Non-paying client
Thread poster: SuzyKeller

SuzyKeller  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:20
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
Sep 23, 2015

Hello all,

I am new to the translation business (6 months now) and recently have encountered my first non-paying client. My invoice is now 3 weeks due and I have already sent 3 polite reminders to their accounting department, all being unanswered.

I have contacted my accounting company which also offers legal services. They told me they could take the mediation over, only thing is that their lawyer is Spanish (as I am based in Spain) and don't speak English and the client is based in UK (although they have a Spanish subsidiary).

What would you do in that situation?

Many thanks and have a nice day!

Suzy


 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:20
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
3 weeks overdue does not mean non paying Sep 23, 2015

Hi Suzy,

I also like customers who pay in time but think sending 3 polite reminders for an invoice which is only overdue 3 weeks is a bit much.

Maybe you need a bit more patience as well?

What payment delays have you agreed about? 10 days, 30, 45...? Is it a direct customer or an agency?

Maybe this customer pays all furnishers the same day? How is he organised? Do you know anything about that?


 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
Blue board entry Sep 23, 2015

Dear Suzy
Was it a translation agency?
In this case
You should write a review on the
Blue Board.
Best regards
David

[Modifié le 2015-09-23 12:42 GMT]


 

Marius Reika  Identity Verified
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
patience Sep 23, 2015

Andrea Halbritter wrote:

Hi Suzy,

I also like customers who pay in time but think sending 3 polite reminders for an invoice which is only overdue 3 weeks is a bit much.

Maybe you need a bit more patience as well?


Patience? I disagree. I wonder what would an agency do if a translation was overdue three weeks (three hours late and they would be at your doorstep) and the translator failed to reply to the inquiries.


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 09:20
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Fair treatment Sep 23, 2015

Marius Reika wrote:

Patience? I disagree. I wonder what would an agency do if a translation was overdue three weeks (three hours late and they would be at your doorstep) and the translator failed to reply to the inquiries.


I support this opinion. When translators maintain strict delivery time, agencies/customers need to keep their due date as well.

Soonthon L.


 

Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Tactics Sep 23, 2015

...which I fear may not be of any use in this case, since no reply normally indicates no intention to pay.

My first late paying communication is always voiced in terms of a polite reminder.

My next approach is normally to ask them to state a firm date when the payment is going to made.

If they reply and give one, even if it is not within the originally agreed terms of payment, simply say that you look forward to receiving the payment on that date. Don't be tempted to get into an argument about "those weren't our terms etc" - unless of course the amount involved is very large and the date very distant.

Then, if and when you do get paid, you can decide whether or not to have a rant at them about not meeting agreed terms. If you never want to work with them again, this may be a way of offloading some stress! But if you do fancy working with them again, when they next approach you, restate your terms very firmly, point out their previous miscreant behaviour, or suggest they pay you more etc etc!


 

Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 05:20
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
I am shocked Sep 23, 2015

Andrea Halbritter wrote:

Hi Suzy,

I also like customers who pay in time but think sending 3 polite reminders for an invoice which is only overdue 3 weeks is a bit much.

Maybe you need a bit more patience as well?



Well, 3 WEEKS is a bit too much, I believe.
The only exception I accept is that clients can pay before the deadline.


 

TechStyle  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:20
It's good to talk? Sep 23, 2015

...My invoice is now 3 weeks due and I have already sent 3 polite reminders to their accounting department, all being unanswered.

I have contacted my accounting company which also offers legal services. They told me they could take the mediation over, only thing is that their lawyer is Spanish (as I am based in Spain) and don't speak English and the client is based in UK (although they have a Spanish subsidiary).


Are the reminders email, or posted? Remember it's all too easy for email to get filtered out, even by accident: a few years ago, on a large project, one of my co-workers somehow blocked email from another, and didn't even know he'd done it until he wondered where something important had gone. To get no answer at all, "it never arrived" seems a high probability to me - or indeed their reply to you went the same way?

Personally, my next step would be to phone them up. With a large company, asking Accounts "what has happened to invoice number 830434?" should be something they can easily answer: maybe there is some internal hold-up (does the invoice need to be approved by somebody?) or there was some problem (they need your VAT number, or a purchase order number, or ...) - it's much harder for them to ignore you if you phone them!

Depending on the answer you get - and phoning should get you an answer of some sort, even if it is "no, we're not going to pay because ..." - you might need some debt recovery legal advice. You mention they're UK - which bit? (Remember, Scotland has a different legal system and different courts to England, so most lawyers are only qualified to work in one or the other.)


 

SuzyKeller  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:20
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Sep 23, 2015

Dear all,

Thanks for your replies!

This is an agency based in England. One of my former colleagues works as a PM in their Spanish agency.

In my first month as a freelance translator, she recommended me and I did one large project for the company. However, after I suscribed to Proz, I noticed they had very bad comments lately. A friend of mine even used to work as a freelance in their Spanish office, she quit and they still owe her a large amount of money so basically they even have issues paying their in-house linguists!

I did contact the vendor manager and let her know that I received no answer from their accounting department (I wanted to make sure they actually did receive my emails) who kindly answered that she will check with the accounting department. So far, no news.

All of my reminders were made by email but I intend to call them and then to send a formal letter although I am not sure if this will work. I will definitely add a comment on their Blue Board too. I could perfectly understand if an agency has some accounting issues but the least would be to answer my emails...

This is actually the very first time it occurs in 6 months so I am not being negative, just hope it will get resolved soonicon_smile.gif

Thanks to all of you for your help!

Suzy


 

Jacqueline White
Austria
Local time: 04:20
Hungarian to English
+ ...
Send reminder by recorded delivery or fax Sep 23, 2015

Personally I would send a final reminder by recorded delivery or fax, saying if it is not paid within, say, 15 days, you will take legal steps to collect the debt. (If they don't pay, you can launch a small claims procedure, for example).

I agree with making a BB entry to warn other translators, but be aware that this may antagonise the company (which may not necessarily be helpful in your own situation).


 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:20
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
Three weeks is much Sep 23, 2015

I agree that 3 weeks is too much, but I would not have done 3 reminders in the first three weeks.

 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:20
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
give them a call, Sep 24, 2015

talk to accounting...

tell them you will have to make an entry on the blueboard, and all other non-payment boards for translators (name & shame).. if they don't pay

Usually small invoices willbe paid immediately in that case..

Still nothing - - tell then (or not !) you will need to contact the end client and have them removed the text from their website or they need to destroy al copies of the text, since it has not been paid and the copyright is with you still (only after the translator is paid the copyright is transferred) -- now they are basically dealing with e fenced copy of stolen property... (this may be legally totally inacurate, but it scares the sh*t out of them)

that will usually sort things out rather quickly.... (turning it down to a administrative mishap) -- don't expect to work for this client again however....

otherwise -- this is your first lesson in translation world - ALWAYS check the client before accepting work...

Ed


 

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:20
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Blue Board Sep 24, 2015

With a new customer I always hit the Blue Board first. The key to everything is to have good clients.

If they have a good rating with many reviews I will usually take the risk and do the work.

If they have a bad rating I will paste in the link in my reply and ask for full payment up front.

I usually don't send a friendly reminder until payment is more than 4 weeks past due.


 


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