Agency changing rules about payment AFTER completion of huge project
Thread poster: Kristi Hyllekve

Kristi Hyllekve
United States
Local time: 17:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Aug 20, 2010

I know there are several threads dealing with agencies either not paying or delaying payment by several months. I have read that the agency is my client and the agency must pay me whether or not it gets paid for the project. I refused to begin work until I had a signed PO on file which states only "Proofreading of Legal Texts" translated into en_UK. We were a team of two: lawyer and en_UK editor. Other people were also hired to edit because of the size of the work. Our work load exploded from the original estimate of 1500-2000 pages to over 3500 page.

My quandary is the following: I have been told that we will not be paid in full if the author is not fully satisfied. This was not part of the PO, was never mentioned until yesterday, two months after completion of the project.

The company broke most of the rules for running an efficient and professional project and now wants me to bear part of the fiscal penalty. The agency/client for whom I worked:
• grossly underestimated the time required for the project
• had no style guide
• sent a very incomplete glossary when the project was half over
• hired many translators who were not qualified to translate such texts
• chastised us (legal partner and me) for pushing back on the translators for a better translation or rephrasing or clarification, thus causing delays
• criticised me for not deleting my legal partner's comments in the text when legal concerns were raised
• refused to send me back some documents after the first edit to ensure queries/concerns were addressed correctly
• refused to ensure that continuing concerns were addressed; many issues were not resolved to our satisfaction
• refused to comprehend our concerns that we couldn't edit incomprehensible text
• put a RUSH on almost every single document, at times requesting 24-hour turn around for some documents
• hired several editors, two whose edited documents left too much to be forgiven
• etc.

Yesterday, I told that the author is dissatisfied with some of the documents and was sent examples of bad editing, none of which were mine. However, we will not receive payment until the 2nd edit has been completed, and we will be held accountable if the translation/edit is not up to his expectations! I have all the documentation with our considerable edits. However if the translation was wrong, how can we be held responsible?

Sorry this is so long, but where does our responsibility end and the agency's (our client) begin? And shouldn't we expect full payment for our work?

Thank you for any input on this issue -- an issue far too many of us encounter.


 

mediamatrix (X)
Local time: 18:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
DIY Aug 21, 2010

Equus07 wrote:

... We were a team of two: lawyer and en_UK editor.


Assuming, for the sake of argument (and despite your geolocation in Canada), that you are the 'en_UK editor', then your co-partner in crime (forgive my flippancy) is ... a lawyer.

Let your partner handle this.

MediaMatrix


 

InfoMarex
Ireland
Local time: 22:16
Member (2008)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The rights of the translator Aug 21, 2010

Dear Equus07,

You are fully within your rights to claim full payment for the work done. Your client is the agency for which you have worked, not the ultimate client of that agency whom you may not even know.

Unless there is a specific prevision in your contract which says "subject to approval by our client" or similar - which I presume you would not have been stupid enough to sign anyway - you are entitled to be paid in full for work done.

As a matter of professional courtesy working both ways for for this sort of triangular task, were either the agency or their client to have told you withing 24 hours/48 hours as you submitted work that there were typos, or that you had made errors, it would have been up to you to correct them out of professional pride.

Give the agency 30 days - in a final letter of demand - in which to pay and make it VERY clear that you will sue in whatever court jurisdiction necessary to ensure to ensure your full payment and costs, setting out what PRECISELY the purchase order required you to do, and making CLEAR that you were not required to do anything else.

I hope - though I think you may not have done so, as translators rarely do it - that you sent the agency YOUR terms of business at the start, and that yours terms state that your work is subject to the laws of xyz country, and not to those of Inner Sylania. Should you require our TOBs which cover such matters just send me an email to translations@infomarex.com

It is totally unprofessional of the agency in question to ask you to bear any sort of responsibility other than that for which you were contracted. Stick precisely to the facts as such correspondence could well be quoted in open court. Do not mention how hard you worked or at weekends, etc. You need payment not sympathy.

The above thoughts come to mind out of 10 years in a credit consultancy business and in 20 years of running a translation agency.

