Client cannot be contacted
Thread poster: VoiceTex

VoiceTex
Germany
Local time: 20:44
English to German
+ ...
Feb 11, 2009

Hey All,

I got a problem with a German client (I live in Germany).
They were supposed to pay by 1 January 2009.

Now I have sent them a reminder, which they answered with a note that the money would be on my bank account the week after.

It didn't and I sent another mail putting them in arrears officially. No answer. The company is not registered as far as I can find out. They obviously had a website which is no longer online. I do not have or find a current telephone number, I only have the mail address and e-mail.

I have sent him another friendly reminder to see whether they had forgotten about it or entered the wrong account number. That was on 3 February. No answer so far.

I have been very polite and patient.

Any suggestions? Any chance of getting my money?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:44
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Wayback Machine Feb 11, 2009

Qualitylanguage wrote:
They obviously had a website which is no longer online.


If you know the address, go to http://www.archive.org/ and type it in. If they didn't bother with a good robots.txt file, odds are you'd be able to see their old site.


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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:44
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
too late now, but... Feb 11, 2009

before starting a job, you always should have the full address of your agency/client. This is no guarantee for payment, but better than just an email address.

Maybe you can contact the local offices (Stadtverwaltung) of the town, where the client was supposed to have his business? Sometimes the people there are quite helpful.


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 19:44
Personal visit Feb 11, 2009

If you have their address, then I would suggest that you visit them.

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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:44
English to French
+ ...
Bankrupt Feb 11, 2009

They are probably bankrupt. Then you must transfer your claims to the corresponding tribunal.

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VoiceTex
Germany
Local time: 20:44
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Address Feb 11, 2009

Paying them a visit would be nice, I guess and an idea.

@Capesha: I do have their address - at least I had it. I had payment problems in December as well, sent a reminder and got the money with the excuse of the birth of my contact person's (and company manager's) little daughter.

I will try to reach the authorities. I have already looked into the Handelsregister, yet I did not find the company.


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:44
French to English
+ ...
questions Feb 11, 2009

Two questions:

1) was this client new to you? Agency or direct client?

2) if this is a new client, what research did you do into their reliability before accepting the job?

There are lots of resources out there that will tell you what other translators think of agencies - direct clients are trickier.

If they are not registered, and you therefore can't check their creditworthiness (I assume you can do this in Germany, as you can in the UK), and you are not even sure they exist, I'm not sure what you can do (apart from, as Orla suggests, visiting the address to see what you find).


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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:44
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Sorry.... Feb 11, 2009

Qualitylanguage wrote:

Paying them a visit would be nice, I guess and an idea.

@Capesha: I do have their address - at least I had it. I had payment problems in December as well, sent a reminder and got the money with the excuse of the birth of my contact person's (and company manager's) little daughter.

I will try to reach the authorities. I have already looked into the Handelsregister, yet I did not find the company.


I should have read your posting more carefully....


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VoiceTex
Germany
Local time: 20:44
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Client Feb 11, 2009

This client is one of the largest translator for games.
Buy an official book on a computer game and you find their name.

That's all I can say to this.


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J Chae  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:44
English to Korean
+ ...
Me too Feb 11, 2009

Similar situation over here. Except that my client has never paid. So far my outstanding invoices for this one client has piled up to 6,500 Euros in total (a payment policy of 60-days after the invoice date is enough to make this happen).

I've tried contacting them, by email, by phone... No go. Last year, I was still able to reach them by phone (they were located in Milan). Now, the same phone number is wrong, invalid or missing. They said they were moving their office last December so probably their address is worthless too.

I'm getting ready for my third and final reminder. If they fail to respond to this one too, I'm afraid I will have little choice but to seek a juridical assistance. Hopefully their website is still alive with their business registration number, phone number and address, so I guess I'd need someone with legal authority to access and track those data.

PS. Don't be overly polite, just remain civilized. You don't go asking "Excuse me, but could you please settle the payment you owed me last year, due last month?" when claiming an outstanding payment. You're the angry one, and they're the sorry ones. Play your role.


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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:44
English to French
+ ...
Handelsregister Feb 11, 2009

Well they are either registered somewhere... or their activity was seriously illegal.

As far as I see it, I would still believe they are registered somewhere.

Anyway there are local authorities like the Chamber of commerce, or the Town, who might tell you what kind of business it was.


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:44
French to English
+ ...
suggestions Feb 11, 2009

Qualitylanguage wrote:

This client is one of the largest translator for games.
Buy an official book on a computer game and you find their name.

That's all I can say to this.


In that case, if I were you I'd look on the Blue Board here or other payment practices lists and contact translators who have worked with this client recently, and find out if you are alone or if other translators are having the same problem. Knowledge of this sort will help you know what kind of problem you are dealing with. And yes, keep contacting them, and absolutely find a telephone number (if they are a large organisation as you say, they must have one somewhere - perhaps the Blue Board record has one?).


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:44
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Long payment terms Feb 11, 2009

J Chae wrote:
Similar situation over here. Except that my client has never paid. So far my outstanding invoices for this one client has piled up to 6,500 Euros in total (a payment policy of 60-days after the invoice date is enough to make this happen).


You found the root cause of the problem. I probably wrote about this a dozen times on Proz alone.

Translation agencies that pay their vendors in 60 days or more, and usually collect payment from the end-client in advance or COD are living on the interest-free money "borrowed" in this way from translators. After the 60 days are gone, they intend to pay translators with the up-front payment for the next job they get. If incoming new jobs decline, or even halt completely, they won't pay.

If no translator in the world ever accepted payment terms beyond 30 days from delivery, this would have a thorough cleansing effect in the translation market: only the honest outsourcers would survive.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:44
French to German
+ ...
Count me in, José! Feb 11, 2009

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:


If no translator in the world ever accepted payment terms beyond 30 days from delivery, this would have a thorough cleansing effect in the translation market: only the honest outsourcers would survive.



30 days from the date of invoice are my standard terms. Any project over 1,000 (one thousand) euros ex VAT is subject to partial payment.

And so on, and so on... Like not accepting cheques as payment when wire transfers can be made or PayPal used.

It is actually so easy NOT being double-crossed by outsourcers!

As per the message of the OP, I would suggest using any possibilities to get paid... and I really mean any possible means!

Laurent K.



[Edited at 2009-02-11 20:51 GMT]


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