Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Unpaid invoice
Thread poster: Akiko A

Akiko A
Canada
Local time: 13:19
Member (2013)
English to Japanese
Jun 12, 2016

Hi there,

I need your advice on how I can take action for the invoice overdue more than 6 months.

The client is in California, USA. They are an end client, mobile app startup, not a translation service agency. I sent multiple emails to notify the overdue payment but nothing heard from them.

What is the best way to have further action? I'm located in Canada.

Any input is appreciated!

Thanks,

Akiko


 

Lennart Luhtaru  Identity Verified
United States
Member
English to Estonian
+ ...
Small claims court if under 10K Jun 12, 2016

http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-smallclaims.htm

In US you can almost always sue a business (not a private individual) in your state (i.e. you don't have to sue in their state). So, if you're close to border, maybe this will work for you. If not, then you will need to find a state which doesn't require you to be present (again, as the client is a business, you can probably have your pick) and is OK with only a lawyer representing you in small claims.

Actually, this is a better list with links to each state http://www.freeadvice.com/resources/smallclaimscourts.htm


[Edited at 2016-06-12 04:45 GMT]


 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:19
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Unpaid invoice Jun 12, 2016

Take them to Small Claims Court.
Charge:
(1) The original invoice
(2) Late fees/interest
(3) Round-trip airfare between Canada and San Francisco
(4) Hotel charges for two nights
(5) Incidental charges: (1) surface transportation (round-trip by taxi between airport and hotel); (2) meals
(6) The cost of filing the claim itself

I think when they see the total charges claimed they will get religion.

Good luck and please let proz.com readers what happens!


 

witek39
Local time: 22:19
English to Polish
how to recover Jun 12, 2016

Once a bank could not recover a credit from Mr Brown.
They tried many times, they sent many reminders, all in vain.
Finally, a young bank trainee was instructed to fix that problem.
He wrote a letter like this:

How do you do Mr Brown,
Some pay when due.
Some pay when overdue.
Some never do.
And how do you do, Mr Brown?

The credit was paid back after a few days.

This will not solve your problem but I hope this will make you smile.


[Edited at 2016-06-12 07:36 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:19
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Is that allowed? Jun 12, 2016

Michael Newton wrote:

Take them to Small Claims Court.
Charge:
(1) The original invoice
(2) Late fees/interest
(3) Round-trip airfare between Canada and San Francisco
(4) Hotel charges for two nights
(5) Incidental charges: (1) surface transportation (round-trip by taxi between airport and hotel); (2) meals
(6) The cost of filing the claim itself

1, 2 & 6 are certainly reasonable, maybe 5. I personally would say all the others should be acceptable, but somehow I doubt they are. But when I sued in France I didn't have to go anywhere, so it was quite different.

@OP: Do you have any idea why they haven't paid e.g. any excuses? Are you sure the company is still operating? There's no point doing much if they are insolvent as even the courts can rarely collect money for "little people" in those circumstances. If they're solvent, start seriously escalating your claim with emails (to more than one address), phone calls, website messages... Send a paper final demand written in legalese to their registered address. Maybe pay a lawyer to send another on official, heavyweight legal paper - that shows you mean business. Meanwhile, perhaps after warning them, alert others to the dangers on the BB here and on similar sites, and on any associations they belong to. The courts and debt recovery companies are a last resort.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 22:19
German to Serbian
+ ...
Dealing with direct clients. Jun 12, 2016

Have you received any PO? When dealing with direct clients, a contract should be involved, also you will commonly ask for a retainer or even full payment ahead (with possibility of refund in case you can't deliver the project for whatever reason).

"Small startup" doesn't sound promising, being 6 months late either. Are you sure they are completely legitimate?


 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:19
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Unpaid invoice Jun 12, 2016

All charges related to appearing in court to plead a case in small claims court (round-trip airfare and hotel) are within reason. In fact, it is these charges that push the non-payer toward fulfilling their obligation to pay. This has worked for me.

 

Akiko A
Canada
Local time: 13:19
Member (2013)
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you everyone responded to this post for sharing your ideas Jun 12, 2016

As Lingua 5B said, small startup doesn't sound promising. And it's a shame to admit, I didn't get PO nor service contract. I only keep email correspondences (including that my quote is approved), invoice, and payment notifications.

I didn't really doubt about this client until the payment is in delay but taking close look at the first email I received via Proz, she is not a registered Proz user and IP address is Argentina (even the startup is located in US). In the first email, she said she is a developer to work with the startup - she uses @outlook.com address. For my payment followups, she made no excuse. Only she said was she will followup admin and let me know estimated payment date, and this is the last message from her.

Looking up the information of the startup itself, they have very poor reviews on Glassdoor (a website that employee evaluates employer) and some of them is about non-payment salary and CEO (different from the developer) is a lier. I know they are still operating business as they updating their twitter.

As Sheila advised me, I'm thinking to give escalating messages through other media and lines with the help of the link which Lennart provided me. Now I'm questioning that the defendant will be the developer or the company? Now I do understand the importance of having agreement/contract, but I will try as much as I can.

