Beware of the so-called global translation companies!
Thread poster: Mats Wiman

Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 23:59
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Oct 24, 2003

Tough stuff!

During my 7 years of work as a professional translator I have more a and more come to single out one type of customer for which I will not work:

THE MULTINATIONAL TRANSLATION AGENCY.

Reason: Most, but not all, are arrogant exploiters which make translation a tedious slavery.

Their appoach is characterized by:

”We are big and beautiful and we call the shots here.”
”You are to do what you’re told or else….”

They put one-sided contracts before you to sign, containing ridiculous clauses stating all you should do including threats to pay nothing if…. or even bestowing themselves the right to extort damage money from you if…whereas they themselves have to do very little as part of the contract.

It’s also natural to them to start negotiating AFTER you’ve made your offer, almost almays with the argument the ”more is to come if you do well….” (something the will repeat to the next ’victim’). Very often nothing much will materialise.

Especially cute is that the often start by breaking their own rules. We yesterday got a rush job to which we nodded a Yes. After that, they started to exert pressure on price and demand a shorter delivery time than the already short one. ”As a global company, a contract is mandatory…bla, bla… I’ll send you the contract…”. They did not – it arrived by snail-mail today with a lot of unacceptable clauses, one of them being that I should meticulously abide by the conditions laid out in the Purchase Order as well as their General Business Conditions.
And: They did not send a PO and of course not the GBC.
To their surprise (we should be grateful…) we have told them that we will not enter into a business relation with them.

These companies normally tells you to conform to all normal rules of the trade, which you have honoured during all 7 years of being a freelance translator:
· Do not reveal your customers to anyone
· Do not tell anyone the contents of the text
· Do not transfer the full text to anyone but your customer
· Do not ’steal’ your customer’s customer

Many of us certainly find it insulting to be told to obey these self-explanatory rules and the listing of them creates a sort of mistrust right at the start of what is hoped to be a mutually prosperous cooperation..

We should also check the spelling. REALLY!
We should print the text on paper and if we can’t, they could do it for us @ 1 cent a word… INDEED!
We should proof-read our own text. ERROR 1: Wrong party. ERROR 2 It carries a price.
We shall make a maximum of 15 spelling errors out of 50 pages of text or else….

Typical for so-called global companies is also that the often toss you around when it comes to problems:
”For this matter you’ll have to talk with Mr X at our New York office…. ” , ”For payments, our Paris office is responsible….”, ”The files you’ll have to send to Miss X at our Brussels office….” etc. etc.
I.E.: Global is truly a negative factor.

Another negative factor: To become and stay big, with their hydrocephalus overhead they have to hire low-cost non-linguistic staff, that hasn’t a clue about translation or Trados/Déjà Vu/SDLX etc. They also have to squeeze the translator for all possible discounts, be it volume, repetitions or because of empty promises about future work.

Summing it up:
We have had the best experience with small and medium-sized agencies based at one location and with one boss and with a few to many years of experience. Our seven-year old partners sent us half a page of policy and asked us: ”Do you agree?” That’s how it should be done – period!

Thanks for letting me let my steam off!

Mats J C Wiman
Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe
http://www.MatsWiman.com
http://www.Deutsch-Schwedisch.com
http://www.proz.com/Pro/1749
(Proz.com moderator (deu>swe))
Träsk 201
SE-872 97 Skog
Schweden/Sweden/Suède/Suecia
Tel:+46-612-54112 Fax:+46-612-54181 Mobile:+46-70-5769797








[Edited at 2003-10-24 12:39]


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Egmont
Spain
Local time: 23:59
Afrikaans to Spanish
+ ...
I agree with you... Oct 24, 2003

Mats Wiman wrote:

Tough stuff!

During my 7 years of work as a professional translator I have more a and more come to single out one type of customer for which I will not work:

THE MULTINATIONAL TRANSLATION AGENCY.

Reason: Most, but not all, are arrogant exploiters which make translation a tedious slavery.

Their appoach is characterized by:

”We are big and beautiful and we call the shots here.”
”You are to do what you’re told or else….”

They put one-sided contracts before you to sign, containing ridiculous clauses stating all you should do including threats to pay nothing if…. or even bestowing themselves the right to extort damage money from you if…whereas they themselves have to do very little as part of the contract.

It’s also natural to them to start negotiating AFTER you’ve made your offer, almost almays with the argument the ”more is to come if you do well….” (something the will repeat to the next ’victim’). Very often nothing much will materialise.

Especially cute is that the often start by breaking their own rules. We yesterday got a rush job to which we nodded a Yes. After that, they started to exert pressure on price and demand a shorter delivery time than the already short one. ”As a global company, a contract is mandatory…bla, bla… I’ll send you the contract…”. They did not – it arrived by snail-mail today with a lot of unacceptable clauses, one of them being that I should meticulously abide by the conditions laid out in the Purchase Order as well as their General Business Conditions.
And: They did not send a PO and of course not the GBC.
To their surprise (we should be grateful…) we have told them that we will not enter into a business relation with them.

