International Translation Day 2017

Join ProZ.com/TV for a FREE event on September 26-27th celebrating International Translation Day! 50+ hours of content, Chat, Live Q&A & more. Join 1,000's of linguists from around the globe as ProZ.com/TV celebrates International Translation Day.

Click for Full Participation

Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >
Any ideas to get translators paid on time more often?
Thread poster: José Henrique Lamensdorf

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Oct 2, 2013

Murphy's Law ensures that this occurs in waves, not all the time, otherwise professional translators would be a post-endangered species.

When such a wave comes, first 4 out of 5, then 9 out of 10 clients do it, as if they were in cahoots, in spite of being as geographically scattered as our planet can hold, mixing old reliables and first-timers, small and large, agencies and direct clients... they don't pay on the date that was mutually agreed at the outset.

  • One says they are short of cash this week, maybe next week, for sure it won't take longer than two weeks.
  • Another one, a frequent flyer, pays one invoice, and says that all others have been shifted "to the next payment cycle", as they call it.
  • A third one says it's a large project, involving many languages, and a few of the other translators haven't submitted their invoices yet.
  • A fourth one says the person who approves the translation, a must for issuing payment, is overseas in a meeting. As soon as s/he returns, it will be a matter of hours, as the his/her underlings have unanimously okayed it.

These are all very plausible excuses, none of these companies is attempting to defraud translators, they all want some more time beyond the term they initially agreed to pay.

While none of them is shy when it comes to set and demand any deadlines, their time-strictness wanes as soon as the job has been delivered on time.

My question is: Why translators alone?

Do they adopt similar procedures towards their utility bills? taxes? employee wages? management salaries? raw material suppliers? contractors?

My first idea was to raise my rates by, say, by 50%, and offer that same amount as a discount for timely payment as initially agreed. Would this make them keep their promises?

Some translation agencies (I don't work for any of these anymore), as soon as you login to their web site, display a message, "You are supposed to be working on job XXXX. There are 3 hours, 22 minutes, and 17 seconds left for you to deliver it.", and the seconds keep counting down.

Perhaps I should have clients login to my web site, and display a message on how many seconds they have left to pay me.

So I hope my fellow Prozians have some better ideas on how to make this work.

The Blue Board is mostly for non-payers or longer delays, not for otherwise decent clients who have plausible excuses to use translators - and nobody else - as a solution to their short-term cash flow troubles.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 16:23
English to Polish
+ ...
... Oct 2, 2013

Wish it just came down to late payment.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

dianaft  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:23
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Do you really believe this is limited to this industry? Oct 2, 2013

I doubt it.
The excuses will differ for other suppliers, that's all.
Even my electricity provider offers a "prompt payment discount", so I don't think the idea is that far fetched. It is certainly a lot more positive and encouraging than a "late payment surcharge"
Personally, I faint at the thought of the additional paperwork tbh.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:23
Member
Italian to English
Italian fines just got that bit "finer" Oct 2, 2013

Italy has just introduced a system giving you a discount on traffic fines such as speeding if you pay right away...

Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
For me, it does Oct 2, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

Wish it just came down to late payment.


Late payment is the only problem I have with my clients, unfortunately most of them, regardless of their location.

I never deliver late, and the quality issues I have are so rare and so minor, that - when they happen (I'm human!) - I get them fixed in less than a couple of hours, usually before the originally agreed deadline. That's why I like to deliver early.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 16:23
English to Polish
+ ...
Avoid Oct 3, 2013

dianaft wrote:

I doubt it.
The excuses will differ for other suppliers, that's all.
Even my electricity provider offers a "prompt payment discount", so I don't think the idea is that far fetched. It is certainly a lot more positive and encouraging than a "late payment surcharge"
Personally, I faint at the thought of the additional paperwork tbh.


Tax authorities don't like discounts. Especially if a decrease in VAT is involved.

Anyway, I've been thinking about establishing a no-nonsense rate. Some people prefer to skip about 20% of my fee. I prefer to skip about 80% of what translators do these days. I think there is room for some meaningful communication here.

For example:

– No laws and courts of your backyard. No nothing else your squire wouldn't let you sign.
– No pleasure-driven rewrites.
– No mandatory reference materials.
– No existing TMs.
– It's either .doc or scans.
– No incompetent proof sheets ever in my inbox, ever.
– No online crap.
– Polite staff.

In exchange, I don't care if it's sixty days late and a third less than the other dudes are offering.

For the record, the most frequent reason why I tell people we can't work together is manners.

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

That's why I like to deliver early.


I used to. But now I don't want to undermine the ratio chargendi of rush fees too much.

[Edited at 2013-10-03 02:17 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 17:23
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
CC? Oct 3, 2013

Fiona Peterson wrote:

Italy has just introduced a system giving you a discount on traffic fines such as speeding if you pay right away...


