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What do you think of this situation? (Outsourcer unable to pay jobs in full)
Thread poster: Jason Willis-Lee

Jason Willis-Lee  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 30, 2004

Hello all.

I handed in a medium sized job (5.000 wds) and a large sized job (10.000 words) at the beginning of July for a regular client just before going on summer holiday for 3 weeks. When I got back at the end of the month I was told by the client that there were problems wiht getting paid since my client (an agency) had not been paid. Eventually I was told that they would pay the large job in full but nothing for the medium sized job. Then my contact at the agency went away for 2 weeks and we are now in the middle/late August. I eventually was paid for the large job a month late but still nothing for the medium sized piece of work. Since this was a publication piece divided between three translators (a cardinal sin in my opinion for publication pieces), partly to spare the project manager extra translation herself (no doubt at no extra pay, granted), and my portion (the first half) had not been returned to me for extra revision nor had any specific complaint been made about MY PORTION of the text, I protested and insisted on complete payment. After several email exchanges, the agency in question said they were ready to pay up after which I let them know that I would accept 50% for services already rendered (obviously trying to maintain the relationship and not risk possible future collaborations). They paid my 50% the next day and I haven't heard from them since.

Were my actions wrong? What could I have done better? Who should lose out in such situations, the agency or the translator (or 50-50 as I negotiated). It does not seem fair to me to get the translator to assume all the brunt of non-payment.

I think this was a combination of summer in Spain (the country practically falls to its knees especially in August) and some pretty sloppy project management which unfortunately has cost me a regular client. Perhaps I should say, this client was a good payer on small amounts but always needed chasing on larger invoices which were frequently paid late via an ad-hov accounts system. Maybe I´m better off without them. Who knows?

Would appreciate any other opinions, advice on what others would have done, etc.

Best regards
Jason



[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2004-11-30 11:02]


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Jason Willis-Lee  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
clarification Nov 30, 2004

Hi Tayfun:

Just to clarify, no there were 2 separate jobs for the same agency, in turn for their end client. I had a normal translator/agency relationship ie. nothing signed for them to waive payment to me in the case of non-payment by the end client ie. no default clauses were signed previously.

The agency claimed total non-payment for the smaller job citing quality reasons but without specifying where the problem was or asking for further revision. The whole piece was a 11.000 wd document divided between 3 translators. I worked on the first 5.000 words.

My question is whether I acted correctly by demanding 50% of the total payment despite them not having received anything for this particular piece of work.

Hope this clears up any confusion.
Jason

Tayfun Torunoglu wrote:

Let me summarize,
You are a translator,
You did a project for an Agency(?) consiting of Two parts (?) or two job for the same agency,
You had a normal translato-Agency relation and agreement with the Agency (?), that is the agency is fully responsible from payment,
Then Agency claimed their outsourcer did not pay the job partially and paid you only as much as they got from their client.

Now Did you get this job under any agreement opening a way to default, like those they provide (introduce)outsourcers, get commision but they say they are not responsible from non-payment if their outsourcer do not pay?


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 12:44
French to English
Jason, you are better off without them... Nov 30, 2004

This type of behavior is probably only a sign of worse things to come. The role of an agency is to have the operating funds available to pay outsourcers regardless of when, if, and how the end customer pays them.

I would try to get 100 percent of what they owe you, and then I would write them off.

You can use the time previously spent working for them to prospect for better customers.

The investment will be worth it.

I know that in southern Europe (France, Spain, Italy) business practices are not always what we would like them to be. However, there are good business people out there and they are the ones you want to have long-term relations with, not the fly by night agencies that you have to constantly chase after for payment.

Good luck!

Regards,

Sara


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xxx
Spanish to English
+ ...
Personally.... Nov 30, 2004

....I think you should have demanded full payment! I'm not sure about the legalities of this, but in my opinion, if an agency has a problem with payment from a client it is exactly that, their problem. You did what you were contracted to do by the agency, not the client, so you should be paid for it. I can't see any way in which an agency can justify not paying; if they don't want to take the responsibility of subcontracting work, then they shouldn't do so.

In my opinion you've let them off lightly.


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Joeri Van Liefferinge  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 12:44
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
You should be paid Nov 30, 2004

Jason Willis-Lee wrote:

My question is whether I acted correctly by demanding 50% of the total payment despite them not having received anything for this particular piece of work.

