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Agency issue
Thread poster: Stéphanie Denton
Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:41
French to English
+ ...
Jun 18, 2011

Hello all

I hope you are all busy and well.

This is more of a rant than anything else, although opinions, past experiences and advice are always more than welcome.

I started working for an agency in April, on a large project. They have their own online database where you can accept job proposals, etc. I was added to it after they accepted a quote on ProZ, and updated my profile.

I finished the large project, and then accepted another in April. I invoiced them, and they have a payment shcedule tab on their extranet.

May came along and I accepted and completed a further 7 or 8 projects. 2 were reduced by 25%, as the first had a missing comma and the second had one xword (which was hidden behind an image) left in French (this was a rush project due in under 2 hours). I found this slightly unfair, but corrected the "issues" and didn't complain. I received further projects after the two problem projects and invoiced them. My invoice was accepted and a payment date scheduled.

June comes along and no projects are sent for me to accept. I'm busy on other projects so think nothing of it. I check their extranet to see payment schedule dates and everything seemed fine.

I checked their extranet yesterday evening and see that my profile has disappeared, all I can see is my personal details. I contact them via e-mail and ask them if there is an issue, r if their extranet is just playing up. I receive an e-mail saying that there were too many quality issues with my translations and they had taken me off their database.

I find this extremely unfair, as if there were so many "issues", why have they accepted my invoices and scheduled payments...?

I rang the PM, who was extremely rude, and even put the phone down on me!

I think that they could have at least warned me, it would have been the polite thing to do.

I'm now worried as I cannot see my invoice statuses nor my payment schedule dates. The owe me a substantial amount of money and I'm worried that they are not going to pay, despite accepting my invoices...

That's my rant and concerns. Has anyone else come across this sort of problem?

I told them that no translation is 100% perfect, and that I always give 100%, the "errors" were corrected immediately, and that I feel that I have been hard done to.

Thoughts?

Thanks

Stéph


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Caroline Grenache  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:41
English to French
+ ...
Blue Board Jun 18, 2011

Hi Stephanie,

I am sorry to hear that. Please make a comment on the Blue Board for this agency in order to warn other translators about them. I find that a lot of the time, translators are hesitant to put a negative comment on the Blue Board and I have recently accepted jobs from agencies that had a good ranking and with whom I ended up having bad experiences. After privately contacting the translators who had given them good comments (in order to get their feedback on my situation with these agencies), I found out that many of them had had negative experiences as well but still put a positive comment.

So if you feel you have been treated unfairly by this agency, please provide feedback. If we all do it, agencies with bad practices will have a harder time finding qualified translators who are willing to work for them.

Regards,

Caroline

[Edited at 2011-06-18 12:41 GMT]


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polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
you ain't going to like this but... Jun 18, 2011

The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

You say : "May came along and I accepted and completed a further 7 or 8 projects. 2 were reduced by 25%, as the first had a missing comma and the second had oneword (which was hidden behind an image) left in French (this was a rush project due in under 2 hours). I found this slightly unfair, but corrected the "issues" and didn't complain."

Think about this just a little. They docked you 25% for a missing comma and then 25% for an untranslated word hiding behind an image. And you did not complain! And all this for a rush job.

You then accepted further work from them. Too late to be wise but surely their behaviour should have screamed out of the page at you that you were on dodgy ground. Now they are trying to ignore your existence.

I wouldn't rate your chances of getting paid. Think of it from their perspective: they play this game with each new translator. Pay a couple of jobs. Then they start messing around and dock part of your payment on what can only be described as specious grounds. In the meantime you have gone on working "for free". You are stuck, they find another mug and the game starts again. That way they must be paying for only about 20 to 25% of all the translation work they order (presumably they get paid 100% by their client(s)). Turning a neat little profit.

Stéphanie, from ealier postings it is clear to me that you need to hone your antenna for scams. If you bid for the job through the site, it's odds on to begin with that the rate was not that great. I know it is hard when you start out but letting yourself get ripped off is not the answer.

Don't be docile. Keep your eyes and ears open. And don't be too hopeful about getting paid, at least not without a major fight.