Thank you,

Akiko


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:19
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Amount due? Are they using your translation? Jun 13, 2016

Can you check whether they are using your translation? On their website, or in their product? You should inform them that you own the translation until they pay for it, so they have no rights to use it.
You could also call on the phone, if they are not responding to emails.
I am not sure how much money is at stake, but sometimes the amount does not worth the hassle.


 

Akiko A
Canada
Local time: 13:19
Member (2013)
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Katalin for your comment. Jun 13, 2016

The amount due is about 120 USD. I tried to find my translation is up online, but since it's for mobile app and I don't have proper device to play (Android for Googlr Play), I couldn't find it. But what I found out right there is there is other Japanese translation done by someone. I was thinking it might be helpful if I managed to reach out this translator. Thank you for bringing up another idea Katalin!

 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member because it was not in line with site rule

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:19
Member (2008)
French to English
Collecting in the US Jul 14, 2016

You can find out their business registration and who the registered officer is at kepler.sos.ca.gov

I have found it useful to point out to US based non-payers that use of a translation that has not been paid for is copyright infringement under the federal copyright law (see here and here) and may even be a criminal offense (see here). I told one non-paying client that I might have to report their non-payment and use of the translation to the Economic Crimes Unit of the police, and that prompted immediate payment.

Intriguing about being able to sue a client in a distant state from a nearby state - most of Canada is within driving distance of the US, so if it's not necessary to fly to California it would make it a lot easier.

[Edited at 2016-07-14 02:32 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-07-14 12:19 GMT]


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:19
German to English
two more thoughts Jul 14, 2016

Two more thoughts:
An e-mail that your quote has been approved is a PO. Unless they want to somehow try to argue that you forged the e-mail or the e-mail does not contain key information about the price, etc., there should be no problem there.

The question of who ordered your services is very important: If the PO e-mail is from the developer and you have no confirmation directly from the company and the business wants to claim that it did not authorize her to order a translation from you, then I would assume that she is the only person you can reasonably sue.

Other than that, I agree with everyone else: pick up the phone and escalate the situation while reminding them that it is only about USD 120 at this point and will be substantially more later.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:19
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
How long you do plan to spend on this? Jul 14, 2016

Akiko A wrote:
The amount due is about 120 USD.

Getting paid what you are owed is, for many of us, a matter of pride as well as a matter of economics. The key issue here is how much time you devote to this.

I charge my clients (say) $40 to $50 an hour. If I were to spend more than two or three hours on a problem like this then I would have used up $120 to $150 of my time. For me it wouldn't be worth it.

How much time do you plan to spend to spend to get this money back? Five hours? Ten? Twenty? Professional pride is important, but at some point one has to consider the return one can expect (a maximum of $120 plus alpha in your case) on the investment you make (many hours spent pursuing this claim, plus the stress it involves).

As you acknowledge, you did the wrong thing in not getting a PO. Even more important in my opinion is that you chose to work for a client with no track record. Looked at from this perspective you have learned an unpleasant but valuable lesson in business, and it has cost you $120.

My advice would be not to throw good money after bad. 悔しいのはわかりますが、 you should cut your losses and move on.

Regards
Dan


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:19
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Let's not pass the blame to the victim Jul 14, 2016

Dan Lucas wrote:
My advice would be not to throw good money after bad.

I would agree that there must be a cutoff point where you have to accept non-payment and move on. But that surely can't come simply because the client hasn't paid and isn't answering emails? That's tantamount to saying "If you don't pay by the due date I'll send a couple of reminders but after that you can consider my work a gift." icon_frown.gif
As you acknowledge, you did the wrong thing in not getting a PO. Even more important in my opinion is that you chose to work for a client with no track record. Looked at from this perspective you have learned an unpleasant but valuable lesson in business, and it has cost you $120.

I personally find it quite offensive to hear the blame being put on the shoulders of a translator who's just trying to earn a living. It may be a totally different context but many victims of sexual abuse find out that it's all too easy for society to shift the blame to them (not that I'm in any way suggesting you would have any sympathy with that shift, Dan).

An email stating all the things that would be stated on a PO, followed by any evidence at all of the client having accepted those terms, explicitly or even implicitly by continuing the relationship without cancelling the job, is as good as a PO in a court of law in any country I know of.

If the OP had ignored non-payment warnings from fellow translators, then that would be different. If we all refuse work from clients with no track record, how are startups ever to get one, or ever grow their businesses abroad? Clients with no history are as honest as those with a track record - in other words, the majority will be basically honest and prepared to pay for services rendered. The fact that a small number are dishonest is not the fault of the service provider. Nor does it alter the unalienable right of a service provider to be paid for their labour.

Sorry, Dan, I don't mean to rant at you personallyicon_smile.gif, but I do think it's important not to give the impression that a freelancer will do nothing to fight for payment as long as the sum due is relatively small.


 
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 »

Unpaid invoice

Advanced search







SDL Trados Studio 2019 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has evolved to bring translators a brand new experience. Designed with user experience at its core, Studio 2019 transforms how new users get up and running, helps experienced users make the most of the powerful features, ensures new

More info »
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 »



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