How to collect money, when they do not answer any call, email, or the like.
Thread poster: Lords

Lords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 05:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
Apr 9, 2012

There is always a first time. I had a client sending me a PDF file to translate. I accept it, but the next day he send me a doing to different file. The problem with the second file was that I there were not any dictionary I could find anywhere (libraries, bookstores, universities, or even civil engineers) about wood house construction. I worked for more than two weeks translating 20 hours every day, but one day, when I felt asleep.
However, there were three problems during the translation. First, the lawyer told me not to sign a contract with the client because the made me responsible for any Copy Right infringement. Second, the editor send me an email telling me,"I am going to take a vacation", so he let me translating and editing my and another translator job (He was bad). Third, the other was a SDL crash during the last day edition of one the two files I was working with because I let HP tune-up to run; it erased the temporary files and when I try to save the last 1,000 words I could not (never let your temporary files while you are working).
I sent a letter telling the webpage localization lady that I had a crash and I ask her to tell me if there were any coma, accent, missing. I did not learn of anything, until I called her to greet her for Christmas. She told me she found mistakes and edited them and that the client accepted the translation.
I had to edit the second folder as well (editor was taking an unsuspected vacation) the translation had many problems, It took me a week; working for 20 hours to edit it. When I finished, As far as I know, It did not had any problem.
However, as I promised I give a discount for mistakes. I send the client letters telling him of the problem and I offered a discount (50%) for the first folder and to give the difference to the localization lady for the edition.
I have sent him emails, called him, l left voice messages at his office and I have not received any answer that I can say, "He is going to pay."
What do I do? Do I keep trying to collect the money? or what do you advice me to do?

Thank you in advance for your help


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Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:20
English to Russian
+ ...
Do you have Apr 9, 2012

a contract with your client?

If yes, have a look at the respective parrafo

Si no, .. consider the whole situation as a lesson of commerce.

[Edited at 2012-04-09 18:13 GMT]


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Steven Hanley  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not enough information Apr 9, 2012

You need to provide more information:

1) Do you have a contract, & what does it say?
2) If so, you are bound by the contract.
3) If not, you need to identify where you are and where the client is, to determine what the jurisdiction is.
4) Did you do this job as an individual, or through a legal entity?
5) Is your end client an individual, or a legal entity?
6) If it's a proz job, you can ask for assistance here.
7) If not, and it's a significant amount of money, your actions will depend on where each of you is based.
8) If this is a website that you translated, have they published your work? If they have and didn't pay you for it, you may have a claim for copyright violation.
9) Did your client resell your work? If so, and he made a profit, then he stole your work.
10) There may be local sources (government agencies, etc.) that can help.
11) There may be professional agencies (with codes of ethics) that can help.
12) Will it cost you more to recover what you owe than what you actually owe?

The first thing I would do is send a certified letter with acknowledgment of receipt asking for payment, reserving your rights, and giving a reasonable time for response. If you don't hear anything, or if they refuse, then it's time to take action.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:20
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Copyright infringement? Apr 9, 2012

Lords wrote:
First, the lawyer told me not to sign a contract with the client because the made me responsible for any Copy Right infringement.


How can there be any infringement of copyright if the words are coming out of your head? Surely, that can only happen if you reproduce someone else's words, can't it? Mind you, I have to say that I'm in no way an expert on these matters.

You say you offered a 50% discount. Presumably that wasn't simply on the basis of missing punctuation etc. so I assume you believe there were quality issues. What isn't clear to me is whether the client is actually accusing you of having delivered poor quality. You say at one point that the end client accepted it.

Like Steven Hanley, I think there are other things to be considered here. I actually don't agree that you are necessarily bound by the contract, speaking as someone who once signed a contract that was later found to be abusive by the French courts, who awarded me my full invoice amount plus costs. But I think it would be helpful to know where each party is situated, the language pair concerned, the agency response, etc.

Sheila


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Lennart Luhtaru  Identity Verified
United States
Member
English to Estonian
+ ...
Where are they Apr 9, 2012

I assume it's an agency, because you said "She told me she found mistakes and edited them and that the client accepted the translation." If so, then they can't just disappear overnight. You can track down the CEO, the PM and try to contact them. If that's no help, then I would try to find and contact the end client. And if that doesn't work and you have at least some correspondence with agreed rates, sums and scope of work, then gather all that and just give it to a collection agency local to your client. Whatever you do, act quickly

But you really should not do any business without entering into an agreement or at least getting a formal purchase order from clients. Regarding copyright infringement risks (e.g. when translating documents with non-reproduction/translation clauses in them), I advise you to just add a disclaimer about that in contracts, because it's not your problem, whether a client actually has author's approval or not.

