Poll proposal: payment times and reminders
Thread poster: Lynda Tharratt

Lynda Tharratt  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:18
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 3, 2008

I was curious to know what your experiences are regarding payment times. In my experience at least 50% of the agencies that I work for need at least one reminder notice in order to recieve payment, and 20% need two or more. My payment terms on all invoices are 30 days but I don't send reminder notices until after 60 days (which has unfortunately become the norm these days). Sometimes this follow-up process is ridiculously long (time spent on emails back and forth). Agencies expect us to jump through hoops for them (short lead times, increasingly lower rates, test documents, NDAs that have to be faxed back or sent by snail mail) and then expect us to wait patiently for our money over 60 days! I don't mind going through all of the procedures in order to get a contract with an agency but when it turns out that I do one assignment of 2000 words for them and have problems getting paid, my only recourse is to post a negative review on the BlueBoard which means I will never work for them again in all likelihood and I have wasted all of that time, for nothing!

So, what percentage of agencies pay on time, after one reminder notice, after two or more reminder notices or not at all....?


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:18
Italian to English
+ ...
If you want to propose a poll... Apr 3, 2008

the right place to do it is here:
http://www.proz.com/polls

but you can't do it unless you're a member. (edits: I see you are a member, so you can!)

Anyway, in my experience most agencies don't need reminders before they pay. Having said that, most Italian agencies pay after 90 days anyway (I don't want to get into the rights and wrongs of that, it's been discussed a million times already) so I don't even try and issue a reminder until 4 months after sending the invoice (and sometimes longer, I'm fairly lax about these things).

The only agency which needed chasing up constantly was British, and I no longer work for them. I've had to send reminders to various other agencies before now but I'm prepared to believe that they were genuine oversights in most cases, as payment was immediate and apologetic on pointing out the delay.

[Edited at 2008-04-03 13:15]


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Reminders Apr 3, 2008

I send follow-up requests when payment is two weeks late.

My reminder notes usually point out that clients expect absolutely prompt delivery of translations and that it is therefore reasonable for me to expect similar promptness from them in meeting their commitments.

If payments are consistently very late, I drop the client and write an appropriate warning on the Blue Board (which has only been necessary in one case).


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:18
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
I often send a reminder on the 31st day Apr 3, 2008

There are one or two exceptions to this. The subject of reminders is sometimes a slightly individual matter. However, I see no reason not to remind the debtor on the 31st day.

I like your policy of including a paragraph about the prompt delivery of translations, Steven! I think I will start to incorporate that in my reminders.

Lynda, yes a lot of agencies are very lax payers, and the odd one does not pay at all. That is why I try to work as much as possible for end clients, as I generally have a lot less trouble with them in that respect.

Astrid

And to answer your question more fully: In my experience, about once every year a client (or rather, not a "client", but a dishonest party who ordered a translation) does not pay at all. Usually it is an agency, on one occasion it was a direct party.

I find that the majority of agencies need reminding, and some of them you really have to sit on. When they come up with the various excuses (accountant on holiday, cheque in the post, transfer was made today [but, oddly, the money still does not reach your account in two weeks], husband sick, children sick, etc.), I always tactlessly answer immediately, bluntly insist that their excuse is not true, and continue requesting payment, very firmly, until they decide to pay up. This takes back and forth communication, via e-mail or telephone, not simply a reminder sent without any contact with them.

[Edited at 2008-04-03 18:11]


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Lynda Tharratt  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:18
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
good points raised Apr 3, 2008

I think I will start to include a paragraph with my invoice along the lines of what Stephen said. Obviously, the best way to avoid this is to work for end clients (more lucrative too!)...you're absolutely right Astrid, I just wish it were easier to get more end clients!
For reminders, I usually wait until a week or so after the invoice is due so as not to look like I'm hounding. As Marie-Helene pointed out, it is sometimes due to a backlog or an oversight.
My latest problem, however, is an agency that I first sent a reminder notice to about one week after the invoice was due, then another a few days later when the first one wasn't answered. I received a reply to that one asking for my banking information (they had the PayPal information, but apparently don't use this method). I sent all my banking information. A week went by...they wrote me again asking for the SWIFT code, IBAN etc. I sent the SWIFT code and an explanation that IBAN nos. aren't used in Canada. Nothing...so I wrote again asking about the delay. They said they had tried but their bank wasn't able to make the transfer. So I wrote them with information from a website explaining payments to Canadian banks. Nothing, another week gone by....Then I asked for help on this Forum. I got some great suggestions including another website explaining how to make the transaction online using a Spanish bank (the agency is in Spain). They said that they would pass this information on and let me know. Another week went by which brings us up to this week and I have now written directly to the accounting department (after asking for the email address). The suspicious thing is that in the midst of all this, I received a general email from the company saying that they were sorry for delays in translator's invoices from December. I would understand if the company would just come out and say, we have your information but we are not able to make the payment right now, could you wait a couple of weeks? But by lying to me and saying that they are just not able to make the transaction is wasting my time and theirs. In any case the amount is small (150 Euros or so) and it has now become a waste of my time. Anyway, now I'm just ranting but it's good to get these things off one's chest!
thanks for your input guys!


