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When you are paid, but not really.
Thread poster: Lingua 5B

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:56
German to Serbian
+ ...
Apr 27, 2010

Hello all,

I'd like some insight on a payment issue. This issue concerns an odd situation related to bank transfer fees.

Recently, I received a rather small amount from a client from France ( less than 100 EUR) via bank wire transfer.

On my invoice, and also directly to their finance department manager, I specifically pointed out that I wanted to receive my full invoice amount and I didn't want to cover any bank transfer fees, as I knew these fees would eat up my small amount. Their response was " silence" so I took that as an acknowledgment of my request.

Ultimately, I receive money from them, and I see the amount is reduced by 10 EUR. I ask my bank manager to check where my fees had been taken off, and she says she can only see what their bank took( that's my bank where I have the account), but she can't make any claims about how much the intermediary banks might have taken, as she doesn't have it on the records. Finally, she sees that my bank took only 2.3 EUR for receiving the money. OK, at that point, I realize I was charged for what intermediary banks had taken, and I decide to communicate that to the agency's finance manager and tell them I don't want that happen again with my future invoices. Their finance manager says they can't do anything about it, because they were already charged 16 EUR fee for sending me my payment. I was stunned at this. By that account, here is the final calculation:

26 EUR transfer fee from France to Bosnia for a small amount. ( 10 + 16)


In the past, I was receiving wire transfer money from USA and other overseas countries and that's what the fee was approximately, around 25 EUR. How is it possible to have the same fee between two Euro countries? The big pond doesn't make any difference?

Also, what generally annoys me, is that most agencies take such a laid-back attitude when we receive a reduced invoice amount because they don't care to cover the transfer fees. I wonder whether they would have the same attitude if we sent them reduced translations?

I'm aware that Bosnia isn't in the EU administratively, and that charges will always apply. This same amount would have arrived to Germany with zero fees/commission, for example. What strikes me most is that the transfer fees from U.S. banks were approximately the same ( or a little less) than that from the French bank. Is this really possible?

Something seems very odd here. Can someone help me clear this up, please? I'd appreciate some insights, thanks.





[Edited at 2010-04-27 10:28 GMT]


 

Sandrine Zérouali  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 15:56
Member (2008)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Strange? Apr 27, 2010

Hello,

Once I received a payment from a Bristish agency to my account in France and I didn't had any fees (I was suprised!!). As they paid me in £ and my account is in Euro, perhaps, my bank took fees from it, but I didn't notice such amount (26 euros). It seems to me too much for only 100 euros!!!
Maybe you can think about opening a virtual account (Money Bookers or Paypal)which fees are not so important.

Sandrine


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:56
German to Serbian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Les than 100 EUR Apr 27, 2010

No, the amount is even smaller than 100 EUR.

This client doesn't pay either by MB or PayPal, so I didn't have any other option but go for wire transfer.

Yes, the amount sounds enormous, and I have no ways of checking the credibility of what allegedly happened in this transaction. It is only when I contrast it with overseas payment that hundreds of red flags immediately pop up.

My "guess" is that transaction fee should be 10-15 EUR TOTAL. I know it because the amount is always reduced by 10 EUR when a client decides to ignore my instruction to cover transfer fees; on the other hand, I sometime receive the full invoice amount, because the client follows my instructions - actually adding 10 EUR to the invoice amount to cover the transaction fees.

My question is also: would such a client deserve a 3 or a 1 on the BB? As my title says: you are paid, but not really.

[Edited at 2010-04-27 12:06 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:56
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It's much worse in Brazil Apr 27, 2010

In Brazil, at least the bank I use - the largest private one in the country - charges a USD ~70 fee for processing any international wire transfer, regardless of the amount involved.

Of course, if I received $ 1 million, that would be a drop in the ocean. However an agency decided to pay me a $ 55 job via wire transfer. Fortunately I was able to halt them on their tracks. I found out that the net result of that transaction would be not only receiving zilch for my work - regardless of how small - but also that $ 25 would be automatically charged to my account!

