Poll: On average, how long does it take to get your invoices paid?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 00:26
SITE STAFF
Nov 2, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "On average, how long does it take to get your invoices paid?".

This poll was originally submitted by ferreirac. View the poll results »



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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:26
Member (2008)
English to Italian
everybody has different payments terms Nov 2, 2014

30 days after the end of the month
same day of the invoice
30 days from the data on the invoice
60 days from delivery


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:26
English to Portuguese
+ ...
<3 days on account of living in Brazil Nov 2, 2014

I've told this story over and over again, however here it is specific to the question at hand. So I'll keep this post restricted to the epilogue.

It stems from the fact that interest rates in my country - Brazil - are absurdly high, on a worldwide comparison. AFAIK in our neighbor, Argentina, they are slightly higher, and there are some other countries plagued by this malady.

Before feminists draw their guns at me, NO, this is NOT caused by both the aforementioned countries having female presidents. This also took place when men held this office, and some women-presided countries have decent interest rates.

Other players in the earlier part of this story were a) sudden and drastic shifts in foreign exchange rates; and b) hefty money transfer fees by such operators, especially PayPal.

To give you some figures, this table provides a comparison. I'm not sure of the time rate period there, however the figure for Brazil (11.25% now) matches what a bank here actually charges for overdraft. Most of my international clients are in the USA, where the corresponding figure is 0.25%.

A translator granting their clients delayed payment is equivalent to lending them money for the same period of time. Doing it in Brazil currently costs 45 times what it would cost in the USA.

To drive the idea home, it's foolish for a client in the USA to borrow money (from me, the translator) in Brazil, if they can get it it preposterously cheaper at home.

The epilogue starts in Jan. 2013, when I finally devised my current system. Triggering events have been omitted here for brevity. I completely separated translation costs from financial costs. I chose to be a translator, and NOT a financial services provider.


The way I found to motivate clients t accept my offer was twofold:

1. I state my rates for payment via PayPal within two weeks from delivery. Then I offer clients discounts for:
a) paying me via a less expensive method (PayPal deducts 6.5% in fees & openly adopts a 3.5% lower-than-market currency exchange rate - this means a 10% discount);
b) paying me faster, so I'll revert to them what I'd be otherwise charging as interest for the extended payment.
Combining both, they get my services almost 17% cheaper by paying me COD via wire transfer, at the expense of PayPal and greedy banks in Brazil - not mine.

2. I did away with rush surcharges (unless provisioned by BR law on sworn translations alone), however priority is given to those who adopt shorter payment terms. If maximum rush is required, they'll just have to pay (normal rates) in advance, and I'll only take ONE such job at a time.


It took a while, but it paid off. For the past four months 99% of my production capacity has been taken by COD payers. The remaining 1% is one long-standing client who prefers to pay within two weeks, but who never refused an occasional prepayment whenever I requested it.

My demand is getting so high that I'm gathering a 'grateful crowd' of colleagues, to whom I immediately divert any request I can't serve. I know their specialties, and always route clients to someone I know that will do a great job for them.

At this point, some readers may be thinking that I must be cheap. To reassure you that it's not the case, all these brave specialized professional translators I refer jobs to (at no finder's fee, ever!) charge exactly the same. However all of us deliver the same uncompromising high quality.

Back to the original question, to make my point clear, once I was offered long-term constant work by a translation agency in Argentina, where the interest rate is usually higher than in Brazil. They said they wouldn't mind if I raised my rates considerably, as long as I accepted being paid 60 days after month end. No, thanks, that would be shifting myself from translation towards financial services.

Bottom line is that your mileage may vary... a lot!


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Nov 2, 2014

I have one direct (non-agency) client that pays promptly. I bill them at the end of each month and they pay within 30 days.
The rest all pay whenever they can. On the up side, one client has just paid me in advance for translations that I haven't received yet (they had to use up their excess yearly budget).
My worst payer is a long-standing client (a small market research agency) and they sometimes take up to 6 months to pay, as they depend on when their clients pay them. Over the years I've learned to live with it.

In general, I'm satisfied with my status quo.


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Jane Phillips  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:26
Member (2013)
French to English
As others have said - very variable Nov 2, 2014

I'm still relatively new and started off with the expectation of being paid late, slowly and with difficulty. In a previous (slowly coming to an end) life I ran a nursery growing plants and 80% of my income was earned mid March to mid June, 20% in Sept-October so I am used to always tucking away enough to live on for a couple of months at least.

I was absolutely delighted when I started to find that all my clients (agencies based in France) paid, at the latest, by the end of the month following the invoice. My most regular agencies pay within 15 days of receiving the invoice. So no gripes at all.

On the other hand my very first client, and it seemed odd from the outset so I only did the translation for experience (my own) and because the subject interested me, announced an upfront payment by bank mandate ... I eventually received travellers cheques by the post ... need I continue. But I enjoyed doing the work, gained experience and hadn't actually lost anything but time.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:26
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
15 - 30 days Nov 2, 2014

One of my clients pays bi-monthly, which is good. The others pay after 30 days, either of receipt of my invoice or at the end of the month, the latter actually being a payment term of up to 60 days if a project was completed on the first of the month. Something that needs to be changed, I suppose.

I like José's payment policy. This is something to consider for 2015. Thank you, José!


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 08:26
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Nov 2, 2014

How long? It depends on the agreed payment terms! As I said before (another very similar quick poll), one very dear customer pays the day after receiving my invoice, most of the others at 30 days, one or two at 60 days. I have been quite lucky (have I also developed a nose for being selective?) as in over 30 years I only had 5 non-payment issues (4 agencies and 1 direct client): all solved, with the help of a lawyer for 2 of them...

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:26
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I said 15-30 days Nov 2, 2014

That's for my main clients. Others can range from immediately to as long as 90 days. I once had to wait 2 years to get $9,000 that was owed to me, but I finally got my money. A few have never paid at all.

[Edited at 2014-11-03 00:46 GMT]


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