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Is this mental abuse and coercion? (BB company)
Thread poster: Lingua 5B

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 14:26
English to Croatian
+ ...
Mar 22, 2011

I don't know how to handle this situation, so I'd appreciate your insights. I'm writing here because I've already exhausted all other resources ( including ProZ staff intervention). This is going to be a long post, so I apologize in advance.

I have a problem with this particular agency, it involved quite a small job ( small invoice) but the biggest hassle I have ever encountered.

It's a big and well known translation company I would not recommend to anyone, which I clearly expressed in my BB record about them.

Our cooperation started with them sending me a translation test and promising a huge amount of work afterward ( a big project already on their table, ah typical). Anyways, I've passed the test, filled out numerous forms, signed NDAs and what not ( again, typical, should have been a red flag right from the start).

Needless to say, the "big project" never materialized (this is technically called scam). The only job they ever sent to me was a small task ( less than 50 €), which involved a lot of technical steps in their online system ( basically making the translator sorting out their admin tasks as well, so they don't have to do it). I've completed the job and supplied the invoice to their online system. Only then did I see they had a threshold for sending payments, which was 100 €, but at that point I didn't see it as a problem as they had announced big job earlier on so I thought I would reach the threshold pretty soon.

Six months after that, no other jobs. I clearly saw the big promised job was non-existing and my money was in their system, without any hints as to when ( and if) I would be able to pick it up. So I emailed them and said I want my money paid out, 6 months is just too long. Then they said PayPal is out of the option, so is bank transfer ( as it would be too expensive for them), but they can send a check. I said check was never an option for me, but as they pressed me with no other solution, I opted for check payment. I received the check and took it to my bank, and they told me that check was not payable in Bosnia ( impossible to cash it out here in any way). I reported the nonpayment issue to ProZ, added a negative BB comment; upon which the client offered to send another check (?), and offered no other payment option. You wont believe this, but I received the same type of check ( the nonpayable one) from them again, for the second time. Meanwhile, they emailed me at least 10 times to remove/delete my BB entry and to do it urgently ( it's a matter of life and death) ( emails were sent by 10-20 different PMs, totally disorganized, you get lost in their chaotic project management). It looked as if someone was joking with me ( like a prank or similar).

I said the BB wouldn't be deleted and not to contact me ever again.

Not only did they ignore my request about not contacting me, but they kept sending job offers ( after I said in my BB entry I wouldn't work with them ever again).

Then I get this phone call from one of their manager ( each time, I had to speak to a different manager, and explain the situation from the start), asking me how and why ( with a tone of disbelief) I can't cash my cheque ( after I explained it in detail to other managers at least 5 times). I'm sure that phone call cost them 10 times more than my invoice value ( I had to hang up from my end having an urgent meeting, as the lady from the other side kept asking like a broken record why I can't cash my cheque). I then sent to them all the bank details ( phone number of my bank etc) where they can talk to someone about why my bank can't handle such a cheque ( since they obviously didn't believe my word, so I directed them straight to the bank clerks).

The emails, newsletters and job offers kept coming from them so I asked them to delete me from their system.

Thankfully, that was the point when they stopped bugging me with their emails ( about 3-4 months ago) and I finally felt some peace about the situation ( although not paid, but at least I wasn't bugged by them).

And today ( unfortunately didn't last long) I get an email from their manager No. 386 679 asking me to send my invoice details to them so they can look into the issue for me.

I had also made it clear to them earlier on ( after the second invalid cheque) the BB entry wouldn't be deleted even if the payment was finally sorted out; the hassle was just going on for too long for me to remove the comment.

Altogether, this has been going on for about a year ( with the several month break).

nb. They were very categorical about payment method ( nothing but cheque could be negotiated, while they are a big company). They said wire would cost them too much ( I said they had to pay transfer fee), but how is that my problem? This is the only ProZ company I ever had an issue with ( hopefully the last one).

Is this mental abuse? To whom can I report this? I don't wanna be contacted by this people, I don't want their money, I won't remove my BB comment, and I just want to be left alone. Am I asking too much?









[Edited at 2011-03-22 12:53 GMT]


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Dhiraj Khati  Identity Verified
Nepal
Local time: 19:11
Member (2009)
English to Nepali
+ ...
For me.. it's a unusual Experience Mar 22, 2011

Really don't understand their practices of working. Not sure it's a mental abuse or something but I would have done the same thing like you if I were you.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:26
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some comments Mar 22, 2011

Lingua 5B wrote:
1. I've completed the job and supplied the invoice to their online system. Only then did I see they had a threshold for sending payments, which was 100 €...
2. Meanwhile, they emailed me at least 10 times to remove/delete my BB entry and to do it urgently (it's a matter of life and death)...
3. The emails, newsletters and job offers kept coming from them so I asked them to delete me from their system.
4. And today ( unfortunately didn't last long) I get an email from their manager No. 386 679 asking me to send my invoice details to them so they can look into the issue for me.