Your client is the agency, you have no relation whatsoever with the agency's end client, so the relationship between the agency and the end client does not concern you. Therefore, they should pay you the full amount, even if they have trouble getting paid themselves.
I pay all my translators after 30 days, whereas some clients pay me after 60 days. That means that my translators have already been paid for a month when some of my invoices become due. If my client does not pay the invoice after that period, that's my loss, because I have accepted that particular client (and the risks attached to that client), not the translator who did the job for me. So, if they cannot prove that you delivered substandard quality, they have no right to reject your invoice.

My two cents...


Joeri


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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:44
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
You should be paid in full Nov 30, 2004

Since you have nothing to lose (i.e. the relationship with the agency is already down the drain) you should ask for full payment.

You were contracted to do a job, you did the job, the job was good, you should be paid - full stop.


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Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:44
French to English
+ ...
Agree with all of the above Nov 30, 2004

As far as I see it, there's no issue here - you do the work, you get paid. If the agency is going to hire a freelance translator then they have to pay them - you agreed to do work for the agency, not the end client, and if they don't pay then it's up to the agency to get it sorted. If you bought something online and they said they were out of stock, you wouldn't accept a 50% refund would you?

Good luck!

Paul


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pma
Spain
Local time: 12:44
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
You are better off Nov 30, 2004

I fully agree with every word Sara wrote, which makes it simple to express my opinion.

I would have claimed for the whole disputed amount. I think, if you had just told this agency you would like to avoid having to contact the PP list and similar sites, you would have been paid immediately!

You are pretty well off, and use your time to build a small database of prospective direct clients.

That's how I see it, if you ask me
Good luck!


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:44
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Publication pieces require native proofers/editors Nov 30, 2004

with sufficient time clearance to reconcile terminology in the event the job is split. If this need was not covered, I don't see any fault on your part, unless you were sent back a bleeding red file to take note of and negotiate. (A hassle, but it happens and is not insurmountable).

If you feel this is due to some agency error and that agency has done nothing to prevent it, you're very likely better off writing them off your client list.

Many, but not all, Spanish agencies tend to compete with each other on pure pricing. A few specialise, and some of them make sure some proper controls are in place (trained native in-house staff, multilingual offices, reasonable time clearances, etc. After dealing with them for some time, you should be able to sniff out the lay of the assembly line. For instance, if your PM is an engineer and only sends you engineering, chances are, you're safe because he knows the subject matter back and forth). We still have a long way to go in client education in this sense. Some of our intermediaries don't bother (the bucks, the bucks). It thus becomes our added lookout to filter good takers who won't compromise our reputation. No argument on short-term competitive business margins can account for this, as it may well reflect on a client's long-term solvency.

Defensive pricing and specialisation are checks that have often worked in my case. Think about it.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:44
German to English
+ ...
What do you think of this situation? (Outsourcer unable to pay jobs in full) Nov 30, 2004

Jason Willis-Lee wrote:

Were my actions wrong? What could I have done better? Who should lose out in such situations, the agency or the translator (or 50-50 as I negotiated). It does not seem fair to me to get the translator to assume all the brunt of non-payment.


Do we really need to be discussing this at all? Have you tried telling your landlord, accountant or supermarket cashier that you're not going to pay them in full because you haven't been paid in full yourself?

Why be so keen to "maintain the relationship and not risk possible future collaborations"? Some business is simply not worth keeping. Not only are you harming yourself by working for nothing, you are also harming good agencies who are in competition with outfits like this one for end customer business.

Dump the bad apples, and go and find yourself some proper customers.

Marc


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Jason Willis-Lee  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks Dec 3, 2004

to one and all for this valuable advice.
Best regards.

Jason

MarcPrior wrote:

Jason Willis-Lee wrote:

Were my actions wrong? What could I have done better? Who should lose out in such situations, the agency or the translator (or 50-50 as I negotiated). It does not seem fair to me to get the translator to assume all the brunt of non-payment.


Do we really need to be discussing this at all? Have you tried telling your landlord, accountant or supermarket cashier that you're not going to pay them in full because you haven't been paid in full yourself?

Why be so keen to "maintain the relationship and not risk possible future collaborations"? Some business is simply not worth keeping. Not only are you harming yourself by working for nothing, you are also harming good agencies who are in competition with outfits like this one for end customer business.

Dump the bad apples, and go and find yourself some proper customers.

Marc


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