Getting paid on time
Thread poster: Claire Titchmarsh
Claire Titchmarsh  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:00
Italian to English
+ ...
May 11, 2007

I'm just interested to know how many of you have problems with clients paying on time. I seem to be spending more and more time chasing people up for payments that are sometimes up to 4 months late (company not a translation agency, in that particular case).

If I eliminated all the late payers from my client book (i.e. just kept clients who pay when they say they will) I'd eliminate at least 60%.

When do you start "hassling" people for payment? I tend to leave it 10 days to 2 weeks before phoning or e-mailing to avoid the normal excuses like "we only pay on the 10th of the month".

I refused to do any more work for one company (knowing they had an ongoing project I was doing for them) after they kept dragging their heels, and now it seems that rather than pay on time they have gone elsewhere. Perhaps I'll just put "whenever you feel like it" in the due date box on my invoice.

I'm not asking how you deal with non-payers, that's another kettle of fish, just how you deal with the late ones.

Have a nice day.

Claire.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:00
Italian to English
+ ...
Not happened too often... May 11, 2007

I assume you're not including the numerous Italian agencies who pay after 90 days end of month as standard. If I counted them, then I'd also be at around 60% of late payers! The ones I work with do however pay when they say they will.

I've only had it happen twice, really - once with a British agency that's a notorious non-payer (terrible BB rating, as I discovered later), for two or three invoices amounting to about €500 in total. After several months, numerous emails and re-sending the invoices twice (they'd mysteriously gone "missing"), I did eventually get paid. Since then, I just ignore their emails.

The other one was an Italian agency with an excellent BB record who failed to pay two tiny invoices, one of €15 and the other of €20. When I solicited them a few months later (I always give Italians 4 months before I enquire!), they paid both instantly, so it may have been a genuine oversight - but overlooking TWO seemed a bit suspicious to me, so again, I don't answer their emails any more.

I haven't commented on the BB in either case - in the first, because there's already a deluge of 1s and 2s (and a message inviting you to contact Staff if you have a non-payment problem with the agency), and in the second, because I'd rather give them the benefit of the doubt in public, if not in private.

[Edited at 2007-05-11 14:47]


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:00
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
First reminder on due date (or one or two days later) May 11, 2007

Claire Titchmarsh wrote:
When do you start "hassling" people for payment? I tend to leave it 10 days to 2 weeks before phoning or e-mailing to avoid the normal excuses like "we only pay on the 10th of the month".


Hi Claire,

Do you mean "10 days to 2 weeks after the due date"? If so, I strongly believe you need to be more on the ball regarding such matters. As a matter of routine, I send out the first reminder one or two days after the due date. Better still, in my opinion, to ring up the client (ideally your accounts contact) to find out about the status of your payment.

My 2c,
Steffen

P.S. Almost no probs with late payers at my end


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
learn to live with it? May 11, 2007

Claire,
I hate to say this, but it seems to be a fact of life. One of the bedeviling aspects, for me, at least, is that there are usually "reasons" why the payment is late. I'll give you 3 examples from my last batch of invoices (!):

One school had a change of directorship, with a consequent domino effect. A new person hired me for a small job, and I billed her on March 2. I also billed a person in a different unit for the teeny amount of $40. The 2nd person asked me if we could wait until I did some more work so that the transactions costs wouldn't be as much as the payment. I said, "Sure. But why don't you get together with the other person who owes me money?" She was willing to do that, but then the first person couldn't get her new manager to okay the invoice. Yesterday, 2 months after I submitted the bill, I get a call from a research center in a different city. They are going to pay next week because they were really the organization that requested the job and, as the caller explained, were horribly embarrassed that I hadn't been paid.

On April 1, a professor at a major univeristy contacted me. After arranging terms, I asked her to put me in touch with her staff so that I could be entered in the purchasing system. She told me that I needed to fill out a w9, but she forgot to attach it. Then she said the staff was running a major conference, and couldn't help me "now". After I submitted my bill on 4/26, she said she'd review it and get back to me. A week went by and I heard nothing. So, I wrote her again. Then, she put me in contact with the office manager, who said that a staff member would contact me with the paperwork. She didn't; so I had to write to her. Finally, yesterday, I got the ball rolling, but it will be FOUR WEEKS (roughly 50 days after billing) before I get paid. I don't think anyone intended not to pay, but I certainly wasn't a priority for them!

The final case is a long-term, good client. I submitted 3 invoices; they paid 2 of them. The explanation was that they couldn't pay all 3 together?! Supposedly, the payment will arrive next week (still weel within the 30 day period).

