Mar 14

How to deal with translation non-payers

It is several days past due date of our invoice and still no sign of payment in your bank account? Fortunately, it happens very rarely, but when it does, it can be a really stressful and frustrating experience. How best to handle such a situation?

Firstly, we should always assume good faith and stay courteous. No need to send an email rant or worse offend our client. If our payment is just a few days late, send an email along the lines of:

„Dear XYZ,

I hope you are well. I am writing to you as I have noticed that invoice no. 2 is now 10 days overdue. I am sure this is just an oversight on your part, so could you kindly attend to this matter as a priority?

I am re-attaching the original invoice.

I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,“

If we are lucky, an accountant or a project manager will reply to say that, indeed, this was simply an oversight and the payment is now on its way. But what should we do if our message remains unanswered for a number of days? Though emails are fast and convenient, we should now resort to snail mail to highlight to the client in question that we are serious and dissatisfied with their unprofessional behaviour. We should be firm and clear on our expectations and next steps.

REMINDER 1 / non-payment

„Dear XYZ,

I am writing to you, as I have not had a reply from you to my email dated –/–/—-. Invoice no. 2 for the job I delivered on time and to your satisfaction is now outstanding by XX days. This is disappointing and unprofessional.

Please, make the outstanding payment by –/–/—-. If I do not receive the payment within this time, I shall resort to other means. I will:
a) Make an appropriate entry in your BlueBoard record.
b) Contact ProZ.com staff for support.
c) Contact your local debt collectors.
d) Contact end client.

I am looking forward to your prompt reply.

Best regards,“

In the two non-payment cases I personally experienced, I received the outstanding balance after sending the above letter. Of course, I have never worked with these clients again. Unfortunately, cases have been reported where translators were not paid for months and had to take legal action against a client. This, of course, is our last resort and still does not guarantee the payment.

In our personal circumstances, we may use a combination of emails and formal letters. It depends on our previous track with a given client.

This post is by no means exhaustive but as I always assume good faith and have great trust in my outsourcers, I shall hope these tips will be sufficient to deal with cases you may experience.

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