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Translation agency issue: no NET60 payment for more than half a year!
Thread poster: jackal99

jackal99
Japan
Local time: 06:09
Jul 2, 2015

A translation agency whose headquarters relocated to Singapore from Bangkok has a serious payment issue. The agency claims NET60 payment, which, in their term, means "we don't have to pay for at least 60 days". This agency can pay via Moneybookers, Paypal or Bank Transfer. Of course the translator prefers bank transfer because bank transfer= agency pays fee, paypal = translator pays (not-so-small) all fees. If you request bank transfer (which they should do) they are very reluctant to pay. You may even need to bug them for about a month before they actually pay. The Payment Team of the agency always says "need to approve payment", well, I don't care about your process, I need my cash, period.

In short: Insist on what date you get your payment (such as X day of each month) before working with a translation agency with NET60 or other untransparent payment terms!


 

Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 23:09
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
And why Jul 3, 2015

jackal99 wrote:

A translation agency whose headquarters relocated to Singapore from Bangkok has a serious payment issue. The agency claims NET60 payment, which, in their term, means "we don't have to pay for at least 60 days". This agency can pay via Moneybookers, Paypal or Bank Transfer. Of course the translator prefers bank transfer because bank transfer= agency pays fee, paypal = translator pays (not-so-small) all fees. If you request bank transfer (which they should do) they are very reluctant to pay. You may even need to bug them for about a month before they actually pay. The Payment Team of the agency always says "need to approve payment", well, I don't care about your process, I need my cash, period.

In short: Insist on what date you get your payment (such as X day of each month) before working with a translation agency with NET60 or other untransparent payment terms!


should you work with such an agency???? I have ca 15 more or less regular clients and none of them claims NET60 payment, it's ridiculous. Regarding "You may even need to bug them for about a month before they actually pay" - I had two agencies which paid after 3rd remainder within 1 WEEK and in future I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole. In short: don't let an agency bully you.


 

jackal99
Japan
Local time: 06:09
TOPIC STARTER
finding a new agency vs leaving a bully Jul 3, 2015

I do JP-EN and EN-JP translation part time as a side job. I register with three agencies (two in Japan -- i'm Japanese -- and the problematic agency), and job supply from all three are very intermittent. Extra cash even if payment is slow is better than nothing for me, though I am seriously having second thoughts. You may know very well that getting registered in an agency is difficult, getting regular jobs is more difficult. I specialize in technical content (I have Ph.D. in a field of science and engineering), so finding the right client is very hard; at the very least I need to register for an agency as end clients (mostly government agencies, companies, universities) don't want to pay a random freelance translator but is almost mandated to pay a company that has good quality control.

[Edited at 2015-07-03 03:24 GMT]


 

Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 23:09
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
If I were you Jul 3, 2015

jackal99 wrote:

I do JP-EN and EN-JP translation part time as a side job. I register with three agencies (two in Japan -- i'm Japanese -- and the problematic agency), and job supply from all three are very intermittent. Extra cash even if payment is slow is better than nothing for me, though I am seriously having second thoughts. You may know very well that getting registered in an agency is difficult, getting regular jobs is more difficult. I specialize in technical content (I have Ph.D. in a field of science and engineering), so finding the right client is very hard; at the very least I need to register for an agency as end clients (mostly government agencies, companies, universities) don't want to pay a random freelance translator but is almost mandated to pay a company that has good quality control.

[Edited at 2015-07-03 03:24 GMT]


I would try to get clients from USA. I don't work with clients from my own country (Latvia) because they simply cannot afford to pay a decent rate, and I prefer clients from USA, UK and Germany. I think that a technical translator should be in demand,.


 

Elif Baykara Narbay  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 00:09
German to Turkish
+ ...
Aiming a good agency is the only definite way to find one. Jul 3, 2015

jackal99 wrote:

You may know very well that getting registered in an agency is difficult, getting regular jobs is more difficult. I specialize in technical content (I have Ph.D. in a field of science and engineering), so finding the right client is very hard; at the very least I need to register for an agency as end clients (mostly government agencies, companies, universities) don't want to pay a random freelance translator but is almost mandated to pay a company that has good quality control.

