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Client pays wrong amount month after month---What to do now?
Thread poster: Sara Senft

Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 10, 2011

I only do interpreting over the phone with one client. (It's a major OPI provider.) I started working with them in November 2010 and it started out as a good payer. Something happened earlier this year and I have had on-going problems with my monthly payment.

Since the problems began, this client has not paid the exact amount I billed month after month. Sometimes it's less, other times it's more. There was even one month I didn't get a check at all and never got an explanation. (I got paid for that month later.) I bring it up with the contact person month after month and it's hard for me to get a sufficient response within a reasonable amount of time.

As you can imagine, this causes me quite a bit of frustration. I have gotten to the point where I am considering dropping this client because I am sick of dealing with this payment hassle month after month. It, however, is a big client of mine so I doubt I could afford to drop it. I feel stuck for that reason.

I would prefer to do something else before giving more thought to dropping this client or before dropping it. What would you recommend?


 

Valery Kaminski  Identity Verified
Belarus
Local time: 14:14
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Not quite clear Sep 10, 2011

Do they pay less?

Have you tried calling them and making them explain the disprepancy?



[Редактировалось 2011-09-10 19:41 GMT]


 

Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:14
German to English
+ ...
If they pay less one month Sep 10, 2011

and more the next, does it average out to the right amount in the end?

 

Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sometimes it is less Sep 10, 2011

Some months I am paid less than what I bill for, other times it's more than what is on the invoice.

I tried asking (though more indirectly) about the difference in my July payment (which came at the end of August) and I didn't get an answer. I am considering asking about it more directly.


Valery Kaminski wrote:

Do they pay less?

Have you tried calling them and making them explain the disprepancy?



[Редактировалось 2011-09-10 19:41 GMT]


 

ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 14:14
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Lousy Payer Sep 10, 2011

"It, however, is a big client of mine so I doubt I could afford to drop it."
I would say do not drop it. It is just a lousy payer, that is all.

If the payment is less, let them know as soon as possible. If the payment is more, you really do not have to be that prompt. icon_smile.gif


 

Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not quite Sep 10, 2011

Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.

Come to think of it......the net difference over the whole time I have been working with this client might actually put me a bit over. I would still have to do the math to figure out if that it the case.

Trudy Peters wrote:

and more the next, does it average out to the right amount in the end?


 

Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:14
Member (2004)
English to Polish
How much? Sep 10, 2011

What is typically the difference as the percentage of the invoice amount?

If it is not significant, it might be caused by currency fluctuation. You might even charge the same currency they use, but - if it is a large multinational - the amount might move through departments where it is converted back and forth.


 

Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:14
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
You are in business, think like a business Sep 10, 2011

I'm sorry to say I think you need to start thinking more like a business and improve your record keeping.


Sara Senft wrote:
I bring it up with the contact person month after month and it's hard for me to get a sufficient response within a reasonable amount of time.


I'm a bit confused, what do you mean? do they give you an answer or not. If they don't then it probably means they aren't very professional and you should probably start looking for clients to replace them. If they give you an answer you don't agree with its up to you to stay or leave, but always after finding other clients to replace them.

Sara Senft wrote:

I tried asking (though more indirectly) about the difference in my July payment (which came at the end of August) and I didn't get an answer. I am considering asking about it more directly.


What is this asking indirectly stuff?, if your payment does not match you invoice you should ask directly, this is not a difficult thing to do, all it takes is a short email explaining "I invoiced amount X and have received a payment for Y, could you please explain the difference?", keep insisting until they do. Bear in mind that you have tax obligations based on the invoices you issue.

Sara Senft wrote:
Come to think of it......the net difference over the whole time I have been working with this client might actually put me a bit over. I would still have to do the math to figure out if that it the case.


This juts shows your record keeping procedures are poor, you should always know what the state of your accounts are with all your clients, this isn't something you should have to do, this should be readily available. You should always know, to do that you need a professional record keeping system, in the case of translator I always recommend TO 3000, but that is just my personal choice.


 

SYTham  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 19:14
Chinese to English
+ ...
Clarify Sep 11, 2011

I would also suggest that you clarify the discrepancy with your client directly. Would also save you a lot of trouble when keeping your accounts and sorting out your taxes.

[Edited at 2011-09-11 07:12 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:14
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Not a tax problem? Sep 11, 2011

Sara Senft wrote:
the net difference over the whole time I have been working with this client might actually put me a bit over. I would still have to do the math to figure out if that it the case.


Do the US authorities not care that you don't know how much you have been paid in relation to how much you have invoiced for? Obviously, they don't check things all the time, but I would imagine you are obliged to keep minimum records.

The normal state for freelance translators is that the client pays one invoice in full before receiving the next, so keeping a running balance is not normal practice. However, for this particular client it would appear to be essential. I believe that every invoice should state how much has been received since the last invoice, together with invoice number and date. In that way, the new invoice can be adjusted - either upwards if they paid too little or downwards if they have paid more than was due. Invoicing in this way will tell you and them exactly how much they owe you.

I don't know how it works in the US but even being paid a bit more than you invoice can cause problems in France. Your revenue is supposed to match your invoices and if it doesn't then alarm bells go off in the tax officials' minds.

Sheila


 

Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:14
Member (2003)
French to English
Statement Sep 11, 2011

(I'm assuming you're invoicing and being paid in the same currency, and this isn't about discrepancies in exchange rates.)

Send them a statement of account, listing the invoice amounts and dates for the period you're looking at in one column, and their payments and payment dates in the other. It should be obvious where any discrepancies lie and therefore whether they have a debit or credit balance with you. If they owe you money it will be clear and you can chase it up; equally, it will be obvious if you owe them money. If so you can deduct it from your next invoice and then you should be straight. Alex is right - good record keeping is essential for any business - it's not just a matter of whether it "averages out in the end".


 

Terry Richards
France
Local time: 13:14
French to English
+ ...
@Sheila Sep 11, 2011

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Do the US authorities not care that you don't know how much you have been paid in relation to how much you have invoiced for?


Not really. If you are a sole proprietor and do cash accounting (the most likely situation for a freelance translator) then all they care about is what you received, the date you received it, what expenses you paid out and the date you paid them.

There are some depreciations issues with major purchases but that is best left to the accountant to deal withicon_smile.gif

Invoices themselves are not tax transactions, only the payments resulting from them.

T.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:14
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
More misinformation from the authorities Sep 11, 2011

Terry Richards wrote:
If you are a sole proprietor and do cash accounting (the most likely situation for a freelance translator) then all they care about is what you received, the date you received it, what expenses you paid out and the date you paid them.


Thanks for the info Terry. Could it be that the French authorities enjoy making out that everything is even more complicated than it really is?icon_smile.gif


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:14
German to English
Misinformation? Sep 12, 2011

Hello Sheila and Terry,
Regardless of whether or not the tax authorities of a given country are interested in the amounts on a translator's outgoing invoices: What about the customer?

The customer must need incoming invoices that correspond to the expenses that they want to have recognized for tax purposes.

The situation sounds very strange, unless it really is a matter of exchange rates.

Sincerely,
Michael


 

gad
United States
Local time: 07:14
Member
French to English
I would probably drop such a client Sep 12, 2011

What I would do is become busy with work for other clients, so that I could refuse any incoming jobs from this client. Then they can find someone else. I keep good records and wouldn't mind occasional discrepancies, but the whole idea of not getting a straight answer is really strange. I mean if it's a currency exchange issue then why can't they just simple say that? But hey, that's just me, if you think you really need this client but don't want to go on with this confusion then I would say to get a definite and straight answer out of them once and for all why these discrepancies occur.

 
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