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Creation of translator network to collect unpaid invoices
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:56
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
May 7, 2008

In an effort to assist in the collection of unpaid invoices, would there be any foreseeable obstacles in ProZ facilitating the connection of translators who are owed money with translators living in the city where the agency and/or business is located so that a personal visit can be made on the translator’s behalf in order to deliver an invoice in exchange for a small fee or service in kind?

For example, suppose I had an overdue invoice for $1500 from a company located in New York or in Germany. I would place a request for someone who lives in that city (and my request would then be posted and sent to a list of translators who have asked to receive such notices similar to KudoZ requests) to make a personal visit to the company’s office and simply submit an invoice in person to someone working at the company. I would either pay this translator a small fee for this service (say $25, $50) or render a similar service for this translator (deliver an invoice for them in my own city). For large overdue payments, such an investment may be a worthwhile way to get the company to pay and also a way for some translators to earn some extra money. It would also make it more difficult for some companies to simply go into hiding. Awareness of the existance of this system may also help prevent future non-payments.



[Edited at 2008-05-07 22:32]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:56
English to French
+ ...
Better yet... May 8, 2008

Your idea is good - it may lead to something.

I also have an idea. It would be nice if we could collectively contract the services of an international collection agency. Since lots of freelancers would surely be interested, we may get better rates for such services. I am sure something can be done. This would work much like group insurance.

How about it? Anybody has ideas or comments?


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 03:56
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Local network representative May 8, 2008

I agree with the idea totally.
I expect some issues to be solved/moderated systematically.
1. What is legal ground to collect payment on behalf of others.
2. What is time limit to enforce payment.
3. How to control quality as well as reliability of local service.
4. Will the local translator not change into a collecting agency?
Hope to get further discusssion.

Regards,
Soonthon L.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:56
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Creation of translator network to collect unpaid invoices May 8, 2008

Well, the representative would not actually collect the payment on behalf of the translator (and a collection agency would be great Viktoria - I think the ATA has one, but then of course, you have to join the ATA), but merely go to the office and present the invoice. While an e-mail or phone call is easy to dismiss, sometimes it is harder to ignore a person standing in front of you. And perhaps the representative can get a response from companies who are not answering the phone or e-mails.


Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.) wrote:

I agree with the idea totally.
I expect some issues to be solved/moderated systematically.
1. What is legal ground to collect payment on behalf of others.
2. What is time limit to enforce payment.
3. How to control quality as well as reliability of local service.
4. Will the local translator not change into a collecting agency?
Hope to get further discusssion.

Regards,
Soonthon L.


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:56
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Splendid idea May 8, 2008

It would mean that I can refrain from sending my very large and muscular cousin (he is a bouncer) to do my collections in his country. I may be sued, you know, by people getting a corononary just from seeing him.

We do, however, have to check out the legality of this venture and how this would actually work out. I am interested in seeing reactions from folks with a legal background.

Lucinda


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:56
English to Dutch
+ ...
Visual identification May 8, 2008

A good idea.
Although I don't really believe that agencies will start paying when they see someone in person, it may work as a sort of 'reconnaissance mission' - it will be possible to check whether the agency (still) exists at all at the supposed address.

As to Viktoria's idea, that I like very, very much.


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Carolin Haase  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:56
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Good ideas May 8, 2008

from both Viktoria and Jeff

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:56
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Excellent idea May 8, 2008

An excellent idea, Jeff.
You have my wholehearted support and I'd be glad to be one of the team - not that I think there are many agencies near where I live (West Cornwall, UK).
I agree that a personal visit by a "representative" of an unpaid translator would not necessarily mean instant payment, or that that representative would receive the cheque there and then, but it would certainly "put the wind up" the debtor and also, as Jan has said, would ascertain whether indeed the debtor company actually exists at the supposed address, what kind of offices it has, etc.
Having myself succeeded in getting paid part of what a dodgy agency owed me by visiting them in person while in France on holiday, I thoroughly recommend doing so. (I was accompanied by my ex-Royal Marine boyfriend who doesn't speak French but stood in the background wearing dark glasses and looking grim - I don't know whether that made any difference, but it certainly made me feel bolder).
These non-paying b*****ds make my blood boil.
Let's do it!
Jenny


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Levan Namoradze  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 00:56
Member (2005)
English to Georgian
+ ...
+1 May 8, 2008

I like that idea also. I am fully prepared for participating in such network/association.

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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:56
French to English
Any of you ever done review/proof-reading? May 8, 2008

Disregarding the semantics of what these terms may or may not actually meaning strictly speaking, have you ever had the joy of checking a translation done by another member of this site?

I have. I may be singularly unlucky, but on the basis of my experience, I would estimate that perhaps 30% of the people on Proz warrant the designation "translator". The rest...

.... well, let's just imagine that I toddle off to some non-payer waving an invoice emailed to me by an indignant Proz member.
I am asked to wait a minute.
I am then presented with source and target for my examination. In 70% of cases (in my experience so far), I would most likely be inclined to say "you know, I'm sorry for wasting your time, I wouldn't pay for that tripe either" and shuffle off, head bowed.

