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Working for an agency with bad reputation.
Thread poster: patyjs

patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 06:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 28, 2007

Some time ago I answered a posting for a potential job. Last week I was contacted and asked if I could collaborate on a large project which I agreed to and completed on time.
I have since checked the BB for this agency and find only 2 entries, both 1s, for non payment.
They sent me a PO and I returned my invoice but the payment period is 60 days. I will have to wait 2 months to see if their reputation is as bad as painted.
Today I received a mail from them asking me to do another job which I declined (I would have anyway since I couldn't complete it within the deadline) but I wonder if I should avoid any more work with them until I receive payment for the first job. Should I mention their BB posts?
I had thought of telling them that in light of the BB entries, I would not be willing to work for them again until payment was received for the first job, but I'm unsure if this is the way to go.
Any thoughts?


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Ken Cox  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:07
German to English
+ ...
suggestion Jun 28, 2007

Why not contact them (by phone or e-mail) and simply tell them the facts: you would like to do more work for them, but they have a bad BlueBoard rating, so you are reluctant to do any more work for them until you know you will be be paid on time (according to their terms). Their response may be informative, and in any case you both will know where you stand.

[Edited at 2007-06-28 16:03]


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Mihaela BUFNILA  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 14:07
English to Romanian
+ ...
See for yourself Jun 28, 2007

Generally, when looking at the BB posts, you’ll see that some of them include the whole range. There is no absolute truth on the BB, according to my own experience. I have been working with agencies with lots of great BB posts and with agencies whose BB appreciation is not very high. I have had very good experiences with both of them. You can call it luck if you want but it is also a matter of risk, such as when meeting people for the first time, which is inevitable. I’d wait until I could have my own idea built on my own experience with one agency or another.

[Edited at 2007-06-28 16:05]


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:07
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Set yourself a credit limit? Jun 28, 2007

Ken Cox wrote:

Why not contact them (by phone or e-mail) and simply tell them the facts: you would like to do more work for them, but they have a bad BlueBoard rating, so you are reluctant to do any more work for them until you know you will be be paid on time (according to their terms). Their response may be informative, and in any case you both will know where you stand.

[Edited at 2007-06-28 16:03]


I agree that politely telling them the facts would be a good idea - you never know, it might persuade them to pay you sooner than their standard 60 days.
The trouble with 60 days is that one can run up a large amount with the agency before the due date comes round, so it's not a bad idea to set yourself a credit limit and not allow a client to owe you more than that amount. You don't need to tell the client what that limit is. When someone owes you more than that amount, you just stop accepting more jobs from them until some of the amount due is paid.
Best of luck,
Jenny.


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
why do people take so long to pay? Jun 28, 2007

I just have to add that yesterday a friend referred a publisher to me, and I had the same reaction as Paty:

The job was a series of short books to be done as fast as possible, and the company would pay the invoice in ***90 days after the 19th of the month in which the invoice was received***.

I wanted to do the job and took a test, but I asked for a higher rate than they'd offered, and I'm not available right now, so of course, they turned me down.

While that was going on, I kept thinking: How do I know if they'll pay me? They are on the BB but there are no entries. I'm a fool to even be considering this!!

How can they can expect people to work under those conditions? What is the excuse for such a lag in payment?! Both the US press and Mexican press that I work for pay within a couple of weeks of receiving my invoices.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 14:07
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
well... Jun 28, 2007

I always avoid agencies who do not have at least "4" on the BlueBoard. A simple rule - if an agency has between 4.8-5, can work without even worrying, if between 4.5-4.8 - can be some slight delays with payment, if between 4.0-4.5 - there will be delays with payment (a couple of weeks or so) and several reminders will be needed, but the agency will pay at the end. If anything below 4.00, never even bother to respond to their offers. This works at least for me.

And best, of course, to check the BB rating before accepting the job instead of checking it after the payment problems arise...


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:07
English to Portuguese
+ ...
why do people take so long to pay? Jun 28, 2007

Patricia Rosas wrote:
why do people take so long to pay?


