Longer terms of payment
Thread poster: Rosanna Casamassima

Rosanna Casamassima  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:22
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
Nov 6, 2017

Hi to everybody
I've been on the translation market for some years by now and I have seen an always increasing postponement of payment terms. From the 30 days eatablished by the EU, we are now far beyond the 90 days if not longer that some agencies impose you. Yes, our market is probably the only one where the client decides how much and when to pay you, the vendor! Do you think that any other professional would accept to be paid at 90 days??? A delay of 30-45 days should be more than sufficient. We are not an industryor a manufacturer that can increase productivity (don't tell me about CAT tools) as much as we like because after 8 hours of work in front of a pc, eyes, back, wrist and fingers-not to speak of your brain- do not respond anymore. Why we must accept silently this imposition? Why we can't ask for a fair treatment? For a fair treatment we all must be compact and refuse to be paid after 90 days you have delivered your job! is there any ethical code to be followed in business as well??? Isn't it exploitation pure and simple? Only profit (for the others but the translator?). Rates are lowering, payment terms are longer, it seems that it is time to start thinking to do something else! I would like to hear the opinion of my colleagues. Thanks


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:22
Member
Italian to English
No need to suffer in silence Nov 6, 2017

Rosanna Casamassima wrote:

Why we must accept silently this imposition? Why we can't ask for a fair treatment?


No-one forces you to accept any terms you don't want to. If an agency insists on paying after 90 days, simply don't work for them. One agency contacted me recently for a job, and their payment terms were 150 days. I politely told them that such terms were unacceptable for me, and 150 days "magically" became 60. Still not great, but better. It's up to you who you work for, and what terms you accept.


 

Rosanna Casamassima  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:22
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
longer payment terms Nov 6, 2017

Hi Fiona,
sure I decline jobs with such long payment terms, but it is becoming the global trend. Agencies or even final customers willing to pay on delivery or at 30-45 day (that become 60 days at the end) are very few and if we don't stop this trend it will simply go worse, the market law says 90 days and 90 days or longer must be. Is the market ruling the business or the actors (and we are the main ones) should rule it?


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:22
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It's an unregulated profession Nov 6, 2017

Rosanna Casamassima wrote:
Is the market ruling the business or the actors (and we are the main ones) should rule it?

In an unregulated profession there are no rules. You're a "proper" translator, no doubt paying high taxes and social contributions and with other professional expenses such as subscriptions, training, pro software/hardware... and quite likely your translation revenue is your sole income. But you're competing against tens of thousands of other ITEN translators. And many of them will be students, retired people, carers (whether of children or others), full-time employees earning a bit extra, etc. Most of them are happy with a little money, whenever and wherever they can get it.

You have to make sure you, as a true professional, disassociate yourself from these "hobby" translators. You can do that through your specialisations, your marketing, and your terms and conditions - and of course by your quality icon_smile.gif. It's difficult to draw away from them, but you could certainly start by avoiding working for the largest agencies. I find they're consistently the worst. I suppose they're swamped by so many "needy" applicants that they don't see any need to act any better. Their particular playing field is on a very steep slope, where they are the "bosses" and translators are told exactly how and when (and indeed if) they'll be paid! Smaller, more specialised, agencies and some direct clients are the ones to approach.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:22
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
pfff Nov 6, 2017

I know of an agency which makes "its" translators sign an agreement to be paid after 6 months. No interest, unlike your savings account at the bank.

Not only do they have trouble keeping decent free-lance translators, they have trouble hiring "Vendor Managers" and even PMs.

