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Unreasonable conditions
Thread poster: Julie Larochelle
Julie Larochelle  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:50
English to French
Apr 13, 2006

Hello to you all fellow translators!

I received earlier today an offer from a translation agency in China. Some conditions sounded so unreal to me that I wanted to have your opinion and see if anybody ever ran into something similar.

First, this company has a 3 months payment term (every last day of the 3rd month after date of invoicing). I have heard of 60 days, but 3 months?

They also have this compulsory regulations for hand-in late assignments. They deduct 10% if the job is late for 3 hours, 30% if the job is late for 6 hours and they DO NOT PAY if the job is late for 1 day.

I do not promote being late either. Still, this seems a bit overboard. Even though I never have been late sending back my projects so far (knock on wood!), I feel uneasy thinking that should something, I would not get paid.

I politely declined their offer, shaking my head.

Your two cents is much appreciated!

[Edited at 2006-04-13 04:41]


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:50
English to Spanish
+ ...
my two cents Apr 13, 2006

Have them sign a contract where they commit to paying you an additional 10% if their check is late for 3 hours, 30% if their check is late for 6 hours and you GET PAID DOUBLE if their check is late for 1 day. You'll see how quickly you recover your money

Susana


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Jeremy Smith  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:50
French to English
+ ...
A bit odd, certainly Apr 13, 2006

Fair enough, they want to discourage late returns, but the terms did seem a bit draconian. Would you have had to settle for the reduced rate if e-mails to them were delayed in arriving? I've disposed of clients before now who have clause after clause of requirements for the translators, keep sending "urgent" jobs and yet mysteriously have no sense of urgency in paying translator invoices...

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Julie Larochelle  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:50
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
What a great idea! Apr 13, 2006

Susana, this is a great idea! I love it! I can only imagine what they would think of this!

Jeremy also has a great point. Makes me wonder... Now I imagine somebody having worked for days and ending up not being paid or having his/her fees cut because of some delays in the transmission of the email... Scary thought...

Now that my work is more regular, it feels great to be able to pick the more interesting jobs and be able to drop customers that makes me work under bad conditions.


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:50
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Over the top Apr 13, 2006

It sounds as if they are being extra careful because of bad experiences in the past, and want to cover all bases. Perhaps they used inexperienced, or unqualified low-cost translators and got burned. (Would serve them right, to be honest.) The contract is, of course, perfectly legitimate and probably preferable to a company that has no contract at all - at least this one is most likely serious.

However, I personally don't work with agencies with payment terms of more than 30 days. Longer than that is a red flag to me, a warning that the company could have liquidity problems, even if 2 or 3 months is standard in some countries. While there's never a guarantee, why should the translator act as a bank and extend credit without any interest for weeks? No thanks. There are enough others that pay promptly.

Have you checked the Blue Board if this agency is listed? I use it faithfully.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My experiences... Apr 13, 2006

Julie Larochelle wrote:
First, this company has a 3 months payment term (every last day of the 3rd month after date of invoicing). I have heard of 60 days, but 3 months?


The big question is not when they pay, but whether they pay.

They also have this compulsory regulations for hand-in late assignments. They deduct 10% if the job is late for 3 hours, 30% if the job is late for 6 hours and they DO NOT PAY if the job is late for 1 day.


I have seen such tiers before, but not paying after only one day late is a bit excessive. The worst I have seen in any of my own clients is 90% deduction if the job is 3 days late (they take off 10% and 20% etc for 1 hour and 2 hours late, taking off progressively less for later delivery).


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 17:50
English to Russian
+ ...
All it takes is 2 clicks Apr 13, 2006

Click No. 1 - open and read
Click No. 2 - delete:-)

IMHO
Irene


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Yolande Haneder  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:50
German to French
+ ...
You may fire on me for this... Apr 13, 2006

but I don't think that a delay of 3 delay after the deadline is acceptable (and in emergencies there is always the phone before the deadline to ask for an extension).

On the agency side I would prefer the translators that expect to get their full payment after being 3 days late (and being fired by the end client 3 days long because the translation is not coming) to abstain ever applying (particularly when for some reason when the translation is late, he is not answering e-mails or picking the phone anymore).

Sometimes it is difficult to get a reasonnable deadline accepted from the client and if he accepts the deadline, the deadline is meant "at the latest").

In my case (and I am happy for that), e-mail problem are not a issue since the translator is directly downloading the file to me and if there is a problem, he can immediately see it and contact me.

Sorry for being so harsh, but I have been also been nearly burnt myself and I do not accept (except in exceptionnal cases - for which the translator has to contact me beforehand) to pay for a job 3 days late (especially for smalls texts - without notice of the translator I may have sent the job to another translator to minimize the risks of not getting the translation at all).

