It seems like a common question of late is “How is the economy affecting your job?” While translation may not be recession-proof, my sense is that most of us are doing fairly well even in the down economy. The reasons behind this could be a post in themselves: for one, the weak U.S. dollar makes it attractive for overseas companies to purchase goods and services (including translation!) here. So for now at least, it seems that most U.S.-based translators aren’t suffering from a lack of work.
However, unscientific evidence suggests that late payment and non-payment are getting to be more of a problem. For example, in the first 5 1/2 years that I freelanced, my late payment and non-payment problems were very minimal, and dropped to nearly zero after I started requiring individual clients (i.e. not established companies) to pay in advance. In the last six months, this situation has changed dramatically, and I’ve had to deal with three different non-payment situations involving established companies. In all three situations, I had reason to believe that the company was solvent and reliable; i.e. I had worked with them before or a trusted colleague referred me.
Interestingly enough, all three of these non-paying clients dealt with the situation in exactly the same way: by doing nothing. Whether I e-mailed, called, or sent a certified letter, they simply did not respond at all, except to sign the return receipt for the certified letter.
Because of this trend, I’ve revised my terms of service. In addition to requiring individual clients to pay in full in advance, I’m now requiring that if a company is not a member of ATA or a similar association or is not rated on Payment Practices, it must pay 50% in advance for at least the first project. I can still see some problems with this policy, but for now I feel that it protects me against a complete non-payment situation.
Is the economy changing how you do business?