Money matters - suggestion
Thread poster: Helena Grahn

Helena Grahn  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:05
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Oct 17, 2016

I am based in the UK and as most EU translators, I tend to rely on payment after 30-60 days after delivery. In countries, such as, Brazil, as people usually do not rely on receiving payment if not in advance, I know for a fact that translators down there charge 50% beforehand and the other 50% when the job is finished. However, the client will not receive the whole job unless they pay the second half in full.

I have been for the past 6 months trying to receive payment from an agency in Sweden and I regret every day of my life to have trusted someone who contacted me only once, just because they are Swedes and the country has a good reputation, or so I thought.

How about we implement the Brazilian payment terms here as well, eg, if you do not pay 50/50, you won't see the job in the end. I have tried to do this whenever I see an agency for the first time with a low score at the Blue Board. It has worked at times that they accepted to pay the whole amount in advance but usually they don't.

I really think we should all try and do this as a way of covering our backs. So many money problems here and there that I read about. Let us unite and use the same policy.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:05
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
There are other - far better - ways, IMHO Oct 17, 2016

Helena Grahn wrote:
I have been for the past 6 months trying to receive payment from an agency in Sweden and I regret every day of my life to have trusted someone who contacted me only once, just because they are Swedes and the country has a good reputation, or so I thought.

You just went on the reputation of Sweden as a whole? I don't mean to offend any one Swedish person but I'm absolutely certain there are some rotten apples with that nationality/residency. Just as there are very many agencies and direct clients around the world who wouldn't dream of not paying for our services. By the same token, I myself have had clients from Latin America who have paid very promptly every time.

How about we implement the Brazilian payment terms here as well, eg, if you do not pay 50/50, you won't see the job in the end. I have tried to do this whenever I see an agency for the first time with a low score at the Blue Board. It has worked at times that they accepted to pay the whole amount in advance but usually they don't.

I certainly wouldn't want to work that way. The whole basis of my business relationship with my clients depends on a degree of mutual trust and respect. OK, I wouldn't trust them with my life! Nor would I extend free credit for more than 30 days to ANYONE, from my business or personal life. If I were a bank then I'd expect a hell of a lot more profit from their credit, not less. I've had my fair share of slow payers in my 20 years - far more in the early days than now - who have needed reminders every time until I've given them the elbow, but I've never ever had a client default on payment, other than two bankruptcies - the "can't pay" type of client. My "won't pay" clients have always been made to pay!

The other ways (in no particular order):
- Only accept jobs of a reasonable size for the first order, and make sure the payment clears before starting the second job.
- Make sure you gather all possible data about the reputation of the client before agreeing to anything.
- Don't accept work from clients who have a poor reputation!
- Never let any client - however trustworthy - have more than a certain amount of credit. Once at the limit, they should pay before ordering more work.
- Make sure you gather all the information you need to enable you to invoice them correctly. Without that you can't sue them or call in a debt recovery company, or even identify them as dangerous for the benefit of others.
- Make sure all the terms and conditions are written down in black and white, they've agreed to them, and they've given a formal go-ahead to do the work. That's essential for the first job; then you can slim it all down later on and they'll still be legally bound by the earlier relationship.
- Ask for confirmation of receipt of the translation and state what they should do if they have concerns about quality. Keep hassling for that confirmation (it's a mandatory step in my QC procedures).

Of course, whenever we accept a really large job from a known client, then staged payments - possibly in advance - are the accepted way to go. We can't live on fresh air for several months!

So many money problems here and there that I read about.

Amazing as it seems, some of those who complain here that clients default on payment either just have an email address or they never actually discussed terms. Some admit they don't even know how much they're supposed to get paid, let alone when and how! That's one way of "doing business" I suppose. But it doesn't seem the right way to me.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:05
Member (2008)
French to English
Bad vs good payers Oct 17, 2016

If you do any business with an outsourcer with a low BB rating, how can you be sure of getting paid for the second 50%?

Personally, if an outsourcer has a BB rating of 1 or 2, I ask for 100% in advance, or I don't do the job. Only once, as I recall, has it been accepted.

On the other hand, I would prefer to develop a clientele of good payers that I can count on, and then not have to worry about whether or not I will get paid.


