Need a reliable debt collector in the US
Thread poster: Daria Bontch-Osmolovskaia

Daria Bontch-Osmolovskaia
Australia
Local time: 15:05
Member (2010)
Russian to English
+ ...
Jan 27, 2012

Sadly, I find myself in a situation where I need to engage a debt collection company, and I need your help. I've never had to do this before, and I am feeling a bit intimidated, especially because the client is located in a different country

To explain my situation - I live in Australia, but my client is in the US. The client is a private company. I have done a significant amount of work for them late last year, and the payment was split over 2 invoices. They have paid my first invo
... See more
Sadly, I find myself in a situation where I need to engage a debt collection company, and I need your help. I've never had to do this before, and I am feeling a bit intimidated, especially because the client is located in a different country

To explain my situation - I live in Australia, but my client is in the US. The client is a private company. I have done a significant amount of work for them late last year, and the payment was split over 2 invoices. They have paid my first invoice (a week late, but they paid), however the second one is now gone 30 days overdue. One of the directors of that company is a trusted friend, and he has advised me about the financial situation of the company (in summary - not good), and that I should engage a debt collection company right now and not wait, which is what I am planning to do. This invoice is about 6K, so I am really keen to collect payment.


I would appreciate any advice - how to proceed, what to do... and if anyone can recommend a reliable and inexpensive debt collection company in the US, I would really appreciate it! There are so many of them online, I don't know how to tell the good from the bad. Also, from what I've gleaned from my research, a 15% fee to the collection company is the usual amount, is that right?

[Edited at 2012-01-27 23:40 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-01-27 23:40 GMT]
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Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:05
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
ATA membership for debt collection services Jan 28, 2012

I don't know offhand of any debt collection services, other than through the ATA (American Translators Association). There are no doubt plenty of others, but have always figured that if I needed to engage such services, I'd use the ones connected with the ATA, because they'd be more or less road-tested in terms of helping translators. Maybe somebody else has something more concrete to recommend?

Also, I don't know how an ATA membership would work out in terms of your total costs
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I don't know offhand of any debt collection services, other than through the ATA (American Translators Association). There are no doubt plenty of others, but have always figured that if I needed to engage such services, I'd use the ones connected with the ATA, because they'd be more or less road-tested in terms of helping translators. Maybe somebody else has something more concrete to recommend?

Also, I don't know how an ATA membership would work out in terms of your total costs. (But I think 15% is pretty optimistic)
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Daria Bontch-Osmolovskaia
Australia
Local time: 15:05
Member (2010)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
ATA? Jan 28, 2012

Hi Yolanda,

I thought ATA was a certification body only... I had a look on their website and there is no mention of debt collection services at all. What did you mean when you said that 'you only know of debt collection services through the ATA'? Would you be able to provide me with the name of the company that specializes in translation-related debt collection, please? (if such exists, of course!) I would be really grateful!

Also, I can't really join the ATA as I am no
... See more
Hi Yolanda,

I thought ATA was a certification body only... I had a look on their website and there is no mention of debt collection services at all. What did you mean when you said that 'you only know of debt collection services through the ATA'? Would you be able to provide me with the name of the company that specializes in translation-related debt collection, please? (if such exists, of course!) I would be really grateful!

Also, I can't really join the ATA as I am not a US citizen. We have our own certification bodies, exams and databases in Australia, but that's not what I need right now
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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
English to Italian
+ ...
ATA Jan 28, 2012

Daria Bontch-Osmolovskaia wrote:


Also, I can't really join the ATA as I am not a US citizen. We have our own certification bodies, exams and databases in Australia, but that's not what I need right now


This information is actually not correct. You can join ATA without being a US citizen, even if not as a full member but as an associate member.


 

Daniel Grau  Identity Verified
Argentina
English to Spanish
Tried sending screenshots? Jan 28, 2012

I've had success posting negative feedback on the various translator forums, then sending screenshots of the postings to the company. Some sites won't let you see the post once it's published, unless you are a member, so I advise you to take the screenshot before submitting the comment.

As for collection companies, just do a Google search. Fees are around 30%. These are some that I found before I took the screenshot course of action:

  • http://www.rapidrecoverysolution... See more
  • I've had success posting negative feedback on the various translator forums, then sending screenshots of the postings to the company. Some sites won't let you see the post once it's published, unless you are a member, so I advise you to take the screenshot before submitting the comment.

