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Poll: How often do you ask for a down payment before starting a project?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 21:30
SITE STAFF
Jun 2, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How often do you ask for a down payment before starting a project?".

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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:30
Member (2006)
German to English
Never Jun 2, 2014

had to yet, and I am not sure if I would take on a job under such circumstances.

If I accept larger projects, I always leave me time in-between for other jobs so that I have an ongoing cashflow.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 05:30
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Hardly ever Jun 2, 2014

Meaning once or twice in 30 years... Anyway, I only get large projects from clients I have been working with for years!

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
Never Jun 2, 2014

To my way of thinking, this is tantamount to shouting "I don't trust you" at potential clients. Do unto others...

 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:30
French to English
Occasionally Jun 2, 2014

For a job which is going to last several or weeks and/or which will require me to incur fees (travel and accommodation) on interpreting jobs, then the client pays 30% upfront so that if he then takes time to settle the final invoice, I have not dipped into my own pocket for these expenses. I have no trouble getting it in such circumstances. Serious clients have serious business practices.

In such circumstances it is not tantamount to saying I don't trust you, just tantamount to saying I'm a pro, so are you, so let's behave like pros and both make committments.


 

Patricia Prevost  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never Jun 2, 2014

I have never found it necessary. Even with a new client, I always have some kind of reference and do not feel the need to ask for down payment. And if I do not trust a potential client then I simply do not translate for them.

 

Domenico Trimboli  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:30
Member (2013)
English to Italian
Rarely Jun 2, 2014

As I usually find references on the Blue Board OR on the internet in general.

But if I can't find anything and it's the first job with a client, sure I'll ask for a 30% down payment if the sum is over $/€500. I generally found clients understand it and see it as a standard business practice.


 

Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:30
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
Never Jun 2, 2014

until now, but I would, if I found it necessary.

 

Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:30
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Once, I think Jun 2, 2014

The client had a number of recent non-payment issues in his blue board record, so I explained that I wouldn't be able to accept an assignment without a down payment and gave him a link to his own record.

 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:30
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Once Jun 2, 2014

Thus far I've only asked for a downpayment when a potential client contacted me with a large job. This, within itself, is no reason for making such a request. However, the senders stated location, the location provided on their profile page and the IP address check revealed 3 different locations on 2 continents. When I pointed this out and ask for said downpayment the correspondence ended immediately.

My basic approach is quite simply, I trust you until you....well, you know what.icon_wink.gif


 

GeraldineF  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 06:30
English to French
+ ...
Sometimes Jun 2, 2014

I once was in charge of the translation of a +600 pages book for a publisher.
I've asked a 1/3 of the total amount as a down payment, a second third at the delivery of the 1st half of the translation and the last third at the delivery of the second half.
My conditions were completely understood by the client.


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 13:30
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Yes Jun 2, 2014

I have but only very rarely.

The last time I did was a complete revamp of an online printing service company's website, which was initially expected to last 3 to 4 months.
If I devote almost all of my time to a projects that're going to last this long and I can't bill until it's finished, I will run out of steam and money. So, like GeraldineF I asked for a 1/3 downpayment, 1/3 halfway through and the remaining 1/3 on completion. I think this is common business practice. You have to live.

After all, you don't want your translator to keel over never to rise again halfway through a big translation, do you? icon_biggrin.gif


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:30
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other: it depends Jun 2, 2014

For new, unknown clients, I might impose a credit limit. If feasible, they may have the option of breaking down the job into parts, each of them fitting into that preset limit. Any default on an interim payment will bring work on the ensuing parts of the project to a screeching halt.

If a translation agency wants me to re-outsource parts of a job, I'll demand up-front payment of at least the re-outsouced part of the job, unless I'm applying a hefty markup on that (which I strive to avoid, otherwise the agency - my client - will end up with a price that is definitely not competitive).

A typical case is when it involves translating and subtitling video/dvd from/into languages I don't serve, and the other translators involved don't provide any part of the service (e.g. time-spotting, burning, dvd authoring). Dubbing is another typical case, much worse, since this cost of this part may be a few times what I'll make from the translation.

Since I am not making any profit, I must have failproof insurance that, in case the end-client merely cancels the order with the agency after my outsourcees have played their role, I can pay them without a hitch.

Of course, since I'm not making a profit on third-party work, I have no objection whatsoever to the agency (my client) hiring those specific contractors directly. To my amazement, none of them wants it; they prefer to count on my reliability. Meanwhile I prefer to work with my carefully selected outsourcees.

I've had enough cases of end-client cancellations 'on a whim'. The agency in-between may plead that they didn't make a cent on that, and wasted time and effort, so they can't pay me. While - if the agency is a good and frequent client - I can bite the bullet and absorb my own loss, I must not have to disburse any cash to pay in full the third parties who delivered their work to me.


 

DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:30
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Nope ... Jun 2, 2014

I have never asked for payment before starting a job.
I can't imagine a circumstance in which that would arise, but I guess theoretically there could be
I have been paid in installments for large jobs, but always in arrears after submission of work and invoicing - never in advance.


 

Kate Deimling
United States
Local time: 00:30
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
A good idea to ask for a down payment for a job like this, or 1 or 2 other situations Jun 2, 2014

GeraldineF wrote:

I once was in charge of the translation of a +600 pages book for a publisher.
I've asked a 1/3 of the total amount as a down payment, a second third at the delivery of the 1st half of the translation and the last third at the delivery of the second half.
My conditions were completely understood by the client.



This is the kind of situation where I think a down payment is perfectly appropriate -- the translator will be spending a lot of time on this job for quite a while (forgoing other, faster projects and income) and it makes sense that the client will pay something up front. Plus, publishers are used to this kind of thing since they pay authors advances (this down payment is a similar concept for a similar kind of work).

The only other time I've asked for a down payment is when working with an individual direct client, if it's not a small job. Since there's no way to vet their credentials, I think it's good business sense to ask them to pay something in advance in order to make sure that they will pay up. If this is a one-off job, there's always a fear that they could disappear and not pay you with no consequences.

Kate


 
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