I sometimes read posts from colleagues who warn us of translation agencies that fail to comply with payment obligations. These warnings are of course welcome and very useful for identifying those potential customers that make such bad practices. However, the objective of this post is just the opposite: to tell you about a recent nice customer experience.
First, it was quite surprising as I did not even request this translation assignment. Someone from a Belgian translation agency contacted me via LinkedIn internal message to ask me if I could do translations from Spanish into English and if I was available. I answered “yes” to both things, after which she sent me the pertinent document for preparing an estimate. It was a legal document, a corporate governance code of a given company. It was not really difficult in terms of translation, so I decided to go ahead and prepare the estimate. I sent her the estimate and she replied to me that it would be, in turn, submitted to their client for approval. If so, the translation would be confirmed to me. They accepted my price without trying to negotiate downwardly (although I already offered them a volume discount), as is usually the case for documents with a large number of words.
In the meantime, I must confess that I was a bit on the alert, as it is strange to be contacted without any known reference and without having requested the assignment first, but to be honest, I had little to lose, just the time it took to prepare the estimate, which was not that much.
A couple of days after sending the estimate, I was contacted again by then to confirm the translation. At this point, I asked them about their payment policy. This was my second big surprise as they told me that I would receive 30% as down payment at the beginning of the translation, and the rest of the payment would be received within one month from the final delivery date. Now please excuse a little digression to explain that I am a translator based in Spain with an experience of almost 20 years, eight of them as freelancer. I must admit that I do not have too many foreign customers, but let me tell you that in Spain the fact of having an agency paying you 30% of the invoice as a down payment at the beginning of the translation is simply “science fiction”. The usual case is to work under a collaboration agreement by which payments would be made two months from the invoice date, although the actual payment is usually received three months from the invoice date or even more. I have a customer who pays me religiously six months from the invoice date, and our collaboration agreement indicates two months! Some of you may be thinking: why do you accept it? Well that is another story, food for another blog entry that I may post some other day.
Let’s get back to my nice customer experience. During the translation, which took about three weeks, I was expressly asked to deliver each chapter of the document (which consisted of 15 chapters) as soon as it was finished. I guessed they wanted to revise each of the chapters thoroughly. This was completely understandable, similar to the distrust I could feel of them, they also had the right to distrust me. All things considered, they never worked with me before and relied exclusively on my LinkedIn profile.
Eventually, I delivered all chapters and I did not receive complaints for the translation quality. As agreed, I received the rest of the payment within one month from the delivery date. You may think it is silly but an experience like this one has been really motivational. This is just the opposite of the frustration that one feels when an invoice is paid long after being due or not paid at all. In my personal case, after this experience, I feel very good and I’m happy that there are companies that value our work and respect our agreements, and I wish they all had the same behaviour as this Belgian agency. This is why I wanted to share with all of you this nice customer experience.
Nice Customer Experience
Hi, you might not believe it, in Hong Kong, I often get paid by first time customers as soon as I accept the job. They will put the whole amount in my bank and send me a photo of the transfer advice before I even start translating. As for my other customers, they paid as soon as they get the translation, with the exception of agencies because they need to get paid by their clients first.
Thanks for your answer. Then I gather that you manage to get paid quite decently, so I am glad for you in this respect. I think that having good payment conditions depend largely on the payment habits that exist in the different countries. In my country, they are not so favourable.