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Getting paid on time
Thread poster: Abbyfrackenpohl

Abbyfrackenpohl  Identity Verified
United States
Spanish to English
+ ...
Feb 2, 2015

I work with many translation agencies and more times than not, they pay late (on what are already 60-day pay periods). This is very frustrating and I email and ask about when to expect payment (which also takes up time) but nothing changes. I get paid but only after a hassle at the end of each month, asking when it is going to come and having to wait extra days. I always deliver projects according to their timelines. Credit cards charge interest if we pay late. What can I do in this situation?

 

Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 17:58
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Find agencies Feb 2, 2015

Abbyfrackenpohl wrote:

I work with many translation agencies and more times than not, they pay late (on what are already 60-day pay periods). This is very frustrating and I email and ask about when to expect payment (which also takes up time) but nothing changes. I get paid but only after a hassle at the end of each month, asking when it is going to come and having to wait extra days. I always deliver projects according to their timelines. Credit cards charge interest if we pay late. What can I do in this situation?


that meet payment deadlines.I also work with many agencies and only one of them likes to pay only after a reminder. I maintain my invoices via proz and the reminder from proz works miracles. Highly recommended.

[Edited at 2015-02-02 15:17 GMT]


 

Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:58
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Keep looking for other agencies to work with Feb 2, 2015

This is like knowing which of your friends arrive on time and which habitually arrive late. Keep a note of the length of delay for each company and accept that you aren't going to get paid until after that period following the invoice due date.

If you have to hassle them, which costs time, and therefore money, and the delays are unacceptable to you, phase them out.

Although I have in the past, at the moment I don't work with any agencies that don't pay on time. I do however work with at least 5 that never, ever pay even a day late. So they do exist. Don't let yourself be fooled into believing it's normal practice.


Imho, as with pricing, the relationship works both ways. If you are late handing in projects, they'll find another translator. If they're late paying you, find another client (even though I understand, that can often be easier said than done, I wanted to add that the time I've taken to phase out 'iffy' clients that pay late etc. has more than paid off. It was time 100% well spent).

[Edited at 2015-02-02 14:41 GMT]


 

Paweł Hamerski
Poland
Local time: 16:58
English to Polish
+ ...
it is quite simple - charge high interest for delayed payments Feb 2, 2015

even for short delays (you will see how eagerly they would want to give you work then) especially from those companies ypu want to cease working for. I have never tried this method though as my customers pay on time (or not at all).

 

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:58
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Exactly Feb 2, 2015

Paweł Hamerski wrote:

.... I have never tried this method though as my customers pay on time (or not at all).



I wonder what would your advice be after trying.
In Southern Europe late payments is a very common practice. Just last week, I reminded one agency about an outstanding invoice for the translation delivered on Nov 3 last year, so they told me: Our policy is to pay after 60 days in the end of the month, as we cannot make payments every day. !!! I just wonder how many such "every days" have passed in almost three months. They have paid today, though.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Some ideas Feb 2, 2015

1. Set your own terms and only collaborate after agreement to those terms. 30 days should be enough free credit.
2. Include a late payment charge and interest.
3. Tell them you won't be available for their work unless they pay on time.
4. Offer a discount for early payment e.g. within 21 days for 30-day terms.
5. Get a lawyer to send a very official final demand saying that these repeated breaches of contract will not be tolerated.
6. Request payment in advance for the next job.
7. Step up your efforts to find new clients and drop one bad payer for each new one.

They'll all help. It is a problem - personally it has taken me 15 years to get to the point where I'll immediately drop a bad payer as I have a great base of early/on-time payers. You might have to continue to give gentle nudges, but you shouldn't be expected to beg or threaten to get what you have a total right to.


 

Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:58
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Good advice Feb 2, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:

1. Set your own terms and only collaborate after agreement to those terms. 30 days should be enough free credit.
2. Include a late payment charge and interest.
3. Tell them you won't be available for their work unless they pay on time.
4. Offer a discount for early payment e.g. within 21 days for 30-day terms.
5. Get a lawyer to send a very official final demand saying that these repeated breaches of contract will not be tolerated.
6. Request payment in advance for the next job.
7. Step up your efforts to find new clients and drop one bad payer for each new one.

They'll all help. It is a problem - personally it has taken me 15 years to get to the point where I'll immediately drop a bad payer as I have a great base of early/on-time payers. You might have to continue to give gentle nudges, but you shouldn't be expected to beg or threaten to get what you have a total right to.


Great advice Sheila. I especially like the idea of offering discounts for early payment.


