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Do clients agree to paying in advance?
Thread poster: Khwansuree DEROLLEPOT

Khwansuree DEROLLEPOT  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:54
Member (2012)
English to Thai
+ ...
Nov 21, 2012

Hi,

I have read several stories of the clients who don't pay in the end and I also experienced it myself once, I would like to have some advice. How can you make sure you will be paid? Is it common to ask the client to pay like 50% in advance?

Do you often ask the payment in advance from your clients? How much? I'm thinking about 50%, is this reasonable? What do clients usually answer when you ask for such sum of money before starting the work? Do they generally accept it? How do you guys manage this risk?

There are also clients who changed their payment conditions once the work is done, for example they don't want to pay the repetitions when we use Trados, they want to deduct money for every minor mistakes, how do you guys handle these greedy people?

Thank you in advance


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Jean-Pierre Artigau
Canada
Local time: 23:54
English to French
+ ...
If you have a large project Nov 21, 2012

I never asked anyone to pay me in advance. It is true some clients may be dishonest; if you can, it is a good thing to enquire about them before accepting to work for them.

If you have a large project (several tens of thousand words), you may divide it up into several sections, set a timeline (e.g. one delivery every second week) and ask for payment at the delivery of each section. Make it clear that you will not start with the next section until you receive the previous payment. This may protect you in part.

Jean-Pierre


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Khwansuree DEROLLEPOT  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:54
Member (2012)
English to Thai
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jean-Pierre, I will try this one Nov 21, 2012

Thank you Jean-Pierre,

So you mean it is not that common in "translation industry" to ask for the payment in advance? That it is not like any other product in the market? I feel horrible too to ask people for money like that, that is why I have never done. But some recent events made me think about protecting myself a bit more.

I often have some big projects that take many weeks because I'm specialized in technical translation, and I found it difficult to negociate. Someone advised me to use your technique before, I will definitely try it next time.

Thank you again!


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:54
German to English
+ ...
No, never in advance Nov 21, 2012

I have heard this advice on ProZ a lot, but have never experienced it in practice. But then again, I have not had serious payment problems with clients.

Splitting up large projects and invoicing sections - yes, but agree in advance with client.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:54
Member (2007)
English
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It depends on so many things Nov 21, 2012

For individuals (e.g. people who want me to translate/revise their CVs), I ask for 100% advance payment unless I know them - and I don't start work without it. If for any reason I make an exception, I only send them a scanned, watermarked, pdf with the invoice - they get the 'real' text on payment.

Direct clients will often oblige with advance payment for the first job. Most agencies don't take kindly to being asked for advance payment, so I find out everything I can about them before I accept the job, and I'm reluctant to accept a large job first-off. However, I have to say I put more trust in my nose than in anything else. I have been known to take some quite big risks in the past, and probably will in the future. It's led to some nail-biting days, but those chances have always paid off (so far). If I feel uncomfortable for any (or no) reason, I'll reject even a 100€ job; if I feel good about them and their job, I'll stick my neck out. As an example, I once did a 25,000-word e-book for a previously-unknown start-up who couldn't pay much, meaning that the work was given a low priority and took a couple of months. I suppose it was a silly risk, but they paid!

Actually, I find that the clients most likely to default are those who have already paid me at least once. Sometimes, the first payment is super-fast, then they get later and later. I don't know if it's just a lack of respect, once they've 'got you on a line', or whether they really are in trouble and can't pay - I suspect it's very often the first and that's a real shame.

BTW, it isn't actually very common for B2B (business to business) invoices to be paid in advance. As consumers, we're most often acting as private individuals so it seems normal for us to pay in advance, but businesses generally have accounts with each other and pay at 30 days.


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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
I ask on larger proojects Nov 21, 2012

Hi, I do ask for a partial payment when dealing with new clients. Normally we ask for 15-25% after we've translated the first 15-25% of the project, if they pay, they'll typically pay the remainder as well. I feel that clients could be worried about the quality of the translator, as they are taking risks on us as well, so 50% seems like a little much, in my own personal opinion.

