Can anyone provide advice on debt collection?
Thread poster: Marcel Milic

Marcel Milic  Identity Verified
Slovenia
Local time: 13:34
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Oct 23, 2009

As many of you, I and a colleague of mine also have problem with one company - they don't want to pay.
I would like to get an advice how to collect money from them. Any idea? Collection agency, maybe? If so – can any of you recommend one?


[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-10-23 15:03 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:34
Member (2008)
Italian to English
First step Oct 23, 2009

First: establish that you delivered your work on time and that there were no complaints.
Second: write very politely, at intervals of several days
Third: if they don't reply, and if this firm is registered on BLueBoard, give them a negative BB rating but don't make any comments that might allow them to contradict you.
Fourth: do not agree to remove your negative BB rating in exchange for payment. Demand payment first.
Fifth: when you get payment, *still* do not remove your negative BB rating. It will be useful to others.


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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:34
German to English
Lawyer Oct 23, 2009

I've just started this process with one customer I should have stopped working for faster
My own reminders had no effect, so a local lawyer is now dealing with it, and so far it looks promising: all they have done is send a reminder, too, but the company in question seems willing to cooperate and pay in installments. If it works I will lose some money from lawyer's fees - a small sum - but without the lawyer I would probably lose it all.

It would be interesting to know if anyone has any other suggestions for very small sums, though. I've experienced a few customers (individuals) who have run up debts of 20 or 50 euros and not responded to reminders.


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
If local - visit Oct 23, 2009

If the firm is local then send them an email telling them that you will be visiting their offices to discuss the debt on such and such a day. Many firms will pay in order to avoid an embarrassing and stressful confrontation.

This is probably the most effective tactic you can use.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Consider taking them to court Oct 23, 2009

I don't know what the situation is like in Slovenia (or, indeed, whether the customer is in that country), but in the UK, where I lived until recently, it's very cheap and easy to sue people online.

I've done it twice, and on both occasions the customer paid up shortly after receiving the summons. They also have to pay your court fee, so if you win it costs you nothing apart from 15 minutes of your time filling in the forms online. And there's a big incentive to pay up quickly, because otherwise they get a judgment against them that ruins their credit record.


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Marcel Milic  Identity Verified
Slovenia
Local time: 13:34
English to Slovenian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not local, what about collect agency? Oct 23, 2009

I see that I didn't give enough information about my case.
Yes, I am from Slovenia and this agency is from Spain. As philgoddard said – it is easy to collect money locally.
In Slovenia all you need is invoice and you can arrange everything via internet. No lawyers and no collect agencies. Simple and clean.
On relation Slovenia – Spain it is somewhat complicated.
Anne - your idea is OK, but lawyer in Spain and me, being in Slovenia ...
This is why I think about collect agency.
Do you have any experience with them?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:34
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
European small claims court Oct 23, 2009

Marcel Milic wrote:
I am from Slovenia and this agency is from Spain.


So, it's a claim between members of the European Union. In theory, and if the amount involved is not too huge, it's a simple matter of contacting the EU Small Claims Court, submitting all the documentation and paying a small fee, then waiting for them to collect your money, unless the company has gone into liquidation. Easy!

It might actually work - The EU SCC (that may not be its actual name, by the way) is based on the French system, and that worked for me.

I think it's far better than debt collecting agencies, but that's for you to decide.

Good luck!


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Another suggestion Oct 24, 2009

I recently did over $1,000 of work for a new customer and then heard via Proz that they were having serious trouble paying their translators. Rather than let it drag on for months, I offered a 10% discount if they paid within seven days. They did.

I also think it's important to to set credit limits for all customers, including those you trust to pay on time.

[Edited at 2009-10-24 00:34 GMT]


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