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Long time client struggling with debt - what should I do?
Thread poster: Tom in London

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Indeed Nov 10

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

....m, his late payments were not making my situation easier either


Precisely.

There is a wider question here: how many agencies are finding themselves in financial difficulty at the moment? Is this a widespread problem?


Josephine Cassar
 

Michele Lemieux-Madison  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:09
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
Has it become an industry problem? Nov 10

Tom,
I don't know about your agency in particular, but you may check out Slator.com. They write about our industry and who is buying who, and who is struggling. I think they mostly talk about the bigger agencies, but that's where I learned that one of my clients had been bought out by another agency. It seems there is a lot of activity in our sector and the smaller agencies are being gobbled up by bigger ones. That may be what they are looking at.

I had a similar situation wh
... See more
Tom,
I don't know about your agency in particular, but you may check out Slator.com. They write about our industry and who is buying who, and who is struggling. I think they mostly talk about the bigger agencies, but that's where I learned that one of my clients had been bought out by another agency. It seems there is a lot of activity in our sector and the smaller agencies are being gobbled up by bigger ones. That may be what they are looking at.

I had a similar situation where my long-time client was always late, and I learned later that they were low on cash flow. I wish they had told me then, but regardless, they are okay now and are paying their bills. Don't discount the fact that things may come back, they may be bought out if their roster of clients is important enough, or they may be able to restructure. If that happens, you'll be their star for hanging in there. If they fold, you may never recover the debt. But like someone else said, a little at a time at least, would be better than nothing.

You have to decide if this is a personal or business decision at this point, and how much more you can give of your well-earned time.
Best of luck!
Michèle
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Josephine Cassar
Teresa Borges
IrinaN
mariant
 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 14:09
Member (2006)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Thanks for the link Nov 10

Michele Lemieux-Madison wrote:

Tom,
I don't know about your agency in particular, but you may check out Slator.com. They write about our industry and who is buying who, and who is struggling. I think they mostly talk about the bigger agencies, but that's where I learned that one of my clients had been bought out by another agency. It seems there is a lot of activity in our sector and the smaller agencies are being gobbled up by bigger ones. That may be what they are looking at.

I had a similar situation where my long-time client was always late, and I learned later that they were low on cash flow. I wish they had told me then, but regardless, they are okay now and are paying their bills. Don't discount the fact that things may come back, they may be bought out if their roster of clients is important enough, or they may be able to restructure. If that happens, you'll be their star for hanging in there. If they fold, you may never recover the debt. But like someone else said, a little at a time at least, would be better than nothing.

You have to decide if this is a personal or business decision at this point, and how much more you can give of your well-earned time.
Best of luck!
Michèle


Thank you, Michèle for the valuable link!
I received some answers to some of my questions and suspicions.


Matthias Brombach
 

Guofei_LIN  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 23:09
Chinese
That's in line with the trend Nov 11

While I do not have exactly the same experience as yours (I have only worked for one long time client in the past 20 years. By "long time" I mean they provided me with regular business that kept me busy, not sporadic jobs.), but my agency was also facing the same market pressure as everybody else, so they are still paying their translators the 1990's rates that they have been using for the last 20 years.

I think we should heed this situation and not continue to kid ourselves that 't
... See more
While I do not have exactly the same experience as yours (I have only worked for one long time client in the past 20 years. By "long time" I mean they provided me with regular business that kept me busy, not sporadic jobs.), but my agency was also facing the same market pressure as everybody else, so they are still paying their translators the 1990's rates that they have been using for the last 20 years.

I think we should heed this situation and not continue to kid ourselves that 'there are professional agencies / demanding clients who are able to buck the trend and pay decent rates to human translators." Even there are, these are too few in number (the UN is one) to support an industry.
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Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:09
Member (2007)
Dutch to German
+ ...
slator.com Nov 11

Michele Lemieux-Madison wrote:

Tom,
I don't know about your agency in particular, but you may check out Slator.com.


It is worth to check out slator.com for many reasons, I suppose:
https://slator.com/tag/machine-translation-post-editing/

Quote: "Characterizing post-editors based on their keystrokes, mouse activity, and other editing actions can help predict speed and, eventually, quality, says a new paper by Unbabel researchers."