These companies normally tells you to conform to all normal rules of the trade, which you have honoured during all 7 years of being a freelance translator:
· Do not reveal your customers to anyone
· Do not tell anyone the contents of the text
· Do not transfer the full text to anyone but your customer
· Do not ’steal’ your customer’s customer

Many of us certainly find it insulting to be told to obey these self-explanatory rules and the listing of them creates a sort of mistrust right at the start of what is hoped to be a mutually prosperous cooperation..

We should also check the spelling. REALLY!
We should print the text on paper and if we can’t, they could do it for us @ 1 cent a word… INDEED!
We should proof-read our own text. ERROR 1: Wrong party. ERROR 2 It carries a price.
We shall make a maximum of 15 spelling errors out of 50 pages of text or else….

Typical for so-called global companies is also that the often toss you around when it comes to problems:
”For this matter you’ll have to talk with Mr X at our New York office…. ” , ”For payments, our Paris office is responsible….”, ”The files you’ll have to send to Miss X at our Brussels office….” etc. etc.
I.E.: Global is truly a negative factor.

Another negative factor: To become and stay big, with their hydrocephalus overhead they have to hire low-cost non-linguistic staff, that hasn’t a clue about translation or Trados/Déjà Vu/SDLX etc. They also have to squeeze the translator for all possible discounts, be it volume, repetitions or because of empty promises about future work.

Summing it up:
We have had the best experience with small and medium-sized agencies based at one location and with one boss and with a few to many years of experience. Our seven-year old partners sent us half a page of policy and asked us: ”Do you agree?” That’s how it should be done – period!

Thanks for letting me let my steam off!

Mats J C Wiman
Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe
http://www.MatsWiman.com
http://www.Deutsch-Schwedisch.com
http://www.proz.com/Pro/1749
(Proz.com moderator (deu>swe))
Träsk 201
SE-872 97 Skog
Schweden/Sweden/Suède/Suecia
Tel:+46-612-54112 Fax:+46-612-54181 Mobile:+46-70-5769797








[Edited at 2003-10-24 12:39]
according to my experience since 1971...


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:59
German to English
It's a matter of taste and personal style Oct 24, 2003

Although I suppose there are advantages to working with larger agencies (perhaps the opportunity to translate documents for high-profile end clients), I'd rather deal with smaller shops where the project managers are interested in maintaining good relations with both client *and* translator. Payment is usually handled by a single individual, although that doesn't always mean that the paperwork is handled in a timely fashion.

Larger companies tend to have more depth of personnel; that is there is generally a backup PM/contact person/bookkeeper to take over in the event of illness or employee turnover. A few years back, an agency I work for had a sudden change in personnel (1 PM went to work on her own, another was fired), and the result was chaos. Both clients and translators were very unhappy (product not delivered, invoices not passed to bookkeeping). A large agency could have handled this situation a lot better.
Kevin


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xxxT_Herrmann  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:59
German to English
+ ...
Spoken right from my heart... Oct 24, 2003

... and then there's one particular "Global Services Provider" who'll send you 6 pages stuffed with fine-print on how to translate their documents, and then you'll find out the Multiterm term-base they've sent you is full of crap. Also very nice, the one "forcing" you to buy their software upgrade, since their "Lite" version doesn't do it for them anymore. Nice way to generate a quick "revenue-jump". But dear translator, all this added value!

Whatever...

Oh well, what are you going to do?


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Anne Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:59
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
+ ...
terms of payment Oct 25, 2003

What about the terms of payment which are usually 60 days from the end of the month? Minus the charges for the bank transfer, of course, because 'this is a big job, so it won't hurt you'.

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:59
Flemish to English
+ ...
No negative experiences with them Oct 25, 2003

Anne Lee wrote:

What about the terms of payment which are usually 60 days from the end of the month? Minus the charges for the bank transfer, of course, because 'this is a big job, so it won't hurt you'.


I used to work for Mendez (now part Bowne, I believe), one of the big guys.
The advantage with them was that you were given a framework conctract,which was coupled to quality regulations. You knew what you had to adhere to. They paid end of month +60 days, but they paid like clockwork.
If not, a phone call to their accountant was enough to recieve payment.
From a linguistic point of view and from a terminological point of view, their assignments were very interesting and always a defiance. It is a fact that such translation companies are much better structured than the small agencies.
My experience with the small agencies is that in 90% of the cases, you have to phone a couple of times before you get paid.
As other markets offered better rates and shorter payment-terms, I stopped working for them.
With regard to end of month + 60 days: By now the 30-days rule should have become law in all EU-countries.

[Edited at 2003-10-25 13:03]


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James Hollander  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:59
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
30-days rule?? Oct 25, 2003

"With regard to end of month + 60 days: By now the 30-days rule should have become law in all EU-countries".
Is that a new EU regulation? If so, where can I find it?
Here in Spain, the norm is 60 days.