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 08:18
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
"They wrote me again asking for the SWIFT code, IBAN etc." Apr 4, 2008

Either they have no clue, or they drag their feet or both: afaik IBAN IS (in) the SWIFT code (IBAN plus BIC).



[Edited at 2008-04-04 12:05]


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
IBAN vs Swift Apr 4, 2008

Vito Smolej wrote:

Either they have no clue, or they drag their feet or both: afaik IBAN IS (in) the SWIFT code (IBAN plus BIC).



[Edited at 2008-04-04 12:05]


Not every country is part of the IBAN system. For instance, U.S. banks have Swift numbers but not IBAN codes. Apparently the same is true in Canada.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:18
English to German
+ ...
SWIFT code = BIC Apr 4, 2008

Hi Vito,

Either they have no clue, or they drag their feet or both: afaik IBAN IS (in) the SWIFT code (IBAN plus BIC).

I beg to differ; AFAIK the SWIFT code refers to the Bank Identifier Code (BIC) defined by SWIFT. Using an IBAN requires a BIC for most purposes, but not (necessarily) vice versa.

Best, Ralf


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:18
French to English
excuses, excuses... Apr 4, 2008

Lynda Tharratt wrote:

I I would understand if the company would just come out and say, we have your information but we are not able to make the payment right now, could you wait a couple of weeks? But by lying to me and saying that they are just not able to make the transaction is wasting my time and theirs. In any case the amount is small (150 Euros or so) and it has now become a waste of my time. Anyway, now I'm just ranting but it's good to get these things off one's chest!
thanks for your input guys!


I've always believed that these accounting problem excuses just meant that the company was having cash flow problems. Really, it's not like most agencies are so big that the production manager can't just shout over to the account payables department if something goes astray, its not like they never talk. However, I wonder how I really would feel if they came right out and admitted a cash pinch and promised to pay as soon as they could. I might respect the honesty, but it might just make me nervous enough to avoid working for the company again.

I am glad people are doing well with end user clients, that was not always my experience working for an agency. We actually had one very major client declare bankruptcy. Luckily we had plenty of working capital so all translators were still paid promptly, and we did eventually get the money out of the client, but I am by no means convinced that end users are safer than a reputable agency.


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Lynda Tharratt  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:18
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
excuses, excuses Apr 5, 2008

At this rate, I'd probably never work for them again anyway :> And you're exactly right, the accounting department is probably the next desk over from the project manager's, PM: "Hey, what do I tell that Lynda, she is still asking for her money?" Accounting: "Tell her that our bank is still trying to figure out how to make the payment." They also could have gone on the Internet and found out how to make the payment, I live in Canada after all and not on some remote island in the South Pacific (although that is a lot more tempting than living in Canada!). I don't know why they would refuse to make the payment with PayPal either, almost all of the agencies I work for pay me with PayPal. Despite the fees, it's just so much easier.
So here I am, another Saturday, no reply to my email request for payment this week! Should I just go ahead and BlueBoard them? (New verb: to BlueBoard).


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 03:18
Half of my clients are habitual late payers Apr 5, 2008

Lynda Tharratt wrote:
So, what percentage of agencies pay on time, after one reminder notice, after two or more reminder notices or not at all....?


But I am not consequent enough to break up with them.

When they approach me with new jobs, I always take them. Though not punctually, they pay sooner or later.

[Edited at 2008-04-05 13:28]


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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 08:18
English to Czech
+ ...
The same mail, the same issue.... Apr 11, 2008

Lynda Tharratt wrote:

The suspicious thing is that in the midst of all this, I received a general email from the company saying that they were sorry for delays in translator's invoices from December. I would understand if the company would just come out and say, we have your information but we are not able to make the payment right now, could you wait a couple of weeks?


Hi Lynda, I'm currently having the same problems with a Cyprian-Polish agency. Is that your case too?
BTW, are we allowed to mention the names here?


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:18
English to German
+ ...
No discussion of specific outsourcers in the forums, please Apr 12, 2008

Hi Stanislav,
BTW, are we allowed to mention the names here?

Discussion of specific outsourcers - wheter explicit or by reference - is not permitted in the forums. Please refer to the forum rules, in particular rule no. 8.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Lynda Tharratt  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:18
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
update Apr 12, 2008

After having received another reply saying we want to pay you, we just don't know how, I replied that it was the agency's concern as to how they would pay me, after all I did the work as requested. Oh....and I also may have mentioned that if they didn't pay me within one week, their agency would receive my negative rating on the BlueBoard and I would contact their local consumer ombudsman...well, didn't I receive payment that very same day! ...via PayPal...

he he, and Stanislav, no it's not the same agency..I think I can say that much...

Cheers to everyone for their help and advice!


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Poll proposal: payment times and reminders

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