Translators: What to Do When You’re Not Getting Paid - Part 2
Because businesses today rely on email, many people have forgotten how effective a phone call can be.
In the event that you’ve added late charges, such as interest, to their account because payment has not been received, you might want to consider dropping these charges and advising the business manager that, if they pay their bill immediately these fees won’t apply, but that if your account is not paid by a certain date the fees will become due for payment. Your contract may state that you have the right to collect late fees, but goodwill often results in the payment of accounts; plus, you may be able to continue your working relationship with this company.
Don’t Hesitate to Call
Because businesses today rely on email, many people have forgotten how effective a phone call can be. In fact, a simple phone call can achieve a lot more than several emails or letters. So, pick up the phone and contact the business manager. Start by asking if they’ve received your email or letter: now the door is open for you to discuss your overdue account. If they state that they’re not aware of the situation, then you need to resend the information immediately, then call them back: if they say the checks in the mail, say thankyou and that you’re looking forward to receiving it. If they state that they have no intention of paying you, ask why. The idea of your phone call is to determine why you haven’t been paid, so you need answers to your questions. If you don’t get the answers you need, then your next step may be a certified letter.
Sending a Certified Letter
Generally, certified letters are ignored, but they are very useful when you’re preparing to take someone to court. That being said, some people will pay once they’ve received a certified letter. At least your certified letter lets your customer know that you’re planning to file a lawsuit in order to be paid for the work you’ve completed. In this letter, you need to advise a final date for payment, after which time you’ll file papers at the court. Remember to allow a reasonable amount of time for them to pay before taking legal action.
Taking Your Translation Client to Court
There comes a point when you realize that your attempts to recover payment for the work you’ve done have been ignored and that your client does not intend to pay. If you intend taking the matter further you’ll have to take your case to court. Do your research here because you’ll discover that many lawyers are prepared to offer free advice by phone on how to handle your legal matter.
Obviously, this is a situation that no freelancer is happy dealing with: however, you’ve done the work you were asked to do so you deserve to be paid. Is it really worth taking your client to court? It will involve a lot of preparation, time, effort, and attorney fees. So, now you have a decision to make: do you go ahead and file a lawsuit, or should you put the whole thing down to experience and move on? Sometimes we have to choose our battles.
Put an End to the Working Relationship
The good news is that most freelancers who initially experience a payment issue are able to resolve the matter with the business manager, and won’t need to resort to phone calls, emails, certified letters and finally a lawsuit. As long as you’ve behaved in a professional manner, with courtesy and respect to the client, your client should still be happy to work with you in the future. However, you need to ask yourself if you still want to work for them. It’s a very unpleasant experience having to beg and plead for money that’s owed to you every time you complete a translation project, and perhaps it’s time to let that client go. After all, it’s not work at any cost – sometimes the price is just too high. If the client is just too much trouble, then walk away; otherwise, you could well find yourself dealing with the same situation again.
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