Agency's policy is not to pay translators until the end client pays?
Thread poster: conejo

conejo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:00
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Feb 16, 2010

Today an agency I had never worked for before emailed me about a job, and I asked about their payment time frame. In response, I was told that they don't pay until their client pays, with no general time frame, nothing. The agency was asking me to work for 2 to 2 and a half months, and not get paid until the end client pays them... That sounds really crazy. It also made it sound like they have a really high likelihood of their end client not paying. So obviously I said no.

However, I am just wondering, if this is actually a standard practice in any part of the industry. Or if it's just a totally bogus thing.


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:00
Swedish to English
+ ...
Ha, ha - bye, bye Feb 16, 2010

Would be my response.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:00
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It would be interesting to take it to the courts Feb 16, 2010

conejo wrote:
I was told that they don't pay until their client pays, with no general time frame, nothing.


I have a client who doesn't actually come out and say it's their practice, but they always keep me waiting, and waiting, with excuse after excuse. I get fed up with it but I don't escalate things too much as I enjoy the work and I know they will pay in the end.

I had another client whose end-client didn't pay, so they refused in turn to pay me. Then I found out I had actually signed a contract to permit this! Whoops!:oops: Still, it didn't seem fair, so I took them to court. The court ruled that the clause was unfair and ordered them to pay all my invoices and my costs. That felt good, I can tell you.:grin:

So, I think they could easily be challenged, but of course it's easier to do exactly what you did - stay well clear of them.


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conejo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:00
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Wow Feb 16, 2010

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I have a client who doesn't actually come out and say it's their practice, but they always keep me waiting, and waiting, with excuse after excuse. I get fed up with it but I don't escalate things too much as I enjoy the work and I know they will pay in the end.

I had another client whose end-client didn't pay, so they refused in turn to pay me. Then I found out I had actually signed a contract to permit this! Whoops!:oops: Still, it didn't seem fair, so I took them to court. The court ruled that the clause was unfair and ordered them to pay all my invoices and my costs. That felt good, I can tell you.:grin:

So, I think they could easily be challenged, but of course it's easier to do exactly what you did - stay well clear of them.


I think that like you said, at the minimum it would result in maybe not getting paid for 3-4 months.

Wow, it is awful you had to go through that, but I am glad to hear that the court ordered that they had to pay you! Sometimes it seems like this business is geared toward not protecting the translators... It's good to hear that they had to pay up. I think a lot of times agencies don't remember that translators are individuals... they don't consider that holding up payment is basically like refusing to give someone their paycheck. Like how would they feel if someone said one day 'Oops sorry, I don't feel like giving you this $3,000 paycheck for another 2 mos. That's fine right?'


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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:00
German to Spanish
+ ...
Agency's policy is not to pay translators until the end client pays? Feb 16, 2010

conejo wrote:

Today an agency I had never worked for before emailed me about a job, and I asked about their payment time frame. In response, I was told that they don't pay until their client pays, with no general time frame, nothing. The agency was asking me to work for 2 to 2 and a half months, and not get paid until the end client pays them... That sounds really crazy. It also made it sound like they have a really high likelihood of their end client not paying. So obviously I said no.

However, I am just wondering, if this is actually a standard practice in any part of the industry. Or if it's just a totally bogus thing.


No way. Relationship ist between you and the agency (your client, not your provider) and has nothing to do with the relationship the agency may have with the final client. What if the final client does not or refuse pay? You never got paid too...? Then it is better you assume the risk for yourself (and the client too)

Entrepreneurs should assume his own risks


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Unacceptable Feb 16, 2010

One of my clients adopted this as a formal written policy last year. When they wouldn't negotiate that clause in their new Provider Agreement, I politely told them to take their business elsewhere.

I did this for several reasons:

1) It's a risk I shouldn't have to assume, since my business relationship is with the agency, not its client.

2) Even if I wanted to accept such a policy, I have no way of knowing if or when their client paid them. It's unenforceable, short of having the agency's books subpoenaed, and therefore inherently unfair to the translator.