[Edited at 2015-07-03 03:24 GMT]


It is better to consider this bully agency (I liked this term) as an inconvenient professional experience. No matter how good or how experienced a translator you are, you will be able to find a good agency only if you aim one. The starting point is your self-rating.icon_smile.gif

As a patent translator with a science background myself, I know that Japanese-English language pair would provide many opportunities. It may be better to have some extra cash instead of nothing. But it is way better to get paid the amount your work is worth.

[Edited at 2015-07-03 05:31 GMT]


 

Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 23:09
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Exactly so Jul 3, 2015

[quote]Elif Baykara wrote:

jackal99 wrote:

The starting point is your self-rating.icon_smile.gif

As a patent translator with a science background myself, I know that Japanese-English language pair would provide many opportunities. It may be better to have some extra cash instead of nothing. But it is way better to get paid the amount your work is worth.

[Edited at 2015-07-03 05:31 GMT]


if you don't respect yourself nobody else will. Don't present yourself as a beggar who can't be chooser as it is the worst possible policy regarding relations with clients. Of course, it's just my 2 cents:)

If you wish to find any decent clients, you must create a normal profile first of all.

[Edited at 2015-07-03 07:23 GMT]


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:09
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
It's not the language pair Jul 3, 2015

jackal99 wrote:
job supply from all three are very intermittent. Extra cash even if payment is slow is better than nothing for me, though I am seriously having second thoughts. You may know very well that getting registered in an agency is difficult, getting regular jobs is more difficult.

It's not difficult if you're the right sort of applicant. With your qualifications agencies should be eager to have you on their books and you should be able to make a decent living out of freelance translation - but only if you are a capable and professional translator.

Your problem is that agencies probably realise that you're not a full-time translator and assume (rightly or wrongly) that you will not be "professional" in outlook. Part-timers are two a penny; thousands of stay-at-home mums and retired people in Japan dabble in translation. That's not the kind of person the better agencies are looking for.

On the other hand, payment in 50 or 60 days is entirely normal in Japan and reflects the wider business culture. For smaller companies, being paid by large companies after 100 days or more is not unusual.

Regards
Dan


 

Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 23:09
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Dan Jul 3, 2015

in my book, payment after 60+ days is a barefaced impudence and lack of any culture.

[Edited at 2015-07-03 07:30 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-07-03 09:05 GMT]


 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:09
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
no net payment for 60+ days Jul 3, 2015

Over the years I have managed to fine-tune and cherry-pick my clients.
(1) I no longer deal with agencies outside the US. Why? what if I needed to bring legal charges against them for non-payment? I have had to bring charges against two state-side companies for non-payment. Once they were served, they paid up. Many agencies in Japan "pay in 90 days" which is unreasonable.
(2) I will not do business with a PO box number for the same reason. How can I track them down? (I know, I know, I'm coming off as cynical)
(3) In the best of all possible worlds, an agency would jump at the chance to hire a talented translator. Right? No. Many, many agencies are looking for mediocrity and a talented and exceptional translator is to be avoided as he/she would unfavorably impact the bottom line.
(4) Time was, translators could build and cultivate a relationship with project managers at several agencies and be their go-to translator. Now, a translator is just a few keystrokes in a bloated translator database. Just because you did an excellent job for an agency the last time is no guarantee they will hire you again. This is borne out on the proz.com website where you see the same agencies constantly looking for new translators. They are casting their nets and are looking for Harvard quality at Calcutta rates. With the advent of impersonal mega-agencies and CAT tools, translation seems to be perceived as clerical work. In addition, great pressure is placed on HR departments of major corporations to keep costs low. If the HR person keeps costs low, he/she is rewarded: either a bonus or he/she gets to keep his/her job. An IP law firm in Silicon Valley I contacted recently demanded a "hello" rate of USD 0.06/word. Race to the bottom.
Now I work as a niche LSP, work with only a few clients at a time and am kept quite busy.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:09
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
An intemperate response... Jul 3, 2015

Maija Cirule wrote:
in my book, payment after 60+ days is a barefaced impudence and lack of any culture.

