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Poll: Should a translator send only half of the work done until getting paid (the full invoice)?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 03:06
SITE STAFF
May 29, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Should a translator send only half of the work done until getting paid (the full invoice)?".

This poll was originally submitted by INES Reisch. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other May 29, 2016

Only if they want to achieve the equivalent of screaming "I DON'T TRUST YOU" at the client - which to my mind isn't a sound basis on which to conduct business. In fact, I'm even prompted to cite scripture: "Judge not, lest ye be judged".


[Edited at 2016-05-29 08:48 GMT]


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Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:06
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
No May 29, 2016

except if we are talking about very large projects such as translating a whole book

[Edited at 2016-05-29 08:54 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:06
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Never May 29, 2016

Unless those payment terms have been expressly accepted by the client in advance.

The only time I've ever invoiced without providing the full and final translation has been for private individuals. I do provide the full translation, but I have occasionally sent it in scanned PDF form with a watermark. To be of any use they'd have to spend an awful lot of time on it. I only do that if I'm suspicious that they'll disappear though.

For business clients a partial delivery calls for an interim invoice (i.e. partial payment), surely?


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not a good business practice May 29, 2016

I agree with Sheila: payment terms should be fully discussed at the beginning of the business relationship or before one is engaged in providing services.

Holding off delivery, even a small portion of the translation, because payment is late is akin to a breach of contract in my view. Of course, there may be mitigating circumstances and exceptions to every situation but that's why we have a 3-pound brain to make preparations, learn good business practices and establish good payment conditions ahead of time precisely to avoid finding ourselves in that critical situation.

You might think I'm discriminating against other primates with a brain weighing less than 3 pounds, but consider, for example, what chimpanzees do to each other when there's a breach of territory. Not a pretty picture.



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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
As a part of Risk Assessment May 29, 2016

(1) A provider (translator) wants to make sure he will be paid whereas (2) a client wants to make sure it is worth it, so (3) mutual installments minimize the risks for both parties: bit by bit, step by step.
This is how we did business with new and foreign companies in our region; no crime, no abuse.



P.S. I never understand those who hopefully agree to wait 30-60-90+ days to get paid AFTER the job is done, risking for pretty penny to spend another 30-60-90+ days at the revolving door of the court system--just to get a chance to get paid.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:06
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
You can't claim for payment if you have not delivered the goods May 29, 2016

There are often far better ways of reaching an agreement than withholding the translation.

In one case, I translated a book over a period of some months. This was at the beginning of the credit squeeze, and as time went by the client's business was under pressure too. Here she was honest and told me, so we worked out an arrangement, and she did pay. However, she needed the money from sales of her book to pay her expenses, so it would have been counter-productive to refuse to deliver the translation.

It depends a great deal on the terms of the contract. If there is a clause entitling either party to cancel the contract if the other is in breach of it, then maybe not delivering the translation will persuade the client to pay.

On the other hand, if it is a small translation, it may not make a lot of difference. If it causes trouble, loss or inconvenience that is out of proportion with the amount owed, then holding back the translaton is not really justifiable. (A certificate that delays the sale of a product, so the client loses a contract, for instance...)

I would prefer to negotiate, and a strong argument in any negotiations, even with the most difficult client, would be that I had kept my side of the agreement to the letter, and delivered the translation as agreed.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
Such common sense May 29, 2016

Christine Andersen wrote:

There are often far better ways of reaching an agreement than withholding the translation.

In one case, I translated a book over a period of some months. This was at the beginning of the credit squeeze, and as time went by the client's business was under pressure too. Here she was honest and told me, so we worked out an arrangement, and she did pay. However, she needed the money from sales of her book to pay her expenses, so it would have been counter-productive to refuse to deliver the translation.

It depends a great deal on the terms of the contract. If there is a clause entitling either party to cancel the contract if the other is in breach of it, then maybe not delivering the translation will persuade the client to pay.

On the other hand, if it is a small translation, it may not make a lot of difference. If it causes trouble, loss or inconvenience that is out of proportion with the amount owed, then holding back the translaton is not really justifiable. (A certificate that delays the sale of a product, so the client loses a contract, for instance...)

I would prefer to negotiate, and a strong argument in any negotiations, even with the most difficult client, would be that I had kept my side of the agreement to the letter, and delivered the translation as agreed.