So direct clients overseas readily authorize including that bank fee on my invoice, since they won't get a statement from my bank on that, I will. They consider it as part of the cost of doing international business.

Meanwhile most translation agencies abhor the idea of covering money transfer fees, so they are part of my cost of doing business internationally, duly embedded in my rates.

Foreign checks are even worse here. Not ony the same fee per check applies, but they take 30-60 days to clear, while a wire transfer gets credited in 2 banking days. So I don't accept foreign checks from any client, ever!


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:56
German to Serbian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, but... Apr 27, 2010

This is NOT an overseas client.icon_smile.gif

Yes, I know about the cheque problems.

I firmly believe it is them who should be paying transfer costs, because they outsource work and are saving money on freelancers like me ( I'm working in my own office, spending my own resources), and I cost them much less than any in-house employee ( even at the rate of 0.50 USD per word, which is never charged by any freelancer). And I am supposed to be covering the transfer fees as well? They must be ready to have some outsourcing costs ( which includes wire transfer costs, among other things).



[Edited at 2010-04-27 12:42 GMT]


 

Michael Mestre
France
Local time: 16:56
English to French
+ ...
BB should be less than 4 in any case.. Apr 27, 2010

Dear colleague,

This sounds like a case where the agency is sending you a subliminal message such as "we pay because we have to, but don't expect anything else from us".
If your job was flawless and delivered on time, then 3 would be the maximum that you could give them on the BB.
I would personally hesitate between 2 and 3. That is, unless they agree to send you additional funds to compensate for the amount that was lost due to their negligence.

The question that you have to ask yourself is : how would this agency (or any agency in general) deal with a client who insists on paying them in a similar fashion ? Most probably they would just send another invoice for the missing funds.

Before taking steps such as giving them a bad mark on the BB, maybe you could contact them and ask frankly why they are doing this to you and if this was justified in any way by the quality of your services.
I don't think any other explanation would be acceptable.

Am I being too harsh ?


 

Susan van den Ende  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:56
English to Dutch
+ ...
Find a workaround for the next job Apr 27, 2010

Michael Mestre wrote:


Am I being too harsh ?


I think you are: the agency indicates it already paid 16 EURs in bank fees. If I were them I'd also assume that that would cover things more than adequately!

It's actually not always that easy for an agency to find out what ends up on the translator's account as you might like, as banks aren't always very cooperative or clear about their charges and about who gets charged. Seems like the bank is to blame here... perhaps find out whether alternatives like PayPal work better and agree on one of those for the next job?


 

Gisela Greenlee  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:56
German to English
+ ...
Wire fees imposed by intermediary banks Apr 27, 2010

Most likely, the agency was charged a fee by their bank for the wire transfer, but neither they nor their bank has any influence on what charges are assessed by other banks involved. Also, there is usually a set fee for a wire transfer regardless of the amount involved, so it's never a good option for a small amount. You are much better off if you ask the agency (in the future) to send you an international check or money order that they can purchase through their bank, any fees involved are charged at the point of purchase (their bank) and you receive a check or money order in the currency of your country; you can deposit that item into your account without any additional fees.
You might want to bear this information in mind before you go rushing off to ding the agency's blue board record for no good reason.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:56
German to Serbian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Susan ( and others). Apr 27, 2010

Susan van den Ende wrote:
I think you are: the agency indicates it already paid 16 EURs in bank fees. If I were them I'd also assume that that would cover things more than adequately!

It's actually not always that easy for an agency to find out what ends up on the translator's account as you might like, as banks aren't always very cooperative or clear about their charges and about who gets charged. Seems like the bank is to blame here... perhaps find out whether alternatives like PayPal work better and agree on one of those for the next job?


Thanks for this, I needed a firsthand insight, from someone who has more experience with sending wire transfer ( not only receiving).

Yes, that was odd. My bank assistants always say they can never tell me what I would end up with in terms of wire fees, because they don't have control over what intermediary banks charge. Additionally, there are hundreds of intermediary banks and hundreds of routes the money may take ( and thus hundreds of fees combination).

