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End-client-middeman-translator issue
Thread poster: Jason Willis-Lee

Jason Willis-Lee  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aug 26, 2004

Dear Proz,

I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on the above relationship and how best to deal with a middle man (most of my clients are middlemen) saying, well my client is flatly refusing to pay a bill (by spuriously claiming lack of quality) so we can't pay you.

My feeling is that the middleman-translator relationship has nothing to do with the end client-middle man relationship. In this particular occasion, I found myself broaching the work of the middle man and actually telling them to ask for a detailed list of what the client is not happy with so that their complaint can be objectively checked, something that is not my job to do at all.

How can one best deal with this? The problem for me here is that once again, the lack of regulation of this highly skilled profession, the subjective nature and perception of one translator's writing compared to another...leads to the sort of problem I have described above.

I would be most interested in any other experiences regaring this topic and how best to handle the situation. I can't tell you how annoying it is to hand in a perfectly decent piece of work only to have an end client (who perhaps was not expecting such a large invoice) make much ado about nothing after delivery. What protection (if any) is available for freelancers to prevent middlemen only releasing payments when they themselves have been paid?

Many thanks in advance
Jason

[Edited at 2004-08-26 11:17]


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Anne Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:01
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
+ ...
The agency should at least receive the amended copy. Aug 26, 2004

I agree that it is impossible to defend yourself if the agency has not even insisted on seeing the amended copy. Once you see what the customer wasn't happy with, you can argue your case. For example, even if the middle-man does not speak the language you translated to, you can demonstrate that the changes did not concern typing errors or grammatical errors, but possibly style changes that are so often required in promotional material but which the translator does not always have the freedom to make.
Any agency worth its salt should ask customers to substantiate their complaint and give translators a chance to reply.

[Edited at 2004-08-26 12:26]


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Nicole Maina  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:01
Member (2005)
German to Italian
+ ...
Suspect Aug 26, 2004

Hi Jason,
you are absolutely right, in my opinion the contract you have with your agency has nothing to do with the one they have with the final client. They have to pay you if you deliver your work. If then they do not get paid, it's their problem.

But this kind of story is very, very common. Maybe I had too many negative experiences, but if I was you I would suspect this is just an excuse not to pay you. They probably got the money and are now trying to find a way to keep it all for themselves.

It would not be the first time an agency does this.
You are on the right way, ask them to give you objective proof of your "mistakes" or whatever you supposedly did wrong. Ask them to show you a written document where the client says they are not going to pay and why.

Good luck and don't let go!

Nicole


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:01
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Your deal was with the agency Aug 26, 2004

You should not be interested in the issues between the agency and the client. The agency is getting fat percentage for dealing with all risks and issues related to the client. If not, the agency would not be needed at all.

What is more important, you have no influence whatsoever on the arrangements between the agency and the client. If the agency has agreed that in case of serious quality problems it is not paid, then its their problem, as you had no influence on the terms of that agreement.

I know that in reality it is often different, but you should stress that you are entitled to your payment on the basis of the agreement between you and your agency and no third party's opinion can influence that, unless it is clearly specified in the contract. If the agency itself cannot point out the quality issues, then they should pay you for your good work.


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DGK T-I  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:01
Member (2003)
Georgian to English
+ ...
Make it clear that they must provide proper details of any complaint Aug 26, 2004

Your agreement is with your client, not their client, so your client is obliged to pay you for the work you have done (unless you specifically agreed otherwise).
If there really is a complaint, then they have to provide you with proper details of it, so that you can judge it, and as a starting point for discussion.

Without that nothing is changed - the onus is on them.

If they send details, you can treat the complaint according to its merits, if necessary providing evidence or obtaining the supporting views of other translators.

If they don't send you details - for whatever reason - they shouldn't expect the complaint to be treated as valid.


[Edited at 2004-08-26 14:03]


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Jason Willis-Lee  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks Aug 27, 2004

.....for all these replies. Perhaps I should point out that this is a regular client of nearly 2 years standing, I don't think they are out to rip me off but they are reluctant to release large amounts for translations which they have yet to be paid for (or so they say anyway, how can one know?)

As already said, all complaints should be backed up with sufficient evidence so that they can be treated seriously. If this is not forthcoming, translators should hold their ground and not give an inch. Simple expression of dissatisfaction in order to not to pay or pay less should always be responded with short shrift.

Best to one and all.
Jason


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