Getting Paid by Companies with Bad Payment Reputations.
Thread poster: Jared Valle

Jared Valle  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:41
Korean to English
Nov 21, 2015

I almost accepted a job from a client that has horrible reviews on the ProZ Blueboard.

Luckily, one of my colleagues informed me of their history in delaying payments and, in some cases, refusal to pay all together.

After studying more into business and accounting, I think I've found a good way to deal with these kinds of clients.

If the company is found to have a bad reputation in payments (like the one I'm negotiating with now), it's possible that you could ask them to pay in advance. If they agree to pay in advance, you can keep the money in a separate [Unearned Services] account for your business which will prevent them from delaying payments from you.

This may put them in a hard situation, especially if they're a small business or don't get paid until THEY submit the product to their client. If you do this and they cancel the project, you'll have to calculate and refund them the remaining balance in the [Unearned Services] account, but it's better than not getting paid at all, right?


In the end, they only have themselves to blame for violating the remuneration agreement and delaying payments to their contract translators.


If they accept, it's a win for you.
If they don't accept, who cares? Why risk working for a disreputable company that may not pay you in the end?

Anyone else have experience doing this?


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Jan Truper
Germany
Local time: 23:41
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
Unlikely Nov 21, 2015

I have asked for advance payment from three companies so far, because they failed to comply with payment terms on previous jobs (i.e., they paid late).

I never heard from them again, which is probably a good thing.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:41
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Advance payment does happen sometimes Nov 21, 2015

Actually, even if they are reluctant at first, some companies end up paying part of the job in advance if they really need and value your services. Whenever I have doubts about the reliability of a company and they do NOT pay at least 1/3 of the job beforehand, I am really glad not to work for them. I tend to believe that old saying of 'Better safe than sorry.'

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:41
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I suppose it depends on why they pay late Nov 21, 2015

It could be a good idea if they've going through a temporary cash-flow crisis. However, they're unlikely to be able to accept then.

Would I do it with a chronc bad payer? No way. If they have so little respect for their service suppliers, late payment is bound to be just one of the problems you'll face. It's likely that they will refuse to pass on legitimate queries to the end clients or they could alter the deadline, discover an updated source file after you've started work, ask for a glossary to be provided ... Any manner of things could make the collaboration an unhappy experience. And if the job does turn out to be more expensive than your initial quote (due to changes in the job specification), you simply are not going to see any additional payment.

Even if all goes well, where do you go from there? A long-term business relationship has to work on the basis of some mutual trust. You can't continue to ask for advance payment for every job, surely?


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Paulinho Fonseca  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:41
Member (2011)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
If the intention is no paying or delaying.... Nov 21, 2015

they will end up refusing to go into advance payment negotiations.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 22:41
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Me too... Nov 21, 2015

Paulinho Fonseca wrote:

they will end up refusing to go into advance payment negotiations.


... I have serious doubts that a bad or a late payer would ever agree to something like this. My experience is that only good payers agree on advanced payment (for long projects, for example).


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Elif Baykara  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 00:41
Member (2015)
German to Turkish
+ ...
Yes, but why? Nov 21, 2015

I agree that this is a feasible way of getting paid for the work you have done. But this is your work and it is the normal way round. You accept a job, you translate and deliver on time, and you get paid.

In case of a new client, your suggestion would work and make you feel safer.

But for a client who made a habit of not paying, I would think differently. Such freeloaders should not be in the business, at least not on my range. Selling translations to them would make them continue their "business". I believe that none of us needs such "clients", and that's because they are not "clients".





[Edited at 2015-11-21 13:41 GMT]


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:41
German to English
Why bother? Nov 21, 2015

Certainty of payment is a factor in selecting customers.
There are lots of good agencies who pay (more or less) on time, offer acceptable rates and are good to work with. By negotiating with, and eventually taking work from, cockroaches, you're enabling them to stay in business. Every minute you spend haggling with customers like that is time better spent finding other reliable clients.

You're really better off going with a reliable customer who pays a **somewhat** lower rate than taking a chance with a known bad payer, despite the promise of a partial payment in advance.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:41
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Why work with them? Nov 21, 2015

When an agency has a record of paying late or not at all, then why would anybody want to work with them?