Usually I tell clients that it is to help cover expenses while I work on their projects.


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Vladimír Hoffman  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 05:54
Member (2009)
English to Slovak
+ ...
Hi, very interesting question! Nov 21, 2012

Based on experience described by a colleague on LinkedIn, I preeoared following Payment Policy for New Clients:

New Clients Policy

1. Translation is received and confirmed, orders is issued and sent.
2. A translator translates first 10% of the work and send it to a customer.
3. Based on the sent sample, the customer pays to the translator an amount equal to a price of one half of the translation.
4. Two days before deadline, the translator sends a half of translation to the customer.
5. Based on the send document, the customer pays remaining price of the translation to the translator (preferably using PayPal)
6. After receipt of the final payment, the translator sends remaining part of the translation to the customer.

I send it (with all due sentences such as I wonder if you could kindly pay an attention to... and so on) as response to Proz offers from clients with bad BB record. No one continued to communicate to this date, but I am fine with it. Maybe it will work one day, or not, but what all what I lose is five minutes spent with sending prepared mail.



Khwansuree wrote:

Hi,

I have read several stories of the clients who don't pay in the end and I also experienced it myself once, I would like to have some advice. How can you make sure you will be paid? Is it common to ask the client to pay like 50% in advance?

Do you often ask the payment in advance from your clients? How much? I'm thinking about 50%, is this reasonable? What do clients usually answer when you ask for such sum of money before starting the work? Do they generally accept it? How do you guys manage this risk?

There are also clients who changed their payment conditions once the work is done, for example they don't want to pay the repetitions when we use Trados, they want to deduct money for every minor mistakes, how do you guys handle these greedy people?

Thank you in advance


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Khwansuree DEROLLEPOT  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:54
Member (2012)
English to Thai
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, so the payment in advance is not that common, but we now have some techniques :) Nov 21, 2012

Thank you everyone,

In summary, the practice is, apparently, not that common but we have some solutions:
1. Split the project into several parts and asked to be paid in sections.
2. Gather as much information on the client as possible and accept the job only if you feel right about it (I'm so bad at this).
3. Ask for the partial paymant after having translated about 25% of the work telling the client this is to cover the project expenses. (Do you do this to all new client Triston? Does it work?)
4. For people with a bad Blue Board, apply Vladimír's New Client Policy.

Thank you again everyone, it's good to have your great ideas
And I'm still open to all further suggestions!


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:54
German to English
+ ...
Yes, except I would say Nov 21, 2012

4. Bad Blue Board - avoid that client.

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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:54
French to English
+ ...
Maybe, but with caution... Nov 22, 2012

Khwansuree wrote:
experienced it myself once, I would like to have some advice. How can you make sure you will be paid? Is it common to ask the client to pay like 50% in advance?


This is my approach: I'll be interested to see if other colleagues differ--

In principle, this might sound logical. The problem is that in practice, this isn't the way that many clients are used to paying for services. They really expect the procedure to be: (a) order the service, (b) receive the service, (c) pay for it at the end of an invoice period. So if you are presenting them with something "special" that doesn't fit in with their regular accounting system, they may well just go with another translator whose procedure does.

So in practice, the main weapon in your armory is researching the client before committing.

Of course, if it is a large translation (e.g. a book), then it is completely reasonable to suggest splitting the work and receiving payment for one section before starting the next.

For a large job for a private individual, you could request a deposit, but reassure them by requesting it via a system such as Paypal where the client also has the reassurance that they can request a refund if the translation isn't delivered.

[Edited at 2012-11-22 01:18 GMT]


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:54
English to German
+ ...
@ Khwansuree: yes they do accept advance payments Nov 22, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:


BTW, it isn't actually very common for B2B (business to business) invoices to be paid in advance. As consumers, we're most often acting as private individuals so it seems normal for us to pay in advance, but businesses generally have accounts with each other and pay at 30 days.


