Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Getting Paid Across the Ocean

Take a fan and blow it across the Pacific???

A client and I are having a dickens of a time getting money — not much of it, we might add — transferred from the People’s Republic of China to the U.S. of A.

Her university’s accounts payable folks decided they would transfer the $300 owing to me for editing a fairly abstruse article direct from their coffers in Beijing to my coffers in lovely uptown Phoenix. Accordingly, a factotum in their business office asked for my credit union’s ABA SWIFT number.

I call the credit union and ask our factotum, “What is your SWIFT number?”

She says, “It’s the same as the routing number.”

I copy and paste the credit union’s routing number into my statement. Send it off.

Week or so later, client says the university is unable to make the transfer: the SWIFT number is wrong.

Copy, paste, send again.

Now along comes another squawk, this one from an admin from the university’s business office. SWIFT number is wrong. They have one more chance to deposit; if that doesn’t work, they can’t pay.

Lovely. I try to email a query to the credit union, but it won’t go through.

So I abdicate this morning’s networking meeting and drive to the credit union. Explain this to the teller. She hasn’t a clue.

It takes the manager to figure out the problem: the credit union doesn’t have a SWIFT number. A SWIFT number is not the same as a routing number. I point out that his employer’s phone rep said otherwise. He said “we try to train them not to say that.” I said they should try again. 😀

He says the sender needs to use a facilitating bank, which is a large multinational bank such as Wells Fargo, to get the transfer into a smaller financial institution such as a credit union. I say it’s a university in China! He says he’s pretty sure they’ll be doing business with a multinational bank.

So traipsed home after a visit to the Costco in those parts and the Walmart Neighborhood grocery store in my parts, sat down, and sent off an email explaining this. Suggested if they found this impossible, they could just send the money by PayPal.

So far, nothing back from China…but it’s probably been night-time all day here. By tomorrow, I expect, we’ll hear the next act in that drama.

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Author: funny

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  1. WOW…all for $300. I will share that in another life when I worked for a dredge manufacturer they had a heck of a time getting timely payment from the Chinese. And in addition copyright laws meant nothing back in the 70’s as these fine folks had no problem taking apart the US product and reverse engineering it to make in China. It was a REAL problem then …I don’t know about now. BUT I know getting paid was ALWAYS a problem.
    In addition, I seem to remember reading an article some time ago about Pizza Hut and others having trouble getting their profits out of some countries. As I recall they had to get creative and actually set up an import/export biz where they bought furniture and other things in say China with the profits and then sold the products when they arrived in the US…retrieving their profits much quicker than conventional channels.
    For $300 in services you would think this could be done with a simple Bank Draft or CC transaction….even American Express travelers checks!…Have you ever had trouble like this before?

    • Infuriating. They just emailed me demanding that I pay to cover their fees to pay my bill through some complicated arrangement. I told them to forget it: I’m writing it off.

      That’s ridiculous: their claim that they can’t pay without jumping through involved hoops is clearly specious. I’ve worked with 10 Chinese authors over the past year, and none of them announced they or their university “couldn’t” pay.

      Next time I do business with someone in China — especially the PRC — I’ll find out up front how they propose to pay and whether that method of payment is practical.

      As in Europe, they don’t have bank drafts. The rest of the world no longer uses checks very much. Even Europeans will draw a blank if you ask them to send you a check. But in Asia, it’s one big question mark. Some of the Chinese I’ve worked with have friends and relatives in this country; what they’ll do is have someone here send me a check written on a US bank. Others have had their universities — i.e., their employer — pay me. It’s ridiculous to think that Tsinghua University cannot issue payment electronically. I think they just don’t want to pay.

      Theft of patented intellectual property is a business model in China. That is one reason we enjoy imported goods that are cheaper than they can be made in the West, and it’s one reason China, Inc. is thriving: they just ignore patent law.

      What I need to do is get on the lists at Cambridge UP. Need to work harder at networking here and in Britain.

      • Sorry about the hastle Funny….Can you imagine… all this over $300? Why would anyone want to do business with the Chinese if this is the norm? I will share this … Back in the 70’s at the same dredging firm they landed a HUGE contract with Indonesia that spanned over 3 years for new product along with repair and maintenance products. They were a PLEASURE to deal with….paid promptly and were always appreciative of our help. The paying promptly was important as this was a HUGE contract as the dredges at the time went for $2-3 MIL EACH … not counting shipping….And we sold them 26 medium grade and 5 JUMBOS.
        I haven’t been a “fan” of the Chinese for some time and now based on your shoddy treatment…that’s it …..No more Chinese food for me! I hope someone wakes up and pays you!!

      • Human beings are human beings. They can’t help being human. Some individuals are grand to work with and be with, and some are not.

        The issue doesn’t seem to be with the client but with her employer, which apparently suffers from bureaucratic constipation. It also may be that the admin assistant they assigned to this little project isn’t the brightest rhinestone in the corporate tiara. They needed to assign someone who knows what they’re doing.

        Their difficulties in paying come under the heading of “not my problem.” Fortunately, it’s a small amount that I can afford to write off.

        What goes around comes around. The university will get a rep for doing this kind of thing, and then their faculty will have a difficult time getting their research polished for submission to scholarly journals. Since Chinese faculty are paid by the number of articles they publish and they are required to publish in English, ultimately the client stands to lose lots more than three hundred bucks. That’s too bad, because it’s not her fault. Hope she finds a job at some other institution.

  2. It’s always been hit or miss when we worked with customers located in China – whether they couldn’t get a credit card to submit an order or couldn’t transfer money or something, it’s usually a problem. Definitely find out if they can pay ahead of time, next time. I wonder if you can take a 50% deposit ahead to ensure that their form of payment will work.

    • Yeah, I’ve been asking a third/a third/a third from clients I think are potentially flakey. However, “flakiness” has not defined the Chinese scholars I’ve met in this endeavor. There’ve been a couple of times when we’ve had to jump through hoops to figure out how to get money across the ocean, but they’ve never actually gotten hostile about it. Plus most of the articles are pretty short — even at 12,000 words, it’s something I can get through in a week, easily (assuming no other projects are in-house). So I just bill when the project is completed and returned to the author.

      The funny thing is, this author actually offered to pay something up front, and I (foolishly…) told her not to worry about it. LOL! Maybe she was tryin’ to tell me something…