But I did send wire transfers myself several times, and I was neatly asked at the bank: are you covering the transfer fees, i.e. is the recipient supposed to receive this full amount? After I said "yes", I had to add some amount, and the recipient got their full amount. The recipient was in a neighboring euro country, and as far as I can remember, I've paid around 5-10 EUR to send that money. See, it fits again. And it was a much larger sum than what I was receiving from this client. And btw, it is the sender who selects an intermediary bank or "wire chain ", not the recipient. Thus, the sender has the crucial insight into/ control over the final costs that will occur.

As the wire money routes are obviously wrapped up in a cloud of fog, I don't want be harsh on a client: I have no ways of checking whether they have truly paid those 16 EUR or not, I am forced to believe them, because I can't prove otherwise.

As for PayPal: No, that was my first option, and they rejected it. But they rejected only on the day of payment and asked for bank details for wire transfer. They also had 60 days to send the payment, and I had to send a reminder on the 62nd day. On the other hand, I had 1 day to send them my translation, and I was on time. Their BB record is full of freelancers complaining that they had to cover all wire transfer costs. At the moment I was reading their BB record, they've received all my invoices with indicated PayPal method, and confirmed them as "OK". I was expecting a PP payment, but they changed their mind on that 62nd day. God knows when I would have received that money if I hadn't sent the reminder?


[Edited at 2010-04-27 13:33 GMT]


 

Susan van den Ende  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:56
English to Dutch
+ ...
Annoying... Apr 27, 2010

I see what you mean. What you describe is usually also how it works for us, but every now and then things that seem easy get made very difficult. With some of our regular translators, we agreed to only transfer larger amounts. However, if you agreed on PayPal beforehand and the agency broke that agreement, things are clearer: then I think you are right to grumble.

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:56
German to Serbian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
PayPal and wire transfer Apr 27, 2010

Susan van den Ende wrote:

I see what you mean. What you describe is usually also how it works for us, but every now and then things that seem easy get made very difficult. With some of our regular translators, we agreed to only transfer larger amounts. However, if you agreed on PayPal beforehand and the agency broke that agreement, things are clearer: then I think you are right to grumble.


Their PM received my work and corresponding invoices confirming they are "OK" ( I always ask for a final confirmation so I can have an evidence in case of a potential dispute later on).

Their PM told me that they have PayPal and wire transfer options. Some invoices were small, others weren't that small, so I indicated PayPal on small invoices, and wire transfer on bigger ones. The first one in the line was this small one I'm discussing here, and I told you what happened with that one ( I was contacted to send bank details for wire transfer, after I had to remind them about the payment). I'll wait and see what costs will occur with other invoices, especially those that are not so small ( what charges may I expect there)?

There are many problems in communication that might have occurred here:

- their PM and financial department don't cooperate well ( e.g. PM confirmed the PayPal invoice as OK not knowing they don't pay by PP at all)
- my bank assistant might have given me faulty information ( it happened before with some other information, not fee- related, and caused me a lot of trouble. It was a direct fault of the bank officer giving me wrong information). Thus, it might have been my bank that charged the 10 EUR fee, not sure.
- any other






[Edited at 2010-04-27 13:53 GMT]


 

RobinB  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:56
German to English
Standard business practice Apr 27, 2010

Please note first that it's standard business practice the world over for each party to a transaction to cover its own money transmission costs. Your client has to pay fees to send the money, and your bank will charge fees to receive the money (which may also include the fees of any intermediate banks used by your own bank). Neither you nor the client can influence the fees of any intermediate banks, unless the originating and destination banks have entered into a special agreement to cap money transmission fees.

I've never really understood why so many translators think they have some sort of god-given right to expect their clients to cover the translators' own bank charges.

Second:

Lingua 5B wrote:
I'm aware that Bosnia isn't in the EU administratively


Or in any other way. It's simply a non-EU, non-SEPA country, so transfers to Bosnia are treated (and charged) in the same way as transfers to any other non-EU country.

