Freelance Translators: How to Deal with Non-Paying Clients - Part 2
When a non-paying client plays dead it’s one of the most maddening things that can happen.
When a non-paying client plays dead it’s one of the most maddening things that can happen. They’ll ignore your emails, your letters, and your phone calls, and they’ll even ignore a certified letter if you send one. So, time to get creative! Here are some tips that may be helpful –
- You may be able to threaten some sort of public recourse, such as: ‘Should this account not be paid by xxx a copy of this transaction will be lodged with Translation Industry Payment Rating Services’; or, ‘Should this account not be paid by xxx this invoice will be referred to the American Translators Association’s collection agency partner for further action’.
- Ask a trusted colleague to act as your collection agency. This method can actually be quite effective: simply ask a colleague who has an assertive manner to call the client and either speak to them or leave a message. They simply need to state that they are your collection representative, with reference to invoice number xxx which is overdue for payment. In order to avoid further action being taken against them, they should contact you as soon as possible to arrange payment.
- Suggest a payment plan. Obviously, this is not the ideal solution, but it is one way of getting paid for the work you’ve completed. Simply contact the client, saying that you understand they obviously don’t intend to pay the amount owed to you; and while you’re very disappointed with that decision you’d be more than happy to arrange a payment plan (or even a partial payment plan) so they can compensate you for at least some of what they owe you. Offer them any payment option you can think of: let’s face it - being paid something is better than receiving nothing at all!
- If you don’t believe that your client is unstable or dangerous you could attend their office in person, or ask someone else to go on your behalf. This someone else might be your collections representative; someone with a forceful personality, a person who doesn’t generally take no for an answer - who could be stopping by to check on the status of your invoice. They would, of course, be more than happy to accept a check right there and then!
- We also suggest that you advise your evasive client that non-payment of their account means that their name will automatically be placed on a list that’s available to all freelance translators and translation agencies. This means that, with their history of non-payment, no translator would ever work for them again! Whether this is true or not, at least it might give them something to think about!
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