Advice on PM that is insisting on changing agreement after the fact.
Thread poster: Lene Johansen

Lene Johansen  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:01
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Nov 1, 2012

A friend and fellow translator I am working with is having a hard time dealing with a PM for one of her clients. The client has decent ratings on the ProZ Blueboard (mostly 5 and a few 3's) but the comment says nothing about this issue.

The PM agreed to a per word rate. Now that the job is complete and the invoice is almost 2 weeks past due, the PM insists that 1/3 discount on fuzzy matches is "industry standard" and that she should have anticipated the discount. The discount is about $2000 of a $7000 assignment. When she wrote back that neither her, not any of her fellow translators were aware of such a "standard", the PM just responded that this was the company's policy and they would not change that for anything.

I am tempted to ask her to email the owner. The PM has not responded to any of her requests to provide documentation for the analyzes data that he is using, or where in their agreement that the discount comes from. He is pretty much responding to her requests with abrupt generalities. This does not seem to reflect the experience other ProZ users are documenting with this company and it might be time to get the owner involved. With this amount of money in play, I am tempted to ask her to go to Dunn and Bradsheet for collection.

Any advice on how to deal with this would be greatly appreciated.

Lene


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:01
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Practical advice Nov 1, 2012

First, she should stand firm and claim her right to the entire fee, and then agree to the discount ONLY on the condition of IMMEDIATE payment (as in right now, today, without further ado) and preferably via bank transfer, MoneyGram, Western Union, PayPal, or some other IMMEDIATE AND VERIFIABLE method.

She has, of course, every right to payment in full. The problem with insisting on payment in full is that, if the agency simply continues to refuse to pay, she may be in for a prolonged, time- and energy-sapping struggle to collect that could go on for months. And if she has to resort to a collection agency, then she'll probably end up with less than the $5000 the agency is offering her now.

Then, she should have nothing to do with this agency, and make appropriate negative entries on the Blue Board and elsewhere





[Edited at 2012-11-01 21:46 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:01
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I'd stand firm Nov 2, 2012

Robert Forstag wrote:
First, she should stand firm and claim her right to the entire fee, and then agree to the discount ONLY on the condition of IMMEDIATE payment (as in right now, today, without further ado) and preferably via bank transfer, MoneyGram, Western Union, PayPal, or some other IMMEDIATE AND VERIFIABLE method.

So you'd grant their discount and say goodbye to $2000, plus probably PayPal or other fees? I wouldn't.

Of course, it depends on exactly what has been said, written, etc. If their T&C were made available then they apply, even if your friend didn't get round to reading them, unless she had asked for and got acceptance of her own T&C. If they weren't made available and nothing was stated on the PO or in emails, then why should she give a retrospective discount? And how come they didn't react when the invoice was received?

I'm sorry, but if they've waited this long - past the due date - to react, then they go down in my book as trying to avoid, or at least delay, the payment. Faced with that, my refusal to co-operate would be total.

The problem with insisting on payment in full is that, if the agency simply continues to refuse to pay, she may be in for a prolonged, time- and energy-sapping struggle to collect that could go on for months. And if she has to resort to a collection agency, then she'll probably end up with less than the $5000 the agency is offering her now.

Certainly, it may be a long process, but isn't it better to pay some or even all of that $2000 to a collection company than to this agency? What I would do would be to get a lawyer to send a letter first - that can often make a great difference.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
OlivierParrot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:01
Member (2012)
Japanese to French
+ ...
Well Nov 2, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:
Of course, it depends on exactly what has been said, written, etc.

Absolutely... Without this information, it remains a purely theoretical discussion.

Sheila Wilson wrote:
I'm sorry, but if they've waited this long - past the due date - to react, then they go down in my book as trying to avoid, or at least delay, the payment. Faced with that, my refusal to co-operate would be total.

Generally speaking, that would be my position too.

[Edited at 2012-11-02 04:21 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:01
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
@Sheila Nov 2, 2012

There are times when it simply makes sense to swallow a loss in the interest of getting most of what is coming to you right away and being able to put the unpleasantness behind you--right away.

While far from optimal, this certainly seems preferible to getting entangled in a dispute that can endure for weeks and even months, and not being sure if in the end you will even get anything.

