Translators and the art of business April 3, 2012Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.
There is a discussion on the WPPF listserv about a company that may or may not be having payment difficulties. Here are two comments from two different posters with the name of the company redacted:
Company X owes me $1,181.70 for a translation job completed on December 26, 2011.
They owe us $19,497.73 for 5 projects. The last invoice was issued on Dec 26, we completed the project during the holidays without any extra charge. So there are about 80 days from the last invoice and around 90 days since the other invoices were issued.
I can understand the first comment, but the second comment just shows some terrible business practices. First of all, they worked for the company over the holidays without a rush fee or surcharge. That is wrong on just so many levels. Secondly, I don’t know how some translators can let such a large debt accrue with just one single client. That’s just trouble waiting to happen! I wrote off my invoice to “Dear Client” as a business loss on this year’s taxes (since it had been a year since I had sent the invoice), but luckily it was only $60. I refused to work for the client again when they contacted me a month after the first job and hadn’t yet paid my invoice. I could understand the issue with the first poster, but the second one allowed a much larger debt to accrue. That kind of overdue debt is unacceptable from a business standpoint.
First of all, one should never limit oneself to just one client, because this kind of shortfall might easily occur. In that case, I highly recommend making sure you have a cushion in the bank to cover the lean times. A few weeks ago I had about $8,000 in overdue invoices, but that was distributed among three different clients. All but one invoice have since been paid and profuse apologies were issued. The responses these posters are receiving from the client, which claims the accountant is no longer working for the company and the other accountant was on vacation until March 19th, leads me to believe that these people may never see their money. This means they spent hours and hours translating and might never be compensated. I sincerely hope I’m wrong, and they do get paid. I know that if I were contacted by the company I would most certainly not agree to work with them.
Luckily they reported the delinquent client to the WPPF listserv so that people have a heads up that there might be a problem. This is why payment practices groups and lists are so important. The link leads to a post listing all the available listservs out there. I hope you all are subscribers to at least two. I myself subscribe to four different groups. It allows me to be aware of who the bad apples in the industry are.