translator who did not get paid by an agency in Germany. In spite of the huge distance, she got herself a good lawyer in Germany and they won the case. The attorney\'s fees had to be paid by the agency. The translator did everything over the internet.

Good luck,


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:46
French to English
If they don't pay, don't delay - react! Feb 17, 2002

Take yourself seriously and have the courage to seek the professioanl services of a debt collector or lawyer.

I waited one month over a 30-day payment deadline, sent out three recorded delivery letters (with a 14-day reply deadline, then 8 days, then an 8-day ultimatum), all of which were received/signed for and still no result. One week later, the file was with a debt collector. I got judgment in my favour and the client had 30 days to pay, or to contest the invoice. Day 28, no payment, no letter contesting the amount due.

What I did get on the 30th day was a letter from a liquidator informing me that the guy was in liquidation. That was when my debt collector informed me that the client had been in receivership (under observation and allowed to continue his business) when he instructed me to do the job. He was never going to be in a position to pay me in fact. He had so many debts behind him that any money he received from selling the films of the subtitling work I did for him would automatically be allocated elsewhere. I feel cheated. I\'d worked for them in the past without any problem having arisen, and had received money up front in the past. I had not asked for it this time, but it would probably not have made any difference.

Do pursue bad payers. You don\'t want them as clients anyway. Why should they drag you down with them? Whatever the origin of their difficulty (bad payers, bad management, dishonesty...) you have to protect yourself.

Good luck!


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