[As an aside, we were fraudulently conned out of €35K worth of translations some 10 years ago by an agency which was between ourselves and the ultimate client whom we did not know. Our translation team of twelve translator were professional enough to accept staggered payments over twelve months as we discharged our liability to them.]
Kind regards,

Michael J McCann
InfoMarex


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:16
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
How long should a client be allowed for "complaints" ? Aug 21, 2010

I'm sorry to hear about your unhappy situation. I've wondered lately myself how long a time is considered normal or reasonable in which a client can issue complaints about work or request changes.
Some weeks ago, I had an email from one of my best agencies saying that an end client (whose identity I did not know) for whom I'd done a long and urgent job EIGHTEEN MONTHS BEFORE was suddenly complaining about the translation and refusing to pay the agency - the agency had paid me for it on time as agreed long before. I vigorously defended myself and the agency clearly took my side.
Yesterday, I had a question about a one-letter typo I admit I had made and missed in a small job done for a new client ONE MONTH earlier. My own terms and conditions say that questions about work must be raised within 14 days which seems reasonable to me, given that work these days is always described as urgent. If they can't assess allegedly urgent work within that time, well ...
In your case, with a very long job, it seems to me that the agency (and/or the end client) ought to have raised any concerns they had about your work LONG before two months had passed, especially as you were sending them the work in parts.
Is there a standard time for complaints - a "statute of limitations", as it were? What do Prozians think is a reasonable length of time before one can consider work to have been accepted?
Best wishes,
Jenny


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 04:16
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
My similar situation Aug 21, 2010

Equus07 wrote:
Yesterday, I told that the author is dissatisfied with some of the documents and was sent examples of bad editing, none of which were mine. However, we will not receive payment until the 2nd edit has been completed, and we will be held accountable if the translation/edit is not up to his expectations! I have all the documentation with our considerable edits. However if the translation was wrong, how can we be held responsible?

This case is similar to mine yesterday. A big New York translation agency hired me 10 hours to do QM of clinical trial document with WordFast Pro. I submit the edited clean target language files. One hour later, the agency staff told me with intermittent mails that file formats were wrong. The communication was quite bad; I waited 7 hours to confirm surely what was the reason of wrongness, and proposed (a not quick) recovery method. The agency did not listen to my requested. I told them to find another expert quickly to manage with the situation: recreating a PowerPoint file, editing 2 Excel files and 4 Wrord file, and redo translation and formatting of the corrupted 59-page Word file. They told to revise PO to me. I agreed since I waste 9 hrs without success in persuading the agency to take the recovery method I had proposed. I was much relieved since I worked for this agency for many years and their staff communication was much confusing in rush hours and much mental stress.

Best regards,
Soonthon Lupkitaro


 

Kristi Hyllekve
United States
Local time: 17:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
PO stated only "proofreading of legal text Aug 21, 2010

InfoMarex wrote:

Dear Equus07,

You are fully within your rights to claim full payment for the work done. Your client is the agency for which you have worked, not the ultimate client of that agency whom you may not even know.

Unless there is a specific prevision in your contract which says "subject to approval by our client" or similar - which I presume you would not have been stupid enough to sign anyway - you are entitled to be paid in full for work done.

As a matter of professional courtesy working both ways for for this sort of triangular task, were either the agency or their client to have told you withing 24 hours/48 hours as you submitted work that there were typos, or that you had made errors, it would have been up to you to correct them out of professional pride.

Give the agency 30 days - in a final letter of demand - in which to pay and make it VERY clear that you will sue in whatever court jurisdiction necessary to ensure to ensure your full payment and costs, setting out what PRECISELY the purchase order required you to do, and making CLEAR that you were not required to do anything else.

I hope - though I think you may not have done so, as translators rarely do it - that you sent the agency YOUR terms of business at the start, and that yours terms state that your work is subject to the laws of xyz country, and not to those of Inner Sylania. Should you require our TOBs which cover such matters just send me an email to translations@infomarex.com

It is totally unprofessional of the agency in question to ask you to bear any sort of responsibility other than that for which you were contracted. Stick precisely to the facts as such correspondence could well be quoted in open court. Do not mention how hard you worked or at weekends, etc. You need payment not sympathy.

The above thoughts come to mind out of 10 years in a credit consultancy business and in 20 years of running a translation agency.

