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Yet another non-payment
Thread poster: Burrell

Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:37
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Sep 8, 2006

I did a job for a UK based agency in June. The final client was EU, the deadline was quite tight, the original reference file was corrupt and I only received the right reference file 4 days after I should have started to work. The extension of deadline was refused though. The original text was a true pearl, I had a job to decipher the meaning of many sentences and had to send endless queries (as you do when EU texts are concerned).
The job was finished on time, I sent the invoice together with the translation. Their payment terms were 30 days after the end of the month when the invoice was received which would make it end of August. I few days before the end of months I send an email to the PM asking her to make sure the payment go out in time. No answer. When payment did not arrive, I sent her another letter, asking her to make sure the payment is made asap. No answer. Then I called her and she said the accounts department is LOOKING INTO IT. Again nothing for a few days. A couple of says ago I called again and asked to be put through to the accounts where a man told me that their client has apparently complained about the translation and they are not yet sure themselves what the problem was. He said the client has been on holidays all August and that is why they did not know anything earlier but they will get in touch with the client now.
I explained this gentleman that if the was a problem I should have been told about it right after the delivery of the translation and not two months after the fact to which I was replied that unfortunately they have to do business this way because their client has not paid them. They are not saying they will not pay me but they have to find out what is going on.
Now, regardless if there were any problems with the translation or no, 2 months later is not the right time to inform me about it. And I am 100% positive there were no mistakes. Maybe they did not like the style but that is subjective. I know the agency did not have the proofreader. At the same time the project was 60 000 words. Surely it is not possible to do 60 000 words without a single typo - that is what the proofreader is for.
I am not sure what my actions should be now. I know I should probably not call them as I need our discussion in writing. What other advice would you give me? Has anybody had any luck with the courts in case like this (UK courts)? I should mention that the fee is huuuuge and is worth fighting for especially as my husband has just had an operation and cannot work (for the next 3 months) and we only get my fees to rely on.
Thanks in advance,
Ines


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 17:37
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
EU Sep 8, 2006

My comment would be about the EU aspect - if the client is EU related it is no surprise the agency got the response so late and its true about the holiday its true as August is the official holiday month for EU.

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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:37
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Plenty of time for feedback Sep 8, 2006

bramasole wrote:

My comment would be about the EU aspect - if the client is EU related it is no surprise the agency got the response so late and its true about the holiday its true as August is the official holiday month for EU.



The thing is they had more than enought time for feedback before holidays. I delivered the translation as far as I remember on June 9, that gives them 21 day to come back to me with any problems and ask me to correct them.


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:37
English to German
+ ...
Contract? Sep 8, 2006

Did you sign any contract with that agency in which the rules for your partnership are defined?

If so you should look into it and see what your status is and what your rights and obligations are.

If not, you should make it very clear to your customer that letting the time for payment run out without having taken any action is their problem not yours. The money is due now and they had enough time to look into things. If they were unable to do so it is their internal problem. It also is their problem if their customer did not pay in time. They are still obliged to pay you in time. (IMHO: This is the risk they have to take when giving work to a freelance translator. That is why agencies charge higher rates than freelancers. This is what this business is about and if they cannot handle it they should try a different kind of work instead!)

I would also let them know, if there really was a problem with the quality of the text, you would still be willing to correct any real mistakes they point out to you, even if the time for customer complaints has run out. This may be a service you might still be willing to offer.

But this has absolutely nothing to do with them having to pay you at once.

If this does not help you have to seek legal advice. And please inform us about this agency on the Blue Board! Even if the problem is finally solved, other translators should be warned to handle such agencies with special care.


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 17:37
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
timing Sep 8, 2006

Burrell wrote:

The thing is they had more than enought time for feedback before holidays. I delivered the translation as far as I remember on June 9, that gives them 21 day to come back to me with any problems and ask me to correct them.


I can only agree with you 100%.

Its a fault of the agency if they couldnt check everything sooner. However having worked with EU institutions for some time I can say they are very slow, yet I havent heared so far of the case when a translation would be sent back after such a long period of time. Looks to me that its possible August as a holiday month is used as an excuse.

Hope it all works out well for you after all!!!


~what does not kill us, makes us stronger and wiser~


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craigs
Local time: 10:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Past-due payment - Past-due complaint: quite unbearable Sep 8, 2006

Burrell wrote:

. . . . told me that their client has apparently complained about the translation and they are not yet sure themselves what the problem was. He said the client has been on holidays all August and that is why they did not know anything earlier but they will get in touch with the client now . . . .


