Long-standing client (European translation agency) does not pay
Thread poster: Uli Cisar

Uli Cisar  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:58
Member (2015)
English to German
+ ...
Jan 19

I´ve been facing a serious problem with one of my long-standing clients. For several years the agency used to provide me with interesting jobs at good rates paying my bills. Payment had always been a bit late, you always had to remind them (which was annoying) but as I knew the money would come shortly after I swallowed the pill. Now everything seems to have changed for the worse: during the last few months there has been a considerable personnel fluctuation, project managers come and go. Translation jobs assigned have dropped and there hasn´t been any response to the repeated e-mails I had to send them because payment had - once again - been late. For 2 weeks or so they just seem to have vanished from the face of the earth...
What else - besides leaving a negative comment on the blue board (other translators did so but I don´t know if it helped...) - can I do to make them answer my e-mails and pay? Taking legal steps or engaging a collecting agency does not seem the right thing to do given the -relatively low - invoice amount due.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Firstly, don't accept more work! Jan 19

I hope you're far too sensible to take on more work from them, but it has happened in the past .

Uli Cisar wrote:
there hasn´t been any response to the repeated e-mails I had to send them because payment had - once again - been late. For 2 weeks or so they just seem to have vanished from the face of the earth...
What else - besides leaving a negative comment on the blue board (other translators did so but I don´t know if it helped...) - can I do to make them answer my e-mails and pay? Taking legal steps or engaging a collecting agency does not seem the right thing to do given the -relatively low - invoice amount due.

It would help a lot to know where they're based. Assuming that you are indeed in Germany as your profile says, if they're in Germany too there are probably cheap and easy methods to sue them. If they're anywhere else within the EU then you can send an EU Payment Order. In fact, if you're lucky you won't even have to send it. Just preparing it then saving it as a PDF (that much is free) and sending it to the client as proof of your intention can be enough to encourage payment (in my personal experience). However, before any legal proceedings get started it would be wise (and maybe obligatory) to send them a final demand by registered post, as proof that they're aware of the debt.

But all that would be a complete waste of effort if they've already filed for bankruptcy. So check with their country's register of companies first. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_company_registers#Germany If they've gone under, all you can do is contact the official receiver, follow instructions, and hope for a few crumbs (which haven't materialised in either of my two cases ). If they're still solvent but you feel they're likely to go under at any moment then I'd advise sending them that PDF but the process itself may take longer than you have. For a four-figure sum it would be worth contacting a debt recovery firm that operates locally to them. I don't suppose they'd be too interested in smaller amounts, but it's worth asking.

Other things you can do immediately include:
- Leave that BB comment. You should do that to warn others even if it doesn't help you. Leave negative feedback in other places as well.
- Contact others who have left recent feedback and find out what happened.
- Find other email addresses - directors, accounting department, etc - and/or contact them directly through ProZ.com, LinkedIn, etc. After all, email addresses can fail.
- Ring them!

Of course, you should also spend time actively looking for replacements because this clearly isn't a client you'll want to collaborate with again.


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Similar case Jan 19

There was a somewhat similar case a few days ago:

https://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/322088-how_do_i_prosecute_an_agency_based_in_ireland.html

You'll find some informational links there.


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Catherine Skala  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:58
Member (2014)
Swedish to English
+ ...
I have exactly the same problem Jan 20

I am in exactly the same position as you; I wonder if it is the same Scandinavian company. All payments the past two years have been late, by weeks, sometimes months, and nobody answers emails. The last thing that happened is that they told me (five weeks after delivery) that 'there has been negative feedback', but they have refused to let me know what that alleged ' negative feedback' was. I have carried out many projects for this company and not once has there been any mention of 'negative feedback', on the contrary. My last project was quite a big one and they currently owe me more than €1,000, so this is very stressful.

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:58
French to English
Agencies: client feedback and agency payment Jan 21

It is helpful to know that in many legal systems, if you have done the work asked for and supplied it within the agreed time limit, the work has to be paid for. If your client is an agency, and the end-client is alleging poor quality, (again, in many legal systems), that does not entitle the agency to delay or refuse payment. Where this is a recurring event, where it is becoming common for invoices to be paid late and particularly when you are no longer able to contact the client, agent or not, those are major warning bells that the client is in difficulty. Consult official company registers that are probably available online. If the company is in receivership or in liquidation, that information may actually be available. You need to know. There are often time limits within which claims have to be made.

Suggested action:

- Refuse any further orders from the agency in question;
- Make sure that you have invoiced all work done for them;
- As for any outstanding overdue invoices, take formal steps for recovery, using small claims procedures if appropriate.


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ayanohannah  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:58
Member (2016)
English to Japanese
I am in a similar situation Jan 26

I have a French client that I have a similar probelm with.
I did a job for him back in November and I have sent him several reminders about the unpaid invoice (due on 15th Dec) but I haven't had any response whatsoever.

I've already left a bad feeback on their BB (and that didn't work) so the next step, I believe, is a registered letter.
Does anyone know if the letter has to be written in the language of the country where the other person is located (in my case, French)?
I don't speak French so it would be good if I could write the letter in English...


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
The EU uses many languages Jan 27

ayanohannah wrote:
Does anyone know if the letter has to be written in the language of the country where the other person is located (in my case, French)?
I don't speak French so it would be good if I could write the letter in English...

When I obtained an EU Payment Order against a French company from my home in Spain, I was offered the choice of English, French or Spanish. So if you've been communicating with your client in English then I advise you to continue doing so.


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ayanohannah  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:58
Member (2016)
English to Japanese
Thanks Sheila! Jan 28

Your answer is very much appreciated

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Long-standing client (European translation agency) does not pay

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