Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Collecting money from a client who refuses to pay
Thread poster: Gabriela Rivera

Gabriela Rivera  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 02:00
Member (2012)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mar 13, 2016

Hello all,

I have a client who refuses to pay for a project I did for him, and I wish to know the alternatives I have to make him pay since I had never had this type of situation in the past.

Here's the thing: I had been working for this client for years and never had a single problem. A few weeks ago he sent me really long text he needed translated. I did it and that was it. A few days later he asks me to do another batch of the same project. This time, it was about 30 pages he needed urgently (within 8 hours). He told me he had assigned that particular file to another translator and she was not going to finish the file on time, so I did the pages he asked me as fast as I could.
I delivered those pages and then he told me the translator who was working on it had sent him the file but there were another 40 pages of untranslated text, so he asked me to do half for that same day and he said he would assign the other half to someone else. I hadn't had finished those pages when he tells me this third translator wasn't replying his emails and he requested me to finish the rest of the file.

At this point, he had of course already missed the deadline. When I was checking my file, I noticed that the part that was already translated by the first translator was done in Google Translate. Saying it was below acceptable is an understatement. This file had over 100 pages of texts done in Google Translate. I told him the client would not accept the file and he said "it didn't matter". Of course, the file was rejected. My client then tells me the end client refused to pay for the parts the other translator had done, but that they would pay for my work, and he tells me he has to fix the text but he has no money for it. He offered me 150 USD to "proofread" over 54K words, which more than being proofread needed to be re-translated. As a favor to him, and as I way of showing appreciation for our business relationship, I accepted it. I worked like crazy for two days fixing this file. I delivered and that was it.

A few days later, I asked him to send me the PO with the updated word count, and that's when he tells me the client refused to pay for the file since it was delivered a week after the deadline and after all the quality issued they had with the file before I fixed it, they were not going to pay for it, therefore, he was not going to pay me. I told him it wasn't my fault the file was late or that the other translator used Google to translate the file, and that I had invested a ridiculous amount of time on this file even when he was not going to pay me the fair rate. It was a week of work and he refused to pay me, and he even had the courage of telling me that he now refuses to work with me again, like I did something wrong.

I do think I deserve to get the payment for this project since I don't think I should be held liable for something that wasn't my fault. Is there a way to make him pay me? We're talking about a lot of money. Thanks in advance.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:00
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
client refuses to pay Mar 14, 2016

"..for a number of years..."

Even good milk goes sour.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Minh Nguyen  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 15:00
English to Vietnamese
If I were you.. Mar 14, 2016

My story would go like this:

"Here's the thing: .... urgently (within 8 hours) and I asked if he was crazy FULL STOP"


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:00
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Do you have a written agreement? Mar 14, 2016

Aside from the fact that it was crazy to accept this job, and all the additions...

Do you have a PO (purchase order), or an email that lists the work assigned to you, the deadline and the payment?
Do you have his emails accepting your delivered work?

It doesn't matter when and how much HIS client pays him. He is obligated to pay you what you and him agreed on. Your payment from him does not depend on his payment from his client. (Subcontracting 101.)

If you have no PO, it would be more difficult to enforce this, but the email chain may be enough proof.

Where is the client located?

[Edited at 2016-03-14 04:57 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 10:00
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Just some of my thoughts on the matter Mar 14, 2016

https://engrutra.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/non-payers-when-clients-vanish-into-thin-air/

Frankly speaking, I have never been in a situation when a client of mine is telling me he won`t pay.
Usually the most frequent answer is "I will pay you later".

And it doesn`t really matter if you have any kind of a formal PO or an agreement. You have e-mails - and that`s enough.

Do you know some direct clients of this agency? You should, since you have been working with this agency for several years already. Isn`t it a lovely chance to tell the agency you will share this experience with some of its direct clients, for instance? They will surely lose some of them (if they treat translators like this, they can`t provide quality in the first place).