I see two most likely explanations, there are probably more.

First, in your case - book publishing - the client isn't wallowing in cash. So they might have made an up-front payment to the copyright holder, as a minimum guaranteed royalty to get the contract. Then, after they get your translation, they'll have to "buy" DTP services, photoliths, paper, and printing. On top of their cost, these operations, plus distribution, takes TIME. So unless it's a best-seller the local market is craving for, chances are they'll have to disburse money to pay you, even if it's after 90 days. They want to shorten as much as possible the time between paying the translator and beginning to get some income from the published translated book sales.

Second, it may be what I call re-outsourcing. In Brazil we call outsourcing "terceirização", something to the tune of "thirdpartyzation". This would be a "quarteirização", hence a "fourthpartyzation". Let's assume that A's job was outsourced to B. Maybe it involved several languages, and B decided to outsource some (or all of them) to C et. al., which is where you fit in the picture. If A will pay B in 30 days, just to be on the safe side, B decides to pay C (you) in 60 days or more. This will substantially improve their cash flow situation for a while.

My longest-standing (local) end-client has been paying me within 48 hours from the delivery+invoice for the past 20 years. Now I have some (local) fellow translators who are outsourcing their overload with me. Amazingly, they pay me within 5-10 minutes from electronic delivery!

I understand that agencies need to offer their corporate end-clients some time so that the payment approval and processing can take its due course. They also need some time to get the translator payment processed. But there is no reason other than improving the agency's cash flow to use payment terms longer than 30 days.



Now regarding credit limits, there should always be some. If you browse the BB "stories", there are many cases like I did a small job for them and was paid promptly. Then I did a big one, and they owe me $ 2,000 which are 10 months past due already."

So, set a limit, and tell them that as long as their total debt is below that amount you'll be available to work for them. They should understand it, any credit card works like this.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:07
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
The question of urgency Jun 28, 2007

Why check the Blue Board afterwards? Why not check the Blue Board before working for an agency?

Last time I checked the Blue Board afterwards, and found out that the agency had 1's, I never did get paid at all, for either of the two jobs I had done.

In my case, the reason I did not check the Blue Board in advance was that the agency said the translation was urgent. Urgent to whom? Well, only to the agency, of course!

I have since learnt that answering an enquiry, including one which is of an urgent nature to the enquirer, is not something that should be done in such a tearing hurry. To begin a series of checks upon receiving the enquiry, and to answer once the results of the checks are available, is quite soon enough.

In your own interests, Patyjs, it would be advisable to resist answering urgent enquiries without carrying out at least a Blue Board check first. From my experience it also appears to be the case that extremely urgent enquiries often seem to come from agencies who are less reputable. Perhaps they want to put the pressure on for you to answer quickly in order to make sure that you do not have time to carry out preliminary checks first? This is my theory, anyway, for it appears that more serious enquirers are often comparatively patient in waiting for an answer.

Astrid


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patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 06:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Negative posts appeared after I quoted. Jun 28, 2007

Astrid, I also wondered why I had not seen, or paid attention to the BB rating when the job I applied for was posted (April). I now see that the 2 entries were made in May and June so the BB must have been clear at that time.

I think I'm going to write to the PM and say, as some of you suggested, that because of the negative feedback from other translators, I am not willing to enter into any further projects with them until I have received payment for the first job. That way they may get the message that they can't mess us around, and perhaps they will think twice in future.

Or, of course, it may make no impression at all.

In any case, I'll sleep on it first.


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Luciano Drusetta
Italy
Local time: 13:07
Hungarian to Italian
+ ...
I had the same problem Jun 29, 2007

A couple of years ago an agency from Milan contacted me for a translation job. By the time I hadn't access to the Blue Board. I accepted though, and only after that did I receive the digest of a mailing list of Italian translators that disclosed me the bad reputation of the agency!