Sorry, Tom, off topic, I know ...

[Bearbeitet am 2019-11-11 09:13 GMT]


 

Barbara Micheletto
Italy
Local time: 14:09
Member (2005)
Russian to Italian
+ ...
I think there is a risk here... Nov 11

Last year an Italian agency went bankrupt and I lost a lot of money. Before filing for bankruptcy, they were subjected to administration, so I managed to recover some 40% of my credit; anyway, my lost was huge for me. I was told that, among other colleagues, I was the one who lost the most. It was a hard time for me and I learnt it the hard way, so I promised to myself that I will never face such a situation again. In addition to losing the money, I felt deceived...
Now, it might well be t
... See more
Last year an Italian agency went bankrupt and I lost a lot of money. Before filing for bankruptcy, they were subjected to administration, so I managed to recover some 40% of my credit; anyway, my lost was huge for me. I was told that, among other colleagues, I was the one who lost the most. It was a hard time for me and I learnt it the hard way, so I promised to myself that I will never face such a situation again. In addition to losing the money, I felt deceived...
Now, it might well be that, while you are waiting patiently and with an understanding attitude, other translators are insisting on having their money paid or even filing legal action, so that at the end no money will be left and you will receive peanuts or, as we say in Italian, "stay with the match in hand". At the moment, this agency is relying upon their translators' benevolence in the name of good times, but if they really are in dire straits... maybe they are just figuring out and escape plan. It's just impossible to say what's really going on.
What I would to: 1) If possibile, I would try to get in touch with other colleagues who have worked with them and try to understand what course of action they are taking; 2) I would refuse to work for them any further; 3) I would propose them to work out an instalment plan and I would insist on having each instalment paid in due time. They have to know that you are not prepared to lose your money so easily.
We never know what's going out "behind the curtains", they might even file for bankruptcy and start a new company at the same time... it happens and it has happened (again, my experience).

[Modificato alle 2019-11-11 09:28 GMT]

[Modificato alle 2019-11-11 09:52 GMT]

[Modificato alle 2019-11-11 15:29 GMT]
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Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
I know... Nov 11

Barbara Micheletto wrote:

.... It's just impossible to say what's really going on......I would propose them to work out an instalment plan....


I know and yes, I have proposed a plan and I await their response.


Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 

Barbara Micheletto
Italy
Local time: 14:09
Member (2005)
Russian to Italian
+ ...
Regarding financial difficulty... Nov 11

Tom in London wrote:

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

....m, his late payments were not making my situation easier either


Precisely.

There is a wider question here: how many agencies are finding themselves in financial difficulty at the moment? Is this a widespread problem?


Maybe it's just me, but I think that in Italy this is a widespread problem at the moment; I have come to the conclusion that it is better to have a lot of small jobs from a host of clients instead of huge jobs from a few ones. Last year, another client had to pay me in instalments... we must decide how much we are prepared to take this risk and it gets really stressful sometimes.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Hmmmmm Nov 11

Barbara Micheletto wrote:

.....I think that in Italy this is a widespread problem at the moment; I have come to the conclusion that it is better to have a lot of small jobs from a host of clients instead of huge jobs from a few ones. Last year, another client had to pay me in instalments... we must decide how much we are prepared to take this risk and it gets really stressful sometimes.


I agree. I do get a lot of small jobs from other clients, but this particular client has been so good for so many years and "ne sono affezionato"


Barbara Micheletto
 

Barbara Micheletto
Italy
Local time: 14:09
Member (2005)
Russian to Italian
+ ...
Affection Nov 11

"...good for so many years and "ne sono affezionato"

I perfectly understand, but you can rest assured that, if they are in trouble, they are more "affezionati" to the money than to you, so... be careful. Maybe you could refuse big jobs from them and take on only small ones. I think that you shouldn't tell them that you are going to refuse work from them forever, maybe you could just pretend that you are too busy at the moment. Again, it would be a good idea to know how others are a
... See more
"...good for so many years and "ne sono affezionato"

I perfectly understand, but you can rest assured that, if they are in trouble, they are more "affezionati" to the money than to you, so... be careful. Maybe you could refuse big jobs from them and take on only small ones. I think that you shouldn't tell them that you are going to refuse work from them forever, maybe you could just pretend that you are too busy at the moment. Again, it would be a good idea to know how others are acting; sometimes this is just impossibile as we can't know who is working for them. And again, I came to the conclusion that this could be one of the reasons why agencies tend not to tell us other colleagues' names. Some of them pretend that this is their "policy". Maybe I'm just too suspicious, but you know, once bitten, twice shy.