 

Abbyfrackenpohl  Identity Verified
United States
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Interest/late fees? Feb 2, 2015

Thanks to all for your advice. The thing is, I like the companies, the people, and the type of projects they give me, so I'd just as soon not drop them. Yes, they are from Southern Europe, Spain in particular, and so I realize that punctuality is not their forte, but it still affects my finances!
They have always paid so far, so I wouldn't legally threaten them, I just always have to remind them and it's perpetually late.
So, does anyone have experience charging interest/late fees to agencies? I can see how that would work for private clients but I'm not sure if it's a common practice for agencies and if they would respect it.
Thanks.

[Edited at 2015-02-02 15:28 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:58
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Keep looking for better customers... Feb 2, 2015

...and once you find better customers, only accept jobs from later payers if you have plenty of free time and have your finances pretty much covered.

 

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:58
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Would be nice to hear Feb 2, 2015

Before comingto this topic back, I thought it would be nice to hear experiences of other translators.
Last year, I had done a huge translation for an agency in Barcelona and was fearing not getting paid. I even shared my fears here on ProZ. Thanks God, I did get paid for those projects. Yet it took me almost as much time as for doing the translation itself.
So when they came with an order a month later, I told I would charge in advance. You can guess ... successfully ... whether I got the order. Or any further orders from that agency.
With the agency mentioned in my previous post, I am going to propose an alternative for them next time: either I am increasing my rate in order to finance them or I deliver the translation against the payment.
Charging an interest? Hmmm, has anyone been successful in that? If it is so complicated to get what is clearly yours, how wouldyou enforce the payment of the interest?
Translators do not prosper in these areas, and a lawsuit is an expensive and unthinkably slow process.
Thus, I only see what fellow translators have already mentioned - paving your path to better clients.


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
60 days or more in itself a sign Feb 2, 2015

I've found that agencies that demand 60 days or more are also typically bad payers, whereas clients who accept to pay earlier are also more likely to pay on time.

Hence, a demand for 60 days or more is in itself a warning sign.

On a humorous note, now that interest has become negative some places in the EU, maybe we'll end up with a situation where the translators are pleading for late payment because they are charged interest for having money in the bank, so late payers will become the good guys and early payers the bad. Denmark saw its first mortgages with negative interest a few days ago, and that's not a joke. So these homeowners are paid interest on their mortgage.


 

Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:58
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
The threat of interest is normally enough Feb 2, 2015

After I asked for interest and phoned offices directly they always paid up. Then I moved on.

I've never had to enforce it. But I've always moved on because I'm scared of discovering that it is near impossible to enforce.

I once worked for a company (not related to translation) where part of my job was to deal with customers that we were knowingly and purposefully paying extremely late (much to my dismay). I was instructed to keep stringing people along until it was convenient for us to finally pay up. If they didn't ask for payment, they wouldn't get paid. Nonetheless the customers that we couldn't replace and who kicked up enough of a fuss were always granted the privilege of being paid on time or in advance.

(this company is not listed on my cv, the ones on my cv are all good'uns!)

Also, this company had been taken to court various times for this and remain undeterred. The amount of times I heard my manager weigh up the amount the customer was owed and the amount it would cost them to take us to court..... eugh. Glad I don't work there anymore.

[Edited at 2015-02-02 16:04 GMT]


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Make a nuisance of yourself Feb 2, 2015

interpretwhisky wrote:
Nonetheless the customers that we couldn't replace and who kicked up enough of a fuss were always granted the privilege of being paid on time or in advance.


It sounds a bit strange that customers were paid, but never mind the details.

It can, in fact, work to make so much of a nuisance of yourself that those who are delaying things end up finding it less inconvenient to get things done than to be disturbed about it all they time. Calling them daily, for example, to follow up is likely to end up annoying them.


 

Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:58
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Customers is not the correct word Feb 2, 2015

Thomas Frost wrote:

interpretwhisky wrote:
Nonetheless the customers that we couldn't replace and who kicked up enough of a fuss were always granted the privilege of being paid on time or in advance.


It sounds a bit strange that customers were paid, but never mind the details.

It can, in fact, work to make so much of a nuisance of yourself that those who are delaying things end up finding it less inconvenient to get things done than to be disturbed about it all they time. Calling them daily, for example, to follow up is likely to end up annoying them.


icon_smile.gif they were indeed service providers..... I've not been applying my beady proofreader's eye/brain to this thread....


 

Ben Senior  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:58
German to English
All companies are different Feb 2, 2015

I have one direct client who occasionally pay in advance, without any prompting from me either. I have the 'slow payers' as well, but as said above they get phased out.

 
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