[Edited at 2012-04-09 19:10 GMT]


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Lords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 05:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I did it because I did not have time to go back and check the paper Apr 9, 2012

About the copy rights, I did not signed the contract because the lawyer told me not to do eo. The translation was about a webpage of a company, I do not know if there were any copy rights involved there. However, I might be that in the future they will planning to give me a book to translate or something like that.

No, do not miss understand me. I am sure of my reviewing and editing process (I have to do the same with my letters, I know), so, I give my word that if there is a mistake I give a discount. I know that I went too far with the discount, but it had never happen to me before. At the agency I used to work before, the project manager demanded us a perfect job. So, I really do not know if I have to give discounts for mistakes, as it was the common practice to be perfect back then.

The lady who was making the web page localization was the only one who commented about typographical mistakes and spelling mistakes, but the American who got in touch with me did not tell me anything about the project, but it has been months and he has not pay me yet.
Thank you for your advice. I do really appreciate it.


Sheila Wilson wrote:

Lords wrote:
First, the lawyer told me not to sign a contract with the client because the made me responsible for any Copy Right infringement.


How can there be any infringement of copyright if the words are coming out of your head? Surely, that can only happen if you reproduce someone else's words, can't it? Mind you, I have to say that I'm in no way an expert on these matters.

You say you offered a 50% discount. Presumably that wasn't simply on the basis of missing punctuation etc. so I assume you believe there were quality issues. What isn't clear to me is whether the client is actually accusing you of having delivered poor quality. You say at one point that the end client accepted it.

Like Steven Hanley, I think there are other things to be considered here. I actually don't agree that you are necessarily bound by the contract, speaking as someone who once signed a contract that was later found to be abusive by the French courts, who awarded me my full invoice amount plus costs. But I think it would be helpful to know where each party is situated, the language pair concerned, the agency response, etc.

Sheila


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:20
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
bad as it may seem Apr 10, 2012

basically you supplied a translation of a certain text and now the client refuses to pay and have either disappeared into nothingness or possibly went bankrupt.

The fact your (assigned?) proofreader went on vacation, you had a crash on SDL or even the fact there where mistakes and/or the complete file was not delivered on time are irrelevant
(although I strongly suspect you took on a job of which you have no knowlegde and could not find any references for - especially if you had to work 20 hours a day for a week, I can only assume the quality was not perfect) - - -but the client corrected & accepted it and did not return it to you to correct the mistakes.

You even gave a discount for the mistakes, so you both (the client and you) have agreed on the price.

Now if the agency is listed on Proz, you first check if the post address, email address and telephone number still work and they are still in business - - easily done by posting as a client from a different e-mail address with a bogus assignment.

Then send them a recommended letter where you state they have failed to pay said amount and you give them a deadline to pay and your bank details and stuff)

You also seach the web to see if the document is now used by the end client, if worse comes to worse you can accuse them of buying stolen property because the copyright is still with you since the client hasn't paid you yet (provided they have not gone bankrupt)

If they still don't pay - give them a bad note on the Blue Board here and inform other payment practice forums of this client.

If they have gone bankrupt, it all depends on their country of origin and you'll have to check how to get something back through the small claims court or something similar...

If they have frauded you (by pretending they work for and agency, while they are actually not), you may want to inform that agency and they will probably take legal action if they can.

If all else fails, this was probably a very expensive lesson and you should always check the clients payment record, details, and most certainly the text itself.... You are probabaly an expert now on this subject and you may get similar jobs in this industry....

goodluck!

Ed


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coolrunnings
Local time: 12:20
What language? Apr 21, 2012

Were you translating into spanish? If so you should follow them up do a whois check on their domain to start with. If it was into english then I would not bother following it up as they may have a case about quality.

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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 14:20
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
some basic questions Apr 21, 2012

Hi,

May I ask you some basic (most important) questions regarding this situation?

1) Do you have a contract signed with them for this job, at least a PO (Purchase Order) from them? And do you have, at least, some email correspondence that proves your communication with them?
2) Did you do and deliver your job in time and in due manner/quality?
3) Did they raise any concerns about quality, time of delivery, etc. before the due payment date?
4) Are they a company or "natural persons"?
5) How big is the amount they owe to you?
6) Are they in the same country (or from abroad)?


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