Problem with a bad payer
Thread poster: Cendrine Marrouat

Cendrine Marrouat
Local time: 17:49
English to French
Aug 3, 2009

Hello everyone,

I am having issues with a bad payer. That client contacted me on May 13, 2009 for a translation. We agreed on the following terms: translation to be sent on May 22; payment right after delivery.

I actually finished the translation earlier than planned. I sent it to the client. Then, they informed me that they would pay me within 20 days. It was ok to me, since it does not make much difference to me.

After 20 days, the client contacted me telling me that they were on a business trip and would be returning a week later. So I emailed them back later asking them about the money. It turned out that they did not have it and asked me to wait.

Finally, after emailing back and forth for weeks, we agreed on meeting in July. The client gave me a post-dated cheque that I was only supposed to deposit on my account a few days later.

About a week after depositing the cheque, the cheque was returned to me in a letter that said: lack of sufficient fund.

I called the client several times, and they said that they did not understand. We decided to meet again on a future date, and the client always found a way to postpone the meetings, even giving me a few fake addresses. So, I drove to their home (I know where they live, because we used to be friends until this incident). They had left.

I have been trying to reach the client through phone and emails, and they will not call me back. I had someone call on my behalf and the client returned their call!!! It has been going on for two and a half months!

I am in Canada, and I just wonder what I could do. What are possible legal recourses?

Thank you so much for your help!


Valérie Catanzaro  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:49
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
... Aug 3, 2009

First of all, do you have a PO for this project?
Did you keep all the emails they sent you?

You said you know their address: could you go there directly to talk about that? Or send a mail to them saying you will contact a lawyer...?

I'm sorry I don't know what are the legal recourses in Canada... I hope you find out how to get paid!


sarandor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:49
English to Russian
+ ...
Small claims court Aug 3, 2009

I think depending ont the amount owed you can consider filing a claim through a local small claims court.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:49
Member (2007)
+ ...
Don't give up yet Aug 3, 2009

Hello Cendrine

I don't know what happens in Canada, but in France having a cheque bounce is a serious matter and can cause major problems for a company as the account is effectively frozen, and things get really difficult if the matter is not sorted within 30 days. Unless things are different in Canada, they probably would not let this happen unless they were in real trouble.

Is there some sort of register you can check to see if they have gone into liquidation or similar? If they have, you need to contact the receiver asap to add your claim - normally, small claims (I imagine yours isn't for thousands?) don't get ranked very high in the queue but your returned cheque could well give you a different status.

If they're still financially sound, you really ought to consider some way of putting pressure on them to pay, although this depends of course on the sum involved. Sometimes, a solicitor's letter will get action, otherwise consider a debt collector or your country's version of a "small claims court". I went the latter route in France recently and got all the money owed plus interest.

I hope you get your money in the end, if it's sufficient to cover the costs of pursuing it. You should certainly go to your bank and discuss the options open with regard to the cheque, and send a registered letter to their company's head office - both of those are cheap and easy.

I hope that someone comes up with specific Canadian advice and help. Please keep us informed - we're all rooting for you!



LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:49
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Use the BlueBoard Aug 3, 2009

Make a negative comment on the BlueBoard. That usually results in a response (and a request for removal) in less than five minutes.


Cendrine Marrouat
Local time: 17:49
English to French
Thank you! Aug 4, 2009

Thank you all for your precious responses and your support!

I know the person very well, as they are the owner of a company who uses Translators once in a while to do business. But Translation is not a regular industry that they deal with. So the blueboard will not do anything in this particular case.

I warned the person: "Friendship is not involved here. We are conducting business. As such, I will have emails with me to prove my case if I have to file a complaint against you for late payment." If this person had paid me right after the returned cheque for insufficient funds, I would have let it go completely!

My friend called them more than once and now, they filter calls.

I am going to look into small claims court and see.

The client owes me about 460 dollars. It is not much. However, during the time I was working on the translation, I refused two other contracts that would have earned me much more money in total. So, all in all, I lost a big amount (not including the interests regarding late payment, since it has been two and a half months already).

I am thinking of continuing to call the person several times a day and send them emails. I want my money and I will get it.


John Fossey  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:49
Member (2008)
French to English
Gradually raise the pressure Aug 4, 2009

Unfortunately, a bounced cheque is not a very big deal in Canada, and, unless it can be proved to be intentional fraud and not just poor management, doesn't carry much consequences.

The test is whether they actually have the means to pay. If they do not, your only recourse is to try to wait until they can pay, and stay with them. Small claims court will result in an order to pay, but if they have no means you're no further ahead, and you would still have to get a judicial execution order and hire a bailiff to seize funds/assets. If they don't have any, there's not much you can do, even with a judgment. On the other hand, if they are about to go bankrupt, a case filed with small claims court ahead of their bankruptcy filing will put you ahead of any creditors - I had that happen to me once.

That said, you have a number of steps that can be taken, ranging from registered letters, a note on the BlueBoard, phone calls, threatening, then filing a small claims suit, etc. You can keep after them, gradually ratcheting up the pressure. You are at an advantage since you are physically within reach of them, many of us cannot reach our client's that don't pay.

If you consider small claims court, be sure to have the details in order - PO if you have it, quote & acceptance (the two documents which together form an enforcable contract), registered letter threatening legal action, etc.


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