IF, big IF, the only people on here were professionals whose work was of undisputed quality, the idea would have some merit. Sadly, this is not the case.


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:56
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Ok I totally agree May 8, 2008

Please count on me, for undisputed job, of course, even if sometimes the proofread jobs would need a third party with no conflict of interests.

I also have proofread jobs done by another member of this site (several times indeed), BUT when I review the job done by another person I always think that this is not MY job, so I just correct grammar mistakes, mistranslations and mispelling. NO style.

Frankly speaking, it is true that there are bad translators, but there are aslo proofreaders who find non-existent mistakes, or change words just for changing (even wrong).

For example last year I did a translation from French in to Italian, well proofreader corrected my CORRECT translation of "Hotel de ville" (Town Hall) (Municipio in Italian) in Hotel of town (Albergo di città in Italian)

Well what could I say about that proofreader? I involved a third party and I was paid in full.

Then please count on me for this network and keepme informed

Bye bye All

Angio

P.S. Viktoria's idea is wondeful



[Edited at 2008-05-08 11:04]


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:56
Italian to English
+ ...
To Charlie + doubts May 8, 2008

Charlie Bavington wrote:

IF, big IF, the only people on here were professionals whose work was of undisputed quality, the idea would have some merit. Sadly, this is not the case.


Such a system would presumably require the requesting translator to affirm that no quality issues had been raised with respect to the unpaid work. In which case, even if the translation were complete garbage the translator would still be entitled to payment, as he/she hadn't been given an opportunity to correct the job.

In any case, I doubt that the system would have any effect on non-payers, although I suppose there would be a benefit at least in knowing that the company did physically exist at the stated premises.
I also don't see that a reciprocal favour system would work, due to the sheer improbabilty that translator A had a non-payer in Translator B's area and vice versa. A mutual favour scheme would only work on a truly cooperative level (Translator A checks up on behalf of Translator B, C on behalf of D, D on behalf of A, etc.), which would require a huge buy-in from the site's members.

As regards a fee, if you were paying for my time I'd normally charge 2 hours, which is how long it would be likely to take me to cross the city and back (assuming the recalcitrant agency wasn't just down the road, of course). This would probably mean it wouldn't be worth your while, considering that all I'd really be doing would be checking that the agency existed.

Essentially, while I'm not against the idea I don't see it being particularly efficacious. I think Viktoria's idea of a collective agreement with an international debt collection agency would be more fruitful.

[Edited at 2008-05-08 10:33]


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xxxPRen
Canada
Local time: 17:56
French to English
+ ...
Thank you Charlie May 8, 2008

Charlie Bavington wrote:

Disregarding the semantics of what these terms may or may not actually meaning strictly speaking, have you ever had the joy of checking a translation done by another member of this site?

I have. I may be singularly unlucky, but on the basis of my experience, I would estimate that perhaps 30% of the people on Proz warrant the designation "translator". The rest...

.... well, let's just imagine that I toddle off to some non-payer waving an invoice emailed to me by an indignant Proz member.
I am asked to wait a minute.
I am then presented with source and target for my examination. In 70% of cases (in my experience so far), I would most likely be inclined to say "you know, I'm sorry for wasting your time, I wouldn't pay for that tripe either" and shuffle off, head bowed.

IF, big IF, the only people on here were professionals whose work was of undisputed quality, the idea would have some merit. Sadly, this is not the case.


Thank you Charlie, for taking on the elephant sitting in the room.


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:56
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Agree with Charlie... May 8, 2008

and, uh?, $25 to travel through New York to collect some money? You must be joking. If I had to collect some money in London, for example, I would probably lose the entire day and that would be costly, not to mention the transport costs. I would have to charge $200 at least...

G


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:56
French to English
Debt collection May 8, 2008

I used to work for a company with an international debt collection arm. I have indeed posted their contact details more than once, for people with pleas along the lines of "I'm in country A, how can I collect debt in country B". I stopped doing so, beause not one single person ever gave any feedback, be it positive or negative, regarding the outcome.

Anyway, I actually initiated discussions, just out of curiosity, back in 2004 with a relatively high-ranking manager in the UK subsidiary, with a view to resolving exactly these issues we see week in, week out. I abandoned the idea after a while because:
a) if there is any dispute about the debt, they're not interested
b) the documentary evidence required is quite onerous
c) the amount they would take as a cut would in some cases make it only marginally worthwhile. That said, if you have a 4-figure debt, they'll write you a stroppy letter for 40 quid, which seemed a bargain.

I don't want to appear to rain on two parades in one thread, it IS a good idea (I would say that, having had the same one 4 years ago ) And that WAS 4 years ago, and circumstances change. (That said, I can tell you that in the current economic climate, insurance and debt collection charges are not getting any cheaper...) We just couldn't knock together a package that seemed to suit both sides. But just 'cos I failed, doesn't mean someone else can't make it work.


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