For a job of 2 days, if the translator is 3 days late, he better keep his translation.


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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 00:50
English to Swedish
+ ...
When will Henry start on his "To Do List"? Apr 13, 2006

Please see http://www.proz.com/topic/39474 !

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mstkwasa
Local time: 23:50
English to Japanese
+ ...
Are contracts enforceable? Apr 13, 2006

I have no legal training but have signed a number of contracts and I always wonder a bit when you deal with agencies from other countries than you reside - if you have a contract and you think provisions therein are breached, how practical is it to turn to the courts? It is stressful to take legal action anywhere but it must be even more so if the proceedings take place in another country whose legal system and language you do not necessarily understand...

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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 17:50
English to Russian
+ ...
What are we talking about? Apr 13, 2006

Yolande Haneder wrote:

expect to get their full payment after being 3 days late (and being fired by the end client 3 days long because the translation is not coming) to abstain ever applying


I read 3 hours...


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xxxMichaelRS
Local time: 00:50
Agreed Apr 13, 2006

IreneN wrote:

Click No. 1 - open and read
Click No. 2 - delete:-)

IMHO
Irene


There is enough work out there - let someone else deal with these people.


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Yolande Haneder  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:50
German to French
+ ...
3 hours or 3 days, the point is to deliver on time Apr 13, 2006

IreneN wrote:

I read 3 hours...



I guess 3 hours is not the point. Most of the time I won't notice it because I have allowed sufficient time for a couple of hours late delivery (and in my case delivery is at the end of the day).

3 hours or 3 days are not the point. The translator is not expected to deliver late. Most agencies are coping with the fact that a translator may be an hour or two late.

If they do not allow themselves time for delay, they have surely not planned time to check through the translation before delivery. In this case, that is their problem because sometimes you need to come back to the translator before the end delivery.

I will not however write on the contract "translators are allowed to be up to 3 hours late". On the contract they have to accept I very well stress the point that the deadline is fix and the translator is not going to be paid if he is delivering late and not contacting me. So far nobody had problems with it and I didn't watch too closely on the clock.

Maybe someday my contract will be discussed on a forum and i do hope some will understand why I write so.

I guess you have to see with the agency how serious they mean it.


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Julie Larochelle  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:50
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
RE: Over the top Apr 13, 2006

Woodstock wrote:

It sounds as if they are being extra careful because of bad experiences in the past, and want to cover all bases. Perhaps they used inexperienced, or unqualified low-cost translators and got burned. (Would serve them right, to be honest.) The contract is, of course, perfectly legitimate and probably preferable to a company that has no contract at all - at least this one is most likely serious.



I wholeheartedly agree with you. These over the top conditions are probably a result of having use unqualified low-cost translators in the past. After all, you always get what you pay for.

They offered me 0.04 USD$/word, saying that this is the most they can pay. That tells me that they will probably ask for an even lower rate for big project. It also confirms, in my opinion, that they prefer saving on translators' fees and feel the need to put in place all these unreasonable conditions to protect them.

Woodstock wrote:

Have you checked the Blue Board if this agency is listed? I use it faithfully.



They do. Based on the 3 ratings they have from last year, it seems like they are a serious agency even though they haven't posted project on Proz.com since November.

As I said, I politely declined because these were not conditions I was willing to work under. Not because I ever been late and I'm afraid I won't being paid, but because I believe the relationship between a translator and customer/agency should be one of mutual respect.

I respect my customers by providing them with the best work I can do and send my project one time. They respect me by paying on time, offering me reasonable rates/conditions and trusting me.

I do not believe this offer was respectful so I declined.

If a customer feels the need to protect himself so tightly, the message he's sending me is that he believes translators cannot be trusted. And I do not want to work for somebody who expects the worse out of me right from the get-go.

Maybe I am the one having unrealistic expectations...

[Edited at 2006-04-13 17:17]


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Julie Larochelle  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:50
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
3 hours or 3 days.... could there be a double standard? Apr 13, 2006

Yolande Haneder wrote:

3 hours or 3 days are not the point. The translator is not expected to deliver late. Most agencies are coping with the fact that a translator may be an hour or two late.



And most translators are coping with the fact that agencies are paying late... or not paying at all...

If agencies can "punish" me for being late, why can't I punish them for not paying me on time?

It seems to me that once the project is handed in, the agency doesn't feel the same pressure to pay me on time.

It seems like a double standard...

If we applied this logic to our customer, we would have to start requesting payments in advance for new customers or have agency sign contracts stating that they will have to pay penalties for late payment.

Why is it considered worse for a translator to hand in a project a few hours late than for an agency to pay a day late? After all, if me handing in a project late has financial impact for the agency (they might lose a customer), being paid late ALSO has a financial impact on me?


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