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:41
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I agree Nov 21, 2015

Thayenga wrote:

When an agency has a record of paying late or not at all, then why would anybody want to work with them?


I agree. If you know someone probably won't pay you, why on earth would you work for them? Is this some sort of masochism?


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:41
French to English
Not only but also Nov 21, 2015

Imagine this firm owes you money, and has done for quite a while.

Then you find out it has actually being paying people in advance. For work not even started yet. And you're siting there like a chump, hoping to be paid for work you delivered months ago. How would you feel about that?

Exactly.

And that's why anyone who recommends "oh, just ask for payment in advance" from a client with a known and established history of non-payment is only one ethical notch above the actual non-payer, in my not particularly humble opinion.
Facilitating the continued "business" operation of these scumbags is not to be countenanced (as later posters have also indicated).

I confess, as an experiment, I have asked for advance payment from known scumbags who have contacted me. I more or less said, "Look, the world knows you're scum, so I must ask for payment in advance". As with Jan, answer came there none.


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Jared Valle  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:41
Korean to English
TOPIC STARTER
Regarding the company. Dec 9, 2015

So the company I was talking about in the original post agreed to pay 30% up front, which in my opinion, is a pretty good start.

I also told them I'd give them a good review on the Blue Board if they follow up their final payment on time (incentive for them to pay on time).

Although it's unethical for the company to be delinquent in their payments to begin with, I think offering a partial prepayment option and a good review for fulfilling their end of the bargain is a pretty good incentive for them.

I mean, seriously, if they don't step up their game and get good translators, they're the ones that are going to lose good translators AND future clients. It's especially important when they have a deadline and a lack of translators.

It's almost feels like I'm backing them into a corner, but they're the ones that put themselves in that position, not me.

Anyway, I'm happy with the direction things are going.

Hopefully this company will change their culture and start paying their freelancers on time!


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Jared Valle  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:41
Korean to English
TOPIC STARTER
Very true... Dec 9, 2015

Kevin Fulton wrote:

Certainty of payment is a factor in selecting customers.
There are lots of good agencies who pay (more or less) on time, offer acceptable rates and are good to work with. By negotiating with, and eventually taking work from, cockroaches, you're enabling them to stay in business. Every minute you spend haggling with customers like that is time better spent finding other reliable clients.

You're really better off going with a reliable customer who pays a **somewhat** lower rate than taking a chance with a known bad payer, despite the promise of a partial payment in advance.


That is so true.

This particular company had good reviews up until 2012 and then something in their company culture changed and everything went downhill from there.

It really pains me to see a client who is practically begging for help because they're so desperate, but then what you say is completely true. I decided to give them a chance solely based on the fact they actually *agreed* to prepay 30%.

This is literally the last chance I give them to change. The Director of the company has been telling me they're trying to change their reputation... We'll see if any of their words have weight to them.

At least I can see they've been *paying* their translators.
They've just been consistently late for the past few years (or so it seems).


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Jared Valle  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:41
Korean to English
TOPIC STARTER
Bad company culture... Dec 9, 2015

Charlie Bavington wrote:

Imagine this firm owes you money, and has done for quite a while.

Then you find out it has actually being paying people in advance. For work not even started yet. And you're siting there like a chump, hoping to be paid for work you delivered months ago. How would you feel about that?

Exactly.

And that's why anyone who recommends "oh, just ask for payment in advance" from a client with a known and established history of non-payment is only one ethical notch above the actual non-payer, in my not particularly humble opinion.
Facilitating the continued "business" operation of these scumbags is not to be countenanced (as later posters have also indicated).

I confess, as an experiment, I have asked for advance payment from known scumbags who have contacted me. I more or less said, "Look, the world knows you're scum, so I must ask for payment in advance". As with Jan, answer came there none.


I completely agree with your sentiment.

When I turned them down, they decided to prepay at 30%, then I turned them down again, but they kept begging. Being the kindhearted person I am, I felt bad for them and accepted under the pretense that the director was seriously trying to change their image and turn things around with their company's culture.

If I didn't hear sincerely in their plea, I would have completely declined the job without a 100% prepayment.
Also, if I see no improvement in their culture and payment punctuality, I will never work with them again and recommend the same to my fellow translators.


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