I know this is not what you want to hear but I'm writing it as much for others who have not yet been entrapped as for you. Sorry but the truth sometimes hurts and there is no easy way to say this.
Good luck and "bon courage"


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:41
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
scam Jun 18, 2011

polyglot45 wrote:

The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

You say : "May came along and I accepted and completed a further 7 or 8 projects. 2 were reduced by 25%, as the first had a missing comma and the second had oneword (which was hidden behind an image) left in French (this was a rush project due in under 2 hours). I found this slightly unfair, but corrected the "issues" and didn't complain."

Think about this just a little. They docked you 25% for a missing comma and then 25% for an untranslated word hiding behind an image. And you did not complain! And all this for a rush job.

You then accepted further work from them. Too late to be wise but surely their behaviour should have screamed out of the page at you that you were on dodgy ground. Now they are trying to ignore your existence.

I wouldn't rate your chances of getting paid. Think of it from their perspective: they play this game with each new translator. Pay a couple of jobs. Then they start messing around and dock part of your payment on what can only be described as specious grounds. In the meantime you have gone on working "for free". You are stuck, they find another mug and the game starts again. That way they must be paying for only about 20 to 25% of all the translation work they order (presumably they get paid 100% by their client(s)). Turning a neat little profit.

Stéphanie, from ealier postings it is clear to me that you need to hone your antenna for scams. If you bid for the job through the site, it's odds on to begin with that the rate was not that great. I know it is hard when you start out but letting yourself get ripped off is not the answer.

Don't be docile. Keep your eyes and ears open. And don't be too hopeful about getting paid, at least not without a major fight.

I know this is not what you want to hear but I'm writing it as much for others who have not yet been entrapped as for you. Sorry but the truth sometimes hurts and there is no easy way to say this.
Good luck and "bon courage"


It isn't a scam in such, but them being a*holes. I've been contacted by a moderator, who has had similar problems. They will be in trouble if they don't pay as they send out a monthly statement so you can invoice them.

I'll post a blue board comment of they don't pay at the end of the month.


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Caroline Grenache  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:41
English to French
+ ...
Why end of the month? Jun 18, 2011

Why wait until the end of the month to put a comment?

Don't you want other translators to be warned against this agency?


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polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
Not scam..... Jun 18, 2011

But maybe a racket - and that a mod should get caught in their net is not proof of their innocence. Docking 25% for a comma is unethical and the rest of their behaviour so far suggests that they are not big on ethics.....

I am not scaremongering. Just suggesting that caution in such cases is advised (i.e. avoid like the plague)


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:41
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
end of month Jun 18, 2011

Caroline Grenache wrote:

Why wait until the end of the month to put a comment?

Don't you want other translators to be warned against this agency?


Because that is when my invoice is due...


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:41
Member
French to English
+ ...
Up to their old tricks again Jun 18, 2011

Some things never change. I agree with polyglot45 about the "game" that they play, it's very much a deliberate strategy of theirs.

Even agencies with good BB track records can spring nasty surprises, sometimes. A couple of ways of reducing the risk of non-payment when you're working for a new client are: (1) make sure the first job isn't a huge one, and (2) wait until the first invoice has been paid before accepting new jobs.


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:41
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
agree Jun 18, 2011

Peter Shortall wrote:

Some things never change. I agree with polyglot45 about the "game" that they play, it's very much a deliberate strategy of theirs.

Even agencies with good BB track records can spring nasty surprises, sometimes. A couple of ways of reducing the risk of non-payment when you're working for a new client are: (1) make sure the first job isn't a huge one, and (2) wait until the first invoice has been paid before accepting new jobs.


I completely agree. Hence my posting. I'm prepping a big e-mail, which I shall have read by a solicitor friend who is happy to help me through this (sometimes not what you know but who...).


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:41
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Then again... Jun 18, 2011

Peter Shortall wrote:

(1) make sure the first job isn't a huge one, and (2) wait until the first invoice has been paid before accepting new jobs.


That's one way - but proceed with caution. You could end up in a scenario where a company solicits a very small first job and pays quickly (to lull you into a false sense of security, perhaps even immediately posting a 5 on the BB), while payment for a subsequent, much larger job takes forever.