[Modificato alle 2019-11-11 10:10 GMT]
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Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
No intention Nov 11

Barbara Micheletto wrote:

if they are in trouble, they are more "affezionati" to the money than to you, so... be careful.


I know, but they are also keen to hang on to me because they consider me "one of their best translators"

Maybe you could refuse big jobs from them and take on only small ones


They're not sending me any more jobs at all, at the moment; so the problem doesn't arise.

I think that you shouldn't tell them that you are going to refuse work from them forever


I have no intention of doing that !


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:09
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Two points Nov 11

Barbara Micheletto wrote:
If possibile, I would try to get in touch with other colleagues who have worked with them and try to understand what course of action they are taking

That's a very, very good idea, IMO. With an agency, it could be quite easy as others should have posted on the Blue Board. Or look for translators with relevant specialisations and ask them if they've worked with the agency recently (and not posted). It's always good to compare notes.

It occurs to me that, in my earlier post, I wasn't concentrating on this being an agency client rather than a direct one. Now I think of it, it seems odd that they're unable to pay anything. Every time you deliver a translation, they immediately demand payment from their client -- if they haven't already got it. That money is directly attributable to your work. I know there's a queue, but you should be able to make a stand for, say, 50% of what's due each time, on time. That would probably only represent about 25% of what they get in from their client, after all.


 

Barbara Micheletto
Italy
Local time: 14:09
Member (2005)
Russian to Italian
+ ...
Other potential red flags... Nov 11

Other potential red flags we ALL had better watch out for here in Italy: is it a big company? The bigger the company, the bigger the problems and the fewer the chances to recover the money, IMHO. And which is their legal form (company, partnership, etc.)? Have they got any employees? And if yes, how many? If they (or their creditors) file for bankruptcy, according to Italian bankruptcy law the employees will be paid first (last salary and severance pay); I may be wrong, but I think taxes will be... See more
Other potential red flags we ALL had better watch out for here in Italy: is it a big company? The bigger the company, the bigger the problems and the fewer the chances to recover the money, IMHO. And which is their legal form (company, partnership, etc.)? Have they got any employees? And if yes, how many? If they (or their creditors) file for bankruptcy, according to Italian bankruptcy law the employees will be paid first (last salary and severance pay); I may be wrong, but I think taxes will be paid in the second place and suppliers come third... so that the money left to pay suppliers will be less and less. In my opinion, the risks are fewer in case of smaller agencies consisting of two or three partners and without any employees.

[Modificato alle 2019-11-11 11:29 GMT]
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AlessandraV.
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:09
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
The company Nov 11

Barbara Micheletto wrote:
is it a big company?

It's an srl

Have they got any employees? And if yes, how many?

Only 2 or 3

In my opinion, the risks are fewer in case of smaller agencies consisting of two or three partners and without any employees.

I hope you're right....


 

Barbara Micheletto
Italy
Local time: 14:09
Member (2005)
Russian to Italian
+ ...
Let's hope... Nov 11

I hope (and I'm sure) things will turn out differently for you, but that was exactly my situation last year... limited liability and three/four employees. And I had always been told that I was one of their best translators. In the end, the money I had earned (months' work) was used to pay others. We had known each other personally for more than twenty years (same city). And I know it isn't backstabbing, it's just business. Well, it hurts, but it won't happen again, otherwise, as they say, fool m... See more
I hope (and I'm sure) things will turn out differently for you, but that was exactly my situation last year... limited liability and three/four employees. And I had always been told that I was one of their best translators. In the end, the money I had earned (months' work) was used to pay others. We had known each other personally for more than twenty years (same city). And I know it isn't backstabbing, it's just business. Well, it hurts, but it won't happen again, otherwise, as they say, fool me once...
Best of luck.

[Modificato alle 2019-11-11 15:32 GMT]
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Long time client struggling with debt - what should I do?

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