    As for collection companies, just do a Google search. Fees are around 30%. These are some that I found before I took the screenshot course of action:

  • http://www.rapidrecoverysolution.com/FaQ.html
  • http://www.collectionservices.com/FAQ.aspx
  • http://www.morgancurtiscollects.com/claim.php
  • http://ycscollects.com/
  • http://www.wcgcollects.com/commercial-debt-recovery/108.html ▲ Collapse


  •  

    Daria Bontch-Osmolovskaia
    Australia
    Local time: 15:05
    Member (2010)
    Russian to English
    + ...
    TOPIC STARTER
    Screenshots Jan 28, 2012

    Daniel Grau wrote:

    I've had success posting negative feedback on the various translator forums, then sending screenshots of the postings to the company. Some sites won't let you see the post once it's published, unless you are a member, so I advise you to take the screenshot before submitting the comment.

    As for collection companies, just do a Google search. Fees are around 30%. These are some that I found before I took the screenshot course of action:

  • http://www.rapidrecoverysolution.com/FaQ.html
  • http://www.collectionservices.com/FAQ.aspx
  • http://www.morgancurtiscollects.com/claim.php
  • http://ycscollects.com/
  • http://www.wcgcollects.com/commercial-debt-recovery/108.html


  • @ Daniel,

    Thanks for the links, I'll read through those sites. As for the screenshots... it's a private client, not a translation agency and, to be honest, I don't think they care what translators might think of them. I could certainly try to embarrass then on the professional and community forums within that industry, but again - if they are having serious financial difficulties, they might not care about someone like me fussing around. On the other hand, a threat of a bad credit rating record might actually do the trick (I hope!)


    @ Giuseppina - you are right, I could become an associate member of the ATA, I should've read the rules properly Still not sure how it would help me in this situation, though...


     

    Serkan Ozben
    Turkey
    Local time: 08:05
    English to Turkish
    + ...
    another debt collector Jan 28, 2012

    Hi Daria,

    I remember a company (London based) we worked with and as I remember they are a good debt collector company. I do not remember what they exactly charge for the debts they collect but you may want to check their website.

    www.moretonsmith.com


     

    The Misha
    Local time: 00:05
    Russian to English
    + ...
    A collection agency may not be your best course of action here Jan 28, 2012

    One is a good - or as bad - as another, and all of them are nothing but a bunch of lawyers writing menacing letters. Not that I have anything against the lawyers, but it's all bark and no bite. In the absence of a court judgment, they cannot garnish your party's assets, and even if they could there may be nothing to seize if the company is broke.

    Were you here in the US, you could theoretically take them to Small Claims which, depending on the state may now handle cases worth up to
    ... See more
    One is a good - or as bad - as another, and all of them are nothing but a bunch of lawyers writing menacing letters. Not that I have anything against the lawyers, but it's all bark and no bite. In the absence of a court judgment, they cannot garnish your party's assets, and even if they could there may be nothing to seize if the company is broke.

    Were you here in the US, you could theoretically take them to Small Claims which, depending on the state may now handle cases worth up to 10K. However, they own you 6K, not 600 and not even 60, so your expenses, including travel, accommodations and lost time would easily surpass the amount in question. You could probably hire a local lawyer to file and represent you in court, but again, it may just be too expensive to make sense. It's easy to check though: go on the net, find a couple of law firms in the same city AND (this is important for cost reasons) county and fire off some email requests to see what they may charge you for handling the matter in their local Small Claims Court. Additionally, there's a big difference between winning a judgment and collecting on one. Unless your party is totally stupid, they will have bled the company dry long before that. It's a private company, after all, and they own it. Personally, I am not very hopeful here.

    I hope you realize that this is a business equivalent of war, and if you want to see the results desired all gloves must come off. Of course, the most efficient way to resolve this would be to have someone pay your party a visit - with extreme prejudice, as military folks might put it - (incidentally, loan sharks usually have little problems collecting), but that would be expensive, rife with complications and, some might say, unethical. Personally, I don't see it this way, but there's also this small matter of criminal law to contend with. Forget that. Instead, ask yourself how you can hurt your party the most? I can't help you here since only you know the details. If applicable, contact their valued customers, suppliers, the industry association, and what not. If they are Jewish, and you know their mothers, write to them ("what would your mother say?"), and to their rabbi to, for good measure. Do your research and see what your options may be here. Then write your party a nice letter spelling out the exact damage you plan to inflict upon them if they do not pay. Do not make any empty threats and be fully prepared to deliver as advertised. That's the only way.

    I tried this approach personally before against service providers that I believed ripped me off, and the threat alone worked in most cases. There was an important difference however: I was an aggrieved customer, and they were big bad public corporations. Under such a scenario there's plenty more opportunities to raise a stink: BBB, the state's attorney general's office, state consumer protection officials and what not. Yours, however, is strictly a B2B transaction, and you are on your own - plus, you sit on the other end of the globe.

