Seeking advice regarding late payments
Thread poster: carinou
carinou  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:21
English to French
+ ...
Nov 8, 2012

Hello,

I'm sorry if a similar topic has already been posted but I would need advice regarding an issue I'm having with a company I'm currently working with. I'm still quite new to the translation industry so I'm not sure how to handle this.

I've been working on an ongoing project for a company for the past 4 months. Basically, I receive a new task every week that requires a certain amount of hours, generally 5, and I issue about 1 invoice a week for every 5 hours I've worked. Their payment procedure is quite standard from what I've seen so far: they pay freelancers within 45 days of the reception of invoice.

The problem is they have constantly been paying me late. There wasn't one time when they payed me on time. I addressed them with this problem and have received very professional replies every time, thanking me for my patience as they are working towards fixing it. But it doesn't change anything, they keep paying me late. And I honestly wonder if they would pay me if I didn't remind them of it.

It's very annoying to be honest. It is quite a big company and they're used to working with freelancers so I don't understand. Besides, I've always completed the tasks in time and, if I couldn't finish in time for whatever reason (which almost never happened), I made sure to inform them as soon as possible and to explain the reason(s). I'm very communication oriented so I don't think I've ever let them down. I just don't get why they don't treat their freelancers the same way!

I've only started as a freelancer this year so I haven't worked with a lot of companies yet, but so far, all the companies I've worked for have paid me on time, and even very quickly most of the time. Most of them also had this "45 day after invoice reception policy", but I NEVER had to wait so long, which makes me wonder even more about this company.

So my question is: what do you think I should do about it? I keep emailing them and they keep thanking me for my patience, and apologizing, but it doesn't change the fact I'm carrying on working while they're not paying me...or at least not on time.

Thanks a lot for your help.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
Bad policy Nov 8, 2012

They seem to have fallen into the habit of paying as late as possible - which could mean they have cash flow problems, so I'd treat it as an early warning sign. I'd say the best bet is, if you keep working with them, not to let their debt mount up too high, so that if they eventually default completely you don't lose out too much.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:21
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Perhaps there is nothing you can do Nov 8, 2012

carinou wrote:
I addressed them with this problem and have received very professional replies every time, thanking me for my patience as they are working towards fixing it. But it doesn't change anything, they keep paying me late.


If this is a large company, then the person you're communicating with may not be the person who is responsible for making the payments, and may not have the authority or power to speed up your payments. Depending on the culture of the country where the company is located, it may be too rude for them to say "There is nothing I can do", so they end up saying "I will try to do better".


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:21
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Me too Nov 8, 2012

carinou wrote:

....And I honestly wonder if they would pay me if I didn't remind them of it.


I used to have a client like that. Every month I had to spend a lot of extra time reminding them to pay me. They always paid, but it was very annoying.

In the end I just dropped them.


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carinou  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:21
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Nov 8, 2012

Thanks for your replies.

@Samuel: the company is American, located in the US, and as far as I know I'm in touch with the person in charge of the payments since I first talked about it to my coordinator, who then gave me the finance guy's contact details.

@Tom: Yeah, you're right, I've thought about it all day and I think that's what I'm gonna do. After all, if they REALLY wanna keep me, I guess they'll do what needs to be done. Otherwise I'd rather drop them too.


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Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:21
English to German
Similar situation Nov 8, 2012

Hi Carinou,

I was in a similar situation until some time ago, perhaps it was even a bit worse. I always allowed 1 or 2 more weeks after payment was due, I thought "okay, it takes time to transfer the money from one country to the other, so give them some more time". But over time, it even got worse. I always waited 2 to almost 3 months with a lot of reminders, emails etc.

Two months ago, I finally ended the collaboration. I simply had enough. I couldn't understand why they were having such difficulties with paying their freelancers on time, particularly when the freelancer does not only work for them once, but on a regular basis. Furthermore, their tasks always had a tight deadline and I always delivered on time.

In retrospect, I am happy with my decision. I can now use this time for other work that is better paid and paid on time.

Good luck for you!

Annett


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:21
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Indeed Nov 8, 2012

Annett Hieber wrote:

.....their tasks always had a tight deadline and I always delivered on time.

Annett


Indeed. The agencies always want things urgently but when it comes to paying us, suddenly it isn't urgent.


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carinou  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:21
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Email sent Nov 8, 2012

Thanks to all of you for your very quick and relevant replies. You've helped me make up my mind and I just sent them an email explaining I couldn't carry on working like that. Hopefully they'll pay all of the invoices, even if I have to wait several months for that. But as neilmac said, if they indeed have financial issues I guess it's better like this.

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