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Invoicing - what to do for someone who sends it late?
Thread poster: Sandra Alboum

Sandra Alboum  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:31
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 9, 2005


As many of you may have seen, I post quite a few jobs on In general, I've been quite pleased with the quality I've gotten. Thanks to everyone who has bid or worked for me!

My question is actually something that I have been wondering about for quite a while now.

Simply: when is it too late to send an invoice to an agency, if ever?

I ask because I have several translators who have done work for me, and then promptly forget to ever invoice me. For example, I can cite a translator who did a 2500 word translation for me in early January. He has not yet billed me, and I wonder if he has just forgotten. Last year, someone took nearly 6 months to bill me a minimum $25 job.

I have to do a lot of work to make sure that I have the proper cash flow in order to pay my translators, and carrying these numbers over from month to month is a real pain because it messes up all of my balances since I don't know if I'm going to be paying out this money in a given month or not.

What do people think about an agency requiring to be billed within X amount of time from when the work is delivered? Is this a horrible thing? What would you suggest I do if the person just never gets around to billing me within X time? What if you came across a statement in a subcontractor contract that stated "if you don't bill within X, then ABC will happen"?

I'm just interested in knowing people's opinions. As a businessperson, I expect to be paid promptly, I pay out promptly as a rule, and I expect to be billed promptly. Is that too much to ask, that people be competent businesspeople?

I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:31
French to English
Send a reminder? Apr 10, 2005

Maybe they're ill, or worse. Or they just forgot, as you say.

Why not send a reminder? On that, you could put your statement that "if you don't invoice me within xxx (a month, say) then yyy will happen (whatever is legal where you are)". I agree that such a statement would look odd on a subcontracting contract. But it would seem OK to me on a such a reminder, just as the reverse would when reminding to be paid (if you don't pay within xxxx, then I'll send the boys round!).

Other than that, it probably is worth looking into the "whatever is legal where you are" element. Never thought about it before, but presumably there must be a limit - I guess they can't invoice you 12 years later and expect to get the money, can they...?

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:31
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Why don't you ask? Apr 10, 2005

Between colleagues it would come naturally to send them a message: hi, do you remember me? Please send your invoice ASAP!
I have never seen an outsourcer giving advice on when to send the invoice, though. But it does not sound impossible to mention it in the PO.

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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:31
English to Swedish
+ ...
Depends on jurisdiction Apr 10, 2005

It depends on jurisdiction.


If you offer a job to a translator in Sweden, without specifying jurisdiction, and the translator accepts you offer then the jurisdiction will be Swedish. Under Swedish law an invoice for the service provided would only be valid if it was received by you within 10 years from that the translation was received by you.

[Edited at 2005-04-10 07:19]

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Elvira Stoianov  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:31
German to Romanian
+ ...
I am sometimes sending out invoices late (not as late as you said) Apr 10, 2005

Sometimes, when I have 7-8 projects lined up within 3-4 weeks (just like now), I don't find the time to write invoices right away, especially if it is a new client (because then I have to include a lot of new information in my invoice template) or if I have done many jobs for a client (meaning I have to check the POs, include all jobs in the invoice, etc.). Also, I sometimes wait for the client to say the work was ok and I only send my invoice then.
However, I do send out my invoices within 2-3 weeks after delivery.
Just the other day I have received a job from a US agency and I found a statement in the PO, something like: if you don't send your invoice withing 3 days after delivery, the company will estimate charges and issue payment based on that estimate.
I didn't find this weird (even though I have worked with many companies and never seen a statement like that), especially because the agency had a good rating on the BB. I rather found this ok, as it somehow feels like a burden is taken from you and you can focus on what's really important: translating.

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Dinny  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:31
Italian to Danish
+ ...
3 days limit is weird Apr 10, 2005

I think a statement like that is like putting a gun to your head! "End of month" would have been right. I would prefer to send my invoice after having received and OK from the agency (at least confirming they have received my mail with the documents, but SO few agencies take the time to do that). Since this is not happening, I usually send the invoice together with the job, so that I won't forget, but some agencies want end-of-month invoice including all that's been done during the month and some want it after they have sent an overview of the jobs during the month, etc. etc. With so many different rules it's no wonder somebody forgets to invoice once in a while.

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sandhya  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:01
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Sometimes late too Apr 10, 2005


I am often late sending out invoices. More so if the amounts are small. I have a reason: To save bank charges. As I live in India, many clients either deduct bank charges from the invoice amount or we share the charges. Rarely does a client assume the charges!
So, if I did a job of US$ 25, it makes no sense to send an invoice, cos what I would receive in my account is ultimately much less!

