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Need help to write a letter to get my money!
Thread poster: Nina Khmielnitzky

Nina Khmielnitzky  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:52
Member (2004)
English to French
May 12, 2005

Hi,
In March, I dealt with a new agency not rated anywhere. They were offering me a huge job at a very decent rate. I asked them to sign a contract and they agreed to pay 30 days after I sent in the job. They have not paid so far (today is the 45th day). I know they would like me to work again for them, but since it's a new client, I would like to be firm but polite in requesting what they owe me, but still work for them.

Any suggestion as how I could formulate the letter?

Nina


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Bruce Popp  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:52
French to English
Prior steps May 12, 2005

Hi,

Have you already tried sending them an e-mail, or calling them?

Bruce


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Nina Khmielnitzky  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:52
Member (2004)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
It's to write the email May 12, 2005

I need help with.
Should I just send a "friendly reminder" to enquire about the payment? I don't want to be drastic nor mean, just to remind them politely that I did the job on time, even better a day ahead schedule and that they signed a contract. Still, I want them to pay me (unless they are bad payers, but I don't know that yet).

Nina


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 00:52
Member
Italian to English
A couple of possibilities May 12, 2005

Hi Nina!
Although agencies shouldn't pay late, often they do, and fifteen days doesn't necessarily mean they have no intention of paying. Maybe you could send something to the tune of "This is a friendly reminder that your payment is overdue. Payment can be made by..." (specifying how payment is to be made), then "If payment is already underway, please ignore this message.." etc. etc.

Alternatively something like "Thank you for your interest in continuing to use my services. However, I regret I am unable to accept any further work from you until the previous payment has been made in full..."

Keep chasing them up though and don't hesitate to threaten them with legal action if they are not forthcoming. Good luck!


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Bernadette Mora  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:52
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Where is this agency? May 12, 2005

I mean, is the agency located in Canada or abroad?
When a payment from abroad takes ages to be received, I normally asks the agency as follows,

Dear XXX

I am writing you with regard to my invoice no XXXX dated XXXX.
Please confirm if you have already sent the transfer to my account so that I can claim my bank. As you might know, transfers from abroad take a long time to arrive bla,bla,bla...


Hope this will be useful.

Cheers

Bernadette


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Nina Khmielnitzky  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:52
Member (2004)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
It's in Canada May 12, 2005

Thanks for your suggestions! They're very helpful!

Nina

[Edited at 2005-05-12 15:08]


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Bruce Popp  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:52
French to English
Clarification May 12, 2005

Hi,

I think that the letter shouldn't be the first thing you do. An email, perhaps followed by a phone call, should go first. These are both less formal and weighty and makes it easier to get a sense of what the situation might be. If these steps haven't gotten the answers you want, then it's time for a letter with a polite, low-key inquiry.

Bruce


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Angel Biojo
United States
Local time: 15:52
English to Spanish
BBB May 12, 2005

Nina Khmielnitzky wrote:

Hi,
In March, I dealt with a new agency not rated anywhere. They were offering me a huge job at a very decent rate. I asked them to sign a contract and they agreed to pay 30 days after I sent in the job. They have not paid so far (today is the 45th day). I know they would like me to work again for them, but since it's a new client, I would like to be firm but polite in requesting what they owe me, but still work for them.

Any suggestion as how I could formulate the letter?

Nina


Nina:

If the agency is in Canada I think there would be no problem for you to collect. There must be a Canadian counterpart to the BBB (Better Business Bureau) they have in the US to deal with that sort of situations, look for it and have its address handy. Write to them a couple polite but firm requests for payment, and if it doesn{t work, threaten them that you will be forced to report them to that government agency.

I hope this helps

Angel


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 15:52
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Polite reminder May 12, 2005

I have been working for an agency for over a year now and had to build this trust bond with them. For the first 400k-word project they offered me, they were always ready to pay and would even send me large checks before the documents were done. But, lately, since I started taking smaller jobs with a faster turnaround, $50- to $150-dollar-invoices seemed to slip their minds quite often.

I never thought about the possibility that they could be intentionally forgetting to pay me and since I would always talk to the project manager and the executive director on the phone, I knew that there was a professional and respectful relationship growing among us. I was also afraid my reminders would be taken negatively, since I wanted to keep working for them on a regular basis, but I just went a head and wrote them a nice email with something like this:

"Dear Mr. John Doe

Please find the attached copy of the invoice number XXX for project XXX, which was completed on XX/XX/XX. The payment was due on the XX/XX/XX and we are able to accept US checks, PayPal deposits and bank transfers. Please refer to your bank rules regarding transfer fees, so that the final payment will never be lower than what the invoice indicates.

