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Do agencies' automatic invoicing procedures drive you mad?
Thread poster: Christine Andersen

Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 12:54
Member (2004)
English to Polish
One is good, more is baaaad... Jul 20, 2011

Alex Lago wrote:

I only have one client that uses an automated system but it works perfect.
...
I have often wished all my other clients used the same system.


The problem is that other clients do not use the same system - each of them has something completely different... That is why it is so frustrating - as someone said before, they treat you like an employee, like you have no other clients at all. Remembering all the details, logon procedures, invoicing rules etc. is a bit much.


 

Anne Bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:54
English to French
Security is one aspect, ease of use is another... Jul 20, 2011

Having to connect for all interactions with a translation agency is hard (and I agree I'm not really willing to go through this hassle), but... if we look at the whole picture, it's probably the only way to handle all these data safely!
Transmitting a lot of things by e-mail means that you don't control where your data go on the way... If your customers have confidential documents to be translated, they may not want them to go through your ISP's mail servers, for instance. Showing that the
... See more
Having to connect for all interactions with a translation agency is hard (and I agree I'm not really willing to go through this hassle), but... if we look at the whole picture, it's probably the only way to handle all these data safely!
Transmitting a lot of things by e-mail means that you don't control where your data go on the way... If your customers have confidential documents to be translated, they may not want them to go through your ISP's mail servers, for instance. Showing that there is a secured transfer of data between the agency and its translators may be a competitive advantage for this agency...
It's not only the agency's problem: recently, I was asked to provide my bank information, because being paid by wire transfer was the only option. This direct client was outsourcing the project management to a contracter who used a yahoo address. A bit later, the PM informed me that all her emails had been compromised, and that my bank information was among them. I had to spend a loooooot of time on the phone with my bank, but luckily up to now this proved to be only a false alarm.
Conclusion : we all cross our fingers when sending confidential stuff on unsecured (or potentially compromised) e-mail networks, while secure communication solutions have been available for a good long time now. I do not say that I will gladly accept a customer who requires tedious efforts to work with. The main problem is because each agency has its own system, and I hate that. Other than that, if it takes time, they have to pay for it. I'm sure they sell for a good price the added security of their system to their customers.
Agencies which value good translators will make efforts (either financially, or by easing their work) to keep them. Other agencies are not really good agencies, and good translators drop them as soon as they can afford it. That's how this market regulates itself
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Alexandra Lindqvist
Local time: 13:54
English to Swedish
+ ...
No Jul 20, 2011

But I only have one client who uses such a system and it does not require anything from me. All I have to do is accept and upload my assignments via the vendor portal. Then at the end of the month a “preinvoice” is issued (like magic) with which I compare the total to the one I have made I then send the invoice by email. I don’t know how automatic this is if it really is generated by the system itself or with “human” hel... See more
But I only have one client who uses such a system and it does not require anything from me. All I have to do is accept and upload my assignments via the vendor portal. Then at the end of the month a “preinvoice” is issued (like magic) with which I compare the total to the one I have made I then send the invoice by email. I don’t know how automatic this is if it really is generated by the system itself or with “human” help.

What drives me mad however is that all agencies want different information in their invoices and follow different rules. I have tried to follow the EU-directive rules however one of my clients told me to remove some of the information required in accordance with these rules
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christeld  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:54
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Yes and No! Jul 20, 2011

One of the agency I work with have a online "project management system" which I quite like working with. I get an invitation to "bid" and either accept the suggested quote provided by the PM or enter my own if I feel theirs is unfair, a PO is then sent to me via e-mail and I can choose to download the files from their web portal, via FTP or have them sent to me via e-mail. I can communicate with the PM, engineers, end client and where applicable DTP agency via both the web portal and by e-mail. ... See more
One of the agency I work with have a online "project management system" which I quite like working with. I get an invitation to "bid" and either accept the suggested quote provided by the PM or enter my own if I feel theirs is unfair, a PO is then sent to me via e-mail and I can choose to download the files from their web portal, via FTP or have them sent to me via e-mail. I can communicate with the PM, engineers, end client and where applicable DTP agency via both the web portal and by e-mail. When the job is complete I return it, again via e-mail or the web portal and the system automatically adds the amount from the PO to the payment overview and payment is automatically made at the agreed date.

