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Non-paying European agency
Thread poster: James Greenfield

James Greenfield  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:58
French to English
+ ...
Aug 12, 2016

Hi,

A Spanish agency is late paying me for an invoice. I am very concerned as it is a large sum and having just read their blueboard record they have a history of paying invoices late. One translator waited a year to get paid. I'm kicking myself for not having read their blueboard record before taking on any work. That is my standard procedure but it had been a lean month and I guess I was just glad for work.

So, what should I do, has anyone been in a similar situation with a European agency? With a non-paying UK client I threatened legal action and was eventually paid, albeit several months late. Is it possible to use a debt collection agency for European clients?

The agency is not responding to my emails or telephone calls, which is worrying, any advice is much appreciated.

Thanks,

James


 

Roni_S  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 19:58
Slovak to English
European Payment Order Aug 12, 2016

Have you looked into the European Order for Payment?

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=URISERV:l16023

Good luck! Roni


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:58
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Confused Aug 12, 2016

James Greenfield wrote:

Hi,

A Spanish agency is late paying me for an invoice. I am very concerned as it is a large sum and having just read their blueboard record they have a history of paying invoices late. One translator waited a year to get paid. I'm kicking myself for not having read their blueboard record before taking on any work. That is my standard procedure but it had been a lean month and I guess I was just glad for work.

So, what should I do, has anyone been in a similar situation with a European agency? With a non-paying UK client I threatened legal action and was eventually paid, albeit several months late. Is it possible to use a debt collection agency for European clients?

The agency is not responding to my emails or telephone calls, which is worrying, any advice is much appreciated.

Thanks,

James


At first I was confused by your terminology since the UK is itself in Europe. At first I thought you must be in the US, until I read on. That would have been problematic but since you are in Europe, that makes things easier.

To recoup the money owed to you, you can use any EU debt collection agency, preferably though not necessarily one based in Spain, and even better if it's in the same city as the non-payer. But since these agencies all work across the whole of the EU, you could also use a UK agency (which you won't be able to do post-Brexit). In my experience (on several occasions) if you set out in detail to the non-payer all the things that may happen, in an escalating sequence that begins with a polite letter and ends with bailiffs coming to take away their office equipment, I have always found that they pay up straight away. But you have to mean it.

Many debt collection agencies have very informative websites that describe how the process works. There have been three or four times when I have simply given a non-payer a bad BlueBoard rating and then politely advised them of what I have done, adding that without further notice, unless they pay in full within (say) 7 calendar days, other action may follow *without further notice*. In the meantime I kindly suggest to them that they might like to consider (a link to the website of the debt recovery agency).

This has always worked. Nobody has *EVER* succeeded in not paying me, although some have tried.

But as I say: you have to mean it. You ARE going to get paid.

[Edited at 2016-08-12 15:20 GMT]

P.S. for example, you might invite them to one of these websites:

http://www.ijcreditor.es
http://www.cobrosdirectos.com/esp/index.html
http://www.spaindebtcollectors.com/home/

They may say to themselves: "this is a long process and he doesn't really mean it, for a relatively small amount of money" but on the other hand, what if they don't pay up and 7 days later they get a phone call from the debt collection agency?


[Edited at 2016-08-12 15:31 GMT]


 

James Greenfield  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:58
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Aug 12, 2016

Hi Tom,

Thanks very much for the advice, that sounds like a sensible plan. Sorry for the confusion, I'm not thinking clearly due to this annoying situation, It's an agency in Spain.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:58
Member (2008)
Italian to English
See note Aug 12, 2016

James Greenfield wrote:

Hi Tom,

Thanks very much for the advice, that sounds like a sensible plan. Sorry for the confusion, I'm not thinking clearly due to this annoying situation, It's an agency in Spain.


See the note I added above- and good luck!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Some first steps Aug 12, 2016

There's no point throwing good money after bad if they've filed for bankruptcy so check that out first and register your claim in that case (not that you're likely to get paidicon_frown.gif). I think Spain's company register is online - there's a Wikipedia that gives links to many. You'll probably have to pay a bit for the financial info.

Also, it's best to send a final demand by registered mail and get evidence of delivery returned to you. That provides evidence for a court case.

If they're solvent then the European payment order might be a great tool. You complete all the details online in a choice of languages. Then you can save them as a PDF. I did that once and them emailed the PDF to my client, giving the date when I would submit it to the courts. I got paid immediately.

Another option is to get a lawyer to send a final demand. It doesn't usually cost too much. As Tom says, it's all about looking deadly serious about getting paid. No need to get nasty. Just show you WILL insist on your right to payment. They normally get the message and give in.

Debt recovery is a valid option but of course you'll only get about 70% of what's due, at best. It can be very fast though so good if you think the client is in danger of going under.


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:58
French to English
Stages Aug 12, 2016

You had some helpful practical advice with which I concur.
Whatever you decide to do, one step you cannot ignore is the recorded/registered delivery setting out the key features of your agreement :
- you were asked on ... (date) to translate X (name of document)
- you accepted on... etc.
- you supplied the work on ... (date)
- the client acknowledged receipt of the work on... (date) by mail/telehone/ etc.
- it was agreed on ...(date) etc. that you would be paid XXX (amount) by (date) via (means of payment)
- It is now X days beyond the due date
- according to the term of your agreement, that means are now going to charge interest at a rate of XXX per day until final settlement of the outstanding sums

You may also suggest they pay in three instalments for example, but making it clear that they have to pay one third by return and that interest will be charged on the outstanding amount.

