Translators: What to Do When You’re Not Getting Paid - Part 1
In this post we’ll take a look at some ways of ensuring you get paid for the work you deliver.
Unfortunately, it’s just a fact of life that the following will happen to every freelance translation expert at some point in their career: your client either forgets, delays in paying, or worse, outright refuses to pay for the work you’ve completed. It doesn’t matter what freelance profession you’re in; everyone has experienced the client who doesn’t want to pay for the project you’ve worked so hard on. In this post, we’ll take a look at some ways of ensuring you get paid for the work you deliver.
Obviously, you can always take the client to court, but that’s not the ideal way of handling this type of situation: you need to start with the least damaging methods of collecting this debt, and the first one is to check your contract. We’re assuming here that you have a contract! It’s vitally important that both you and your client sign a contract prior to the commencement of any work.
Check the Wording of Your Contract
Payment terms should have been clearly stated in your contract, and this would include when you were to be paid, and how. Your contract should also state that late fees would be added to the invoice if the client failed to pay within the set time-frame. So, your first course of action is to resend the invoice, and if you receive no response you need to send the invoice again. Don’t do this on a daily basis – wait for a couple of weeks before resending, and make sure you send a note with your reminder advising that their account is overdue for payment. You might also say that you’re sending a reminder in the event that your first invoice went astray: this gives the client a ‘way-out’ (so to speak) and they can pretend they didn’t receive the first account and simply pay on your reminder notice. If you still receive no response, then your suspicions are confirmed that they’re avoiding paying your account. If, on the other hand, you don’t have anything in writing and you’re dealing with a client who’s ignoring you, send a letter as if you did have a translation contract: advise that you agreed on the terms and a payment amount and you’re requesting advice as to when payment will be made.
Contact the Business Manager
Generally, freelancers won’t be dealing with the person who’s responsible for paying the company’s accounts: you could be dealing with someone from the creative department because they’re aware of the project, which means that you’re not actually dealing with the person responsible for financial matters. Send an email or letter to the company’s business manager, together with a copy of your mutually signed contract (if you have one) and your invoice, and this will normally result in payment. The easiest way to find out who the business manager is, is to call the company and ask for the person’s name. Don’t ask to speak to that person and don’t go into details about who you are – just get their name and their contact information. Explain in your email or letter that you completed the project on (insert date) and that you’re including a copy of the outstanding invoice and the contract which was signed by their company representative. Also, include just how overdue your invoice has become.