Assessing late fees: Is an invoice a contract?
Thread poster: Bryan Crumpler

Bryan Crumpler  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:50
Dutch to English
+ ...
Aug 12, 2004

I invoiced a client for a project on July 1st, and we had agreed on a 25 day grace period to pay the invoice.

As standard business practice, I assess a $25 late fee on overdue invoices, and clearly state that on the invoice. Well, if you haven't guessed, it's August 12th and this client still hasn't paid the invoice, so a new invoice was sent and a late fee was assessed.

Now, the client (currently disgruntled) claims a late fee has no legal standing if they don't agree to a late fee policy, therefore they did not have to pay the original invoice on time, nor do they have to pay the late fee.

Well... to continue... I then told her that an invoice is not a contract, but rather a bill for services rendered. If she did not agree to paying a late fee, she should have paid the initial invoice on or before the due date to avoid late fees altogether.


So, just to get a second hand opinion - perhaps from some legal experts... Is an invoice a contract - that is to say, does a client have to agree with the payment terms in order for an invoice to be valid???

It only makes sense that the independent contractor is the person setting the rates, due dates for payment, etc. etc. etc. In my opinion, what she's trying to do is pump gas into her car at a clearly posted rate, then when she walks into the store to pay for it, she says "Oh, I don't agree with the price of the gas, therefore I do not have to pay for it all... just for what I think I should have paid for it." Just doesn't make any sense.

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Dinny  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:50
Italian to Danish
+ ...
An invoice is not a contract Aug 13, 2004

A job order stating the details of the job (such as rates, deadlines, payments terms, etc.) turns into a contract when accepted by the translator.

I don't think you can force the agency to pay your "late payment fee" since this was not agreed upon in the original job order. But you might consider entering a BB rating for others to avoid having to do with these people?

Good luck!

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Local time: 18:50
German to English
+ ...
Use a PRO-FORMA next time Aug 13, 2004

If you want your invoice to be a contract you should send your client a Pro Forma Invoice.
This Invoice doesn't need to contain the total amount but the more important fact is that you have to sign the invoice and after the client has received it he needs to sign it as well and return it to you.
Than it is a legal binding contract with all the terms you included.

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