Regards,
XXX"


For a while, it just became sort of a habit, that I would send them the invoice with the translation and then a reminder on the 30th day. They would promptly send me the payment until one of the project managers stepped forward and now sends me checks within two weeks after the job has been completed.

Again, this works because we were always in contact over the phone and through emails. We've been working together for more than a year and I always hit the floor running when they need birth certificates, marriage and divorce decrees, diplomas and school transcripts, or other personal documents translated for "yesterday".

On the other hand, I was just getting ready to send a copy of an invoice to another company, this one overseas, to remind them that sometime next week it will be the 45th day since the project was completed. They're a new client and I was working with them as part of a team of translators, so I gave them this 15-day-period before sending the "past due" reminder. Coincidentally, they emailed me today saying that they're still in the editing process and that the client would like one more page completed.

Even though I'm still getting to know the company, I'll finish this last page (which is a kind of a legend for a manual) and send them a separate invoice. This gave me the chance to mention the deadline for the payment, even though I assume they'll pay the team once the project is fully edited and completed.

I agree a situation like ours has us worrying when and if the check is going to arrive, but that's what it's all about when you're a freelance and you're building a professional relationship with a new client. As long as you're not in the wrong and you've respected your deadline, you can politely remind them that they have to honor their part of the deal as well.

Good luck!


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Lindsay Sabadosa  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:52
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
The Passive-Aggressive Method... May 12, 2005

Bruce Popp wrote:

Hi,

I think that the letter shouldn't be the first thing you do. An email, perhaps followed by a phone call, should go first. These are both less formal and weighty and makes it easier to get a sense of what the situation might be. If these steps haven't gotten the answers you want, then it's time for a letter with a polite, low-key inquiry.

Bruce


I agree that an e-mail is best. I like to be a little less forward and just ask if there were any problems with the payment or if perhaps I had misunderstood the terms of payment. That way no one is being accused of anything. It has worked almost every single time (to date ... knock on wood ... I've only had one agency who hasn't paid). Good luck!


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:52
German to English
+ ...
Did you send an invoice in the first place? Email with carbon copy... May 12, 2005

Nina, after re-reading your posting it is not clear to me that you have sent an invoice at all? You keep referring to the contract but as an agency I would expect to receive an invoice before I pay. (Sorry if I am stating the obvious here).

I agree with the previous posters about sending an email. I also recommend CC'ing yourself (not blind carbon copy) so that you have proof of sending/arrival and they see this. You also might be sure to CC it to the accounts department (if they have one) in addition to your project manager.

I wouldn't bring out the big guns quite yet, you might try something along the lines of:

"Perhaps you have overlooked my invoice of XX.XX.2005? I would appreciate it if you could let me know the status of payment processing."


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Nina Khmielnitzky  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:52
Member (2004)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Invoice sent with translation May 12, 2005

Hi,
I did send the invoice.

Nina


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Karin Adamczyk  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:52
Member
French to English
Payment terms May 12, 2005

Nina Khmielnitzky wrote:

They have not paid so far (today is the 45th day). I know they would like me to work again for them, but since it's a new client, I would like to be firm but polite in requesting what they owe me, but still work for them.

Any suggestion as how I could formulate the letter?

Nina


That really depends on what the agreed payment terms were. If terms were not included in your contract, they will apply their usual payment terms (and are of course entitled to do so). Their terms might be 60 days, in which case, they are not late. If the terms are 30 days, it is not unusual for the first payment from a new client to take longer because an account has to be set up for you as a supplier. It may not seem that this should take long, but if they are a big company and have many new accounts to set up, or if they are a small company and only have an accountant come in once a week/month or send the accounting work out, these things can take time.

In any case, the most important piece of information you have not provided here is the agreed terms.

Take care,
Karin


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Nina Khmielnitzky  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:52
Member (2004)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Agreement terms May 12, 2005

are 30 days.

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xxxsarahl
Local time: 15:52
English to French
+ ...
Call the accounting department May 12, 2005

Hi Nina,

The first thing I do with a new client is call their accounting department to ask them about their policy. It's less threatening than a reminder as I am just "asking for information", yet it is still a reminder as I tell them who I am and what I am calling for.

This approach has always worked for me in the past.

FWIW

Sarah


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