The myth of the non-paying client December 10, 2012Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.
Catherine Christaki (@LinguaGreca) from Adventures in Freelance Translating has an interesting blog post about the results from the Common Sense Advisory survey of freelance translators. Her post was published on the 7th, but I am just catching up with my RSS reader today after a weekend off hosting my cousin from Florida. I found the results of the survey very interesting. Catherine was astounded that so many translators (65.3%) reported never having had to deal with a non-paying client. I don’t find that such a stretch. I think there are way more good agencies than bad agencies out there. It’s just that you never hear about all the clients that DO pay. Translators are more likely to complain about the few black sheep they encounter. I worked in the industry for 16 years before encountering my non-payer. Luckily I also knew to cut them off after the second job request, so they only ended up not paying $60 instead of several thousand dollars. In terms of numbers, that was several hundred paying clients (even if some of them were slow payers) against a single non-paying client. As I have preached time and again (and Catherine also advises), it really helps to do some due diligence on a new client before working for them. I agreed to work for the non-paying client because I was driving in my car, they said a colleague had recommended me, and they were in a terrible bind. Looking back, I should have made them wait until I could go home and check them out. But since it was such a small job I took the risk and accepted the job. If it had been a larger job I would have made them wait.
So the moral of this story is that there truly are many more good agencies than bad out there, and the numbers back this up. 65.3% of the 3,165 translators who took the survey prove this. Be sure to read Catherine’s blog post as well as click the link to the survey she has included in her post.