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Two sides to every story
Thread poster: WordTranslate
WordTranslate
English
Jan 3, 2009

Dear Proz,

Here we speak of translators being paid, not paid, and paid late. In the 18 years I have been in the translation business, I have found that circumstances happen, that make timely payments impossible. What concerns me today, is when a translator becomes irrate, he is allowed to make derogatory postings, without the benefit of allowing both sides of the transaction to be discussed and resolved, rather than "venting". Isnt it more beneficial for the parties to resolve payment issues?


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:17
English to German
+ ...
Communication is key Jan 3, 2009

Hi "WordTranslate",
Here we speak of translators being paid, not paid, and paid late.

...and the Blue Board holds hundreds of examples where translators are paid on time, every time - and sometimes earlier.

In the 18 years I have been in the translation business, I have found that circumstances happen, that make timely payments impossible.

Would you mind going into some more detail about that?

As much as translators are expected to deliver on time, payment is (and can be) expected to be made on time. If there is a situation threatening timely payment, it is crucial to communicate this to all those affected, explaining the reasons and indicating what measures are being taken to resolve the situation.

What concerns me today, is when a translator becomes irrate, he is allowed to make derogatory postings, without the benefit of allowing both sides of the transaction to be discussed and resolved, rather than "venting".

You will have noted that no discussions regarding specific outsourcers are permitted in the forum. This is why I would like to remind all those contributing to this topic to discuss the issue at stake, not any particular outsourcer (including any outsourcer(s) taking part in this discussion).

No derogatory postings are permitted in the Blue Board, but service providers are, of course, permitted to make a comment regarding their likelihood of working again for a given outsourcer. Although payment issues are not the only relevant aspect in this context, they are very important: it is not surprising that people who had to chase payment are unhappy, particularly if they were unsuccessful in doing so.

Isnt it more beneficial for the parties to resolve payment issues?

Of course it is. Given that payment is the outsourcer's duty, it is also up to the outsourcer to actively communicate in case of any problems in this respect.

You may want to note that I use ProZ.com almost exclusively as an outsourcer.

Regards,
Ralf


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:17
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Absolutely! Jan 3, 2009

WordTranslate wrote:
Isn't it more beneficial for the parties to resolve payment issues?


Such resolution can start with the outsourcer paying as agreed

I really can't see what else you might expect. If you can't pay your subcontractors, you should do all the work yourself or fold.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:17
Dutch to English
+ ...
Such as? Jan 3, 2009

WordTranslate wrote:
In the 18 years I have been in the translation business, I have found that circumstances happen, that make timely payments impossible.


Force majeure - i.e. circumstances that would objectively be beyond the control of any outsourcer in that situation (such as natural disasters, war, a failure in the banking system that makes it impossible to process any transactions, etc) - is one thing; however if you're referring to a situation which results from the particular outsourcer being undercapitalised then that outsourcer should not be in business in the first place. Period.

I practised law, specialising in bankruptcies and liquidations, for over a decade, so I reckon I've heard close to every excuse in the book.

However, if you're willing to share a few examples of the circumstances that have befallen you or outsourcers you know of in the last 18 years, it will help us see what you mean by 'impossible' (as impossibility of performance in law generally has to be objective to be a defence).



[Edited at 2009-01-03 19:56 GMT]


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WordTranslate
English
TOPIC STARTER
examples Jan 3, 2009

A huge government contract decided to stop translating, without any notice, and then dragged out payment, for more than 90 days.

A huge government entity, simply stated the translation was bad, refused to supply proof, and paid late, only with one quarter of the bill.

Translators supplying sub standard translations, or late translations, which affect business cash flow, and makes it even harder to get payment.

Any suggestions? Im all ears!


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:17
English to German
+ ...
The necessity of funding Jan 3, 2009

Hi again,
A huge government contract decided to stop translating, without any notice, and then dragged out payment, for more than 90 days.

A huge government entity, simply stated the translation was bad, refused to supply proof, and paid late, only with one quarter of the bill.

Taking on and outsourcing large contracts requires sufficient capital and access to funding - enabling the intermediary to bridge such shortfalls. Underfunded entities should simply stay out of this.

Translators supplying sub standard translations, or late translations, which affect business cash flow, and makes it even harder to get payment.

...internal quality assurance, perhaps?

Best regards,
Ralf


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:17
Dutch to English
+ ...
My suggestion Jan 3, 2009

WordTranslate wrote:

A huge government contract decided to stop translating, without any notice, and then dragged out payment, for more than 90 days.

A huge government entity, simply stated the translation was bad, refused to supply proof, and paid late, only with one quarter of the bill.

Translators supplying sub standard translations, or late translations, which affect business cash flow, and makes it even harder to get payment.

Any suggestions? Im all ears!


Yes, I'd advise this hypothetical outsourcer to close shop.

Seems, on the face of it, that it is undercapitalised, did not carry out the proper vetting of translators and has totally inadequate quality control procedures.

And looks like the gravy train came to a grinding halt as a result.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:17
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
This hypothetical outsourcer needs to be flushed Jan 3, 2009

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

... I'd advise this hypothetical outsourcer to close shop.

Seems, on the face of it, that it is undercapitalised, did not carry out the proper vetting of translators and has totally inadequate quality control procedures.

And looks like the gravy train came to a grinding halt as a result.



I'll second that about closing shop. Thus surely purely hypothetical outsourcer is clearly far out of its depth and should never have taken on projects which it could not pay for. And without proper screening and QA there's no future for the company even with smaller end client projects.