I wouldn't touch any project of theirs with a barge pole, but if I were desperate I might contemplate working for them if paid in advance.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 01:22
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
All my clients respect my terms or we don't collaborate Nov 6, 2017

I don’t agree that this is a global trend; at least this is not my experience. Payment depends on the agreed terms! I have one very dear long-standing customer who for over 20 years has been paying like clockwork the day after receiving my invoice, most of the others pay at 30 days, one or two at 60 days and of course I had occasionally to chase payment (two non-payment cases solved some years ago after my lawyer's intervention). I must say though that I’ve been noticing that most clients in Europe are paying faster than before…

 

Rosanna Casamassima  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:22
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
longer payment terms Nov 6, 2017

I agree with Sheila, big agencies should be avoided, including Italian ones. I know some, very professional agencies that imposed a 120 days payment already many years ago...The problem is that when you translate for companies like GE, MS, Nokia, Metzler Toled etc. with huge volumes, it is impossible to contact them directly. Usually the full project includes the use of tools, software and DTP etc that a freelance does not have, at least not me.

 

Richard Purdom  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:22
Dutch to English
+ ...
Simply accept or refuse Nov 6, 2017

I don't get this victim mentality.
If you don't like the terms, tell them.
If you have something valuable to offer, they'll want you.
If you don't, there's no point in carrying on in this profession.
The world won't grind to a halt.

So decide if you want to take on the work or not.
We can also set out own terms, work for who we want where we want when we want, it's a double edged sword.

The same applies to the endless whingeing about rates.
As for CAT tools, they speed up translation considerably, unless you don't know how to use them.


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:22
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I think it important to push back... Nov 6, 2017

...so that we do not get to a situation where 90 days is perceived as the new norm, 60 days as prompt, and 30 days as incredibly fast.

As Fiona’s experience suggests, at least some agencies are willing to bend their own rules, if they really need you for a particular project.

I typically ask for (and usually receive) payment within 10-20 days for any initial project with an agency that does not have a reliable string of high recent BB ratings. My general comfort level under normal circumstances is with a payment term of 30 days - 45 days at most.

It is theoretically possible that I could accept 60 or even 90 day terms (i.e., if the combination of rate and volume for the project in question added up to an attractive offer).

Alas, my own experience is that agencies offering long payment terms also: 1. offer what I consider low rates; and/or 2. offer a job too small in volume to justify such a long wait.

[Edited at 2017-11-06 13:41 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:22
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Generally speaking, they are time-wasters Nov 6, 2017

Robert Forstag wrote:
Alas, my own experience is that agencies offering long payment terms also: 1. offer what I consider low rates; and/or 2. offer a job too small in volume to justify such a long wait.

That's my experience too, although I would add that very often the jobs they do send are way outside your specialisations - or in totally different pairs - even though your skills are clearly indicated in their database. Oh, and I'd add that the slower they expect to be able to pay, the faster the turnaround they expect, and delivering one minute late is seen as the ultimate sin, whereas promising to pay at 60+ days and then needing several reminders seems to be their normal "business practice" icon_mad.gif!

That icon_mad.gif emoticon is the reason I no longer have anything to do with them. I'd rather be poorer than suffer the really bad stress they induce. Mental health is precious.


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:22
Member
Italian to English
Blind men and elephants Nov 6, 2017

Rosanna Casamassima wrote:

such long payment terms
becoming the global trend [/quote]

This is not my experience. You are viewing the "global market" (I do not think there is such a thing) from your perspective - perhaps the majority of clients you have had contact with work this way. Only one of the various agencies I work for does. It's like the story of the elephant and the blind men, who try to visualise how this enormous creature looks by examining a single part each. One the leg, one the trunk, one the tail... you get the picture. Although these men have all touched the same elephant, they each have an entirely different idea of how they think it looks.

I like to think of translators and their specialisations as being a sort of a pyramid. At the bottom you have the generalists, the biggest part of the pyramid, who have little experience and no areas of specialisation. Therefore they have no leverage when it comes to dealing with agencies, and are forced to take what work they can get and are much more at the mercy of unscrupulous or incapable agencies (some agencies pay at 90 days because they are incapable of managing their own cash flows). As translators gain experience and become more specialised, they move up the pyramid, and are in a better position to negotiate.

Of course this is just one aspect of translation. Some translators have better business skills than others.

Please note that I am not judging your abilities in any way whatsoever. So much of the "rates debate" is a question of perspective.

Best of luck.


 


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