I wonder if they accept credit cards.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:23
Partial member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
The important word is "realistic" Oct 3, 2013

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

  • One says they are short of cash this week, maybe next week, for sure it won't take longer than two weeks.
  • Another one, a frequent flyer, pays one invoice, and says that all others have been shifted "to the next payment cycle", as they call it.
  • A third one says it's a large project, involving many languages, and a few of the other translators haven't submitted their invoices yet.
  • A fourth one says the person who approves the translation, a must for issuing payment, is overseas in a meeting. As soon as s/he returns, it will be a matter of hours, as the his/her underlings have unanimously okayed it.


These are all very plausible excuses, none of these companies is attempting to defraud translators, they all want some more time beyond the term they initially agreed to pay


IMO, none of these are acceptable excuses. Whatever they agreed to (YOUR terms), they need to follow up on or risk a negative comment on blueboard.
The important thing is to lay down terms for your client that are realistic to you ("expected" deadline, rate, payment due dates - I suggest an order contract the client co-signs)

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Some translation agencies (I don't work for any of these anymore), as soon as you login to their web site, display a message, "You are supposed to be working on job XXXX. There are 3 hours, 22 minutes, and 17 seconds left for you to deliver it.", and the seconds keep counting down.


I simply wouldn't work like that. We're not peeling potatoes (nothing against potato peelers).

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
The Blue Board is mostly for non-payers or longer delays, not for otherwise decent clients who have plausible excuses to use translators - and nobody else - as a solution to their short-term cash flow troubles.


If they don't meet the terms they agreed to (note how I phrased this), then you have every right to complain about it on blueboard. We are certainly not banks that extend credit.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:23
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Misleading title Oct 3, 2013

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
So I hope my fellow Prozians have some better ideas on how to make this work.


The title of the thread is misleading. It has nothing to do with respect, but with on-time payment. The title should be changed from "Any ideas to get translators respected more often?" to "Any ideas to get translators paid on time more often?".


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Interesting differences Oct 3, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

dianaft wrote:
Even my electricity provider offers a "prompt payment discount", so I don't think the idea is that far fetched. It is certainly a lot more positive and encouraging than a "late payment surcharge"


Tax authorities don't like discounts. Especially if a decrease in VAT is involved.


As an established independent professional (aka freelancer), not a company, it only involves individual income tax. If I receive less, I pay less tax, so it's all fair and legal.

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:
Anyway, I've been thinking about establishing a no-nonsense rate. Some people prefer to skip about 20% of my fee. I prefer to skip about 80% of what translators do these days. I think there is room for some meaningful communication here.

For example:

– No laws and courts of your backyard. No nothing else your squire wouldn't let you sign.
– No pleasure-driven rewrites.
– No mandatory reference materials.
– No existing TMs.
– It's either .doc or scans.
– No incompetent proof sheets ever in my inbox, ever.
– No online crap.
– Polite staff.


I've never had problems with any of these.

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:
In exchange, I don't care if it's sixty days late and a third less than the other dudes are offering.


Yes, because you are in the euro zone, where interest rate is stated as 0.5/month. Here in Brazil it is 9%/month (and going up). So a client paying me in Brazil sixty days (2 mos.) late costs me exactly as much as if they paid you three years late. Would you accept that???

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:
For the record, the most frequent reason why I tell people we can't work together is manners.


I have no problem with that. Born and living in the homeland of diversity, it's second-nature for me to deal with anyone at their level. After all, as a video translator, I must be able to give both royalty and the underworld (and anything in-between) their proper 'voices' in the target language. Hence I've been sort of 'trained' for that.

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:
José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

That's why I like to deliver early.


I used to. But now I don't want to undermine the ratio chargendi of rush fees too much.


This is covered by an interesting strategy I developed last January, on which I've written over and over again ever since.

The Brazilian law on sworn translations (to celebrate its 70th anniversary on this very month) prescribes a daily production level and determines 50% extra for requests beyond that on business hours, and 100% for work on weekends & holidays.

I adopted that for non-sworn work as well, however it often wrought havoc to my schedule. The extra cash was welcome, while the inconvenience was not so.

Last January I took longer vacations, two weeks instead of one. On my return, I had a pile of jobs waiting, some demanding urgency. When one offered an 80% rush surcharge to get served before another one who was already paying 50% extra, I put an end to it before it turned into a rush charges auction. I could not honestly waitlist a job that was already paying a 50% bonus for rush.

So, no more rush surcharges from me (unless required by law on sworn translations). The shortest payment term after delivery gets served first and so on, and that's all!

I devised it as a temporary solution, yet it worked so well, that I made it permanent. It took a while for the beauty of it to dawn upon me: As the maximum priority would be given to prepayment with the order, nobody is able to travel back in time to prepay me earlier, after someone else has done it already.

For the record, in the past 9 months I only had two cases of prepayment; most of my clients are using COD (as they get a hefty discount, on account of the high interest rates in Brazil).

I understand that if my parents hadn't moved from Krakow to Sao Paulo in 1950, my m.o. nowadays would be quite different.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Carve that in stone, Bernhard! Oct 3, 2013

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

We are certainly not banks that extend credit.


