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Can an agency refuse payment?
Thread poster: Sara Senft

Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aug 30, 2008

Around two weeks ago, I translated part of a legal contract. I overestimated how much I could do by the deadline, and I didn't get an extension. In the end, I apologized to the PM and submitted what I had at the time.

Can the agency refuse to pay me because I didn't complete my portion? Or would I get paid only for what I did?


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:28
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
I would not expect it Aug 30, 2008

I would not expect it in this case. The agency had to find another translator on short notice to complete your assignment and probably also go over what you had already done. You really put them in a difficult position and I doubt that they will ever contact you again.

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xxxUSER0059  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 06:28
English to Finnish
+ ...
What do the terms and conditions say? Aug 30, 2008

Srta Sara wrote:

Around two weeks ago, I translated part of a legal contract. I overestimated how much I could do by the deadline, and I didn't get an extension. In the end, I apologized to the PM and submitted what I had at the time.

Can the agency refuse to pay me because I didn't complete my portion? Or would I get paid only for what I did?


What do the relevant terms of service — yours or theirs, whichever you agreed upon — say about such a situation?

[Edited at 2008-08-30 16:59]


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not Sure Aug 30, 2008

I didn't see anything about that type of situation. I will still check it over; If needed, I will send a message to the PM and ask about it.

I've already accepted that they probably won't ask me for future projects. Maybe I will get a second chance.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:28
English to German
+ ...
You should get paid for the part that you had already completed Aug 30, 2008

Provided that the work was in good order.

I recall this previous thread - the agency pulled the job without giving her the chance to finish it.

Do you have a contract with the client? What does it say?


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:28
English to German
+ ...
You didn't abandon the job, right? Aug 30, 2008

The question is, did you ask for an extension within an appropriate time frame or last minute? Meaning, did you ask for permission to share the job with a colleague to be able to meet the deadline, or similar?

However, if the contract doesn't contain any information regarding such a situation, the agency is not allowed to create their own "law" and "punish you" even if they are (understandably) ticked off.


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What I found Aug 30, 2008

I found nothing that directly answered my question. Good thing the company has a portion of their website where translators can log in and contact the agency about payment problems. I'm going to do that.

Even if I get paid only for what I did, it will be something. I would receive almost 87 USD. That's more than what I made in a day when I was substitute teaching. (To those those of you outside the USA...."supply teaching.")

I've learned from this experience. Sure, I regret letting the agency down. All I can do now is learn from my mistake and use the lessons for later projects.


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RNAtranslator  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
Think on the long term Aug 30, 2008

I think the same as Tina. So, as they won't pay you, you don't have anything to loose if you tell them that you wont try to charge a single cent. Doing so, perhaps they might give you a second chance. Think on the long term.

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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 20:28
English to Russian
+ ...
Conseder this a learning experience and move on with your life. Aug 30, 2008

Of course you might ask politely for your payment - but be prepared that the answer will be no. Taking them to court over $87 would be costly and time-consuming, and there is a strong possibility that you'll loose your case.

But don't worry about it. You have gained something priceless from the whole thing - experience.

If you ask the majority of seasoned professionals - and if they are honest with their answers - they'll tell you that they made a similar mistake, or worse, at the beginning of their careers.

As Mark Twain said, "experience is a personal collection of mistakes". Which echoes my favorite quote from Edison: "I have not failed. I have discovered 1000 methods that do not work!" (I quote from memory in both cases, so I might be slightly off).

My best wishes to you.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:28
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Difficult to say, but... Aug 30, 2008

Srta Sara wrote:
Can the agency refuse to pay me because I didn't complete my portion? Or would I get paid only for what I did?


I don't know, but it is possible that a missed deadline can render an entire unfinished translation useless.

If you ask a taxi to take you to the airport, and he drops you off after having taken you 90% of the journey, would you be happy to pay him 90% of his fare?


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xxxPeter Manda
Local time: 23:28
German to English
+ ...
in such cases ... Aug 30, 2008

In cases where I am clearly at fault and miss a deadline, I talk with the PM and ask that the client modify the deadline. Usually that is done. If the deadline is not changed then it's really the PM's fault for not creating enough space between my deadline and the client's deadline for proofreading. In that case I would expect payment; and if because of the added pressure, I make one or two errors I would ordinarily not make, I would still expect payment because of the unnecessary pressure (which I view as being PM induced).

With agencies where my relationship is very strong and I have gone to the post-proofreading stage (where I have shown that my work in general requires limited proofreading) and it turns out that I don't meet a deadline, I provide the translation to those agencies for free. I have done this a few times, once even where the project had a value of more than $2000. The agency and I had worked together a long time and I just didn't deliver on time because I had some family issues to resolve and the agency couldn't move the deadline because of their assumption of my general work quality.

But, otherwise, I always expect to get paid. If I don't get paid, I consider it a theft of services; and even though I haven't pursued criminal action yet for non-payment (thank God I haven't needed to because the regular agencies I work with are highly professional), I am quite willing to do that if the agency is egregious enough in its practices.

[Edited at 2008-08-31 01:20]


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 23:28
German to English
Not a very expensive lesson Aug 31, 2008

So you think you're owed $87 for a job you couldn't finish. At 10 cents (US) per word, that is about 900 words or about 3 hours work, assuming 300 words/hour (times 8 hours/day = 2400 words per day). The client (end client or agency -- it doesn't matter) had to find someone to correct your translation plus finish the document. Not very impressive.

I've been in this business for several decades, and yes, I haven't finished jobs (less than half-dozen, most recently in 2001 for a repetitive stress injury), but unless I were more than halfway through a job, it wouldn't occur to me to charge for my work.

Don't hold your breath -- I'd be surprised if you ever heard from this client again. Newbies rarely get second chances.

You're going to have to develop a sensible idea of what you can actually produce. Until you can represent a realistic output to clients (and deliver!), you're going to develop a bad reputation in this business. There are already too many wannabees in the words for money biz, and they help keep prices down.

These words are harsh, but I see the work of a lot of translators, and a significant portion of people in this line of business should be doing something else.

I'm not in a position to evaluate your product, but it sounds as though you'll have to get a lot smarter about what you expect to produce per day.


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Oleg Osipov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 06:28
English to Russian
+ ...
N.... Aug 31, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:

If you ask a taxi to take you to the airport, and he drops you off after having taken you 90% of the journey, would you be happy to pay him 90% of his fare?


Nothing to add. Absolutely true.


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:28
German to English
+ ...
Would never dream of invoicing in this case Sep 1, 2008

Tina Vonhof wrote:
I would not expect it in this case...


Not only would I not expect it; I would not even dream of invoicing them under the circumstances! They surely had to pay premium prices for someone else to do your translation under great time pressure. Might be time to reconsider your proz.com tagline ("I keep my word!").


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
My side....more Sep 1, 2008

I'm still new to this. I've already learned from this mistake and I am moving on. I now know better than to take on so much with such a tight deadline.

By the way, I don't think one incident like this merits changing my tagline. I've been far more trustworthy with my other clients.


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