From an outsider's perspective, this sounds like one of the lamest excuses; and such protracted terms of payment seems unconscionable. I think few if any other professions, especially where it is an individual being paid for a singular service or project, would wait 60 days for payment. The car dealer accepts cash on delivery of the vehicle, the employee waits no longer than two weeks for a check, the doctor doesn't let you leave without payment information, and the utilities have a past-due date. And then waiting that long for payment only to have someone all of the sudden complain about the job that was done.

It brings up a good idea, though, on how to mitigate this type of risk. I understand that some freelancers outline terms for payment--why not terms for deadlines for complaints? It is accepted practice in business that there is a statute of limitations for contesting errors: bank statements, utilities, etc. How about adding, appended to payment terms, a reasonable deadline for voicing complaints?


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avantix  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:37
German to Dutch
+ ...
Ask legal advice and take action Sep 8, 2006

Hi Ines,
I'm a little confused about the different dates. In your first entry you wrote:

The job was finished on time, I sent the invoice together with the translation. Their payment terms were 30 days after the end of the month when the invoice was received which would make it end of August.


However, your second entry says:



I delivered the translation as far as I remember on June 9, that gives them 21 day to come back to me with any problems and ask me to correct them.


which would mean that you should have received payment by the end of July.

Whatever, I am not an expert in English law, but in most European countries there is a legal period for rejecting deliveries (or request corrections). This is usually between one and a few weeks after delivery date. Whatever period is applicable under English law, it must have expired by now.

Secondly, you have accepted the job from the agency, not from EU, meaning that the agency is your contract partner. If no other terms have been agreed upon, they will have to pay you under your terms of payment, whether they have received payment from their client or not.

It is not your fault that they do not have their own quality control (reviewer). It is neither your fault that people decide to go on holiday (the law does not extend the "protest" period for that reason).

So I would send the agency a final notice by registered mail, telling them that you would start legal action (and hold them liable for all costs involved) if you have not received payment by [date].

Meanwhile I would advice you to ask legal advice a.s.a.p. so that you can start action immediately after the set date if payment has not been received.

Wish you succes and a quick recovery for your husband.

Herman


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 00:37
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
It makes me freaking mad! Sep 8, 2006

When agencies want you to do a new job they are all over you. If any problems arise during the process, they can't do enough to help you. You deliver the project on time and of the expected high standard and then nothing!

How do they get away with it?

Someone wrote on a earlier thread which I'd like to paraphrase and that is:
Agencies expect you to respect deadlines so why the hell can't they respect the agreed payment dates?"


It seems to me that there are 3 categories of payers. There are the diamonds who pay before it's even due and on one occasion we had one who paid us just 5 minutes after receipt of the project. That's gotta be up in the record books somewhere:)

Then you get the slackers who just need a gentle reminder usually just once, sometimes twice, which still peeves me but I can live with it as long as we get paid.

Unfortunately they are followed by the complete and utter b#$%$#$% who conveniently are never around to take your calls, don't respond to emails and just seem to disappear into a black hole somewhere. At least I hope they do and I hope they stay there forever!

Fortunately we've been lucky so far in that we have only had to deal with the occasional slacker.

I'm sorry I can't offer you any advice but I do sympathise and I really hope that one way or another you get your payment.

Good luck and best wishes,
Mark


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xxxPRen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:37
French to English
+ ...
What about the end client. Sep 8, 2006

Do you know who the end client is? If so, why not contact them, ask what the problems were, if any, whether they paid for the translation in full, and tell them you have not been paid.

Does anyone know if there are ownership issues stemming from that, for example, if the translator has not been paid, does the translator "own" the translation? If so, that might be a stick to beat them with!!


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:37
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Non-payment Sep 8, 2006

I made a mistake, I delivered the job on July 9, of course, no June. But even so it was more than enough.

Thanks for support. I will send them a letter by recorded mail and demand payment within certain period after which I will escalate this to the small claims court.

I cannot contact end client - I have signed the agreement and the end client is very vague - EU. There are tons of offices there.


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:37
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Some development Sep 22, 2006

As promissed an updateo n the situation. I have received half of the total amount. The client says it is what they will receive from their client. They could not give me any examples of serious mistakes, the most the could remeber was me translating the headings that some websites have already translated - very grave mistake indeed.
I have decided to sue for the other half. I will let you know if I manage to get all my money back after all.

Ines


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