Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Private client won't pay up
Thread poster: Seamus Moran

Seamus Moran  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 12:40
German to English
+ ...
Jun 18, 2010

I'm in a bit of a quandry. A private client owes me over 2,000 euros for translations I started in January this year. I sent invoices in March. Since then he has asked me to change the address of the invoice several times. It's all a bit suspect. I've sent him several emails but no payment forthcoming. I am currently in Berlin and he is in Dublin. I intend to send a stern letter, threatening a European payment order. Failing that, I may have to resort to a solicitor. I'm just wondering what the rate of success is when trying to claim back cross-border payments - has anyone had experience of this?

 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Your credit policy behooves revision Jun 18, 2010

Hey, Seamus, you don't know me. I'm down here in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Would you lend me EUR 2,000? Well, that's what you did for this client.

I can't suggest you ways to collect nor possibly recoup your loss so far away. However I wouldn't go that far in granting anyone credit.

Just to illustrate, now and then I see job offers here at Proz that go like this: An outsourcer located far away, Gmail address, recent Proz profile, no BB record, and all Google can find on them is that very same job ad, nothing else. Pretty fishy, ain't it? Meanwhile they have a, say, 60K words job in my language pair, my specialty area. Normal turnaround time. Payment offered via PayPal 10 days after delivery.

Do I eagerly grab it? Do I simply diregard it? Neither.

I offer them a weekly schedule. They may choose any day of the week, say, Tuesday. So every Tuesday I'll deliver what I ve done in the preceding 7 days with an invoice. They'll have until the next Tuesday to pay that, otherwise I'll immediately halt all work for them until they do, and extend the final deadline by so many days.

This will limit my possible losses to a certain extent. Of course, I won't be working day and night on their job alone. I'll keep other gigs rolling as well.

While they don't know for sure that I really can deliver what they want in the way they want it, I don't know if they can afford it. So this is a fair way to set risk limits for both. Of course clients that have known me and my work for years would unhesitatingly pay me in advance. However even if I have a thousand more hits on Google than this prospect, there is no way for them to be certain.

FYI none of such prospects has ever bothered to reply to my offers for this weekly system. So you can figure it out.


 

Deborah do Carmo  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:40
Dutch to English
+ ...
Hindsight is a wonderful thing ... Jun 18, 2010

... and I'm sure Seamus will learn his own lessons from this experience, but what he needs is practical advice on how to deal with his current issue.

Seamus: obtaining the European payment order is quite a straightforward procedure, the question (like with any court order, no matter where you are) is whether you'll be able to enforce it, once you've obtained it. That depends on the debtor's exact whereabouts and financial position.

I'm assuming, perhaps wrongly, from your name that you're Irish yourself? Do you have anyone back home who can check up on this individual and ascertain he actually lives where he says he does (or at one of the previous addresses)? If you're able to determine his exact whereabouts, I'd suggest getting a solicitor in Dublin to phone him first and try to unsettle him, failing which you'll have to go the full hog and obtain an order for payment, asking at the same time for it to be certified as an EPO.

Best of luck
Debs


 

Seamus Moran  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 12:40
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Case a little different Jun 18, 2010

It wasn't an agency I was dealing with. In fact, it was somebody I knew before I started doing translations for him as I am from Dublin myself. He runs an investment company, in fact. I never imagined this would be the corollary of our dealings.

 

Seamus Moran  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 12:40
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good advice Jun 18, 2010

Hi Debs, just saw your reply. That's a good idea. I think he will have more respect for a solicitor in Dublin than someone in Berlin who seems a world away, although my place of performance is actually Germany...

 

Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:40
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Now some bad advice Jun 18, 2010

Hi Seamus,

If you have friends in Dublin who look anything like you, my advice would be to send one of them over to the investment company in person. He should go to the reception desk and ask to see X right away because of an outstanding debt to you and a suspicion that the company will go bankrupt soon.

Most companies hate the direct approach and will pay soon.

Good luck,
Gerard


 

Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:40
German to English
Write formally Jun 18, 2010

As a next step I would definitely send the sternest letter you can write, now, and preferably by some form of recorded delivery - say that this is a final demand and you will be taking legal action if you don't receive payment within 7 days. At this stage it doesn't particularly matter if you haven't worked out what form the "legal action" will take - you can think further about that if the 7 days elapse without a response from him.

 

Seamus Moran  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 12:40
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jun 18, 2010

Thanks to everyone for your advice. I'll ponder this one over the weekend and then take the appropriate action which will initially start with a stern, registered letter. I shouldn't let it go much longer.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:40
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You've got a good chance Jun 19, 2010

Hello Seamus,

My first reaction was the one that Jose Henrique voiced - always demand at least part-payment upfront from private individuals - but then you said you know the person so that clearly shouldn't have been necessary. The problem is that people we know personally don't always make for the easiest of business relationships. Could he have thought that it was going to be done as a favour?

Seeing as you know his name and where he lives, there shouldn't be too much difficulty - after the formal final demand, you can get the European Small Claims Court to handle it and you shouldn't need a lawyer. On the other hand, as already suggested, getting a local lawyer to write a letter and having it delivered by a bailiff should get instant and not too costly results.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Sheila


 

GDLS
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:40
Member (2009)
English to Georgian
+ ...
Small claims court Jun 19, 2010

Hi Seamus
As the director and owner of a small language agency this kind of thing angers me.
You can certainly take the company to a small claims court which will cost you a few hundred pounds and of which I believe they would have to pay as well as your initial outstanding bill including interest should they loose. That should be very easy to prove given that they are not disputing work. I would pursue it.
I am currently really manic at the moment but when I get back from my holiday biz travel i can help you with doing a check on the company on my return. I am based in the UK.