1. What payment method did you agree upon when you accepted the job? Or did you fail to specify how you want to be paid?

2. Well, at least it shows that they are responsive, which is a good thing with an agency.

3. Can't you just add their domain to your bozo bin (automatic spam filter thingy)? There is very little else you can do about unwanted mails.

4. That poor manager probably just got hired and one of his first tasks is to sort out unfinished business (which would include claims by translators of unpaid invoices).


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 14:26
English to Croatian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Answers. Mar 22, 2011

1. What payment method did you agree upon when you accepted the job? Or did you fail to specify how you want to be paid?

Wire transfer. It was specified in all of my forms. They complained my amount was too small to send as wire as it would incur big transfer fees, yet couldn't provide any predictability for future jobs that would raise my threshold within reasonable time period. That said, theoretically my amount could have stayed in their system for a century.

2. Well, at least it shows that they are responsive, which is a good thing with an agency.

Sarcasm definitely not appropriate for the situation.

3. Can't you just add their domain to your bozo bin (automatic spam filter thingy)? There is very little else you can do about unwanted mails.

I did, I added each of their emails to the spam filter, for some reason they keep coming back ( with new emails and new PMs). The last PM ( who contacted me today) is a new person with a new ProZ profile that contacted me through a ProZ message.

4. That poor manager probably just got hired and one of his first tasks is to sort out unfinished business (which would include claims by translators of unpaid invoices).

My invoice and job history is in their system ( I had pointed out they had an online PM system). Then why would they need me to explain it each time like a parrot to a new PM? How is this my job? Why would I be spending my energy and time on this? I did at first, as I found it only fair, but later on it became absurd. It's an endless story. And sheer disrespect for my time and sense. All they need to access my full details in their system is my email and my name ( they've got both). Besides, the whole nonpayment issue is reported to ProZ, so they should report any potential "news" they have about the issue to ProZ, not to me. Although I doubt they have any news. I tried it anew with them for 5 times, it's always the cheque story/issue in the end.



[Edited at 2011-03-22 14:43 GMT]


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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 14:26
English to Polish
+ ...
personal data protection? Mar 22, 2011

Lingua 5B wrote:

Is this mental abuse?


Depends on what mental abuse is.

To whom can I report this?


You didn't specify what country the agency is from. Considering the cheque thing, probably the United States? You've asked to be removed from their database and never contacted again. There are certain personal data protection laws (albeit not as strict in the United States as generally in Europe, it is believed), perhaps you could complain to some sort of a governmental agency that oversees compliance. Or at the very least threaten them with a complaint.

Google it.

I've also heard that the expression "my attorney" might work with organisations like this.

As far as proz.com goes, they're just an intermediary (if even that). Thanks for reporting this in the Blue Board. The fact that the agency doesn't like the entry is proof enough of the fact that the BB matters.

[Edited at 2011-03-22 14:54 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:26
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Was it really worth the effort? Mar 22, 2011

I know of this Spanish movie called "Don Erre que Erre". It depicts a man who wants everything done correctly and according to the very last comma of the law, both in his favour or in the favour of the other party. He spent several hours at a petrol station arguing with the attendant because he did not have the amount of change requested by law... while the corpse of his father awaits for the funeral.

When you described your struggle for 50 dollars (which hardly pay a dinner for two these days), I thought of the movie immediately.

Clearly the agency did not honour your expectations, and they misrepresented --of were far too optimistic-- about the fact that they would give a pile of work (in that I entirely agree). But once you spotted that they are clearly not your cup of tea in terms of customers... was it worth to pursue your 50 dollars? Wouldn't it have been better to ask them to remove you from their system and stick the US$ 50 "where the sun don't shine"? (sorry, I could not help using this expression!)


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 14:26
English to Croatian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
How could I have known it would be such a struggle? Mar 22, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

When you described your struggle for 50 dollars (which hardly pay a dinner for two these days), I thought of the movie immediately.

Wouldn't it have been better to ask them to remove you from their system and stick the US$ 50 "where the sun don't shine"? (sorry, I could not help using this expression!)