[As an aside, we were fraudulently conned out of €35K worth of translations some 10 years ago by an agency which was between ourselves and the ultimate client whom we did not know. Our translation team of twelve translator were professional enough to accept staggered payments over twelve months as we discharged our liability to them.]
Kind regards,

Michael J McCann
InfoMarex


"Unless there is a specific prevision in your contract which says "subject to approval by our client" or similar - which I presume you would not have been stupid enough to sign anyway - you are entitled to be paid in full for work done......I hope - though I think you may not have done so, as translators rarely do it - that you sent the agency YOUR terms of business at the start, and that yours terms state that your work is subject to the laws of xyz country...."

Equus: There was no reference ever -- in the PO or in any email -- that payment was subject to the end-client's approval. Unfortunately, I did not include my terms of business and state that my work is subject to the laws of Canada. Huge error. Won't make that one again -- yes, I will be contacting you directly. Thank you.

Throughout the whole project (February through June), there was never criticism about my editing. In fact, I was sent many documents done by another "editor" which had to be redone correctly. I was never asked to redo any of my work. In fact, when I kept requesting to do a final check on all my edited documents to ensure consistency (after my client's delivery of feeble glossary), my client sent some, but not all. It came as a shock when a received the email this week that if the end client was displeased, they would prosecute me -- prosecute!! My client admitted that many of the the documents I edited were of mediocre to poor quality. My concern then -- and now -- is that I will be held responsible for incorrectly translated text and, therefore, incorrect legal terminology -- patently unfair. This adage sums it up: "One can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."

On my all my digitally signed invoices, I include the late payment fee -- which they have to-date ignored. Do I keep sending monthly invoices with the added fees? Or is it an exercise in futility?

Thank you for your time/input.


 

PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 23:16
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Collect all you have in writing Aug 21, 2010

I assume that all those concerns etc. you mention are documented by emails or similar, and so you should collect all the material you have concerning this job.

I would then turn to a lawyer and present my case.
I guess you could/should notify your client of such action, and I think you actually need to keep sending reminders etc. Talk to a lawyer.

Good luck - I hope it's resolved in speedt manner.


 

Kristi Hyllekve
United States
Local time: 17:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
'statute of limitations' & ProZ members Aug 21, 2010

Jenny Forbes wrote:

I'm sorry to hear about your unhappy situation. I've wondered lately myself how long a time is considered normal or reasonable in which a client can issue complaints about work or request changes.
Some weeks ago, I had an email from one of my best agencies saying that an end client (whose identity I did not know) for whom I'd done a long and urgent job EIGHTEEN MONTHS BEFORE was suddenly complaining about the translation and refusing to pay the agency - the agency had paid me for it on time as agreed long before. I vigorously defended myself and the agency clearly took my side.
Yesterday, I had a question about a one-letter typo I admit I had made and missed in a small job done for a new client ONE MONTH earlier. My own terms and conditions say that questions about work must be raised within 14 days which seems reasonable to me, given that work these days is always described as urgent. If they can't assess allegedly urgent work within that time, well ...
In your case, with a very long job, it seems to me that the agency (and/or the end client) ought to have raised any concerns they had about your work LONG before two months had passed, especially as you were sending them the work in parts.
Is there a standard time for complaints - a "statute of limitations", as it were? What do Prozians think is a reasonable length of time before one can consider work to have been accepted?
Best wishes,
Jenny


I think including a 'statute of limitations' and 'terms of business' are both excellent ideas and I will do that henceforth. I think the company for whom I did the work was over its head with this project.
Thanks.


 

Kristi Hyllekve
United States
Local time: 17:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
different countries: will a lawyer work? Aug 21, 2010

PCovs wrote:

I assume that all those concerns etc. you mention are documented by emails or similar, and so you should collect all the material you have concerning this job.

I would then turn to a lawyer and present my case.
I guess you could/should notify your client of such action, and I think you actually need to keep sending reminders etc. Talk to a lawyer.

Good luck - I hope it's resolved in speedt manner.


I have all the documentation including all the edits, etc.

Is it possible to blacklist a company on ProZ who reneges on full payment?


 

Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:16
Member
Dutch to English
+ ...
Listing on Blue Board Aug 22, 2010

Equus07 wrote:

Is it possible to blacklist a company on ProZ who reneges on full payment?


Yes, because you are indicating your willingness to work with them again: nothing more and nothing less. I presume you are NOT willing to work with them againicon_smile.gif.

[Edited at 2010-08-22 12:57 GMT]


 


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