It is companies like this that gives us all a bad name.

Regards
Jose Rodriguez


 

Germaine  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:40
English to French
+ ...
Other ways... Jun 20, 2010

I will cross my fingers and touch wood: I have been really lucky over the years and had very few bad debts.

Some clients are just busy and forget... and forget. After two reminders, I simply send the bill directly to "Accounts payable". Usually, the cheque finds my mailbox within two weeks.

Exception: sometimes, a consultant will give me instructions for delivery and billing and a bunch of phone numbers to reach him, but then pouf! Nobody home! If I suspect he wasn't "officially" authorized to sub-contract on behalf of his client, I will give Mr. Ghost a 5-day prior notice before sending the bill to Accounts payable. When the invoice is under $100, some people think that you won't put the same to collect it, but they won't jeopardize their name with the client for the same either.

Other clients are so busy that they forget that to get paid, you have to (re)fill a "supplier informmmmmmmation form" which they... forgot to attach with the P.O. I learned that one after forwarding to Public Relations a 2nd email to Accounts payable, saying that I couldn't believe that such a reknowned company needed more than 3 months to pay such a little bill... Was I just lucky? No matter what, I received an answer within the hour and a check within 2 days!

Then, there are those who just need to hear that you would rather not file a priviledge for direct payment by their own client... or to be remembered that a professional order, a trade association, even a mandatory affiliation if not the law, requires that they fulfill certain standards and obligations to continue carrying on their business. A complaint (especially if it gets the attention of the media) can be much more trouble than signing the cheque.


 

peiling  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:40
Chinese to English
+ ...
Take legal actions Jun 20, 2010

Hi Seamus,

We also had a similar experience recently. A private client who has been in constant phone/email contact for some time was suddenly unreachable by either for months after project delivery. What did it finally was the threat of selling the debt to a US (where the client's based) collection company. Since the client has a reputation to protect (he's an MD/PhD), he promptly paid up. However, I'd strongly suggest pre-payment in the future for all direct clients.

I hope all goes well for you.

Pei Ling


 

Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:40
English
+ ...
I agree... Jun 20, 2010

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Hello Seamus,

My first reaction was the one that Jose Henrique voiced - always demand at least part-payment upfront from private individuals



With new clients, on a job of any considerable size, I always ask for half payment before I start, and then the other half just before I return the last chapter, if it's a book or dissertation. So far, this has worked well for me.


 

Seamus Moran  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 12:40
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks again Jun 21, 2010

Thanks again for all your really nice and helpful replies. The whole thing was built on trust as I sort of knew the client from a few years back. Non-payment never crossed my mind. I'll keep you posted on the outcome.

 

Alina Barrow
France
Local time: 13:40
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
What to do to ensure payment Jun 21, 2010

Old Russian proverb - "Trust, but check first"

In our office the procedure is:
Check the Proz Blue Board. Anything less than a score of 4.7 is either:
50% up front, balance on completion and we send a greyed-out, locked PDF copy of the translation to prove that it has been done. The translation is then sent on a received payment.

We give Proz registered companies with a 4.7 -5 score, a credit limit of 250 euros per month. If the amount goes over the credit limit then a payment is expected to lower the balance. If a company does not want to sign our Credit Application (which involves bank references) then we discuss the credit limit depending on the available information.

For a Proz score of 5, the new client is always given a credit of 500 euros.

We also check out that the company exists and is registered for tax purposes.

Seamus, your only course of action is to fined a debt collector near your debtor and negotiate a collection fee. We got stung once (and only once) when we first started business and it cost 50% of the amount collected.
i recently sent this letter to a very nice client that wanted credit.

Dear XXXXX,
It isn't a question of trust, it is about exposure to financial risk. In France, our company standard practice is that every project has to have a formal Purchase Order and any project over 250 euros has to have a Credit Agreement in place. Plus the company ordering a translation is vetted via a company search procedure and bank references.



Orders coming from any other country where a Credit Agreement is difficult to verify means having to ask for a deposit to minimize risk.



There are a number of fulltime translators that have had to borrow money or simply gone out of business due to poor financial controls.



We have savings in bank shares that were bought at 6.70 and are now at 36 cents. If we can't trust the banks, then who can we trust?



So, please don't be offended over our payment terms. These strict terms will hopefully keep us in business. We could have a lot more work by accepting every project, but the fact is that our industry is plagued with a few scam artists. We get calls from translation agencies asking for 'test translations'. What they do is to break a document up into 10 parts, order 'tests' from 10 translators and they then have a free project. This is why we charge for 'tests'. Last week, a reputable translation agency in Europe asked us for two 'test' translations. When the agency received my quote, the project manager declined to work with us. This tells me that there wasn't a project in the first place - it was just a project manager completing a database and wasting my valuable translation time. We get about 7 to 8 of these requests per week.



I hope this helps you and other translators out there.


It is only by the good work that Proz does that keeeps us all in busness. Otherwise, many a good translator will get dispondent and go bankrupt.

Set your business rules and never, ever bend them.

Don't be afraid to say "No", if you have the slightest doubt about a translation request.

Better to refuse a job than be be unhappy, frustrated and disapointed and bankrupt!


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Private client won't pay up

Advanced search







Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2019 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has evolved to bring translators a brand new experience. Designed with user experience at its core, Studio 2019 transforms how new users get up and running and helps experienced users make the most of the powerful features.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search