Linguists Beware: Non-Payment

This is a first (and last) for us, as we have only worked with two agencies on two projects in more than seven years in business. Unfortunately, one of these agencies has not paid us after more than 120 days. Calls, e-mails, and friendly calls from our pro bono legal folks have proved to be futile. With the advice of our friends and colleagues at the American Translators Association, we have decided to send this agency to collections. We already posted about this on payment practices sites so our fellow linguists can be aware of this company, but we also wanted to take advantage of this forum to spread the news. After all, the dissemination of this type of information is paramount to all our success.

The company in question is All Languages Inc., located in Florida. We have tried to establish two-way communication with them and were even willing to accept payment plans, but we've never even gotten past the receptionist who has no information, and we are told that the boss is not in the office but that we can call back in 30 minutes. And in an hour. Or leave the number and he will get right back to us. And what's that invoice number again? You get the idea. The owner's name is Erick Alin.

We hope that you find this information useful and that it saves you some grief -- no need for any of us to make the same mistake of working for a company that does not pay its contractors.


7 comments:

Jim on April 6, 2009 at 12:34 PM said...

Before starting to work for Tomedes.com, I had decided whether an agency is credible based on its website. If the website was professional and had a high page rank and good Alexa rank, I would go for it.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on April 6, 2009 at 1:38 PM said...

@Jim: Agreed. We checked the company out on Payment Practices (our favorite site), and there was no record. They came recommended through a friend (which is why we accepted the project) -- so we felt pretty good. Unfortunately, we were wrong! Of course, we don't traditionally work for agencies, but the strategies you mention are great. Thanks for reading/commenting.

Karen Tkaczyk on April 9, 2009 at 7:42 PM said...

I don't know how true this is: perhaps someone in the know can confirm, but I have heard that Florida has a particular problem with non-paying agencies. Something to do with state law.
I am still at a 100% payment record after four years, and most of my clients are agencies. It took me seven months to get paid by one Parisian client though.

Anonymous said...

Collections is something any translator should consider at 60 days, and definitely at 90 days after making multiple weekly attempts at contact by e-mail and phone. For $40 or so, you can have a collections agency merely send collections letters, which is often enough to motivate payment, but if not you can enter into actual collections for a substantial fee (though at 120 days it might be worthwhile to pay that and least get some money instead of none).

Good luck! Keep us updated.

-MT

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on April 14, 2009 at 5:24 PM said...

Thanks, MT, agreed. We looked into several collection agencies, but never considered the "just-sending-a-reminder-from-big-collection-agency" approach, as this customer really is unable or unwilling (or both) to pay. We went with D&B, as recomended by the ATA. Of course, they will take 30% if they collect, but we will take it. This is definitely a first for us, but something that, as small business owners, we need to deal with.

germantranslator on April 15, 2009 at 11:56 PM said...

Yes, that's true, about Florida-based agencies, which is why I don't work for them at all.

Svetlana Cunningham on December 29, 2011 at 2:49 PM said...

Judy,

Thank you for the post. I have just started establishing myself as a translator/interpeter in Pennsylvania and each time a client contacts me, I always think whether it is a valid contact or not. What is the best way to recognize that? Also, is it in practice in the U.S. to request services first and then invoice the client? I alsked a client of mine for 50% pre-payment and then he other 50% after the completion of the assignment and he said no. How can I then be sure that I will be paid for my work? Thank you.

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