You can also contact this direct client in question, and it may happen that they will pay you the amount. Why not?
Most probably, you agency asked much more money from them.

P.S. Even if you don`t get the money eventually (which I doubt), consider this situation a lesson to learn.



[Edited at 2016-03-14 08:07 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Dani Karuniawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 15:00
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Extreme measure Mar 14, 2016

I said to my client that I reserved the right to break the NDA and to publish any document on my website, etc, if my client breaks the agreement first.
Loss-loss solution is the ultimate measure. Never do this if you still have a better and cheaper way, because this extreme measure is costly.

[Edited at 2016-03-14 08:25 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:00
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
As you say, that's potentially a very costly route Mar 14, 2016

Dani Karuniawan wrote:
I said to my client that I reserved the right to break the NDA and to publish any document on my website, etc, if my client breaks the agreement first.

We all have different views, but publishing a client's possibly confidential documents on the net would severely damage a translator reputation and their future prospects for work.

"Yeah, I signed an NDA, but now I'm in a disagreement with the client so I'm just gonna spray their files all over the internet."

If that's how you view an NDA, what client would ever trust you again?

The NDA is a totally separate contract to your payment arrangements. If an agency or client fails to pay, that doesn't give you the tit-for-tat legal right to break your non-disclosure agreement.

Even if we accept (I personally don't) that there's a moral argument for breaking the NDA, if you live in a country where the rule of law holds, there's the prospect of having a breach of contract lawsuit brought against you.

Really, I wouldn't advise anybody to go there. It could be a career-ending move.

Regards
Dan


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Dani Karuniawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 15:00
English to Indonesian
+ ...
I deserve the right to break NDA IF the client breaks the agreement first Mar 14, 2016

Hi Dan, I told you once again.

I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BREAK THE NDA IF THE CLIENT BREAKS THE AGREEMENT FIRST.

I treasure good clients only.

My longest recurrent clients have been with me since 2009 and 2010 and two clients have been with me for 3 years.

As long as they are good clients, I don't need to use my right. You know, breaking the NDA is my right IF my client breaks the agreement FIRST.

Note: Please pay attention on word "IF" (conditional term).

[Edited at 2016-03-14 09:07 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:00
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Have you invoiced the client yet? Mar 14, 2016

Firstly, let me add my voice to Dan's. Just because your client is behaving in a reprehensible fashion doesn't mean you should go the same route. If anything, when I have disputes I tend to get more polite, more formal, more correct. If it goes to court (as it once did) then they'll find me whiter than white, and the client totally in the wrong. And an NDA cannot be linked to other contracts and bargained over.

In this case, have you even invoiced him? You must do that straight away. After that, continue to answer his emails but refuse to negotiate, just stick to "You asked for work; I did it; you need to pay for it". If the due date arrives with no payment, then you need to escalate as normal. Send reminders, polite at first then increasingly formal and ending with the final demand. Google that for an idea of wording. Send that on paper, by registered mail, and get proof of delivery. After that what you do next depends on the amount of the debt, the client's financial status and the country or countries involved. It will normally involve either the courts or a debt recovery company.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sandra& Kenneth  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 10:00
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
My gut feeling... Mar 14, 2016

You accepted more than you could manage, "working like crazy", probably without reviewing, while being tired and over longish periods of time, including redoing 54K of google translate material in two days.

The outcome may not have been that great.

You knew the customer would not pay, because the work was substandard and late, yet you agreed to do some more work on this job, which by now, was a lost cause.

The agency was unprofessional, employing untested translators for large jobs and relying basically on one person for the entire show. My guess is that they will not pay you out of their own pocket.

I have no idea of your chances to recover your money in court if they raise quality issues.

Try to get as much as you can out of them and NEVER work on these terms again.

Good luck!

Sandra


N.B. Of course he doesn't want to work with you any more! It must be pretty obvious that YOU will not work with HIM any more, and that's a good way to avoid paying you.
He will deny everything.