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Taija Hyvönen
Finland
Local time: 22:17
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Yes... I can see that side to the story all right :) Jan 3, 2009

So the outsourcer's side of the story is that it would be most convenient to receive the translation, see if they are happy with it, wait for the client to say whether they are happy with it, wait for the client to pay the sum they see fit when they see fit to pay it, and then pay the translator.

Are the outsourcer's business practices all right if they are living hand to mouth and can't afford to pay for work done before the end client pays? Are their rates all right if they can only get translators who can't be trusted to deliver quality work on time?


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Laura Tridico  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:17
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
It's pretty obvious what this hypothetical outsourcer should do... Jan 4, 2009

Like others have pointed out, there really aren't two sides to these stories. A good outsourcer will have the resources to deal with each of these situations.

WordTranslate wrote:

A huge government contract decided to stop translating, without any notice, and then dragged out payment, for more than 90 days.


This is a business risk. Contracts get canceled, payments from end clients can be delayed. An outsourcer who enters into a huge government contract needs to have the resources available to handle it without punishing its freelancers if things go badly.

A huge government entity, simply stated the translation was bad, refused to supply proof, and paid late, only with one quarter of the bill.


Again, this is a business risk. I assume the outsourcer believed the translation was good when submitted. The freelancers' contracts are not contingent on the outsourcer's ability to handle its customer relations.

Translators supplying sub standard translations, or late translations, which affect business cash flow, and makes it even harder to get payment.


A good quality control system can avoid this problem. Agencies I work with have a good QT system in place. On occasion I have been assigned as the proofreader for a lousy translation - and I worked with the agency to clean up the document before it reached the end client.

If freelancers fail to hold up their end of the bargain, the outsourcer can take appropriate steps within the context of those agreements. But again, problems between the end client and the outsourcer have no bearing on when the freelancer is entitled to receive payment.

Laura

[Edited at 2009-01-04 02:41 GMT]


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Vadim Poguliaev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 22:17
English to Russian
nothing new, but... Jan 4, 2009


A huge government contract decided to stop translating, without any notice, and then dragged out payment, for more than 90 days.

It's between you, and the customer.


A huge government entity, simply stated the translation was bad, refused to supply proof, and paid late, only with one quarter of the bill.

From my experience following all l10n steps — translation, editing, proofing, and selective QA — prevents this. If you act as a middleman or "translation broker", and simply pass the translation to the client, you shouldn't be surprized.


Translators supplying sub standard translations, or late translations, which affect business cash flow, and makes it even harder to get payment.

Again, using seasoned (that is expensive) translators, and complete l10n workflow is your warranty. Otherwise your business is all about pitching pennies.
Besides, here's my favorite quote:
Pay peanuts, get monkeys.


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 13:17
Spanish to English
Use of Blue Board Jan 4, 2009

Blue Board is a place of last resort. Most translators will put up with a lot before posting a criticism there, as we all understand that doing so means the end of our working relationship with the agency in question and we always hope that it is just a small cashflow problem or suchlike.

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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:17
English to French
+ ...
With experience Jan 4, 2009

WordTranslate wrote:

A huge government contract decided to stop translating, without any notice, and then dragged out payment, for more than 90 days.

A huge government entity, simply stated the translation was bad, refused to supply proof, and paid late, only with one quarter of the bill.

Translators supplying sub standard translations, or late translations, which affect business cash flow, and makes it even harder to get payment.


These are circumstances that I regard as very likely, and humanly understandable.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 22:17
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
turn it clockwise 180 degrees and read it again Jan 5, 2009

WordTranslate wrote:

Dear Proz,

Here we speak of translators being paid, not paid, and paid late. In the 18 years I have been in the translation business, I have found that circumstances happen, that make timely payments impossible. What concerns me today, is when a translator becomes irrate, he is allowed to make derogatory postings, without the benefit of allowing both sides of the transaction to be discussed and resolved, rather than "venting". Isnt it more beneficial for the parties to resolve payment issues?




Dear WordTranslate,

Let's speak about the outsourcers who receive jobs from translators on time, do not receive jobs on time, or do not receive them at all, esp. in a situation where AFTER the deadline of translation delivery the translator found out that "circumstances happen", and that timely delivery is impossible. Even worse - the translator "went away" with, for example, some 100 pages, with, for example, no replies to emails, all phones off, etc. and emails, angry phonecalls from the client who needs the job NOW. I cannot imagine you with a happy non-irritated expression of your face under such circumstances.

[Edited at 2009-01-05 02:52 GMT]


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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
More beneficial for both parties to resolve payment issues? Jan 5, 2009

Yes, I agree, WordTranslate, that it is best, for both sides to be discussed and resolved in case of a serious cash flow problem. However, this discussion is the responsibility of the person in trouble, in this case the outsourcer. He should *contact the translator* the minute he suspects that payment will be difficult -- and before the money is due. This happened to me, once, with an outsourcer for whom I had done a few other promptly paid jobs, and I was pleasant about giving her another three weeks. She treated me with respect, and I had no need to become irate. And the money came when she said it would.
If the outsourcer acknowledges his responsibility to pay, and if the translator doesn't have a rent-collector at the door, the translator might be gracious, and might not click right over to the Blue Board, and might not immediately call a lawyer. I may be wrong, but I imagine many of those irate postings are from people whose invoices, e-mails and calls were simply ignored by the agencies.
I do want to assure forum readers that I'm not saying that it's OK for an agency to be undercapitalized or disorganized. I am saying that honesty and communication from those who owe money can often bring out the best in creditors, in the outside world as well as in our translation arena.


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