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All those invoicing schemes!
Thread poster: Heinrich Pesch
| | Heinrich Pesch
Local time: 08:14
Finnish to German
I'm rather tired of those agencies that insist on their own invoicing procedures. Still ten years ago it was quite normal to send your invoice as a reply to the PM who had sent the job files. Now it starts to be the rule that each and every company insists on an elaborate procedure. Some are ok. There is one where once a month I log into their web site and confirm the payment information. No invoices need to be sent. But others are less elegant.
If I work with let's say six agencies during a month and most of them have their own invoicing procedure, the invoicing takes much more time than it used to be. I have to be careful to follow just the right procedure, otherwise they will not pay.
Today again one new contact sent me twice a request for a small job. First I ignored it, the second time I responded with my rate. The answer was a mail with an NDA agreement for me to sign, and a link to a page with information about their strict requirements for invoicing. They (!) will send me their sheet at the beginning of each month with information about the jobs of the recent month. After that I have to copy this information into my invoice and send it. To me it seems another way of delaying payment. As it is a French company I do not expect my money to arrive earlier than after 2-3 months. So I ignored the whole thing.
| | Roni_S
Local time: 07:14
Slovak to English
What I find absurd is that they present this to us as a "convenience" when obviously it is only convenient for them. What it does for me is create an accounting nightmare because now I don't have identical looking, sequentially numbered invoices to give to my accountant and it raises red flags for the by-the-book sticklers at the bureaucratic machine called the tax office - making me ripe for a tax audit.
How nice it would be to go back to a time when professional translation was somewhat of a boutique service we offered to direct clients and small agencies and not some faceless massive translation clearinghouses offering us assembly-line work devoid of any creativity and joy.
Kak. Back to work.
| Send feedback to the client || Aug 12, 2015 |
I have a couple of regular clients who use Plunet, and one has set it up to produce a very neat invoice, all ready for the Danish tax authorities. I believe they have a German version and maybe others too. They are that kind of client, and I let them know I appreciate it.
The other system needs a few minor adjustments, and then it is also fine.
I have given a couple of agencies low BB ratings because I simply cannot break in to their security systems to get the files to translate, and then have to repeat the procedure to invoice... and THEN make out my own invoice for the tax authorities after that.
I usually refuse to work with them at all.
Either raise your rates to cover the time spent MESSING ABOUT, or tell the PMs you will add a post to your invoice, and charge for administration.
I wrote to one agency's administration department because the PMs were not able to make changes. It actually helped for a while! Unfortunately they grew from being a friendly little outfit to a huge bottom feeder with a really bad name, and I no longer work for them.
It all takes time, but feedback is necessary.
That is the way we can assert ourselves as business partners and not humble typists in the pool. It is an important way of making ourselves visible!
| Oh how I agree, Christine! || Aug 12, 2015 |
You've said it, Christine!
Last May I did a small but urgent job for an agency in the UK for whom I've worked only occasionally but who used to be entirely pleasant and trouble-free.
However, they have now introduced one of these evil on-line invoicing systems which they insist translators MUST use or their invoices will be rejected.
Their on-line system was so Byzantine and Kafkaesque that, with the best will in the world and after ten separate attempts to send my small invoice (£19), I gave up. Every time I tried I was met with a different obstacle which prevented me from proceeding. My invoicing efforts took me far longer than it took to do the actual work. Either the system is terminally flawed or the agency is incapable of explaining how to use it.
In the end, I sent my invoice in hard copy by post. Eventually they paid me by wire transfer. Then, thanks to their splendid system, they paid me the same £19 a second time, meaning that I had the hassle of arranging a bank transfer to pay them back.
I'm finished with this agency and have asked to be removed from their database.
I try to follow instructions according to the client's wishes, of course, (monthly invoices, separate invoices, inclusion of tax references, etc. etc.) but these on-line systems are unnecessary and, when they don't work, they're absurd.
| | Alistair Gainey
Local time: 06:14
Russian to English
| Another thing || Aug 12, 2015 |
I'm not going to start a separate thread for it, because it's not a big issue, but, on a similar note.... Availability calendars. No.
Local time: 07:14
Danish to English
| A weird concept || Aug 12, 2015 |
I wonder why agencies have this strange idea that THEY should tell US how much work we have done for them within a given period, what to charge for it, how and when...
I wonder whether they would accept that from any of their own clients...
I recently told one agency who asked me to switch to their style of invoices (including issuing invoices that carried THEIR letterhead!) that I preferred to issue my own invoices, which fit neatly into MY accounting system. I also asked innocently whether this would be a big problem for them? I know it can't be as I have worked for them for a couple of years, and they pay like clockwork except if the wrong person goes on holiday (!). However, I have not had any work from them since then, so who knows?
My business is MY business. Clients buy my services and I send them MY invoices. Just like the vast majority of businesses all over the world would do.