In my book, dismissing the established customs of the several million companies that drive one of the world's most successful economies is characteristic of lack of any understanding.

Long payments in Japan are a universal condition. It's not an issue unique to translators or any other profession. So you can either deal with them, or not. In the UK and Europe my terms are payment after 30 days, because that is the norm. In Japan, I accept 50 or 60 days.

On the other hand, I have never been paid late by a Japanese agency, nor has there ever been a discrepancy. They track my jobs, tot them up and send me an itemised payment schedule every month. I don't even have to invoice them, although I do make up invoices. Everything works like clockwork and the PMs are polite and respectful.

While Japanese clients have their own set of issues, there are many worse customers to have.

Regards
Dan


 

Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 23:09
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
For starters, Jul 3, 2015

the company in question is not located in Japan but in Singapore. I can't believe that everybody translating from/to Japanese is across the whole world automatically assumed to be a representative of delayed payment "culture" which mediocre minds can't understand. If so, I"m happy that I don't speak or translate Japanese:)

[Edited at 2015-07-03 11:01 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-07-03 11:31 GMT]


 

jackal99
Japan
Local time: 06:09
TOPIC STARTER
What a joke! Jul 3, 2015

Bugged payment team, got this email...

---

Dear (my name)

The business is very slow this quarter and collecting payment from our clients is very challenging.

Today is the beginning of July and now we are working on the update of financial report so that we can manage the payment to you as soon as possible.

We will be in touch with more details soonest.

Regards
Payment Team

---

Seriously, should I ask help from a debt collection agency?
One company I contacted asks for 300 SGD initial fee + 20% commission.
Please help if you know a good collection agency in Singapore (no initial fee, firm payment upon recovery).


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:09
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
It might depend on the country Jul 3, 2015

Michael Newton wrote:

(1) Many agencies in Japan "pay in 90 days" which is unreasonable.


This seems to be common practice in most Asian countries. Perhaps there landlords and shops are willing to wait 90 days to receive the rent or cash for a grocery bill long forgotten.icon_biggrin.gif


They are casting their nets and are looking for Harvard quality at Calcutta rates.


Never heard it phrased like this, but it's true in some cases.icon_wink.gif

The problem is that anybody who's halfway bilingual can now call her-/himself a translator. And those work-from-home moms probably don't care if they only get paid 0.01 in any currency for as long as there's some extra cash in their pocket.

There are some good agencies out there who respect their translators = paying them for what their work is really worth. But there are also some who believe that profit is everything. If the translator asks for a rate that causes the agency's profits to diminish, then, hey, there's thousands of other translators out there. All that matters is profit and getting the translation done, right? Well, they think so.

Quality? What's that? Does it matter? Well, it does matter to any real agency and/or end client. And quality has its price. If bottom feeders can't handle it or don't realize it, well, then ... yes, there're thousands of semi-translators out there happy to jump on the "Peanut-express-train".
That's my 2 cents.


 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:09
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
delayed payment Jul 3, 2015

I am fortunate that I have enough clients who pay in 30 -45 days so that I have been able to shift my focus away from late payers. A 90-day or 100-day pay period may work for some but not everyone. Btw,virtually all of my clients are Japanese companies who work with US-based law firms and I always receive payment in 30 -45 days. Under this setup (which has taken a number of years to finesse), I am able to work on iconic Japanese litigation, charge high fees, benefit from one of the world's economic juggernauts and adapt to the realities of doing business in the US.

 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:09
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Well done Jul 3, 2015

Michael Newton wrote:
Under this setup (which has taken a number of years to finesse), I am able to work on iconic Japanese litigation, charge high fees, benefit from one of the world's economic juggernauts and adapt to the realities of doing business in the US.

Michael - I congratulate you. I suspect achieving a similar situation for myself will also take a time measured in years rather than in months.

Regards
Dan


 
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