Another agency I work with has a semi-automatic system which I don't find quite as easy to work with as it requires more of my time. The PM emails to check if I am available and interested, agrees a price and then sends me an "invitation to work" via their web portal (which is difficult to navigate if nothing else!) and I have to log in, click through a number of links to be able to view the job and download the files, after which I have to change the status of the job to indicate that I am now working on it. I then have to upload the files and change the status again and then e-mail the PM separately to inform them that the files have been uploaded in their web portal. They then do their QA process before approving the work and changing the status to indicate that it has been approved and an invoice should be sent. I then need to dig out 3 different reference numbers, all found in different areas of their system to include on my invoices, send these to a different e-mail address and then updating the status in their system to indicate that an invoice has been submitted!

The second agency's system is much more time consuming for me than the first and has no benefit (to me) that I have discovered. The former I find quick and easy to use and I like how I can interact with the end client and the various departments involved without having the wait of using an intermediary PM.
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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:54
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Sheesh! Jul 20, 2011

christeld wrote:

One of the agency I work with have a online "project management system" which I quite like working with. I get an invitation to "bid" and either accept the suggested quote provided by the PM or enter my own if I feel theirs is unfair, a PO is then sent to me via e-mail and I can choose to download the files from their web portal, via FTP or have them sent to me via e-mail. I can communicate with the PM, engineers, end client and where applicable DTP agency via both the web portal and by e-mail. When the job is complete I return it, again via e-mail or the web portal and the system automatically adds the amount from the PO to the payment overview and payment is automatically made at the agreed date.

(etc)


That is ALREADY far too complicated!


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:54
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I gave one agency a 3 on the blue board Jul 20, 2011

If it had been a new client, I would have given them a 1 without hesitation.

I had worked with them for quite a while, and they were in fact one of the agencies I really liked. Until they introduced this lunatic system...

I simply could not break into it. The PM said I had been given a password, which I had not. The programmer - when he emerged from a meeting - apologised and said it should have come automatically, and he would send another. That did not work either...
... See more
If it had been a new client, I would have given them a 1 without hesitation.

I had worked with them for quite a while, and they were in fact one of the agencies I really liked. Until they introduced this lunatic system...

I simply could not break into it. The PM said I had been given a password, which I had not. The programmer - when he emerged from a meeting - apologised and said it should have come automatically, and he would send another. That did not work either... The system would not recognise it, and without my details (which they had had for years ) I could not be paid.

All this for, as it happened, my minimum charge, when I was busy with jobs for clients who could pay without hassle. I gave up.

The agency did get the system to work in the end, and I got paid, but I have not heard from them since.

*****
The problem - and I am sure I share it with many others - is that most agencies only have a few jobs a year in my language pairs.

I have a large number of clients, including several new clients each month. For each new one I first have to register, and then work out how to get paid. It may be several months or a year before the next time I work for that agency, so there is no fixed routine, and I have to find my archived instructions...

A couple of systems do work, admittedly, but many take up a lot of time.
I have no less than SIX gibberish passwords, four of which I cannot change as far as I can see. So of course, those are in an accessible file on my harddisk, and registered a couple of other places where I can find them.

I can access a number of other sites by one of three passwords that I use for translation-connected websites. I have dozens of places that call for a password or PIN, if not two, and I have to write them all down where I can find them six months or a year later.

Goodbye security!

I am considering adding a nominal administration charge on my invoices, simply to see what happens!
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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:54
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Security Jul 20, 2011

Christine Andersen wrote:

Goodbye security!



The agency that gave me these problems also required my bank details. When I terminated my agreement with them I asked them to delete all my personal data from their system but they never confirmed this to me.


 

Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 12:54
Member (2004)
English to Polish
But it's not happening... Jul 20, 2011

bohy wrote:

Having to connect for all interactions with a translation agency is hard (and I agree I'm not really willing to go through this hassle), but... if we look at the whole picture, it's probably the only way to handle all these data safely!


This would reasonable... However, none of the systems I have encountered use secured connection - so the communication is as easily intercepted as any other. So for now this point is rather moot...