The second paragraph: yes, that's exactly what they wanted me to do. And I gave it to them. However, they also wanted the BB removed, but I couldn't grant that wish. Have you even read the story ( it's long, I know). I asked them to remove me from their system, but they kept sending job offers ( some small jobs, like 5€ worth). They just ignore my words and requests.

Even if it's 1 €, it's mine, I don't see an issue with pursuing the money? I don't understand your attitude.

Btw, it's them who created the struggle, not me. Normal agencies sort this kind of issues in one day ( which I was used to, therefore never expected this kind of ongoing hassle).



[Edited at 2011-03-22 15:24 GMT]


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Dragomir Kovacevic  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:26
Italian to Serbian
+ ...
best solution is to find a solution Mar 22, 2011

Lingua 5B,

given all the facts and present circumstances where you didn't pay too much attention to unpleasant conditions, it is far better now to seek an agreement, receive payment in a situation when finally the complex system understood your problem, and theirs, as well.

So, receive the money, delete the BB negative comment and search pacification.

Negative situations should be cleared away, as well as their imprinting in future. My intuition tells me that there are so many translators in your similar situation, under the 100 euro limit. I had the same situation, and the agency in question had afterwards a very deep gap to overcome in order to regain esteem, due to growing protests.

Good luck!

Dk

Lingua 5B wrote:

I don't know how to handle this situation, so I'd appreciate your insights. I'm writing here because I've already exhausted all other resources ( including ProZ staff intervention). This is going to be a long post, so I apologize in advance.



[Edited at 2011-03-22 12:53 GMT]


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Natasha Dupuy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:26
French to English
Delete BB comment??? Mar 22, 2011

[quote]Dragomir Kovacevic wrote:

So, receive the money, delete the BB negative comment and search pacification.

[quote]Lingua 5B wrote:

Why delete the BB comment? This is exactly how the BB becomes worthless!
If an agency wants a good BB comment, they should behave responsibly and professionally and be worthy of their excellent BB ranking, not earn it by bullying and other such methods!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:26
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
No sarcasm here Mar 22, 2011

Lingua 5B wrote:
Samuel wrote:
2. Well, at least it shows that they are responsive, which is a good thing with an agency.

Sarcasm definitely not appropriate for the situation.


No sarcasm intended. Just trying to find a silver lining.

I added each of their emails to the spam filter, for some reason they keep coming back (with new emails and new PMs).


Depending on your e-mail program, you can also add their domain to your spam filter (if they're using a company domain name), which would block all mails from their domain.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:26
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not at all! Mar 22, 2011

Dragomir Kovacevic wrote:
So, receive the money, delete the BB negative comment and search pacification.

I don't agree at all. The poster has a full right to give a negative opinion about the agency. If the experience was that bad, you certainly want other translators to beware and carefully discuss all details with the agency before working for them.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:26
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I insist: was it worth the hassle? Mar 22, 2011

Lingua 5B wrote:
Even if it's 1 €, it's mine, I don't see an issue with pursuing the money? I don't understand your attitude.

Btw, it's them who created the struggle, not me. Normal agencies sort this kind of issues in one day ( which I was used to, therefore never expected this kind of ongoing hassle).

But you said that doing the first, small job caused the biggest of administrative hassle. Since all jobs in their system will be like that, I reckon this is not your kind of customer (it would not be mine either, to be honest). I insist in my question: all things considered, isn't your life and tranquility a lot more valuable than 1, 50, or 100 dollars?

Personally if a customer gives me trouble and I see no way of correcting things... I prefer to let them keep a small amount and carry on happily with my life.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 14:26
English to Croatian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Answers. Mar 22, 2011

Tomas: It's not even possible to express everything about them in a small BB entry. Simply impossible.

Samuel: I'm not sure whether I did something wrong, but I initially did exactingly that- added their domain name to spam filter, and they still kept coming back with their emails. Today's message arrived through a ProZ message ( not direct email) from one of their PMs ( the PM's profile name and the name in the shown email address were incongruous, i.e. two different names).

Btw, I think Dragomir was joking about deleting the BB entry.


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Amel Abdullah  Identity Verified
Jordan
Arabic to English
+ ...
Alternative payment methods Mar 22, 2011

Can they pay you by Western Union or Money Gram? The fees are less than those for bank transfers, and it is only a minor inconvenience to send a transfer of this type.

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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 14:26
English to Croatian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You don't get it. Mar 22, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Personally if a customer gives me trouble and I see no way of correcting things... I prefer to let them keep a small amount and carry on happily with my life.


I prefer it too. But they prefer to engage in more emails with me, obviously. Emails that will not result in anything as they will keep asking: how it happened, why it happened etc. Nonsense.


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