What To Do When You Don't Get Paid For Your Translation Or Interpretation Services

What to do when you don't get paid for your translation or interpretation services?

So you have done your due diligence researching the client beforehand and taken the necessary preventive measures implementing an air tight statement of service; but still, the client has failed to pay your final balance.  

Now what?

Before you begin to pursue the debt consider these tips:

Cease all work.

Take quick action.

Keep it polite and professional.

Stick to the facts not your opinion.

Keep all correspondence and agreements.

Keep records and notes of all conversations.

What To Do When You Don't Get Paid For Your Translation Or Interpretation Services | www.elingual.net


Here are the steps and options you can take when you do not get paid for your services.

1. Notify in writing.

You need to have proof (in writing) that the client has been reasonably notified and that they are aware they have to pay.

Send a friendly reminder of their outstanding balance (with added interest included) by email, phone, certified mail, and/or fax.

Let the client know that you have the copyrights of the translation and they have no legal right using your translation until you are paid in full, if they do, the client commits copyright infringement.

You can also let the client know that you will not deliver the remaining files (if it applies) until the balance is paid in full.

Email: send yourself a carbon copy (cc:)

Phone: take note of the day, time, and person you spoke to and what was discussed.  Try to speak to the owner, project manager or CFO.

Mail: use certified mail.

Fax: make sure your fax went through and it is recorded (fax number, day, and time) that is was successfully sent.

2.  Attorney Letter.

Have your attorney send another friendly reminder.  

The lawyer will write a letter demanding prompt payment with interest including lawyer fees.

3.  Collections Agency.

Instead of going to court you have the option of selling the debt to a collector.  

They usually will take 25-50% of the debt as payment.

4.  Legal Action.

Take your case to Small Claims Court.  

If you know your way around the legal system file your claim or authorize your lawyer to submit a claim in which he also requests payment of both the lawyer and court fees.

*If you feel you are a victim of a scam then you need to inform the local authorities (police, FBI, District Attorney, etc) immediately.  Many scammers will simply disappear and wipe clean the 'scene'.

5.  Tax Write-Off.

If all else fails and you are not able to recoup your money at least in most countries this type of loss is tax deductible.

6.  Warn others.

Help your fellow colleagues.

Let them know who is breaking the law in every way possible, in which you feel comfortable to do so, in order for them not to fall victim too.

Here are a few ways to warn others:
  • Write a review on Yelp or similar review sites
  • File a complaint with the Consumer Affaris
  • File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau
  • Inform your associations and organizations
  • Let others know on social media groups (like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc)
  • Inform ethics and scammers directories, payment practice lists, and blacklists online

What To Do When You Don't Get Paid For Your Translation Or Interpretation Services | www.elingual.net

7. Lesson Learned.

Turn a negative into a positive.

Learn from your mistakes and review how you can improve .

You should also take the time to review your statement of service to make sure that the payment arrangement and terms are clearly stated.

These are only a few suggestions and points to help you get the money owed to you.

What has been your experience?

What has worked or not worked for you?

I would love to hear your experiences.

What To Do When You Don't Get Paid For Your Translation Or Interpretation Services | www.elingual.net

As always, thank you for reading and sharing my posts.  Please if any of my blogs inspire you, give credit where credit is due.  Let's be fair, honest, and professional. Let's help each other be great and stay great!

Feel free to connect or email me, Carmen Arismendy.  I'm a professional Spanish interpreter-translator and founder of eLingual.Net.  I started the eLingual Network because I could not find a fair, no middleman, no job bidding, ethical, and transparent meeting place for translators, interpreters, and clients online.  The website is in beta phase and by no means perfect but it's a step in the right direction.
eLingual.Net's mission is to spread happiness worldwide through happy translators, interpreters, and clients.
For the professional translator and interpreter, this means no middleman, no job bidding, the freedom of setting their own fees, having control over their services, and who they choose to work with.
For the clients, this means working directly with ethical and professional translators and interpreters committed to quality and value.
Join our happy community, let's work together!

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  1. It should be noted here that bad debts are NOT deductible on federal income taxes in the U.S. unless the taxpayer uses the accrual, not cash, system of accounting: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p535/ch10.html

    1. You're right Charles. Thank you for your additional information.


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