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Dodgy payment habits by good agencies in recession?
Thread poster: Suzette Martin-Johnson

Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Nov 30, 2009

Hi all,

Just needed to vent! Am I just unlucky or you find that normally reliable payers (4.8 to 5 on the Blue Board) have become sluggish in recent times? I'm a Blue Board snob and so only go for people with fabulous ratings (I don't have the patience for the money chase) and all of my three agencies have needed reminders this month! Gah! what's more, we've had nice interactions over time and I don't want to upset the apple cart so I'm in a bind...


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:39
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I have seen more of this Nov 30, 2009

I've noticed this kind of thing more during the past year than previously, for what it is worth. I think that some agencies take the view that the stated term is more of a guideline than a hard and fast commitment, and feel no compunction (or need to apologize) over taking an extra week or two.

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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Indeed Dec 1, 2009

Thanks Robert...I have to agree, especially when agencies that normally pay like clockwork start acting up too. What's the world coming to?

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Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 09:39
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
On the right track Dec 1, 2009

It seems that you are on the right track by selecting whom you want to work with. I believe that a continuous income in the long run is worth tolerating short payment delays from good clients.

Elías


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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Patient approach Dec 1, 2009

Thanks Elias: I think so too that's why I'm treading softly.

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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:39
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It is all a matter of practicality Dec 1, 2009

It really in the end depends on what you can afford to risk giving up. If you are dependent on these late payers, then you have to find your tolerance level for late payments, and you do indeed need to tread ever so carefully in terms of waiting and then (most importantly) in the way you express yourself in calling attention to their tardiness. I think personally that 10 days is a more than generous grace period, at which point a "friendly reminder" is in order.

Of course, if you eventually get into a position in which you have regular work from agencies that actually pay on time (and that may even offer better rates) you can afford to risk being rather more forthright.

All the best!

[Edited at 2009-12-01 03:26 GMT]


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Only 1 Dec 1, 2009

Only 1 of my formerly regular customers and reliable payers since 7 years is now 5 months late, in spite of my monthly reminders and communication. The stories I have been told are incredible, I think their management is misusing their project managers to fool their creditors. Now my patience is going to end and I will send a bailiff next week (as announced). Once I will have learned all the details how to seize my money (in France), my tolerance level will be reduced to 3 weeks. They are "asking" for it.

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NR_Stedman  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:39
French to English
Same here Dec 1, 2009

"1 of my formerly regular customers and reliable payers since 7 years is now 5 months late, in spite of my monthly reminders and communication".

One of my best French clients for whom I have worked for many years is no longer paying despite continuing to send me work every month! I haven't been paid for any work since May. Perhaps this is the same agency Harry?

[Edited at 2009-12-01 04:59 GMT]


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Links Dec 1, 2009

Accordung to your email is another one,
but here is a link which will help you to find the bailiff responsible for the area of your client:

http://www.huissier-justice.fr/MsgByReg.aspx?id=142

Under "Liens utiles" you will find the
- Chambres régionales.., and
- Chambres départementales..
which will help you to continue.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:39
French to German
+ ...
A possible scenario Dec 1, 2009

As it has been said elsewhere on this forum, I now begin to believe that many agencies don't have a cash-flow worth this name, if at all. They don't have the guts to remind their clients of overdue payments, in fear of losing them. So the weakest link of the chain (freelance translators) have to take all the heat on them and to "accept" payments arriving 3, 4 or even 12 months later.

This is an absurd domino game and obviously has to stop soon if we don't want to be in for a second "general" collapse. The rather good thing is that this game shows how much some agencies care about their subcontractors - not at all, if I am allowed to say... I won't forget slow payers in the future either!

And frankly, Harry and NR_Stedman - I admire your patience but would not walk in your footsteps.

[Edited at 2009-12-01 05:59 GMT]


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Tina Colquhoun  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:39
Danish to English
+ ...
Don't get it! Dec 1, 2009

@ NR Stedman:

>One of my best French clients for whom I have worked for many years is no longer paying despite continuing to send me work every month! I haven't been paid for any work since May.<

Sorry, but why on earth do you keep working for them??


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NR_Stedman  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:39
French to English
Bad Habits perhaps Dec 1, 2009

Tina Colquhoun wrote:


@ NR Stedman:

>
Sorry, but why on earth do you keep working for them??


Its difficult to stop when you have worked for 15 years with an agency that now and again gives you big contracts of exceptionally well paid work right within your speciality. Also in the past some French agencies were exceptionally slow in paying though things have now improved.
PS I have never ever not been paid for a job in 25 years.

[Edited at 2009-12-01 08:52 GMT]


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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 16:39
English to Czech
+ ...
Right Dec 1, 2009

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

As it has been said elsewhere on this forum, I now begin to believe that many agencies don't have a cash-flow worth this name, if at all. They don't have the guts to remind their clients of overdue payments, in fear of losing them. So the weakest link of the chain (freelance translators) have to take all the heat on them and to "accept" payments arriving 3, 4 or even 12 months later.

This is an absurd domino game and obviously has to stop soon if we don't want to be in for a second "general" collapse. The rather good thing is that this game shows how much some agencies care about their subcontractors - not at all, if I am allowed to say... I won't forget slow payers in the future either!

And frankly, Harry and NR_Stedman - I admire your patience but would not walk in your footsteps.

[Edited at 2009-12-01 05:59 GMT]


Hi Laurent,
you summed that up wonderfully. Nothing to add...


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:39
Dutch to English
+ ...
Understandable, but ... Dec 1, 2009

NR_Stedman wrote:

Its difficult to stop when you have worked for 15 years with an agency that now and again gives you big contracts of exceptionally well paid work right within your speciality. Also in the past some French agencies were exceptionally slow in paying though things have now improved.


If you've worked for them for 15 years, you should be able to pick up the phone and/or go and see them to get to the bottom of what is going on -- continuing to work for them on that basis alone, when you haven't been paid since May, is just asking for trouble. The fact you haven't had a defaulting client in 25 years is good but irrelevant, I'm afraid. There is trouble brewing here and you need to protect your interests.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:39
French to German
+ ...
Seconded... Dec 1, 2009

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:
If you've worked for them for 15 years, you should be able to pick up the phone and/or go and see them to get to the bottom of what is going on -- continuing to work for them on that basis alone, when you haven't been paid since May, is just asking for trouble.


This could be even worse than having granted them an unsecured loan. Admittedly, it can become difficult to send payment reminders and to call them in order to know what's happening. But it can even more difficult to explain to any authority why you waited so long before acting.

My usual course of action is similar to the one described by Robert, this is what I call a "zero tolerance" policy. Maybe I cannot afford to lose clients, but what use would I have of keeping slow paying customers? Can I afford them?
It is not the crisis - at least not directly - which "created" slow payers out of thin air...

[Edited at 2009-12-01 17:46 GMT]


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Dodgy payment habits by good agencies in recession?

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