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Poll: What fee do you charge for late payments?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

3ADE shadab
Local time: 00:32
Hindi to English
+ ...
Charge 10% extra.. Nov 30, 2011

I normally charge 10% extra after 30 days of delayed and clearly mention in my invoice.

 

David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 20:02
German to English
+ ...
Wouldn't dream of doing anything Nov 30, 2011

I have two customers who can at times be up to 6 months overdue - BUT: they are highly reliable, the rate they pay is excellent., they provide me with lots of interesting work and my cash flow can cope with the delays. Why should I attempt to bite the hand that feeds me?
(But of course I admit that this is a special situation!)


 

Simon Cole  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:02
Member (2008)
French to English
Pointless Nov 30, 2011

Like others, I have found late payment fees are just ignored. I tried once and it was simply deducted. Best to aim to drop poor payers.
I will consider applying higher rates where late payment has become the norm.
But my agency customers are mostly in France and despite legislation to protect small businesses, 60 days is the de facto minimum. Recently even translated some sales T&Cs for a French company, in which they specified 30 days payment terms for all customers except 60 days
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Like others, I have found late payment fees are just ignored. I tried once and it was simply deducted. Best to aim to drop poor payers.
I will consider applying higher rates where late payment has become the norm.
But my agency customers are mostly in France and despite legislation to protect small businesses, 60 days is the de facto minimum. Recently even translated some sales T&Cs for a French company, in which they specified 30 days payment terms for all customers except 60 days for those in France!
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Interlangue (X)
Angola
Local time: 20:02
English to French
+ ...
> 10% Nov 30, 2011

"Any unpaid invoice will incur interest at the rate of 12% per year.  In addition, a flat-rate 20% increase will be applied, with a 65 EUR minimum, as soon as the registered letter of reminder is sent.
Unless a written complaint is sent to the translator within eight days of receiving the translation,
the customer is deemed to have approved the translation work.
The Courts of Huy (Belgium) shall have sole jurisdiction."

Those are the terms my lawyer suggested
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"Any unpaid invoice will incur interest at the rate of 12% per year.  In addition, a flat-rate 20% increase will be applied, with a 65 EUR minimum, as soon as the registered letter of reminder is sent.
Unless a written complaint is sent to the translator within eight days of receiving the translation,
the customer is deemed to have approved the translation work.
The Courts of Huy (Belgium) shall have sole jurisdiction."

Those are the terms my lawyer suggested, according to local custom.
True, those who pay after the registered letter seldom pay the extra fees.
The 2 I sued paid much more, which covered most (but not quite all) my costs.

Late payers hardly ever get a second chance… I normally do not accept work from them.
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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 20:02
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I always send a reminder Nov 30, 2011

I usually get paid on time, even if it is towards the end of the 30 days.

If not, I send a reminder, and like David Wright, I have had a couple of otherwise very good clients who have slipped up, and then paid instantly with humble apologies when reminded.

For the sake of continuing good relations, I pretend it never happened, and it never happens again. (So far, anyway.)

If they don't pay promptly after a couple of reminders, I drop them. I intend to give
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I usually get paid on time, even if it is towards the end of the 30 days.

If not, I send a reminder, and like David Wright, I have had a couple of otherwise very good clients who have slipped up, and then paid instantly with humble apologies when reminded.

For the sake of continuing good relations, I pretend it never happened, and it never happens again. (So far, anyway.)

If they don't pay promptly after a couple of reminders, I drop them. I intend to give them a line on the Blue Board - but luckily I rarely have problems.
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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:02
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In memoriam
The carrot, not the stick Nov 30, 2011

Anton Konashenok wrote:
There is, however, a psychological workaround: increase your rate but offer a discount for paying your invoice on time.


That's the way to go, Anton.

I have higher stakes on payment methods as well. My rates consider payment via PayPal, which deducts 7.5% of whatever I receive as their fees. So my clients using Xoom (only works from the USA to some 30 countries - costs them USD 5 per transaction) instead, and paying on my payment term (two weeks after delivery) get a 7.5% discount. I prefer to give these 7.5% - which I won't have anyway - to my valued clients than to PayPal.

