Big companies and payment mal-practices
Thread poster: Anai Betancourt

Anai Betancourt  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:53
English to Spanish
Nov 8, 2012

Three months ago, a customer requested my interpretation services with less than 24 hours in advance. Since it was the 5th time working for this international corporation, despite the fact that I was already covering another assignment on those dates, I had two colleagues cover the event.

Due to the rush of the day, I sent a quote with a mistaken final price. However, over the phone with the customer's assistant, I specified the correct prices.

After many e-mail exchanges, and after requesting a meeting with this manager (which he did not want to happen) he tells me over the e-mail that they will only pay the amount specified on the mistaken quote (which, needless to say, is not even sufficient to cover my colleague's fees).

I offered to show them the records of other events I have covered for them, which show the rates I have charged in the past, that are exactly the same as the ones I specified on the final invoice. However, no positive response was received from them.

I think it is really unfair that after the fact that we covered this event on a very timely and professional manner, they cannot use their good will to cover the amount due, and I personally will have to pay my colleagues.

Any advice as how to deal with this situation? Has anyone gone through this before?

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:53
Member (2007)
+ ...
Integrity and goodwill seem to be things of the past Nov 8, 2012

Anai Betancourt wrote:
I think it is really unfair that after the fact that we covered this event on a very timely and professional manner, they cannot use their good will to cover the amount due, and I personally will have to pay my colleagues.

It is definitely unfair, Anai. Sounds like yet another company that has lost its human face and is only interested in balancing books.

I think it's a sign of the times, rather than size of company. I worked for Shell from 1976 to 1986, and in many ways the company was very human and there was lots of flexibility to keep good employees happy (although you don't have to tell me Shell has never been saintly).

Nowadays, it seems rare to find goodwill anywhere. A sad reflection of the times.

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Ricardy Ricot  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:53
French to English
+ ...
So sorry to hear Nov 8, 2012

So sorry to hear

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Ildiko Santana  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:53
Member (2002)
Hungarian to English
+ ...

document everything in writing Nov 8, 2012

I was sorry to read about your troubles, Anai. I fully agree with what Sheila said. Even a long-standing client may change for the worse, all it takes is one unprofessional PM (or accountant) who cares more about profit than courtesy and respect. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and count our losses. A similar experience has taught me to always document everything in writing - no exceptions. This not only includes price quotes and purchase orders but follow-up inquiries, feedback, and even any negative experiences. I keep a "blacklist" that comes handy (after this many years in the business there's no way I could remember every client by name and what transpires) and once a client with substandard business practices makes it to this list, I no longer work (or even negotiate) with them.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:53
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Confirmation Nov 9, 2012

Sorry to read about your problems, Anai. I fully agree with our colleagues, this is unfair and bad business conduct.

Has anybody in that company accepted your final invoice? And has that person more or less immediately objected to it? That is, let's say within 2 or 3 working days? If not, then you can rightfully assume its acceptance.

This situation calls for professional legal advice.

Best of luck!


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:53
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Write to the CEO Nov 9, 2012

My father was a big proponent of not wasting time with the staff, but sending polite written complaints to the top dog, and he always got results. For example, he once wrote a letter to the CEO of IBM when their customer service didn't respond as they should have, but I've forgotten the details about what it was.

The manager you talked to thinks he is doing the company a favor, but doesn't see the big picture, i.e. that good relations with both clients and service providers are important. Bad publicity, especially in the days of Twitter and other social media, is a very potent weapon to keep the companies on the up and up. Try it, it can't hurt, but without badmouthing the person you have been dealing with.

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