My payment terms are 30 days from invoicing. If an agency is so undercapitalized that it can't afford to pay within a month (give or take a week or so), then working for them at all is more of a risk than I care to take.

[Edited at 2010-02-17 17:03 GMT]


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Volodymyr Kukharenko
Ukraine
Local time: 19:00
Member (2009)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
They should pay whatever... Feb 17, 2010

Translation company should take all the risk, as otherwise what they are for?

Even more than that, a respectable translation company should hire a colleague of yours to check the quality before sending the translation to the customer and to pay him(her) as well. If all they are doing is just sitting between you and client, they cannot be taken seriously.


[Edited at 2010-02-17 07:46 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:00
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Nothing wrong with such a policy Feb 17, 2010

conejo wrote:
Today an agency I had never worked for before emailed me about a job, and I asked about their payment time frame. In response, I was told that they don't pay until their client pays, with no general time frame, nothing.


Well, the payment terms are a matter agreed upon between you and the agency. If you are happy with such an arrangement, then there is nothing wrong with it.

... However, I am just wondering, if this is actually a standard practice in any part of the industry.


No, the standard practice in the translation business is that the agency buys your translation from you, which means that he pays you irrespective of what the end-client (i.e. the one he sells your translation to) does.

The translation world must be one of very few places where an "agency" is usually not an agent, but a buyer. If translation agencies were truly agents, translators would have had the right to know who the end-client is (with the agent given permission to negotiate on our behalf), the contract would be between the translators and the end-client (with the agent merely facilitating it), and license to use or copyright would be granted by the translator to the end-client (not to the agent).

In the translation world, an agency is usually a buyer and reseller of the translation, and that is why there is usually the expectation that agencies should pay the agreed fee on the agreed time, regardless of whether or when the end-client pays.

If you feel uncomfortable with this, but you want to accept the job, make sure that the relationship is truly an agent relationship:

1. Ask for the client's name and contact details (or have a clause that if the client doesn't pay in X number of days, the agent will give the contact details to you).
2. If your contract with the agent mentions transfer of copyright to the agent, or a license of similar effect, cross it out and ask that the client's name be filled in.
3. See if the agent is willing to tell you what percentage they get.
4. ...Anyone else? What else can one do to secure oneself?

Or if it's just a totally bogus thing.


If it was bogus, would the agent have been so honest with you about it?


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Rubbish terms - rubbish clients Feb 17, 2010

If an agency or broker agrees not to pay its translators until it has been paid by the client, then the agency is free to take on any client - on any terms. The agency retains a profit if a client pays, and all of the risk and credit costs are assumed by the translator.

Any agency trading on such terms will inevitably attract the lowest paying and highest risk clients.


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satish krishna itikela  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 22:30
Member (2011)
English to Telugu
+ ...
Not acceptable. Feb 17, 2010

Hi,

This is not so acceptable in the industry because the general term for the payment will be 30 days and for European countries it will be 30 to 45 or 60 days maximum more than this is risky. On the other end we don't know that agency is bluffing us by saying that the end client is not paying them. It is better not to work for such agencies who doesn't state their exact payment periods.

I too have one Indian agency which i am presently working with, the agency says that he will pay me after the translation is accepted by the client, but how can i know when their client accepts my translation, so i refused to sign the agreement which have the above payment condition and i said that i should receive the payment within the 30 - 45 days and presently it is working. And if they break this i will surely stop working for them because we can't provide our services freely.

Regards,
Satish.


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conejo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:00
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Risk Feb 17, 2010

John Rawlins wrote:

If an agency or broker agrees not to pay its translators until it has been paid by the client, then the agency is free to take on any client - on any terms. The agency retains a profit if a client pays, and all of the risk and credit costs are assumed by the translator.

Any agency trading on such terms will inevitably attract the lowest paying and highest risk clients.


Good point--didn't think of that.


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