This same amount would have arrived to Germany with zero fees/commission, for example.


That's not true. What the SEPA rules say is that cross-border euro transfers within the euro zone or to euro-denominated accounts in other SEPA countries should not cost more than transfers in the originating and destination countries. That doesn't mean that they're free!

What strikes me most is that the transfer fees from U.S. banks were approximately the same ( or a little less) than that from the French bank. Is this really possible?


Yes. See above - standard international fees apply in both cases.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:56
German to Serbian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
My bank = 2.3 EUR Apr 27, 2010

To Robin: OK, I see your point that I should pay what my bank charges, but have you read my OP? My bank charged 2.3 EUR and the amount was reduced by 10 EUR.

No, not a God-given right. When I am given my bill at a restaurant, or any kind of bill, I'm supposed to pay the figure/amount that's indicated on the bill, i.e. the recipient is supposed to receive the given figure. And that's it. I was also sending money abroad, and all my recipients wanted their full money received, which I covered, and they received, and it never occurred to me to view it as their "god-given right", but just a human right and common-sense. The service/product costs XY, and the recipient is supposed to receive XY ( why is this so hard to comprehend?)

As for money received in Germany: a lot of EU colleagues stated on the boards that money transfer is very cheap for them and the fees are symbolic or free of charge. Or you simply believe it is rightly to compare say a 2 EUR fee and a 26 EUR fee for the same amount, plus using a very weird and patronizing tone?

Hum, same standard fees apply.. it means I'll have the same costs working with Australia and New Zealand, and with Hungary for example. Very good ( and sensible) point. Can you give me a source to confirm this statement?

[Edited at 2010-04-27 14:29 GMT]


 

RobinB  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:56
German to English
Standard practice, again Apr 27, 2010

Lingua 5B wrote:

To Robin: OK, I see your point that I should pay what my bank charges, but have you read my OP? My bank charged 2.3 EUR and the amount was reduced by 10 EUR.


But that's nothing you can influence.

No, not a God-given right. When I am given my bill at a restaurant, or any kind of bill, I'm supposed to pay the figure/amount that's indicated on the bill, i.e. the recipient is supposed to receive the given figure. And that's it. I was also sending money abroad, and all my recipients wanted their full money received, which I covered, and they received, and it never occurred to me to view it as their "god-given right", but just a human right and common-sense.


There's a difference between a bill in a restaurant and a B2B invoice. If you've sent money abroad and also paid the recipient's ("BEN" in SWIFT-speak) fees, that's your choice. It also happens quite frequently in B2C transactions. But it doesn't normally happen that way in B2B transactions.

The service/product costs XY, and the recipient is supposed to receive XY ( why is this so hard to comprehend?)


I don't really I think that I have any difficulty comprehending this, among other reasons because I've been self-employed for over 20 years, and worked in international business before that. The client transfers the invoiced amount by instructing its bank to transfer this amount to your bank account. Legally, that is payment of the invoiced amount, unless both parties have specifically agreed that the remitting (sending) party will cover all fees involved.

As for money received in Germany: a lot of EU colleagues stated on the boards that money transfer is very cheap for them and the fees are symbolic or free of charge.


Some banks in Germany charge a fee per transaction, others don't. It depends on the bank and the type of account you have.

Or you simply believe it is rightly to compare say a 2 EUR fee and a 26 EUR fee for the same amount


But you're comparing apples and pears/oranges! There are SEPA payments, and there are non-SEPA payments. Payments to Bosnia must surely be non-SEPA payments. Complaining about the cost of international (non-SEPA) bank transfers is one thing, but you can't expect SEPA rules to apply to a non-SEPA country.

plus using a very weird tone?


And which tone would that be?

[Edited at 2010-04-27 14:32 GMT]


 

Rifraf
Local time: 16:56
why make such a fuss over bank charges Apr 27, 2010

I completely agree with Robin R and keep on wondering why someone would make such a fuss over such a small amount;
the time spent on this subject has cost you much more (time and money) by now!


 
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