Exchange rates were pretty stable in Brazil for a few years. A few weeks ago the USD had a spike, going up some 10-20%. Considering that I pay all my bills in BRL, it doesn't really matter how many USD I receive. So when the USD is on a high tide upon my delivery of a job (again, to a client in the US), I offer them what I call the exchange rate game for immediate payment via Xoom. Most of the good clients take it.

For instance, using round figures, let's say a job was worth USD 1,500. My rates were set with the USD at BRL 1.50, hence for me that job is worth BRL 2,250. Yesterday the USD was at BRL 1.80. So my offer would be for that client to pay me immediately via Xoom (BRL 2,250/1.80=) USD 1,250. Bottom line is that they save USD 250, and I get the same BRL 2,250. The point is that we don't know what the exchange rate will be on the next day; if we did, we wouldn't be in the translation business. So if the USD drops back until the agreed payday, I'm safe.

Three comments are in place here:
a) My rates in BRL have remained unchanged since July 1994. Productivity gains from advances in IT covered the local inflation.
b) This doesn't happen all the time, it's a matter of taking the chance when - and if ever - it comes up.
c) It took me a while to figure out who is paying for this game. If the USD goes up, it means thar foreign investors in Brazil are withdrawing, possibly to cover needs at home or elsewhere. So they have to buy USD with their invested BRLs, the higher demand driving the exchange rate up. Hence those investors who are withdrawing relatively LATE are giving me/my clients a chance to make an unexpected profit. No blame, nothing illegal.

The lesson here is that I really fight for the interests of those clients who make themselves worth fighting for.


 

Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:02
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
Some great clients are terrible payers Nov 30, 2011

Though I am riled by what effectively amounts to providing free credit, in some cases the client's other merits outweigh their apparent inability to pay on time, in which case I am pretty lenient. If the bad payer also happens to be a bad client in other respects, I will hound and badger until the cows come home.

We also have to bear in mind that attitudes to timekeeping are a cultural phenomenon and in some countries which I won't name the idea of one's reputation depending on one'
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Though I am riled by what effectively amounts to providing free credit, in some cases the client's other merits outweigh their apparent inability to pay on time, in which case I am pretty lenient. If the bad payer also happens to be a bad client in other respects, I will hound and badger until the cows come home.

We also have to bear in mind that attitudes to timekeeping are a cultural phenomenon and in some countries which I won't name the idea of one's reputation depending on one's timeliness is practically a comical notion.
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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:02
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In memoriam
How can they be great? Nov 30, 2011

Simon Bruni wrote:
Some great clients are terrible payers


Simon, you got me puzzled: How can clients be great and bad payers?

Do they tell you jokes or otherwise keep you amused?

I don't know about you, but I am into professional translation to make a living. I am committed to deliver high quality translations on time. They should be committed to pay me accordingly on time. This is the business side of it.

The personal side of it is - on top of business courtesy - teamwork, so both of us can accomplish our goals. If the PM has bad breath, I won't feel it online and maybe 10,000 miles away (unless it's sooo bad to be considered an environmental hazard). If they are overly pleasant, it's just a way to - by responding accordingly - make each other's day better. If they are nasty troublemakers, no money, no matter how fast, will make the bickering worthwhile.

I have - or had - a large, not great, client whose many PMs are extremely pleasant to deal with. Even their accounting folks are nice. However that agency is a terrible payer. So I moved them to what I call managed availability. I'll take translation jobs from them only when I have absolutely nothing better in the world to do. Fortunately, I think I turned down the last two dozen or so job offers I received from them.


 

Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:02
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
OK, maybe not great, but good Nov 30, 2011

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Simon, you got me puzzled: How can clients be great and bad payers?



Perhaps 'great' is an exaggeration. Interesting projects, decent rates, regular work, friendly and effective communication and reliable payment (albeit late) - all of these qualities are more important to me than receiving payment bang on time every time. Of course, I have my limits.

