Non-payment from agency: what are my options?
Thread poster: Harvey Thompson

Harvey Thompson
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:23
French to English
+ ...
Nov 10, 2017

A US-based agency (I am UK-based), owes me money for invoices which date back to the beginng of August, so therefore, three months ago. To date, these remain unpaid. This company's payment term is supposedly 45 days. So I raised this issue as soon as the 45-day period elapsed. Since that time (mid-September) I have been sending numerous emails, have phoned countless times, to no avail. They are claiming that a wire transfer had in fact been issued to my bank account at the end of September (which you will note was already over the 45-day deadline). They then sent me what are apparently "wire transcripts" of this transaction. I noticed that they used the incorrect IBAN number on this "wire transcript," despite the fact that I clearly provided them with my correct bank details when I first registered.

I queried my bank about this, and their position is:
1) "If you have not received the funds in your account, there is no transaction for us to trace"
2) "As per international banking regulations, it is up to the sender to trace the funds with their bank. The onus is on them to contact their bank, and if necessary reissue payment."

I emailed this company again, stating what my bank's position is. They keep insisting "they will follow this up" or "they are still waiting to hear from their bank," "this process takes time," "you could help us speed up the process by physically contacting your bank to authorise them to releaase the payment." I find this last suggestion particularly bizarre. Is anyone aware of any situation where a business provider (the translator), needs to authorise their bank in order to "release payment" for a transaction which the business provider's bank will not even acknowledge as having taken place? I feel both sides are washing their hands off this. For instance, my bank has repeatedly refused my request to send this company an email stating their position, arguing that there is no need for them to do this as it is "clear" from international banking regulations that the onus is on the sender to complete the payment and contact their own bank to trace the payment. Can anyone who is familiar with UK banking regulations, confirm that this is indeed correct? As for the translation agency, I pointed out that even if it is really taking this long for their bank to trace the funds (which at three months I find hard to believe), surely they should, in the meantime, simply reissue the payment? Is it not up to them to ask for a refund from their bank, and furthermore, none of this should be used as a delaying tactic to avoid paying me these overdue invoices? Finally, do I have any obligation to provide this company with a copy of my bank statement as proof I have not received payment?

Unfortunately, I have only recently discovered that this company has been receiving very low ratings on Blueboard, and the vast majority of the negative entries are payment-related. For those of you who are curious, this company is US-based, but has multiple branches worldwide, including London. There is a ton of bureaucracy and paperwork just to get registered with them. It is pointless stating what your rates are, as there is an internal platform where you basically have to bid for jobs, which have budgets that are invariably far below your rates. Nearly all jobs have very tight deadlines (usually the same day, or the next day). I suspect many of you know this company and I really regret not investigating them thoroughly before signing up.

I have already entered a negative comment on Blueboard, but so far, I have still not been paid and merely received the same assurance that "they are following this up." In light of this, what other options are open to me? Would turning to a collections agency be worth it (for an amount that is just under $500)? Or would it be better to go to the small claims court? The more I read the negative comments on their Blueboard profile, the more I despair of ever getting paid for these invoices. I welcome any suggestions on how to recover this debt. Thank you for bearing with my long post!


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Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:23
English to French
+ ...
US banks suck at wire transfers Nov 13, 2017

1) Your bank is, unfortunately, perfectly right.
2) The non-paying agency may be run by incompetent idiots (no scoop there), in addition of not caring one bit about its vendors (no scoop there either).
3) US banks still, basically, live in the seventies. Check and cash are kings or, rather, the only things which work reliably. In addition, as an example, my bank (Citibank, not exactly a lightweight) charges $25 for domestic wire transfers, and $50 for international ones, unless the cost has gone up. In my experience, at least 50% of international wire transfers sent to my account get lost somewhere, and when they don't 5 weeks seems to be the norm to be credited to my account.

And, yes, everyone is washing their hands off, and blames the other side. This is a proven way of dealing with such annoyance as disgruntled customers in the (US) banking industry.

This is why I boycott non-US customers who won't pay me with a check drawn on a US bank (although the Canadian banking system is reasonably reliable when dealing with the US banking system).


[Edited at 2017-11-13 14:56 GMT]


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Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
I work with several US-based agencies Nov 13, 2017

and they always offer payment either by cheque or PayPal. I always choose PayPal and have never had any problems.

[Edited at 2017-11-13 15:37 GMT]


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Christophe Delaunay  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:23
Member (2011)
Spanish to French
+ ...
In a nutshell, a dream agency to work with... Nov 13, 2017

"Unfortunately, I have only recently discovered that this company has been receiving very low ratings on Blueboard, and the vast majority of the negative entries are payment-related. For those of you who are curious, this company is US-based, but has multiple branches worldwide, including London. There is a ton of bureaucracy and paperwork just to get registered with them. It is pointless stating what your rates are, as there is an internal platform where you basically have to bid for jobs, which have budgets that are invariably far below your rates. Nearly all jobs have very tight deadlines (usually the same day, or the next day). I suspect many of you know this company and I really regret not investigating them thoroughly before signing up."

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Harvey Thompson
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:23
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Payment method makes no difference Nov 14, 2017

inesec wrote:

and they always offer payment either by cheque or PayPal. I always choose PayPal and have never had any problems.

[Edited at 2017-11-13 15:37 GMT]


I have already provided my PayPal details to this company as my preferred payment method, and bank transfer as the alternative (second-choice method). However, this was ignored and as I mentioned in my original post, they apparently still tried to pay via wire transfer.
Furthermore, judging from the Blueboard comments for this company, it doesn't seeem to make any difference what payment method you choose (bank transfer, PayPal, cheque). There are always problems with delayed payments (and even non-payments) regardless of the payment method.

[Edited at 2017-11-14 15:59 GMT]


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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:23
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Non-payer Nov 15, 2017

My advice is as follows.
The fact that you are not located in the US is a powerful incentive for them not to pay. Google "Small Claims Court for [San Francisco; New York City: Houston; Chicago]" or wherever the agency is located. There is a nominal fee of approximately USD 35 to USD 50.00 for the filing. Sue them for (1) the original amount;(2) the cost of filing the suit; (3) and all other expenses required to plead your case including (a) round-trip airfare between, say, London and, say, San Francisco; (b) hotel changes; (c) food; and (d) surface transportation costs. If the non-paying client is sued for several thousand dollars, they may decide to get religion and pay you. This is a delightful way to get on their nerves.


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