Hi Sheila,

Yes, but that wouldn't influence my decision to ask for advance payment. They will have to wait then until that 15th or 30th of the month comes around plus the days it takes for me to actually receive the payment before I start working on their project.
New clients will have to pay something in advance. If they don't, I won't work for them.
Exceptions would be very small projects, possibly. But not without a PO and contract.
My experience is that they will find a way to cut you a check or wire the advance payment any day if you need it to start the work. They want me to start and not wait 14 days.


@Khwansuree
Here are a few other things to consider:

1. Don't do work for someone who lives out of your legal reach (different countries or continents) unless they pay in advance on the first project (for part or the entire project).
2. Always make sure you have a PO and/or contract.
All clients need to sign a contract (order form) and it works in their and my interest.
Make sure you state your payment terms clearly and make sure they have acknowledged complying with them. I don't do 30 day payment terms.
3. I might give discounts for fast payments but late fees and additional charges will be incurred by clients if payment is not made quickly, as specified in our contract.

4. Most importantly, you are the service provider, they are the client. You specify the terms.
5. If they don't like it, don't work for them.
6. Research your client.
7. Professional clients won't have any problems with terms that include advance, partial or quick payments. They and you have a professional business to run.

HTH

Bernhard


[Edited at 2012-11-22 03:44 GMT]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:54
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It doesn't hurt to ask Nov 22, 2012

I think that most agencies collect a minimum of 50% up front via credit card before starting a job in order to guarantee that they at least have the funds to pay the translator and clients are accustomed to this practice. Whether individual translators should do the same is up for debate. However, I have had several direct clients pay up front without even being asked (including amounts exceeding $5,000.00).



[Edited at 2012-11-22 03:56 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:54
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just my two cents Nov 22, 2012

Daina Jauntirans wrote:
4. Bad Blue Board - avoid that client.

Let's be more specific: if among a list of good marks in the Blue Board of a customer you see one or two very bad marks, it is enough a sign that there is risk of trouble.

People are much too eager to make good comments about a company when they have worked just once or twice for them (maybe they think it will help them get more work from the same customer), but when someone posts a 1 or 2 in the Blue Board, they have done so after having serious, documented problems with the company.

Even if there is one single bad score in the Blue Board, make sure you ask for advance payment... or better let them go elsewhere.


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Decipherit  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:54
Portuguese to English
+ ...
It's give and take Nov 22, 2012

In the past three months I've had two jobs where I have required pre-payment and the clients have agreed without hesitation. The first had no Blue Board record, the second had an excellent one (all 5s - about 10 entries). I won't take on a job of more than 5,000 words (2,500 if I have any reason to feel suspicious) for a new client without pre-payment. A good client will understand and won't hesitate. However, remember that it cuts both ways; if you're asking for pre-payment, your client will need some assurance that you are a well-established and reliable service provider, and a professional-looking website, membership of professional associations... all of that helps. There are a lot of flaky translators messing clients around, believe me. I imagine we've all, at least once, been called upon to pick up the pieces for a client who has been let down at the very last minute. No client would want to pre-pay for work that they suspect they may never receive.

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Khwansuree DEROLLEPOT  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:54
Member (2012)
English to Thai
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, I really learn a lot from these forums Nov 22, 2012

Daina, you are very straightforward here

You are right Neil, the procedure you described really looks like the one I feel it is. Agencies think it is usual to pay 30 days after the invoice submission, this is why talking about an advanced payment is so hard for me. I didn't think about paypal refund option though, great one!

Bernhard, great pieces of advice here, thank you. I failed more than half of them so far. (Really need to be more careful)

Jeff, you are so lucky! How did you get direct clients? On ProZ? I only find agencies, and some of them are horrible.

You are right, Tomás, I just realized now how the blueboard is important. But I do provide good comments for people whom I really loved working with, I had never ever provided a bad one yet, but it might be for soon.

And thank you Lisa, you let me know there are still hope for us and logical understandings from the clients. And you are right, I also need to work more on my profile.

Many thanks for you all, it's really great to feel we are not alone!


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