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Olav Rixen
Canada
Local time: 14:59
English to German
+ ...
I'd be wary of the big guys Oct 25, 2003

Williamson wrote:

Anne Lee wrote:

What about the terms of payment which are usually 60 days from the end of the month? Minus the charges for the bank transfer, of course, because 'this is a big job, so it won't hurt you'.


I used to work for Mendez (now part Bowne, I believe), one of the big guys.
The advantage with them was that you were given a framework conctract,which was coupled to quality regulations. You knew what you had to adhere to. They paid end of month +60 days, but they paid like clockwork.
If not, a phone call to their accountant was enough to recieve payment.
From a linguistic point of view and from a terminological point of view, their assignments were very interesting and always a defiance. It is a fact that such translation companies are much better structured than the small agencies.
My experience with the small agencies is that in 90% of the cases, you have to phone a couple of times before you get paid.
As other markets offered better rates and shorter payment-terms, I stopped working for them.
With regard to end of month + 60 days: By now the 30-days rule should have become law in all EU-countries.

[Edited at 2003-10-25 13:03]


I'd be wary of the big guys. Just the other day I got a reply to an e-mail application I had sent of months ago. They asked me if I was willing to waive my lump sum price for jobs below a certain minimum volume, and they hoped I would understand their payment terms of 60-90 days because of the hundreds of translators their accounting department had to deal with. 60-90 days is an outrage by any standard, just like job postings for $0.02 a word (http://www.proz.com/job/44940) which I saw posted today. Give me the small to medium-sized agencies any time. They pay within 14-30 days and won't dream of asking you to wait 3 months for your money or work for slave wages.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:59
English to German
+ ...
Not new at all Oct 25, 2003

...in fact, the relevant EC directive 2000/35/EC was issued on 29 June 2000.

jamesholl wrote:

"With regard to end of month + 60 days: By now the 30-days rule should have become law in all EU-countries".
Is that a new EU regulation? If so, where can I find it?
Here in Spain, the norm is 60 days.


One common misconception, however, is that the directive establishes 30 days as the only admissible term of payment. See Article 3:


Article 3
Interest in case of late payment
1. Member States shall ensure that:
(a) interest in accordance with point (d) shall become payable from the day following the date or the end of the period for payment fixed in the contract;
(b) if the date or period for payment is not fixed in the contract, interest shall become payable automatically without the necessity of a reminder:
(i) 30 days following the date of receipt by the debtor of the invoice or an equivalent request for payment; or
(ii) if the date of the receipt of the invoice or the equivalent request for payment is uncertain, 30 days after the date of receipt of the goods or services; or
/quote]

Therefore, if the purchase order you receive from an agency states 180 days and you accept it, this does not constitute late payment as defined in the directive. Of course, the key question is if you want to accept such terms - I certainly wouldn't.

Best regards, Ralf

[Edited at 2003-10-25 14:30]


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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:59
English to French
Good point, Ralf, but... Oct 27, 2003

Ralf Lemster wrote:

One common misconception, however, is that the directive establishes 30 days as the only admissible term of payment. See Article 3:


Article 3
Interest in case of late payment
1. Member States shall ensure that:
(a) interest in accordance with point (d) shall become payable from the day following the date or the end of the period for payment fixed in the contract;
(b) if the date or period for payment is not fixed in the contract, interest shall become payable automatically without the necessity of a reminder:
(i) 30 days following the date of receipt by the debtor of the invoice or an equivalent request for payment; or
(ii) if the date of the receipt of the invoice or the equivalent request for payment is uncertain, 30 days after the date of receipt of the goods or services; or
/quote]

Therefore, if the purchase order you receive from an agency states 180 days and you accept it, this does not constitute late payment as defined in the directive. Of course, the key question is if you want to accept such terms - I certainly wouldn't.

Best regards, Ralf


It shall be noted that in that same directive:
(19) This Directive should prohibit abuse of freedom of contract to the disadvantage of the creditor. Where an agreement mainly serves the purpose of procuring the debtor additional liquidity at the expense of the creditor, or where the main contractor imposes on his suppliers and subcontractors terms of payment which are not justified on the grounds of the terms granted to himself, these may be considered to be factors constituting such an abuse. This Directive does not affect national provisions relating to the way contracts are concluded or regulating the validity of contractual terms which are unfair to the debtor.

As we can see, an unjustified contractual 180 days payment delay could be considered nevertheless as a factor of abuse.

However, since translation projects seldom involve "big money" for the translator, justice is an expensive, time consuming commodity.

[Edited at 2003-11-14 05:36]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:59
English to German
+ ...
Personally, I wouldn't even accept 60 days... Oct 27, 2003

...and most of the invoices I pay go out within a week.

As we can see, an unjustified contractual 180 days payment delay could be considered nevertheless as a factor of abuse.

Most definitely so.

Cheers, Ralf


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