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:41
Member
French to English
+ ...
Risk management Jun 18, 2011

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:

Peter Shortall wrote:

(1) make sure the first job isn't a huge one, and (2) wait until the first invoice has been paid before accepting new jobs.


That's one way - but proceed with caution. You could end up in a scenario where a company solicits a very small first job and pays quickly (to lull you into a false sense of security, perhaps even immediately posting a 5 on the BB), while payment for a subsequent, much larger job takes forever.


Yes, well I did say reducing rather than eliminating risk! A gradual approach is certainly best when it comes to very large jobs. Entries of 5 of the BB can be updated, but I think there comes a point where that ceases to be possible (don't know exactly when, but I recently noticed that an entry I made nearly 2 years ago cannot now be changed).


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Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:41
German to English
+ ...
Payment schedules Jun 18, 2011

You mention payment schedules on their extranet, but have you actually got paid for any of your invoices??

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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:41
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
payment Jun 18, 2011

Trudy Peters wrote:

You mention payment schedules on their extranet, but have you actually got paid for any of your invoices??


No, its 60 days. First payment due 30/6, second due 30/7.


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apk12  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:41
English to German
+ ...
Vanishing entries Jun 18, 2011

Vanishing entries from an online database is anyway an extremely alarming sign. I remember a similar case longer ago, where an agency was desperate to find a translator for a high fi marketing brochure (automotive), for a Fortune 500 Company as the end client... with a delivery date on E.a.s.t.e.r. M.o.n.d.a.y, although the company was based in (Western) Europe - Given that, and due to the communication style of the PM, I was quite sceptical what to expect from them. So, screenshots as precaution. And yes, similar case: after delivery of the translation - sudden manipulations of the database.
With the help of screenshots and with the help of some clear words to the company's CEO I was able to finally collect the payment, but... manipulations of databases are, for me, the most alarming sign in such situations. You know that as soon as they have paid, you will never want to have anything to do with them anymore.

They can decide not to work with you anymore - so simply change project allocations, just as you can decide not to accept their projects anymore - business relationship finished and done. But no way are they supposed to touch entries re. former projects or re payment (wheter due or paid already).

That said, I agree with the other translators in this thread: payment reduction due to a missing comma is unacceptable. With such a business practise an agency shows quite clearly that it's not interested in building a long-term successful business relationship with their translators but in finding day flies service providers willing to be ripped off.




[Edited at 2011-06-18 16:00 GMT]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:41
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Something went wrong... Jun 18, 2011

Hi Stéphanie,

About ten years ago, I was working for what is now one of the largest translation companies in the world. For around two and a half years, I translated documents for them for the largest on-line bookseller into English (they wanted to know the things being written on their sister site) with no problems. In fact, I loved these projects because I loved the book company and the project was interesting to me. At that time, the text came in the form of a word document and I had to switch the spell checker to the target language (English). Unfortunately, on one project there was a footnote (unusual for this project) and I forgot to switch the language on the footnote (back then I assumed that by selecting all text and setting the language, this would also set the footnotes and comments too, but it did not). The result was one misspelled word in a footnote. It was a cognate with English so I overlooked it when proofreading (something like -sion instead of -tion, but I do not remember now). Anyway, after that, the agency refused to assign me any more work.

At first I was quite upset at myself for making such a stupid mistake and for losing such a good project. Then I realized that if they were willing to let me go for something so minor (that would certainly never happen again as it was a technical rather than a translation problem), they probably would have done so long ago had they found any other problems with the translation. In other words, if they were going to be so particular, they surely would have found something to complain about in two and a half years and so my work could not have been all that bad.

Flash forward to two years ago, I made a major goof on a rush project for an agency I have worked with for over 10 years. In the rush to complete the job on time, I inadvertently omitted a word. Fortunately, it was obvious from the context that the word was omitted and the end client was not upset, but did inform the agency of the mistake. What did this agency do?

Stéphanie, you did 8-9 projects for them and missed a comma, so I will now say to you what that agency said to me:

"Congratulations on being human!"


[Edited at 2011-06-18 15:37 GMT]


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