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Poll: Do your clients usually agree with your payment terms?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 10:54
May 31, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do your clients usually agree with your payment terms?".

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:54
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
My rates set the stage for the business relationship May 31, 2010

If I'm in a business relationship with a client, it's because we agreed on rates from the start. I don't raise them all that often.

I have had disagreements about word counts. One client was using OCR on a PDF of tiny newsprint to count the input in Portuguese, but the print was so small and the words so close together that I think separations between words were getting lost. My translation had an expansion factor of almost 40%. So I challenged the OCR word count, explaining that OCR software in English relies on a large matching dictionary, which is not necessarily the case used for other languages. I digress... They were nice about it.


Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:54
Member (2006)
German to English
Other May 31, 2010

My rates are usually mutually agreed and I prefer to keep steady rates and have partners that keep to the payment deadlines than to earn loads of money and have unreliable partners


Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 20:54
English to Russian
+ ...
Rates are determined by the market May 31, 2010

Whether we like it or not, rates are determined by the market. All we can do is to try to balance on the upper edge.


Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:54
English to Spanish
Confused about "payment terms" May 31, 2010

I understand "payment terms" to mean when I'm getting paid (e.g., 30 days from delivery) and how I'm getting paid (e.g., bank transfer, paypal, et al), but so far the replies have centered on rates.

Am I misunderstanding the question?


[Edited at 2010-05-31 15:37 GMT]


David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
Over 20% say they have no control... May 31, 2010

It is a sign of sickness in our industry, many of whose members do not seem to be able to find the strength and self-respect to resist and counter the damage done by globalization and, yes, exploitation of many translators worldwide, and allow themselves to be carried by currents that, if unchecked, will ultimately only lead to further erosion of our ability to earn a dignified living.


I can see now that the poll wording was probably not meant to refer to rates specifically, but, even so, payment terms start with setting rates, and and require negotiation to reach an agreement that is of mutual benefit. Simply giving up and letting the other party dictate the rules puts you at great disadvantage.

[Edited at 2010-05-31 14:09 GMT]


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:54
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Did I get it wrong? May 31, 2010

I understood this as not being about the eternal issue - rates - but as payment terms, i.e. when the client will pay the translator, in other words, how much time after the moment of finished job delivery.

I made an informal, unilateral agreement with my bank: as long as they don't offer translation services, I won't lend money at interest rates lower than theirs.

I set two weeks as my standard payment term, especially for translation agencies, because it's more than enough time for them to check my work, send it to the end-client who will check it again, pay, and then for the money to travel in the opposite direction.

I chose not to condone agencies playing what I call "the cash flow game". They get paid in advance or COD, and then use the money for their own purposes until 45, 60 or more days later, when they'll have to pay the translator with the money from the next job. If demand declines or stalls, they'll simply default.

Of course, clients that keep me busy all the time have a more relaxed schedule, so we won't be counting pennies every other day.

If that was the question, yes, more and more clients are accepting without hesitation my two-week term, and most of those that collect from end-clients COD or in advance are paying COD as well. I was successful in turning down every prospect willing to pay in 30 days from delivery or more.

After all, we are providing a service, and not selling merchandise kept in stock, and COD is the way it works for all other service providers, anywhere. If translators offer extended payment terms, they are actually lending money, so they should charge interest rates on that. Being professional translators but amateur as moneylenders, they should charge higher interest rates than banks, who do it wholesale. Translation agencies should do the same.

At least in Brazil, if you go to a home appliance store, a car dealer, etc. and want to buy on credit, they'll refer you to an on-site booth of an independent (sometimes belonging to the same business group) financing company, who will process a loan. We are in the specialization era, where the a sells, and a financial institution handles deferred payments. Of course, the stores also accept credit cards, which simply turns the lending process over to another financing company.

If translation clients want to pay for these services on credit, they can use their plastic with PayPal, MB, or any other e-place that takes it. However translators shouldn't be expected to enter the money lending business, especially at zero interest rtes.


Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Did I get it wrong (2)? May 31, 2010

I understand payment terms as the date when I get the payment from the client, not the rates.

A different way to perceive the word "term" perhaps?


Rebecca Garber  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:54
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
We mutually agree on terms May 31, 2010

There is a negotiation with new clients. What price, what unit, what timeframe.
If we don't agree, then they are not my clients. Usually they walk away because of the rates.

I have had enough work these past years not to worry too much if one client pays in 30 days and another in 45.
I do not accept payment periods that are longer than that. And I charge 2% if they are late. Only 2 have been, and I'm working with neither at this point.

I have clients that I invoice after every project and clients that I invoice monthly.
I must admit that I prefer monthly invoices because there is less paperwork for me, but the constant money stream is nice for the other.

I have a few very nice niche specializations, so I almost always have work. So I'm not particularly worried about rates or payment periods, as long as the client meets my minimums.


Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:54
Member (2009)
French to English
Too simple May 31, 2010

If they don't appear with my payment terms, they don't become my client.


Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:54
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Do you mean clients or potential clients? May 31, 2010

Clearly my clients agree to my terms. Otherwise they would not become my clients.


Wil Hardman  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
20% is worryingly high May 31, 2010

I understood payment terms to mean all negotiable payment-related variables, one of which is the rate. Although I must admit that when reading the question it was the rate that came to mind first, as for me this is usually the issue that gives rise to most disagreements.

I set my own payment terms, although in certain cases I am prepared to negotiate. To me it seems like common sense that anyone providing a service should set their own terms and should also have certain minimums below which they are not prepared to go.

I totally agree with what David has to say on the matter: If that 20% of translators decided to start trying to set their own terms, we'd all get a fairer rate for our work


Izabela Szczypka  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:54
English to Polish
+ ...
I couldn't agree more May 31, 2010

Steven Capsuto wrote:

Clearly my clients agree to my terms. Otherwise they would not become my clients.

After all, when I need the service of a charwoman or a babysitter, I don't go about it to the tune of "I'm going to pay you $5 ph and only after a month, please arrive for the job at 9am on Monday". If those people are able to set their own terms of business, why some translators aren't?


Local time: 19:54
English to Swedish
I try to make them... May 31, 2010

Few things infuriate me more than big companies that want to "streamline" everything and thus force everyone they hire to play by -their- rules. Normally when you buy a service, you pay the invoice according to the terms stated by the service provider. I have to pay my rent, my electricity, my phone, etc. before the end of the month. 30 days (sometimes less). If I don't pay, they shut my power off and evict me. But a lot of outsourcers, be it end clients or agencies, say "60 days net" or "30 days from end of month the invoice is received" (so if you send the May invoice on June 1st, you don't get paid until July 31st) and you just have to obey or not be hired.

I think many companies don't see freelancers as service providers. They call us "independent contractors" and they mean "employees", but without the hassle of tracking and paying taxes, pensions and social security. They want to incorporate us into the system like employees, without control over when we get paid or how.icon_frown.gif I don't work for many such clients anymore, but I know that even if I won't, someone else will.


Wouter van Kampen
Local time: 00:54
Danish to Dutch
+ ...
Many agree but pay later, nevertheless. Jun 1, 2010

My standard terms are within 30 days of the invoice date. Some agencies insist on 30 days end of month or 60 days. Whatever is agreed upon; the agencies that actually honour the agreed payments terms constitute the big exception.

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