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Agency suddenly disappeared?
Thread poster: J Chae

J Chae  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:39
English to Korean
+ ...
Jan 12, 2009

I worked with a certain agency last year, in a series of three-month projects. As far as I'm concerned, our relation was better than average. Excellent communication. The only thing that bothered me was their payment policy, which was 60 days after the invoice issue date.

I've started sending reminders when they failed to pay after their 60-days policy. My last reminder email (that I sent last week) wasn't even answered back. I was surprised, because when I sent my first reminder last December, they replied that they were currenly moving their office and that they will pay all pending amount asap (that's why I went on and did another HUGE peoject for them once again, even though they had failed to pay the first project - back then we were communicating very well).

Three reminders so far, but only the first one got answered back.

Last December, I was able to call and talk to them. Today, the same phone number is said "invalid, wrong or non-existing". It seems that the company has vanished. Unless they decide to reply to my email, they seem virtually out of touch.

Well, who know what happened. Now I'll have to work out my expense if I want to stay "visaible" in this industry.

[Edited at 2009-01-12 16:20 GMT]


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Elvira Alves Barry  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:39
Member (2007)
Portuguese to English
Sorry to hear about your bad experience Jan 12, 2009

You didn't mention the country where the agency is located, but perhaps you could check to see if that country has the equivalent of a Better Business Bureau. It may be possible to gather information about the company, or at least register a complaint about your experience. Good luck.

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Elvira Alves Barry  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:39
Member (2007)
Portuguese to English
One more thing . . Jan 12, 2009

Don't forget to make an entry on the Blue Board.

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Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 22:39
English to Spanish
Website Jan 12, 2009

Do they have a website? Probably you can find their new address there...

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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:39
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Have they paid any invoices? Jan 12, 2009

Is this payment problem recent?
Have they paid any of your previous invoices?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:39
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Ask others who have worked for this agency Jan 12, 2009

If you haven't already done so, it might be worth putting out a call on Proz asking others who have worked with this agency to share their experiences on the BB (can't remember exactly what it's called but if you look up the agency on the BB you should find it there).

That should tell you if others are experiencing the same problems.

Does the country where they're registered have a website that monitors all companies? In France it's called Ifogreffes and you can find out everything you ever wanted/needed to know about a registered company. The basics are free, anything more you have to pay for, but not much. That will tell you if they're in really severe financial trouble, and will definitely tell you where their Head Office is.

Good luck, and don't let them get away with it!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:39
English to Portuguese
+ ...
60 days for payment is a telltale sign Jan 12, 2009

Many agencies require payment in advance, at least partial, unless the end-client is a frequent flyer that sends them a couple of new jobs every week. Others demand payment on delivery.

So any agency that fails to pay the translator, say, at worst within 20-30 days from delivery, is playing around with the translator's money.

There are some agencies that don't live on income, nor on profit, but merely on the cash flow generated by getting paid on delivery, and paying the translator 45, 60, or more days after. It's exactly as if the translator were lending them interest-free money.

Nevertheless, for this scheme to function, they must keep an ever-growing volume of incoming of jobs. They'll need the payment from the next job, in advance or on delivery, to pay the translator who did work for them two months ago, and so on. This is known as a pyramid, and usually leads to disaster.

This disaster will befall on the next translator to be paid after they run out of cash. You never know when that will happen. This is why I never take a job where payment is scheduled for beyond 30 days; I don't want to be that next translator.

Of course, there are those scammers who ask for 60 days because this will allow them time to scoop the loot, vanish, and erase their tracks. Don't worry, they'll be alive and well, reappearing later under a new name and a totally new location. Some don't even bother about physical location; they stay forever where they are, and simply unplug one virtual identity before creating another.


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J Chae  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:39
English to Korean
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The website is still on, but outdated Jan 12, 2009

Oh yes, they do have their website - but the information within are all outdated. The last time I heard from them was when they said they were moving. Their address in the website hasn't updated since then.

The email does not bounce back - which is still a good news, I may consider? But obviously they are unwilling to answer. The phone number is invalid, wrong or incorrect.

This agency is located in Milano, Italy. I cannot make an entry to the BlueBoard because I already made a LWA for them, back then when I wrongly assumed our business was going well. They even made a nice comment to my entry, and because of that I cannot modify my previous LWA entry. I should've waited until I got at least one payment, alas.

Talking of the payment - no, they haven't paid a single one. Out of our three-month long projects, summing up to six invoices in total of 6,500 Euro, none was paid. Honestly, this is the first time I got caught by a no-payment issue.

I have hesitated in posting such a lame performance, but I figured had to warn other translators. For me, it has served as a lesson. Never after will I accept a 60-days payment, nor will I engage myself in a big project without an agreeable upfront payment. This already hurt my economy a lot, I cannot risk another.


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Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:39
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...
When a Blue Board entry no longer reflects the current situation Jan 12, 2009

While it is true that it is not possible to alter an LWA (Likelihood to Work Again) entry to the Blue Board once the outsourcer has replied, you can contact a ProZ.com Jobs moderator or Site staff to explain the changed circumstances and request that the LWA entry be removed so you can enter a new one.

Yolanda Broad
ProZ.com Jobs Moderator

PS - the way to ask others to share their experience about a particular outsourcer is by clicking on "Call for entries" in the relevant Blue Board record.


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J Chae  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:39
English to Korean
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the suggestion Jan 12, 2009

I will try communicating with the site staff to update my entry.
A call for entries has been requested for the given outsourcer.

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions! Hopefully I will be able to put this into an acceptable end. I will keep posting of the progress periodically.

Happy New Year!


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Laura Tridico  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:39
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Search for info on individuals Jan 13, 2009

Assuming you know the full names of people within the agency, you should search for them on-line and try to located alternate and/or personal e-mail addresses. Try social networking sites and the like - you may be surprised at what you can find. That way you'll have another way to make contact.

If they are trying to "vanish" and you locate them they may elect to pay rather than risking a collection action. If its a small, one-person agency you might be able to act against them individually, depending on how their business is set up and the laws of the country.

Laura


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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:39
Partial member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Sorry to hear about that Jan 13, 2009

I am sorry to hear about that.
There are a lot of colleagues based in Milano, so it is possible to find out what is going on with this agency.
Usually when someone moves they provide the new address to their collaborators!

Laura


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Leonardo Casavola
Local time: 06:39
English to Italian
+ ...
disappeared agency Jan 13, 2009

Why do not ask to black lists, such as Proz.com, payment Paractices, The Check List?

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J Chae  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:39
English to Korean
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I wish I knew Jan 13, 2009

Hopefully I have their full names, so maybe I could locate them somehow.

Laura, what you suggest is so promising - but I'm not allowed to name the agency directly within the forum. I wish I knew what happened to them, really.

Leonardo, By black list in ProZ you probably meant the BlueBoard - I plan to ask for a new entry to the BB moderator. But could you please be more specific for Payment Practices and Check List? I didn't know I had other possible options.

Thanks again for all the helps and concerns!

[Edited at 2009-01-13 11:05 GMT]


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Raffaella Panigada  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 06:39
Member (2007)
English to Italian
+ ...
Posing as a client... Jan 13, 2009

Hi, I am based in Milan but unfortunately (or maybe luckily) I have no direct exeperience with this company.
I tried to check all business listings but I still come up with the address listed on their web site (which makes sense since they moved at the end of the year). What I would suggest since their web site is still up and running and they have a page for quote requests is that you try to contact them as a prospective customer inquiring about a potential translation and see if they get back to you. You can then request their updated contact details saying you tried to call them but to no avail...
At least you'll know if they are still in business.

Raffaella


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