[Edited at 2016-03-14 12:04 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:00
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
You're advocating breaking the law Mar 14, 2016

Dani Karuniawan wrote:
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BREAK THE NDA IF THE CLIENT BREAKS THE AGREEMENT FIRST.

Dani, using capitals does not make your argument stronger.

There is no "If" here. You are talking about breaching the NDA. A client that does not pay you is not infringing the NDA; it is failing to honor the contract it made for a specific job. Those are two separate pieces of paper. If the contract [EDIT: i.e. NDA] is valid you have no legal right to unilaterally breach it, whatever your personal feelings.

If you're based in Indonesia - a country ranked 83rd in the world for civil justice in the 2015 WJP Rule of Law Index - then maybe you feel safely beyond the legal reach of most clients and immune to prosecution.

However, in places where the rule of law is strong - the US, most of Europe, the UK - if a translator were to do what you advocated they could easily end up in court. Does anybody here want to put themselves at risk of defending an open-and-shut case of breach of contract for the NDA, with potentially enormous damages? No, thought not.

OP: do not follow or even hint at using Dani's suggested approach of threatening to disclose confidential client information. It would put you at legal risk and make you look impossible to trust.

Regards
Dan


[Edited at 2016-03-14 12:00 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:00
German to English
additional suggestion Mar 14, 2016

I agree with Sheila that you need to send the outsourcer an invoice that reflects the amount due based on any agreements that you made with them.

I would not signal any willingness to compromise on the amount due, but I would signal willingness to allow them to break up the amount due into a reasonable number of payments spread out over a reasonable amount of time - on the condition that they make all of those payments in a timely manner (if they miss a payment, then everything would become due and I would become pretty aggressive pretty quickly).

If the outsourcer is an individual or small-time agency, scraping the missing money together may be a genunine problem for them, and this is also a way to actively try to de-escalate the situation without actually losing anything. Let them propose the terms and then accept them or make a counter-proposal.

I can't imagine that your client would have a chance in court. Obvioulsy, everything depends on the legal situation in the relevant jurisdiction, but they can't keep ordering more work from you - in the context of a long-standing business relationship and without voicing any concerns about the quality or timeliness of your work - and then suddenly convince a court that it is your fault that the client did not pay. They ordered a service from you and you provided it - if your description of the situation is more or less accurate, they would have a lot of convincing to do in order to avoid paying you for it.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 09:00
German to Swedish
+ ...
How about Mar 14, 2016

Dan Lucas wrote:

Dani, using capitals does not make your argument stronger.



HOW ABOUT IF I USE CAPITALS, BOLD, UNDERLINE AND LOTS OF EXCLAMATION MARKS???!!??


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:00
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Better Mar 14, 2016

Joakim Braun wrote:
Dan Lucas wrote:
Dani, using capitals does not make your argument stronger.

HOW ABOUT IF I USE CAPITALS, BOLD, UNDERLINE AND LOTS OF EXCLAMATION MARKS???!!??

Exclamation marks are better, but I'd need three in a row to find them really convincing.

Dan


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Darmali  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 15:00
Member (2009)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Revenge will never solve the problem Mar 14, 2016

I agree with Sheila, send the client an invoice, keep your email correspondence, and persist, do not give up. Sometimes it takes quite a long time (once it took me three months after the agreed due date to get paid).

@Dan Lucas. I feel offended by your comment about Indonesia. I am Indonesian and I live and work in Indonesia, but most of us, and certainly most translators are law abiding citizens, who do not break laws to solve a problem. I agree with you that breaking the NDA is unacceptable, anywhere in the world.

@ Dani
You and people like you (among others) give our country a bad name. You also jeopardize your reputation, by just suggesting that you are willing to break an agreement that you have signed (for whatever reason). (you probably don't care at all).

Angela


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Collecting money from a client who refuses to pay

Advanced search







Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »
TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search