Being adept at negotiating over issues of nonpayment, among others, is more mature and productive than the tantrum-throwing holding off delivery of the translation.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 11:06
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Why? May 29, 2016

If by any reason I don’t trust a client I just don’t work for him! I always deliver work as agreed with the client beforehand…

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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 20:06
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Big jobs May 29, 2016

On big jobs where clients ask the translator to devote weeks or even months to a particular project, payment in installments is and should be the norm. Hey, how else are we expected to live if we have to devote almost all of our time to one customer who is going to pay only after all of the translation is delivered?

Otherwise, if payment arrangements are already in place, turning non-delivery of work into a 'hostage situation' is not the right way of going about gaining trust.

On the issue of non-payment, though...

I heard a story here in Osaka many, many years ago of a translator who was having major problems with a non-paying miscreant. He went to the customer's offices, picked up a big electric typewriter (this is when they were pricey and worth something) and left the offices with it under his arm after telling the astonished staff there that he'll return it once he got paid with interest.

I didn't hear how the story finally turned out but kidnapping a PM is always an option for payment issues.

Small edit and addition

[Edited at 2016-05-29 10:49 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-05-29 12:29 GMT]


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
PM-napping! May 29, 2016

Julian Holmes wrote:
I heard a story here in Osaka many, many years ago of a translator who was having major problems with a non-paying miscreant. He went to the customer's offices, picked up a big electric typewriter (this is when they were pricey and worth something) and left the offices with it under his arm after telling the astonished staff there that he'll return it once he got paid with interest.

I didn't hear how the story finally turned out but kidnapping a PM is always an option for payment issues.



I smell the making of a soap opera, maybe a kabuki play of sorts?
OR…they could hire Bruce Willis as the disgruntled translator who takes a beautiful Mary-Louise Parker playing a daft PM who keeps forgetting to process translators' invoices?



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Martha Schwan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:06
English to Portuguese
+ ...
IT SHOULD BE May 29, 2016

Yes, it should be exactly like that in order to avoid tons of non-payment agencies around the world.

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Jon Hedemann  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:06
English to Danish
+ ...
I don't understand your question... May 29, 2016

Should it read 'Should a translator send at least half of the work done before getting paid (the full invoice)?'?

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:06
French to English
I agree with SHeila and Christine May 29, 2016

Terms are to be agreed before starting the job.
On some big jobs, work is to be supplied in sections, in which case, if they are spaced out over a long period of time, interim invoicing and payments would not be unusual. That would generally form part of the terms and conditions agreed at the outset.

It is tempting to use a witholding tactic with unreliable clients. However, the problem is that if a translator thinks this might encourage a notoriously bad payer to pay, the fact is that the translator is asking full payment for work he has not yet supplied. Chances are in many jurisdictions that the translator would be in breach of contract. Experience has shown me that a bad payer will be a bad payer for a small job or a bog jo; that well-organised clients organise their payments well too. Occasionally, things ca go awry with good clients. A bad client generally remains a bad client and is simply worth dropping... difficult to do when starting out though as you often don't have the confidence to drop a potential source of income.

What you can do with unreliable or new clients, particularly when the job represents a large amount of money, is to request a 30% downpayment, again, obviously, agreed at the outset. I have done this on big jobs with new clients and serious well-organised clients have no problem with this. However, on jobs which are urgent, clients may be reluctant to make a payment on account as the final invoice will be following a few days later. What I find works in such cases if 30% upfront, final invoice sent upon delivery with payment of the balance outstanding to be made within 30 days.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:06
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Cool May 29, 2016

Mario Chavez wrote:

Julian Holmes wrote:
I heard a story here in Osaka many, many years ago of a translator who was having major problems with a non-paying miscreant. He went to the customer's offices, picked up a big electric typewriter (this is when they were pricey and worth something) and left the offices with it under his arm after telling the astonished staff there that he'll return it once he got paid with interest.

I didn't hear how the story finally turned out but kidnapping a PM is always an option for payment issues.



I smell the making of a soap opera, maybe a kabuki play of sorts?
OR…they could hire Bruce Willis as the disgruntled translator who takes a beautiful Mary-Louise Parker playing a daft PM who keeps forgetting to process translators' invoices?



Do you mind if I picked up your idea to write such a screenplay?


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