The problem with the translating profession is that there are just too many bilingual amateurs worldwide doing it for some extra cash. Maybe these amateurs outnumber the pros, just like merely file-pushing translation middlemen outnumber professional agencies.

These amateurs will accept any rate that is offered, and this has bred the habit of translation firms imposing their rates, instead of asking their vendors how much they charge... like in any other profession.

These amateurs also don't care much if they'll be paid COD or four months later. They don't earn a living from translation. When they get paid, they won't pay their bills with that; most likely they'll take the chance of taking their mate to an unusual meal, or perhaps upgrading their smartphone or tablet, whatever.

This leads translation clients to postpone the payment of translators, so their cash flow will be on a permanently high tide. They have this reassurance to waive due diligence on their end-clients' credit: if any of them fails to pay, they've got the translators' money at hand to live on.

As few translators charge interest or any penalty on later payment, while banks and all other institutions obviously do, translators have become the least expensive source of operating funds.

I've made a deal with my bank: As long as they don't offer translation services, I won't be lending money interest-free. I think it's fair competition.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It IS a matter of respect Oct 3, 2013

Samuel Murray wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
So I hope my fellow Prozians have some better ideas on how to make this work.


The title of the thread is misleading. It has nothing to do with respect, but with on-time payment. The title should be changed from "Any ideas to get translators respected more often?" to "Any ideas to get translators paid on time more often?".


Respect is a form of fear.

Clients respect (and pay on time) other institutions, for fear of having their access to the Internet suspended, their web site unplugged, their electricity/phone/utility service being suspended, etc.

Many of them have more fear of the big bad wolf than of the Blue Board & alikes, which is the most harm a translator can do. (Just check the chutzpah of some very low LWA score clients who bothered to reply on the BB.)

And yet the ones I'm focusing on here are NOT the type that says, OK, fly here, get a hotel to stay, hire an expensive lawyer, and sue me! I'll appeal as many times as I can. When a judge finally says that I must either pay you or go to jail, I'll pay... but you'll have spent at least 20x what you'll get from me."

The ones covered here are honest people. They want to pay as soon as they can. However translators are at the bottom of their fear/priority - hence respect - scale. So they'll use all plausible excuses to pay translators last.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Stephen Emm  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:23
French to English
+ ...
No problems with late payment Oct 9, 2013

I have never had any problems with late payment. I work mainly with translation companies of various sizes in the UK and France, but I have never really had to chase payments.
It is certainly something that I would never accept, but is not just restricted to the translation industry I imagine.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:23
German to English
Follows auto industry practice Oct 9, 2013

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

My question is: Why translators alone?

Do they adopt similar procedures towards their utility bills? taxes? employee wages? management salaries? raw material suppliers? contractors?



In the 1980s, and early 90s J. Ignacio de Lopez Arriortua was the global purchasing manager at General Motors. His philosophy was to beat up vendors, demand lower prices and extend terms beyond normal decency. He practically formed a cult at GM: regional purchasing managers had to keep daily diaries of how they had reduced procurement costs and had to wear their watches on their opposite wrists until certain goals were achieved. As more vendors were squeezed out of the business, price competition increased, further lowering prices (the survivors were willing to make almost any sacrifice to stay in business). Needless to say, such ruthlessness strained relations with all their vendors. Lopez then went to VW to work his magic.

At a meeting with GM's head of translation services some time in the last century, I was told that their translation price goals were expressed as 1/1/1, that is: one word, one cent, paid for one time. That hasn't happened yet, at least not in the US.

The auto companies (in the US, I can't speak for other countries) still use underhanded methods to squeeze their suppliers. A banker of my acquaintance has told me of customers who have entered into extended negotiations with automakers, only to have them walk away the day the supplier contract was to be signed. It is apparently not unusual for procurement departments to conduct negotiations in parallel, then drop the potebntial supplier at the last possible moment.

The consequences are obvious all along the supply chain. In the case of LSPs, the larger end customers are squeezing them, who in turn hope to make up the lost profit through increasing volume, while enjoying somewhat larger margins from lower-volume occasional or one-time customers. As suppliers to LSPs we are subjected to the same downward price pressures and have to make up the difference with those direct customers who don't expect a volume discount and who will pay in a reasonable amount of time.

I don't see the situation improving. The velocity of new translations/agency coming into the market continues unabated, thus further depressing rates. Hedge funds are buying LSPs which is a sure indication of the commoditization of translation, If they can turn a buck in higher education in the US through exploitation, they can certainly do it in the words for money biz.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:23
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
I doubt that it is translators alone Oct 9, 2013

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

My question is: Why translators alone?

Do they adopt similar procedures towards their

  1. utility bills?
  2. taxes?
  3. employee wages?
  4. management salaries?
  5. raw material suppliers?
  6. contractors?



1) Probably not; 2) Certainly not; 3) Sometimes; 4) You are kidding, right?; 5) Sometimes, depending on size and relative contractual strength; 6) Yes (ask freelance graphic artists, Web-site designers, copywriters, etc.)


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Any ideas to get translators paid on time more often?

Advanced search







Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »
memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search