At the end of this letter, you should include a sentence to the effect that if payment has not been made within one week of receipt of this (recorded/registerd) delivery, you will take formal steps for recovery. Any costs incurred will be added to the amount outstanding.

Then you include copies of all necessary documents : the agreement, proof of the order, - supply, the invoice, etc.

I have managed to get a judgment debt entered on two occasions, and in one of those instances, I did actually get a few hundred euros a couple of years later.

Don't count on it though as although there are a fair number of steps you can take yourself without necessarily having to ruern to (and pay) a professional debt collector, there are sums to be done to see if it's really worth the hassle. I managed to get to the judgement debt stage without having to use a debt collector.

Good luck.

P.S. The idea of requesting a third is not to go soft on them, but it gives you a chance to rake something in if they are about to go belly up.

[Edited at 2016-08-12 19:22 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:58
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Detail Aug 12, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

......

Debt recovery is a valid option but of course you'll only get about 70% of what's due, at best. It can be very fast though so good if you think the client is in danger of going under.


That's correct, but in my experience the PROSPECT of debt recovery has always done the trick. I've never actually needed to take it any further (although I was going to if necessary).

[Edited at 2016-08-12 19:52 GMT]


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:58
French to English
Debt recovery Aug 14, 2016

Tom in London wrote:

Sheila Wilson wrote:

......

Debt recovery is a valid option but of course you'll only get about 70% of what's due, at best. It can be very fast though so good if you think the client is in danger of going under.


That's correct, but in my experience the PROSPECT of debt recovery has always done the trick. I've never actually needed to take it any further (although I was going to if necessary).

[Edited at 2016-08-12 19:52 GMT]


The procedures in each country vary. I certainly wasn't up to speed on this until I realized that I was acting as banker for bad payers and that I had the confidence to :
- take a stand
- realise that I didn't want to work with these people any more anyway, so not even "nothing to lose" but "everything to gain".

Quite right! The cost of recovery usually kick starts into action those who can pay. If they can't, then it does add to one's losses. That's whay it's worth looking into other solutions, often the same as those of a debt collector, and sometimes free.

Bad payers, whether going through a bad patch or not, have the knack of making you feel bad about claiming what is your due. Don't : don't feel bad, don't make their money problems become yours.

Remember, if it's a bad patch and they need you, those who can pay will, or will come up with a solution in stages, for example.
Those who are going belly up should pay up if they can, if your approach is right. In either case, if they can't pay then you will know and be wiser next time and/or move on. And, if things are really bad, you will need to have made a formal demand in order to stand a chance of being anywhere decent in the rankings when the liquidator is called in. As a rule, once it's that bad, after the salaries, the taxman, official contributions, etc., there's usually nothing left.

So, act fast, politely and formally.


[Edited at 2016-08-14 10:53 GMT]


 

Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Burofax Aug 14, 2016

In Spain, official papers are delivered by this method - court summons and bank demands etc. Don't know whether you can arrange for this to be done from outside Spain.

But, as with recorded delivery with acknowledgement of receipt, the client may decide not to take delivery - ie simply not sign for it... Then you're stuck.

Not a great deal of help this, but I thought you should know about this possible complication.

But even if the client rejects the delivery, at least you have a record of attempted notification....


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:58
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Updates Aug 15, 2016

James

Let us know how it goes


 

Álvaro Espantaleón Moreno  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:58
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
European Payment Order Aug 15, 2016

https://e-justice.europa.eu/content_european_payment_order_forms-156-en.do#action

 

James Greenfield  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:58
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Update Aug 15, 2016

Tom in London wrote:

James

Let us know how it goes



Hi Tom and everyone,

Thanks for all the advice. They have returned a message I sent to them on social media. They are on holiday apparently. However, I would have thought that the most professional thing to do would be to pay the invoice before you go on holiday to avoid late payment. They are back on Thursday, so fingers crossed this will be resolved quickly.

I'm still worried though because they have a history of not paying people on time, and I know from past experience that despite reassurance that I will be paid soon, the invoice has been paid late.

If I am not paid in the next 10 days then I will use a debt collection agency.

James

[Edited at 2016-08-15 15:58 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-08-15 15:59 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-08-15 16:42 GMT]


 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:58
Member (2014)
English to German
European Payment Order Aug 15, 2016

This worked for me - the threat was enough and my invoice was paid after 7 days.

Just let them know exactly what is going to happen and don't accept any excuses, especially the one where the client hasn't paid yet - I hate that one, as this has really nothing to do with me and it's not a good sign, if the agency does not have enough funds to pay the translators.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:58
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Same here Aug 16, 2016

Gabriele Demuth wrote:

This worked for me - the threat was enough and my invoice was paid after 7 days.

Just let them know exactly what is going to happen and don't accept any excuses, especially the one where the client hasn't paid yet - I hate that one, as this has really nothing to do with me and it's not a good sign, if the agency does not have enough funds to pay the translators.


My experience has been similar. The mere prospect of having to embark on a long, troublesome, time-consuming and costly process (plus interest and damages) has always been enough to persuade non-payers to "do the right thing". But you have to be merciless, tough, and really quite scary to convince them that you really do intend to get paid - it isn't the amount of money they owe you; it's their sneakiness and dishonesty that is making you very, very angry and determined to push them right to the end, no matter what it takes.

[Edited at 2016-08-16 21:38 GMT]


 
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