Maybe that is the reason why some translators send late invoices. Of course, this makes sense for regular clients, not for one-time clients!


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Chiara Santoriello  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:31
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
It depends on their organization Apr 10, 2005

Hi Sandra,

As I need money, I always send my invoice with the job. In my opinion this is the best way to really close a job without forgetting invoicing.
If I were you I'd put a sort of clause in the P.O. stating that for accounting reasons invoices sent after a certain period, for example one month from the delivery of the job won't be taken into consideration.

Good luck

[Edited at 2005-04-10 09:10]

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vixen  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:31
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Nothing wrong with sending a reminder Apr 10, 2005

I agree with some of the others that there's nothing wrong with sending a reminder or simply checking whether the invoice has already been sent. There's always the odd chance that the invoice got lost on the way.

Sending such an e-mail message will probably be highly appreciated by the contractor. It means you care about their money, too, and are more than willing to pay them what is due.

I also remember an e-mail message from a large translation agency at the beginning of a particular year requesting their contractors to please send in their invoices for that year no later than January 31st, so that they could close the year.

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Javier Herrera
I would say writing "ABC will happen" is all right Apr 10, 2005

Actually, I few agencies I work with include a clause like that. Normally I find acceptable when they say the invoice is required within ten days so that I can be paid within thirty/end of month, especially when they justify it with cash flow issues as you did.
There is only one who says you won't be paid at all if you fail to send it within the deadline (10 days), that does cause me a bad impression. Probably it's just a way of being firm but not polite, they write it but wouldn't do it. Probably it would be illegal if they did it. But anyway, I don't want to test them.
My two pence.

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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
As someone who is often late...... Apr 10, 2005

Fwiw-perhaps those who would have to send an invoice for a relatively small sum have been waiting/hoping for a follow-up job? Bank charges being what they are, it often makes sense to send an invoice for a larger amount. I often do that with agencies I work for(on a regular basis) when there is only a small amount for a given month-I add it on to a later invoice.
I have the impression that a number of agencies that offer a lot of jobs on Proz may use people on a one-off basis. Perhaps you should indicate that to translators hired after a successful bid if that is your general policy.That might encourage people to send their invoices as soon as the job has been sent.

[Edited at 2005-04-10 12:12]

[Edited at 2005-04-10 12:16]

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Local time: 05:31
English to French
+ ...
Not three days Apr 10, 2005

Dinny wrote:

I think a statement like that is like putting a gun to your head! "End of month" would have been right. I would prefer to send my invoice after having received and OK from the agency (at least confirming they have received my mail with the documents, but SO few agencies take the time to do that).

I think it would be fair to say "within four weeks after sending the translation". I wait also a while, to be sure everything is ok with the job.

I prefer to make several invoices at the same time, as I have to start an invoices program, filling the fields, checking everything.

You could send an automatic reminder after two weeks.

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Local time: 23:31
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

the 3-day rule Apr 10, 2005

I know of two American agencies with this policy.

Another agency I work with sends a bulk e-mail around the 28th, stating something along the lines of `Reminder: please send invoices for jobs done this month in order to process payments quickly. If you did not receive a job from us this month, we will try harder to get you work next month'.

I appreciate that in your case, Sandra, this might be unwieldy, as you do have quite a list of subcontractors

I would therefore start with a reminder to the individual. It is indeed quite possible that he forgot, because as we freelancers know, when it rains, it pours; he could have had a multitude of projects that week, and if yours was small and quick, it might have fallen in the cracks


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:31
Member (2004)
German to English
I invoice twice a month Apr 10, 2005

around the 15th and just before the end of the month, no matter how large or small the invoice. And each agency and client has different rules and regulations. It's much easier for me as I have someone do mine for me but I don't send out invoices after each job - takes too much time and effort. More importantly many clients only want 1 invoice a month. So if someone for example says we need your invoice on the 10th, they get it on the previous 30th and any new invoices will have to wait til the next payment run. As I have a lot of regular customers this works out fine for me. There is no doubt each freelancer needs a system that works so when each job comes in I feel out a line on my excel spreadsheet that relates to the job - job number, date, customer's job no, type of billing, currency etc. And then my bookkeeper takes the spreadsheet file and produces the invoices.

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Stefan Keller  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:31
English to German
Point out your preferred terms on your PO Apr 10, 2005

Why not add a line to your POs, stating something like "Please send invoices within XY days upon completion..." or " invoice per month..."?

Some agencies I work for do so, and I think it's good practice.


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