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:54
Member (2008)
Italian to English
YEs and... Jul 20, 2011

Jabberwock wrote:

... However, none of the systems I have encountered use secured connection - so the communication is as easily intercepted as any other. So for now this point is rather moot...


Yes, and as far as I know, all my personal data, including my bank details, name and address, etc. are still on on that agency's server, which can be accessed by anyone with a bit of computer expertise.


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:54
French to German
+ ...
I agree Jul 20, 2011

Jabberwock wrote:

bohy wrote:

Having to connect for all interactions with a translation agency is hard (and I agree I'm not really willing to go through this hassle), but... if we look at the whole picture, it's probably the only way to handle all these data safely!


This would reasonable... However, none of the systems I have encountered use secured connection - so the communication is as easily intercepted as any other. So for now this point is rather moot...


Never saw/heard/read that ANY agency used data encryption or actually knew about it other than in a nominal way.

Quite to the contrary, most seem to think that handling encrypted files in any way is a waste of time and an additional workload.


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 13:54
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Depends on how they pay Jul 20, 2011

If they are slow payers and the jobs are small, I do not go with it.
But one agency pays rather swiftly and their RIPS is ok, after I finally understood the system.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:54
Member (2008)
Italian to English
HArdly worth it Jul 20, 2011

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

If they are slow payers and the jobs are small, I do not go with it.
But one agency pays rather swiftly and their RIPS is ok, after I finally understood the system.


Hardly worth it, though, if the job is only worth about €100 or so. I do a large number of small jobs that have to be turned around the same day. If I had to go through this kind of process every time, my business would collapse due to unsustainable administration costs!

[Edited at 2011-07-20 08:55 GMT]


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:54
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Only ever give pay-in details about your bank account Jul 20, 2011

AFAIK, the bank details on my invoices and registered by clients can only be used to pay money into my account.

I NEVER tell anyone what they need to know to draw money out. I do carry a cryptic clue to the PIN on my bank card with me - the year we last moved house and the year my brother-in-law was born. (I have several brothers in law, and only I know which this refers to...)

So anyone who does get hold of the information is welcome to pay in ...
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AFAIK, the bank details on my invoices and registered by clients can only be used to pay money into my account.

I NEVER tell anyone what they need to know to draw money out. I do carry a cryptic clue to the PIN on my bank card with me - the year we last moved house and the year my brother-in-law was born. (I have several brothers in law, and only I know which this refers to...)

So anyone who does get hold of the information is welcome to pay in

I have no objection to downloading large or confidential files from a secure FTP server. I have done this many times without hassle. The PM sends a password - or phones me and tells me, and it only takes a few minutes.

I do respect security, but these invoicing systems are ridiculous!

And like Tom in London, I do a lot of small jobs for a large number of clients. The time spent on administration is getting way out of proportion with the time I spend translating.
100 euros is a BIG job for me!

[Edited at 2011-07-20 09:12 GMT]
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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:54
Member (2008)
Italian to English
clues Jul 20, 2011

Christine Andersen wrote:

the year we last moved house and the year my brother-in-law was born


Thanks for those clues, Christine. I'm sure with a bit of intensive googling I'll be able to access your bank account.

I just need to check some property sales in Denmark and some registers of births, marriages, and deaths.

Are you paranoid yet?



[Edited at 2011-07-20 09:17 GMT]


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:54
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Perhaps it's because ... Jul 20, 2011

Perhaps these complex and annoying automated job and invoicing systems have come into being because most translation work these days is done via email and internet connection and between parties who have never met, rather than face to face.
I can't imagine telling the contractor who fixed my roof or the garage which services my car that they MUST issue their invoices in a certain format, on a certain date, that they MUST enter their bank and other details in my computer system, and that I
... See more
Perhaps these complex and annoying automated job and invoicing systems have come into being because most translation work these days is done via email and internet connection and between parties who have never met, rather than face to face.
I can't imagine telling the contractor who fixed my roof or the garage which services my car that they MUST issue their invoices in a certain format, on a certain date, that they MUST enter their bank and other details in my computer system, and that I won't pay them until a certain number of days thereafter. Can you? If I tried that, I doubt they'd work for me again and I'd be left with a leaky roof and a car that won't start.
Jenny
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