In my case, I only make exceptions for Danish public institutions who are legally bound, I believe, only to accept electronic invoices via a joint online service, which is very easy to handle. I still make my own invoices for such clients, too, though, just to keep my accounts easy to handle.
| | Sheila Wilson
Local time: 06:14
| As good a reason as any to say "No" || Aug 12, 2015 |
What it does for me is create an accounting nightmare because now I don't have identical looking, sequentially numbered invoices to give to my accountant and it raises red flags for the by-the-book sticklers at the bureaucratic machine called the tax office - making me ripe for a tax audit.
I worked happily with one of these systems as they allowed me to add information: my invoice number, tax number etc. Another didn't even allow you to print it! But they accepted that I send my invoice as normal, referring to their number and marking the accompanying email as FYI. They paid within 10 days, by wire transfer from the US, which is quite rare, so I was happy.
The bottom line for me is that I MUST be able to give my accountant a copy of a document with my tax info and a consecutive invoice number. I have to say that they are the only two cases I've had so far - all my other clients simply expect to receive my invoice, sometimes to a dedicated email address.
| Bad automation || Aug 12, 2015 |
Many processes that have been computerized are seriously flawed by a missing interface, that one which should exist between the subject matter expert and the computer expert. They lack a common language, and I'm not talking about the languages we - translators - work with. Both may be speaking, say, English, and failing to grasp each other's ideas.
This is noticeable whenever e-learning fails. Both the content developer and the computer specialist may have done some brilliant work, and yet the outcome is lackluster.
Some computer system developers focus so much on security, authentication, data consistency, redundancy, that they fail to check the user interface for any trace of friendliness and practicality.
Some agencies' online translator application systems involve more work to enroll than a translator should expect to be assigned by them in the first couple of years or so.
I've seen a few where the applicant must individually enter the rate for each possible subject area, multiplied by the number of all possible services offered (e.g. translation, reviewing, proofreading, DTP, HTML, etc.) multiplied by the number of language pairs served, multiplied by 2, if service is available in both directions.
A good computerized translation agency system would hold the job specs, use the database to obtain the assigned translator's rate for the service being hired, and the PO should cover all the items required to issue an invoice.
When the translator uses the system to upload their work, this automatically notifies the PM in charge, who will successively click on Delivered? (Y/N) On time? (Y/N) Verified and OK? (Y/N). If all answers are 'Y', the system may issue an invoice, e-mail a PDF copy of it to the translator, and relay the relevant data to its payments subsystem. Exceptions will be handled personally and manually.
I've seen such a system working, can't give names here. I first "met" it working for the agency that developed it, which sells it to other agencies. Later I used it in other agencies that had bought it from them. Among other things, it includes internal translator-PM correspondence features, so personal support is available all the time.
However the most usual translation agency automated online invoicing system is a stonewalled black box. The translator must enter the data on their job done there, and all s/he can do is hope for the best. PMs say they don't have access to that system, nor to the people who do. They'll say they cleared the job for payment, and all the translator can do is wait. Again, I can't mention names here.
| The worst part || Aug 12, 2015 |
I usually send the invoice along with the translated files.
Now, as noted in this thread, there is an increasing trend of agencies insisting on submitting invoices online. Some ask that invoices be submitted at the end of the month. This effectively increases the payment time for the work done during the earlier part of the month.
Another risk is that if you are busy on many projects, you could forget to invoice for some jobs, or, to avoid such disasters, you need to maintain your own separate records - which adds to the clerical burden for us.
The online invoices also make it difficult to track these invoices and pursue non-payments, unless you also maintain parallel invoices in your system, which again increases our clerical burden.
All in all, yes it is convenient for our clients, but for us it is an unnecessary nuisance.
| | LegalTransform
Local time: 01:14
Spanish to English
| Even invoices sent via email sometimes have problems || Aug 12, 2015 |
Like you, I always send each invoice as an attachment to each job (along with my terms and conditions for payment). I will wait no longer than 30 days FROM THE DATE I SEND THE INVOICE (not 30 days from the end of the month or other such nonsense) for payments (unless another arrangement has been made with the client in advance). After two late payments, it is prepayment only. I don't understand people who bill at the end of the month... Why grant all those weeks of free credit? I'm not a bank.
However, a few times, even though they acknowledged receipt of the project, when I was not paid by my deadline, I was told that I did not send the invoice to the correct address / person / accounting department / accounting manager, etc. Of course, you think that they would have told me this or just forwarded the invoice on my behalf. However, this does not reset the due date because they should know that a project was done and therefore money is due to someone. Maybe they get a few freebies this way by people who don't keep good records and forget about the job.
At any rate, I now keep a folder by my desk, so that I can keep track of who and where I am supposed to send invoices. When you work with some companies only once or twice a year, it's easy to forget.
I had to stop working for one agency because they used this strange automated system and I could never figure out how to download files, send files, or anything. I'm sure it is fine if you work with it all the time, but when you only use it every so often, you forget, so I had to ask for help each time and it was this strange combination of keystrokes and mouse clicks that was in no way intuitive. In the end, they would just send the file to me via email and enter the invoice for me.
Balasubramaniam L. wrote:
[Edited at 2015-08-12 18:47 GMT]
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All those invoicing schemes!
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