    Yours is as bad a situation as one can imagine, and this is precisely the reason I don't accept any business from parties outside of areas where I have at least some semblance of legal recourse. That effectively limits me to the US and UK, but I am getting by. I mostly do legal and finance, and these days the lion's share of this in our pair is channeled through British agencies anyway. In your case, I'd say chances are very high that you won't recover no matter what, especially if the company is Russian-owned, but don't let this stop you from inflicting as much damage on the schmucks as you can. After all, if you are not to see any money, you might as well have some fun.

    I sympathize fully, and if you think there's something else you would like to ask someone with boots on the grounds do not hesitate to contact me directly.

    Cheers and good luck.
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    LEXpert  Identity Verified
    United States
    Local time: 23:05
    Member (2008)
    Croatian to English
    + ...
    You don't need to be an ATA member to use the partner service Jan 28, 2012

    Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons) wrote:

    Daria Bontch-Osmolovskaia wrote:


    Also, I can't really join the ATA as I am not a US citizen. We have our own certification bodies, exams and databases in Australia, but that's not what I need right now


    This information is actually not correct. You can join ATA without being a US citizen, even if not as a full member but as an associate member.



    ... but you will receive better rates if you are a member. Depending on the amounts involved, it may be worthwhile to join ATA, but you can certainly contact their provider in any case:

    http://www.atanet.org/membership/sponsored_services.php#collections


    Edited to add:

    Daria Bontch-Osmolovskaia wrote:

    I thought ATA was a certification body only... I had a look on their website and there is no mention of debt collection services at all. What did you mean when you said that 'you only know of debt collection services through the ATA'? Would you be able to provide me with the name of the company that specializes in translation-related debt collection, please? (if such exists, of course!) I would be really grateful!


    See the link above. The ATA does not provide the collection service, D&B does. ATA partners with a several providers of services (and products, for that matter, such as books and software) that are of relevance for translators, whereby ATA members received discount rates. The services themselves are not exclusive to ATA.




    [Edited at 2012-01-28 16:48 GMT]


     

    Anne Pinaglia
    Netherlands
    Local time: 06:05
    Italian to English
    + ...
    Try small claims in the state the person is located in Jan 28, 2012

    Once you file the claim you can appear by telephone as long as you send a letter stating that you are not in the country (I've done this). Usually when a contract is involved it's pretty open and closed. Lawyers are not allowed to represent clients in small claims; you could represent yourself but if you can appear by telephone then your problem is solved!

    I would first make an attempt to contact the person by registered mail and tell them specifically in writing that you are attem
    ... See more
    Once you file the claim you can appear by telephone as long as you send a letter stating that you are not in the country (I've done this). Usually when a contract is involved it's pretty open and closed. Lawyers are not allowed to represent clients in small claims; you could represent yourself but if you can appear by telephone then your problem is solved!

    I would first make an attempt to contact the person by registered mail and tell them specifically in writing that you are attempting the collect a debt, spelling out how they can pay and possibly offering payment plans. Give a deadline to when you'll stop sending letters and file a court claim. I think the best plan of attack is to be strong and extremely clear about how you plan to recover your costs.

    Good luck!
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    Daria Bontch-Osmolovskaia
    Australia
    Local time: 15:05
    Member (2010)
    Russian to English
    + ...
    TOPIC STARTER
    update Feb 4, 2012

    Hi all,

    Just wanted to say a huge thanks for all the support and advice that you gave me, I really appreciate it!

    I got a few quotes from debt collection agencies (for the records - asking for roughly 30% of the final amount, no retainer or fees if the amount isn't collected). I also wrote a 'scary email' to the client, outlining my plan of action and what the damage it will do to their credit score. After threatening with 'the whip', I dangled 'the carrot' - an install
    ... See more
    Hi all,

    Just wanted to say a huge thanks for all the support and advice that you gave me, I really appreciate it!

    I got a few quotes from debt collection agencies (for the records - asking for roughly 30% of the final amount, no retainer or fees if the amount isn't collected). I also wrote a 'scary email' to the client, outlining my plan of action and what the damage it will do to their credit score. After threatening with 'the whip', I dangled 'the carrot' - an installment payment plan.

    It seems that those were the magic words as the client has immediately agreed to an installment payment plan, and in fact has made the first payment this week! So, even though it will take me until late April to get all of it, it's still better than paying a third of my hard-earned cash to the debt collector.

    Yaaay! (a most unprofessional comment, but who cares)
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