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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:05
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Too many assumptions Oct 18, 2016

Helena Grahn wrote:

I am based in the UK and as most EU translators, I tend to rely on payment after 30-60 days after delivery. In countries, such as, Brazil, as people usually do not rely on receiving payment if not in advance, I know for a fact that translators down there charge 50% beforehand and the other 50% when the job is finished. However, the client will not receive the whole job unless they pay the second half in full.

I have been for the past 6 months trying to receive payment from an agency in Sweden and I regret every day of my life to have trusted someone who contacted me only once, just because they are Swedes and the country has a good reputation, or so I thought.



Well first of all, I find it strange that you "know for a fact" that Brazilian translators charge that way... because Brazilian translators who have worked with me in the past have always invoiced for the entire job after the fact, with a standard 30-60 day net term.

I think if you want to start charging 50% up front and 50% later, that's your call. But just be warned, in the times where I have been asked to do that by translators (in my experience it has always been translators based in Southeast Asia), it has felt a bit like they were automatically assuming that I'm the sort of jerk who doesn't pay for the work I commission -- which is a bit offensive. I mean I am aware that they are just protecting themselves, and I try not to let that colour our relationship, but I think you do risk starting off the working relationship on a bad foot with that approach.

You didn't carry out any due diligence, assumed that being Swedish was enough to guarantee reliable payment, and you got burned for that. You live and learn, as they say, but in this case it sounds like the lesson you took away was "not a single client can be trusted and clients should not be afforded any leeway whatsoever" when really I think the lesson should have been "always carry out due diligence and credit risk management before working with a new client".


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:05
Member
Italian to English
Couldn't agree more Oct 18, 2016

Angela Rimmer wrote:
I think the lesson should have been "always carry out due diligence and credit risk management before working with a new client".


The Blue Board is a useful resource if you learn to interpret it correctly. Too many people posting 5s simply because the agency paid them, or paid on time, not because their relationship with that agency was in any way remarkable.

Another resource I always check is Payment Practices, more accurate and insightful than the BB.


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gram-br  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:05
Member (2010)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
What is the backgound? Oct 18, 2016

Helena Grahn wrote:

I am based in the UK and as most EU translators, I tend to rely on payment after 30-60 days after delivery. In countries, such as, Brazil, as people usually do not rely on receiving payment if not in advance, I know for a fact that translators down there charge 50% beforehand and the other 50% when the job is finished. However, the client will not receive the whole job unless they pay the second half in full.......



I am based in Brazil and although I mostly work for US or EU based clients I have worked for several Brazilian agencies in the past. I have never seen or heard of this advance payment system being used.

In fact very few service provision contracts of any kind, in any sector, (between trustworthy parties) apply advance payment terms.

Just out of interest, how often have you not received payment, or received late payment?

I don't say it is not a valid idea, just that based on my experience I do not see the need for such an unusual measure.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:05
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I think you have over-generalized the practice in question in Brazil Oct 18, 2016

Helena Grahn wrote:
In countries, such as, Brazil, as people usually do not rely on receiving payment if not in advance, I know for a fact that translators down there charge 50% beforehand and the other 50% when the job is finished. However, the client will not receive the whole job unless they pay the second half in full.


Or you have come to a hasty conclusion about it.


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Helena Grahn  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:05
Member (2006)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, I thk I have Oct 20, 2016

I have double checked with this BR translating group I belong to and they forgot to mention they do that only when dealing with private clients and not agencies.

I do that too living in the UK btw.

There has even been one saying that regardless if it is an agency or a private client, he will always charge in advance the first time but that we all know is a personal thing to do.

He has made a point when saying that when you go to the theatre, cinema, etc... you pay in advance before seeing the film so nothing wrong with doing that with translators.

It would solve a lot of probs, I'm sure you agree with me. As a matter of fact, there have been loads of cases of scammers online contacting translators directly and they know their way so well, that they even create fake emails with the translators' name to approach colleagues as outsources.

The more refined they become the cleverer we also have to be and it wouldn't be such a bad idea to receive in advance. Agencies, in such cases, would have to charge their clients beforehand as well.

[Edited at 2016-10-20 09:02 GMT]


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