I could have managed the US university problem better, but the other two really were idiosyncratic problems, and I'm not going to lose sleep over them.


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casey
United States
Local time: 00:00
Member
Japanese to English
Wow, 90 days, huh? May 11, 2007

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:

I assume you're not including the numerous Italian agencies who pay after 90 days end of month as standard. If I counted them, then I'd also be at around 60% of late payers! The ones I work with do however pay when they say they will.
[Edited at 2007-05-11 14:47]


...And I thought the standard 60 days in Japan was excessive.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:00
Italian to English
+ ...
yep, 90 days! May 11, 2007

You have two choices: like it or lump it. Still, once you've got work coming in regularly, it isn't really a big deal. It is great when you get one that pays within 30 days though. In my exerience outsourcing translators and one-man-band agencies are generally the fastest payers.

Universities and research institutes are the worse: with them, 6 months is pretty normal (my record is one year).

Actually I'd forgotten them, I was only thinking about agencies! The problem with the unis is that I have a long-term, very good relationship with the people I work with - and they, of course, aren't the ones who actually pay the bills. All I can do is hassle them to hassle the admin department, and eventually I do get paid. It's not ideal but on the other hand the work is interesting, it's the only work I actually do face-to-face as opposed to sitting at my desk at home, and it's by far the best rate that I earn. So that makes up for the wait.

[Edited at 2007-05-11 17:24]


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Generally speaking ...... May 11, 2007

I haven't have much trouble collecting, although once in a every blue moon I have to threat them to bring the matter into collection agency, with "this will hurt you as much as it does to me" plea.

Now, blue board and such are very good friend for us remote-controlled or remote-controlling freelancers, who has no means to chase the infidel half the way around the globe.
Nonetheless, there are few to whom this is not effective enough.
Here's an example that I encounter.

This involves a nominal amount of $30.00. He posted the job, I applied. I was to submit a sample translation which he promised a payment. He did not take my offer, nonetheless a promise is a promise is a promise.
He hadn't paid to that point, so I emailed. No response, and eventually I gave up. Time is more precious to me than $30.00, I convinced myself.
In the meantime since it's been a quite a while I have forgotten about him.
One day I was on the task of sorting and cleaning my Outlook, and this forgotten matter popped out.
I thought I lost his email address, but it was there!
I emailed him reminding that the matter is still hunging in the outer space like a debris of ancient Nova explosion.

He came back of all kind of accusation that it is my responsibility not remind me sooner. Hah? I did, and he ignored, or that it's such a long time ago he forgot about this. I threat him about the perill of bad name in ProZ BB is near. Ever since, I cannot find his name in this website.
I guess he find more people to use for free anywhere else.
I haven't get paid and the matter goes up in the smoke.

I just wonder if any of our colleague knows collection agencies in Europe (in case similar but larger amount money matter threats my financial well being).



[Edited at 2007-05-12 04:16]


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Carolin Haase  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:00
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Depends on the client May 12, 2007

If it's a client that I don't know well (i. e. have worked for only a couple of times) or who always pays a little late, I become persistent really fast - I write polite reminders and if that doesn't pay off (literally), I phone them- if I have to, even several times.

I hate doing this, but I don't think there's another way around that.

With clients who usually pay on time, I'm willing to wait and I don't insist, because I KNOW they will pay.

This week I even told one agency (payment due April 1st) that I would have "my" lawyer write a letter if they didn't pay - they paid now. Plus, I called them twice.

Oh well, chasing payment is a nuisance.

Best wishes,
Carolin


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Janis Abens  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 07:00
Swedish to English
+ ...
He has a point May 13, 2007

[quote]Susan Koyama-Steele wrote:
......
He came back of all kind of accusation that it is my responsibility not remind me sooner. Hah? I did, and he ignored, or that it's such a long time ago he forgot about this. I threat him about the perill of bad name in ProZ BB is near. Ever since, I cannot find his name in this website.
I guess he find more people to use for free anywhere else.
I haven't get paid and the matter goes up in the smoke.


Well although your client seems to be a true scoundrel, one might ask why you did let the reminders lapse... I had a similar situation with a Scottish company and a similar sum... too much trouble to chase I thought, but OTOH if you show them they can get away with it, they will continue. I emailed every week or so for 4 months till all the excuses were eliminated and I finally did get paid. I did not use threats, but rather subtle accusations of stealing our family's food and such. Even though it was a net loss for me to get the money, I would and will do it again for the satisfaction of not getting robbed. Fortunately I have learned to screen my clients better and may never need to....


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