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Poll: Do you apply charges for late payment?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 21:43
SITE STAFF
Apr 9, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you apply charges for late payment?".

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Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 07:43
English to Russian
+ ...
No, but I would wish to Apr 9, 2010

In my situation this is hardly possible. Last year my clients failed to pay me $2000 but there is little I can do to force them pay.

 

Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:43
Member
German to English
+ ...
No Apr 9, 2010

Because late payment isn't really an issue. Any client that pays too late gradually slips down my favourite customers list! If they keep doing it, they just slip off the list completely.

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Apr 9, 2010

I may "threaten" to, or try to apply a surcharge for PDFs, rush jobs, etc, but really it is not a practical option, because if they are bad payers they might just as well not pày at all.
I find that mentioning surcharges simply works as a reminder to clients to pay within a reasonable time. In the end, I will usually tell reluctant or mendacious payers to "find another monkey" because - maybe I'm weird - the respect of my clients is more important to me than quick payment. If they respect you and value your work, they will pay on time (if they are able).


 

C. Mouton  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:43
Member (2007)
English to French
never had to Apr 9, 2010

The only once a client of mine paid late... well, this is now: I invoiced the job in Nov 08 and I am still waiting for the money.
They say it has been paid to the debt collector I hired, but I still haven't got a cent of that.

Needless to say, I will never work for that client again !!


 

Gwenydd Jones  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:43
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
No Apr 9, 2010

If I can't get them to pay me, how is trying to charge them more going to solve the problem? Especially if it's a cash flow issue. I won't accept any more work from that client though, until the outstanding payment has been made.

 

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:43
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Late payment charges can be applied Apr 9, 2010

However, it seems to be a waste of precious time and admin work. There is no such thing as a client who pays them.

The only solution to clients whose payment habits are displeasing is: new and different clients.


 

Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 07:43
Italian to Danish
+ ...
No... but it will only happen once! Apr 9, 2010

Like Mary, I just let that client "slide down" and will hardly find time to do any more work for the agency, especially if the excuse for not paying on time is a bit lame.

I only work for "BB5 customers", and I guess it just could happen once in a blue moon that a client would have an explanation for not paying exactly on the due date. If it's a regular client, I'll be annoyed and let the agency know that I am, but if the issue is solved quickly, then I'll let it pass. But only for once.

I don't ever deliver late.
I request the same respect for deadlines from my clients.

And to finally give my answer to the poll: No, I don't apply charges for late payment. I don't even threaten to do so. I just don't work for them again.

I've lost quite a few customers on that account during the years! But I'm stubborn! I simply don't want to waste time on chasing my money!icon_smile.gif

Dinny


 

Michaël Temmerman  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 22:43
English to Dutch
+ ...
I did only once Apr 9, 2010

All of my clients pay more or less on time. Some even pay too early.

I only had one client in 2006 (a Belgian agency that caused many other translators a lot of problems as well, but I only learned that afterwards) who owed me around 2.000 euros. I finally had a lawyer take care of the problem. The lawyer kept the extra charge and I got my money (about 1 year late).

I haven't had any problems ever since. I'm amazed to see though that some people would still work for a customer who has given them payment problems in the past...


 

Interlangue (X)
Angola
Local time: 06:43
English to French
+ ...
Yes Apr 9, 2010

For direct, new and international customers, this is mentioned on the invoice (“terms and conditions”).
As a rule, I invoice at the end of the month and usual terms of payment are 60 days (normal practice on the Belgian market).
For one 'late payer' (3 to 6 months instead of 2), those charges are included in the rates, from the start (experiencia docet).
The invoices of one overseas client are sent when the amount is big enough (but at least once a year), to keep down the cost of bank fees. This organisation is then kindly requested to pay immediatelyicon_smile.gif
In case of delayed payment, I am normally patient enough and first send a reminder by email. Charges apply from the minute I send a registered letter. This hardly ever happens though, but I did go to court twice and won both cases.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:43
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The other way around Apr 9, 2010

I do offer a discount now and then for early payment. If they are negotiating hard on price, I might offer - depending on my forecasted cash flow - a discount for early payment.

Charging extra for late payment is rather difficult, as the client will struggle to stick to the amount on my invoice. Nevertheless, a late-paying client - as some colleagues mentioned - will slip off my priority list. They'll always find me just too busy to fulfill their needs. If they insist, my earliest possible delivery date will be sufficiently later than their request, for them to seek other options.

My standard payment term is two weeks from delivery. If a client wants a longer term, I'll apply twice the interest rate my bank charges. I've made a unilateral "deal" with the bank:as long as they don't offer translation services, I won't lend money at less than their interest rate. While I strive to be among the best translators in my language pair/specialties, I have no objection to be rated as the worst moneylending institution around.

One highly regarded translation agency hired me directly to translate their own web site. In this case, they couldn't say that they hadn't received payment from the end-client. Yet they paid a couple of days late. Not surprisingly, I haven't had time to pick any of the jobs they offered me ever since.

A much smaller agency, very surprisingly, was happy to pay me COD... one less item on their follow-up. As they had unhesitatingly accepted my full rate and their web site was not so complex, I voluntarily translated it for them at absolutely no charge. It's my investment in marketing, as it may lead this good agency into having more work requiring my language pair.


 

Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:43
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
No, I don't apply interest charges Apr 9, 2010

I imagine it would be like trying to get blood from a stone. If a client doesn't pay you on time, and there is no reasonable excuse or apology, drop them. And if you can't drop them immediately because they provide too much of your income (when the dosh finally reaches your bank account), then find new clients fast, and drop the non-paying one asap.

 

Cristina Heraud-van Tol  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 23:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never Apr 9, 2010

And I'm actually (and unintentionally) kind of applying them a discount! When I have to wait so long for a payment, then I'm even wasting time, I'm using that time to write e-mails or phone them, or rewriting an invoice again under the excuse some have of "Sorry, I lost your invoice, can you send it again?", or "What was your PayPal account again?". By wasting all this time, which I would otherwise be using to make another translation, then I am also losing money.

If I am already fighting so hard to obtain something that they owe me for my work, something that is my right, could you simply imagine trying to fight harder for extra charges? I'm happy if they eventually pay me. Once I get the money, I say 'bye-bye' to such a client.


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:43
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Create your own terms and conditions Apr 9, 2010

Why wouldn't you just specify a late fee in your terms and conditions that your clients and agencies must sign before you start working for them? Or do people work without signed terms and agreements?

It is amazing to me how much time translators will spend on unnecessary "CVs" and yet spend so little time on their business.

[Edited at 2010-04-09 15:10 GMT]


 

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:43
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Putting such charges in your terms and conditions is not going to make them pay them Apr 9, 2010

Have you ever tried it yourself, Jeff?

I mean, can you honestly say that you manage to make your clients pay late payment fees, and that they continue to give you work after that?


 
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