[Edited at 2011-11-30 13:05 GMT]


 

Dave Bindon  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 21:02
Member (2010)
Greek to English
Am I the only translator... Nov 30, 2011

...who always gets paid early or on time? I've never had a late payment.

 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:02
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In memoriam
A different stance Nov 30, 2011

Simon Bruni wrote:
José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
Simon, you got me puzzled: How can clients be great and bad payers?

Perhaps 'great' is an exaggeration. Interesting projects, decent rates, regular work, friendly and effective communication and reliable payment (albeit late) - all of these qualities are more important to me than receiving payment bang on time every time. Of course, I have my limits.

[Edited at 2011-11-30 13:05 GMT]


You probably have a different standpoint.

Interesting projects do not depend on the translation agency, but on the end-clients they have. No agency will turn down a project on the grounds that it's too boring to keep our translators motivated. A pro should handle whatever is requested from them. A hobbyist may take only 'entertaining' jobs, and shouldn't care much about being paid at all, as long as they have their intended share of fun.

Decent rates is a criterion for ruling out a client, not making them great. If what they offer is a mere fraction of my honest market rates, why should I bother to waste my time serving them?

Regular work makes a client constant, not great. They definitely earn some perks in terms of availability, turnaround time, a freebie now and then, and other things. It makes them important for your income, but not great as a client.

Good communication, if they lack it, works against both. If they request (free) rework from you because of inadequate instructions, they'll end up delivering late.

Friendly is the usual outcome of each one repeatedly exceeding the other's expectations, professionally.

The difference in our views is that you itemize these things, while I evaluate the client as a whole: How much effort is it worth for me to put in this partnership? For some clients I don't have a limit (within reasonable, of course).


 

SYTham  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 03:02
Chinese to English
+ ...
Never thought of charging Nov 30, 2011

I have never thought of charging for late payment. I usually make a mental note and if it becomes a habit for that client to pay me late, I would stop working with them. I also make sure they pay any outstanding fees before accepting the next assignment.

 

Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:02
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
No way José (sorry, couldn't resist) Nov 30, 2011

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

A pro should handle whatever is requested from them. A hobbyist may take only 'entertaining' jobs, and shouldn't care much about being paid at all, as long as they have their intended share of fun.



What a "pro should" do is entirely up to the pro in question. If you ask me not having to do "whatever is requested" is something to aspire to. It's not hobbyism, it's ambition, professional ambition, a fascination with certain fields and styles of writing, and wanting to spend one's life immersed in something compelling. In all fields, those at the top of the game can afford to be selective. In my experience, focusing on the translation side of things, the business side of things tends to work itself out.

Sadly there is a palpable inclination in the industry, judging by the topics of the vast majority of forums, blogs, webinars etc, towards the "business" and not the craft of translating.

[Edited at 2011-11-30 15:42 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
In many ways Nov 30, 2011

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

... How can clients be great and bad payers?



Payment issues aside, the most important things for me are:
- that my clients LISTEN to my comments, suggestions and concerns and try to take them on board;
- they try to take the time (and budgets) needed for translations into account when planning their activities;
- they appreciate and acknowledge my efforts;
- they are flexible and respond to queries;
- they treat me as a person and not just another business or some faceless service provider (whether I am or not).
- they come back for more.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ditto Nov 30, 2011

Simon Bruni wrote:

What a "pro should" do is entirely up to the pro in question. If you ask me not having to do "whatever is requested" is something to aspire to. It's not hobbyism, it's ambition, professional ambition, a fascination with certain fields and styles of writing, and wanting to spend one's life immersed in something compelling. In all fields, those at the top of the game can afford to be selective. In my experience, focusing on the translation side of things, the business side of things tends to work itself out.

Sadly there is a palpable inclination in the industry, judging by the topics of the vast majority of forums, blogs, webinars etc, towards the "business" and not the craft of translating.

[Edited at 2011-11-30 15:42 GMT]


Sums up my take on things to the letter


 
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