I resolved to pick up the phone and to explain them (I mean the agency) sincerely what was going on. I told them that their bad reputation forced me to rediscuss the conditions of our collaboration. I would accept to work for them, I said, only if they paid my invoice immediately.

Of course, our telephone conversation was tense, sometimes harsh, but after all they could not deny that their bad repution was founded, due to "some sporadic difficulties with certain payments", and they eventually accepted my conditions.

Unluckily the story had not a happy end. After the first translations and the first regular payments, I thought that after all, I might trust the agency a little better. And that was exactly what they were waiting for! Once I had accepted the, alas, "normal" terms of payment here in Italy (i.e. 90 days) they simply stopped paying me.

Of course, _now_ when an unknown agency contacts me, the first thing I do is to check out their reputation in the Blue Board.

Luciano


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Martin Wenzel
Germany
Local time: 13:07
English to German
+ ...
You have to make rules of thumb that work for you... Jun 29, 2007

My rule of thumb is: Two translations, then payment, then the next translations...

Perhaps, you should also consider that the good advice we are giving may be accepted by agencies who could turn tables on you...


"Vorsicht ist die Mutter der Porzellankiste" is a German idiom that may be renderd into English by "hindsight is easier than foresight"...or it's better to be safe than sorry...

I think confrontation is a good strategy, because you would get an honest or phony response, which would help you in your next decision, i.e. whether you should proceed or rather hold your horses...


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Suyash Suprabh  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:37
English to Hindi
+ ...
Some yahoo groups are very helpful in this case. Jun 29, 2007

Sometimes we come across clients who do not make payments. This situation becomes worse when we do not know about the appropriate platforms to raise this issue.

I have found some yahoo groups which are quite helpful in this context. They provide you with information about 'dishonest' translation agencies. You can help other translators by sharing your experiences with group members.

The below mentioned groups may be of interest to you:

1. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com /group/pp_dist/

2. http://finance.groups.yahoo .com/group/translationagencypay ment/

3. http://it.groups.yahoo.com /group/the-checklist/ (in Italian)

I would appreciate if other members of proz.com share information about similar groups.



[Edited at 2007-06-29 14:36]


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 14:07
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
About payments in 90 days Jun 30, 2007

Actually in the EU this is against the Law.

Please see

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/regulation/late_payments/

and links to relevant EU Member States' Laws

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/regulation/late_payments/implementation.htm

In short EU Directive 2000/35/EC says that all payments should be settled in 30 days, UNLESS THE PARTIES HAVE AGREED OTHERWISE.

We never "agree otherwise" and in cases somebody starts the old song about "our usual payment terms are 60 (or 90) days, and then End Of the Month...", we reply "how you can expect us to work with a client, who doesn't respect his own country's Laws (relevant link added).

In 90% of cases works like charm (usually "OK, OK, we will make a special exception for you"), and we do not accept any jobs from the rest of 10%, nor regret it. After all, we pay all our suppliers in 30 days or sooner, so accepting longer payment terms in practice would mean us giving percentage free credit to Western clients, who anyway usually are much more wealthy than us.

Uldis


[Rediģēts plkst. 2007-06-30 11:23]


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xxxUndoer of Ba  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:07
English to German
I would not be typing now if I paid my electricity bills every 60 or 90 days. Jun 30, 2007

That's the problem with freelancing. To agencies you are nothing but a language robot without a face located in a far-away place, so no embarrassment or guilt on their part for demanding things because of which their in-house employees would simply quit.

I just wrote it in another thread, there is another translation portal which is courageous enough to publish a blacklist of agencies and clients via a regular mail newsletter. I have spotted some of those black sheep on proz.com, too.

[Edited at 2007-06-30 15:19]


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Jenny Duthie  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:07
French to English
message to "Undoer of Babel" re email newsletter blacklist Jul 2, 2007

Hello I saw your note about another translation portal which publishes a "blacklist" of agencies in an email newsletter - could you let me know which forum this is in please, thanks very much.

Jenny


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