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Poll: Did a client ever go out of business owing you money?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 21:03
SITE STAFF
Aug 1, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Did a client ever go out of business owing you money?".

This poll was originally submitted by Muriel Vasconcellos. View the poll results »



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Odile Stuart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:03
Member (2006)
English to French
+ ...
The opposite is true Aug 1, 2016

I would rather think that the opposite apply. Some clients are reluctant paying their invoice at all!

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 05:03
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, once Aug 1, 2016

One of my long-standing clients (a Belgian agency) has been declared bankrupt quite recently, fortunately they only owed me one small invoice (74 €). I declared my claim to the Brussels Commercial Court but...

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Aug 1, 2016

Not directly. However, as it happens, on Thursday one of my longest standing direct clients, a market research company, asked me to translate an email from one of their clients in the UK, who has gone into liquidation/bankruptcy. They then asked me to translate half a dozen PDFs with the formalities involved in trying to claim back what they are owed into Spanish, so that their lawyers can see what's going on. So, my colleague and I have been working on this all weekend, when we would rather have been doing something else. No doubt I'll have to translate any documentation exchanged between the legal eagles on each side. Unfortunately, it looks like my client, and a long list of other creditors, will not be getting paid at the end of the day. I suppose they have other sources of income, and will still be able to pay me what they owe me so far, which isn't all that much (not counting this weekend's legal/financial slog)...

BTW if anyone thinks I'm being unprofessional here by discussing my work and my client's business, that's their opinion. However, I don't think I'm giving away any great secrets here, and the Company (basically two chancers) has gone bust anyway. Caveat emptor.

NB: Apparently (allegedly) the main reason the company went bust was because it tried to pursue "growth" by moving from the sector it specialised in, into food and drink, but found the competition too fierce and a downturn in the industry in general, which eventually led to the firm's demise. Which, in my opinion, goes to show that sometimes you should be content with what you already have and not always be striving for more, more, more of this that and the other.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:03
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Twice Aug 1, 2016

In one case the amount wasn't very much, but the other was US$700.00. Both were agencies. The latter was an agency working for one of the international organizations I have also worked for. I much prefer direct clients.

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Ana Vozone  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:03
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Three times that I can remember... Aug 1, 2016

a UK agency that has gone bankrupt more than once but continues to operate under the same name and to contact me occasionally for more work (you can guess what my reply is to these contacts)(now banned from Proz), an American agency whose owner had a stellar record on Proz until a certain day, and now they owe me over 1200 USD (they are now banned from Proz), and many years ago a client recommended by a friend...
These cases are totally the exception, and not the rule... (I have to say the Blue Board has been very helpful in terms of "guidance"...)


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:03
Member
English to French
Twice Aug 1, 2016

2001: French agency bankrupt owing me 3700 euros. It had been a loyal customer for more than a year, but with 60-DAY EoM terms! Never again. 160k€ of debt from about 30 debtors if I remember well. Nothing recovered. The ex-boss reopened an agency a few years later in Paris. Not bankrupt yet AFAIK.

2010: Single-person company bankrupt owing me 1500 euros (2nd job). I received 1000 euros last year from the liquidator.

These are my only payment issues since 2000.

Philippe


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Katrin Bosse  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:03
Member (2009)
Dutch to German
+ ...
One time Aug 1, 2016

In 2009 and probably following the Leman Bros. desaster, a Dutch agency I had been working for for about two years went bust and tried to cover it up. At first, they kept stalling payment, then didn't reply to my e-mails at all for more than a year. I finally gave up. They owed me 330 Euro. However, I count myself lucky, because I heard through the grapevines that there were other colleagues to whom they owed ten times as much...

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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 23:03
German to English
+ ...
It may have happened Aug 1, 2016

Quite some years back I did a translation for someone who had a partner and they were working in Forex trading. I translated their web-site. They wanted to pay me over Paypal which I hadn't used back then, and then they had problems doing a transfer from Germany to Canada (which, given their field, was surprising). In the meantime my contact discovered something about his partner, maybe how the business had been run, they split up and the business was in trouble. There were sporadic promises to pay me on and off for a year. It is very possible that they went out of business, and yes, I am still owed money for that one. I am guessing about the company's fate simply because of the circumstances as they evolved. I believe I was initially hired in good faith and the intention to pay.

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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 09:33
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Once Aug 1, 2016

I remember something like this happening to one client once. But he didn't let me suffer for it, as he arranged to pay me from his own funds a little later. It was a substantial amount (a couple of thousand dollars) and several weeks work for me. But it didn't end badly for me, though it did give me some jitters.

Just to highlight that there are good guys also out there, and not all agencies are out to get you at the first opportunity.


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Paulo Caldeira  Identity Verified
Portugal
Member
Portuguese
+ ...
Indians and Arabics mostly Aug 1, 2016

This is the real true.
I not accepting jobs anymore from Arabia or India.
Most of contacts are not from agencies at all!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:03
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Twice, but both were in the teaching business Aug 1, 2016

I lost €350 or thereabouts each time. The second one was a very sad case, a non-profit association helping people get back into society and jobs, with a president who seemed totally out of her depth. She seemed frightened of everything, even saying "hello" to new contractors. Well, one day she simply disappeared, with all the association's cash, computers etc. She'd taken her pre-school son to another part of the country to hide but it took the police all of two days to track her down. Most of the money was lost in some way, unfortunately. She ended up in prison, her boy in care, her employees jobless, and I of course was out of pocket for a "CV in English" course I'd given.

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Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 06:03
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
several times Aug 1, 2016

by Hungarian and Russian and Romanian clients. Only one client from the UK. And one from Syria.
The biggest sum/part in relation with Romanian clients.

[Edited at 2016-08-01 20:46 GMT]


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:03
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Once, but I got paid Aug 1, 2016

Yes, one regular client who had been paying me regularly started going out of money. They "pushed" me for three months, and the amount added up to about US$ 3000. But as soon as I found out they were doing the same to other translators, I hired a lawyer and filed a complaint against them. I received the money and the attorney fees from them in 30 days.( after the hearing). The law prioritizes employees first and suppliers last, so I had to be really fast in this action. I believe many others did not receive what they had the right to, because they took too long and the company went bankrupt.

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
Funny story Aug 2, 2016

One agency, which I lost as a client after several years, did not go bankrupt nor did they suffer some financial calamity like being badly leveraged. The owner called me one day and told me that she was selling the agency because she wanted to devote her time to make and sell sculptures.

A great agency by all standards.

About direct clients: most of us who have been in this profession for a number of years know that clients are not just translation agencies and direct clients. There are many other types of equally suitable clients to develop a profitable relationship.


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