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Unpaid Invoice
Thread poster: Laura Maria Nicosia

Laura Maria Nicosia  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:20
English to Italian
+ ...
Dec 17, 2014

Dear all,

I completed a job for a translation agency based in Edinburgh (I am based in London)
They have failed to pay the invoice and have completely ignored my emails ever since I started enquiring a about it.
I called the office and the person that picked up the phone complained that he had to listen to me at 5 pm when all he wanted was to go home.
He gave me a generic email address to contact and even though I sent again my enquiry no one has replied to me.

I want to know what can I do next.
I have a total of 3 invoices with them and I have a feeling they won't pay any of them.



Many thanks,


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Paulinho Fonseca  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:20
Member (2011)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Sorry to hear that! Dec 17, 2014

First thing:

Does the agency have BB?

That is a way to get started. If they don't have one, you might be able to create their Blue Board and record they misleading policies.


Good luck.


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Germaine  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:20
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
Second... Dec 17, 2014

Assuming that you can identify the client from the job you did - and assuming the Blue Board doesn't provide you with some response -, you may address to the PM a very polite (short) email (followed by a formal letter) telling them that payment is overdue, that you couldn't get in touch with anyone about it and that you're wondering if your invoice was lost somewhere somehow. Attach copy of the invoice. Conclude asking if maybe you were mistaking in sending the invoice to them as they might have preferred that you address it directly to the client. Close it with "Awaiting for your instructions, I remain..."

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FionaMarshall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:20
French to English
+ ...
Then... Dec 17, 2014

If your first friendly and understanding email doesn't get a response send a more formal email in which you again explain that you have not received payment and urge them to contact you immediately to arrange it. The next step is to send a formal letter including all the details (invoice numbers, amounts, dates two previous emails sent, etc.) and informing them of your intention to make a small claim. If you still don't hear anything back you will need to think about whether it will be worth it for you to start the small claims process as it will cost you time and money, and may be complicated by the fact that the agency is based in Scotland and you're in England.

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:20
Russian to English
+ ...
Hi. There are some governmental agencies you can report them to, Dec 17, 2014

or you can get a lawyer--there are are even free of charge lawyers who will help you in such matters.

It does not matter at all that the company is in different region, or different country. Maybe they pay after 60 days?

[Edited at 2014-12-17 08:47 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:20
Member (2008)
Italian to English
hmm Dec 17, 2014

This may be useful

http://www.lawdonut.co.uk/blog/2012/06/how-recover-debts


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:20
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Are they solvent? Dec 17, 2014

It sounds as though they're still trading, but it's possible that they have terminal financial problems. You can find out here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/companies-house . Do keep an eye on their status as not even the courts can get money out of an insolvent company. All you can do is register your claim with the official receiver and then wait, but don't bother to hope - I've been there twice and got zero each time.

Do you know exactly what terms were set? Did you enforce your own or did they state theirs? If payment period wasn't mentioned it may be that there's some small print linking you to their T&C, in which case that will apply, and it could be 90 days.

One last question? Have they ever paid you? Personally, I make a point of not accepting job after job from new clients until I've seen the colour of their money. Maybe this is a real scam (although that seems unlikely as you've been in touch with them by phone).

Get really firm once you're sure they're late paying. No need for threats, lost temper etc. Just deal with your B2B claim by escalating steadily, to the courts or a debt recovery firm if necessary.

Edited to add that I just found a really useful resource, from the company I worked for for many years, Shell: http://www.shell-livewire.org/business-library/accounts-and-finance/effective-credit-management/ . There must be a lot of other really useful information there, some UK-specific but a lot will be of general use.

[Edited at 2014-12-17 10:19 GMT]


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 06:20
German to Swedish
+ ...
But Dec 17, 2014

Fiona Marshall wrote:

... whether it will be worth it for you to start the small claims process as it will cost you time and money...


Surely debt recovery costs are added to the debt and paid by the debtor?


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:20
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Sure, but... Dec 17, 2014

Joakim Braun wrote:

Fiona Marshall wrote:

... whether it will be worth it for you to start the small claims process as it will cost you time and money...


Surely debt recovery costs are added to the debt and paid by the debtor?


Sure, but only if they pay in the end. If they go out of business, you're left with your unpaid invoice and your expenses.


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 06:20
German to Swedish
+ ...
Expenses Dec 17, 2014

Erik Freitag wrote:

... If they go out of business, you're left with your unpaid invoice and your expenses.


Here in Sweden, costs for an enforcement action from start to finish are around 100€ and the action itself isn't complicated at all.

If debtor contests the debt, you have the option of suing him in court, where things get more complicated. But you don't need a lawyer for that, and the application costs are still only 90-250€. Loser pays opponent's costs, but for small claims these cannot exceed some quite reasonable amount.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Ring then small claim Dec 17, 2014

I'd try to talk to them first on the phone. Letters get ignored.

If this doesn't work, pursue a small claim. We've done it a couple of times. Chances are they will pay up straight away, including the £50 or whatever you pay the court.


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Laura Maria Nicosia  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:20
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Dec 19, 2014

thank you all for your comments, I will reply to some of your questions with detail this weekend.

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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:20
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Document your contacts Dec 19, 2014

Other people have suggested email, which the company has already ignored.

I would send a formal letter politely but firmly requesting payment within 14 days, otherwise you will begin the small claims process. Make sure that you tell them that you will apply to cover all costs incurred during the process.

Send the letter by registered post or Royal Mail "signed for". Take a photo of the signed letter before you post it, or scan it - don't rely on the original electronic version on your PC. Keep your postage receipt and check for delivery on the internet. Take a screenshot of the delivery screen on your PC, print it out and keep it.

This way you create a paper trail which is easy to produce in court. If it goes to court and the company claims that you never contacted them you can show the documents to prove that you did. It is difficult to prove that emails were received by the other party unless you can force them to give you access to their systems.

Dan


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Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 07:20
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
No right to use your work unless they pay Dec 19, 2014

In addition to what others have said, you can also remind your client in the letter, that they, nor the end client, have no right to use your translation unless/until it's been paid.

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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:20
Swedish to English
+ ...
High court sheriffs Dec 19, 2014

Erik Freitag wrote:

Joakim Braun wrote:

Fiona Marshall wrote:

... whether it will be worth it for you to start the small claims process as it will cost you time and money...


Surely debt recovery costs are added to the debt and paid by the debtor?


Sure, but only if they pay in the end. If they go out of business, you're left with your unpaid invoice and your expenses.


Once you "win" your small court process here in the UK, you can apply to the high court to send in the sheriffs - cost GBP60 which is reclaimed from the debtor. The advantage of sheriffs rather than ordinary bailiffs is that they have much greater power. For example, they can enter business premises in any way necessary.

PS. This applies to England & Wales and might be different in Scotland.


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