Given the agency's behavior, the aggrieved translator can hardly trust it to adhere to any agreement to, say, pay one third now, another third next month, and the final third in three months.

Rather than paying a lawyer to write a threatening letter, I'd favor the translator notifying the non-paying agency that ratings and comments reflecting this individual's experience will be placed on the Blue Board, paymentpractices.net, and elsewhere if the matter is not resolved within 7 calendar days. This should have the same effect, and is a less expensive option.

So I stand by my advice: The translator should consistently claim her right to everything but be willing to accept most of what is coming to her--safely and immediately--in the interest of putting the matter behind her and being able to move on.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Reposting Nov 2, 2012

Lene Johansen wrote:
A friend and fellow translator I am working with is having a hard time dealing with a PM for one of her clients.


If you're going to post the exact same message in multiple forums, it is good manners to say so, so that those of us who read more than one of them may decide in which one we would like to spend our time answering it. Just a thought.

This was my reply on WPPF:

Discount for fuzzy matches is not industry standard, although it is
quite common, if CAT tools are used. Still, the PM should have told the
translator beforehand that their offer includes a fuzzy discount.

Discounts for internal fuzzy matches is becoming more common as well,
although I still don't think it can be called as "standard", and if
nothing about it was said in the PO or acceptance e-mail, it should not
be assumed.

In future, your colleague should not only mention her per-word rate but
also state the full amount in the e-mail, so that the PM can catch any
misunderstandings beforehand or shortly after the job had begun.

I suggest your colleague comb all correspondence with that agency to see
if it contains any mention of the fuzzy discount, and if not, follow the
usual non-payment procedures.


I'm often surprised at how naive agency PMs can be when it comes to aspects of their business that they take for granted (surprised, because most good agency PMs know how to deal with translators). Not all translators who use CAT tools give fuzzy discounts or are even aware of fuzzy discounts.

[I remember a case where a well-known agency recruited a number of translators from a non-CAT tool sector of the industry, gave free training and free access to a CAT tool, and then paid them fuzzy rates... which backfired on the agency, because most of the translators thought that they had been conned by the agency and proceeded to smear the agency's name in various places, so that the agency's name became a word to describe any dishonest client. The agency did mention fuzzy discounts in their T&Cs and POs quite clearly, but if translators don't understand the concept, then you have a problem as a PM. I mention this story to show how agency PMs can sometimes take things for granted.]

Samuel



[Edited at 2012-11-02 08:57 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:01
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
We'll have to agree to disagree :) Nov 2, 2012

Robert Forstag wrote:
While far from optimal, this certainly seems preferible to getting entangled in a dispute that can endure for weeks and even months, and not being sure if in the end you will even get anything.

I would agree with that in some cases, maybe even here. We are lacking vital information: the whereabouts of the two parties. I know that chasing debts in some countries can be extremely difficult. However, if this is within the EU I don't think that applies, even though this is too high an amount to go through the ESCC.

Given the agency's behavior, the aggrieved translator can hardly trust it to adhere to any agreement to, say, pay one third now, another third next month, and the final third in three months.

I don't see where that applies, Robert. The OP has not said the agency CAN'T pay, but that they don't want to pay the full amount of the invoice. The only time I would countenance staged payments is when my client is experiencing severe cash-flow problems: in that case it might welll be in my best interests to accept whatever and whenever they can pay (within reason).

Rather than paying a lawyer to write a threatening letter, I'd favor the translator notifying the non-paying agency that ratings and comments reflecting this individual's experience will be placed on the Blue Board, paymentpractices.net, and elsewhere if the matter is not resolved within 7 calendar days. This should have the same effect, and is a less expensive option.

A lawyer send a threatening letter? To my knowledge lawyers don't send threatening letters in such circumstances. They simply lay out the legal situation, citing laws and procedures as appropriate, and explain what steps their client will be taking to recover their monies. That isn't a threat.

Still, I quite agree that others should be notified that this agency does not want to play on a level playing-field and should be mistrusted. Frankly though, I don't see how your proposed wording to the agency is any less threatening than a lawyer's would be.

So I stand by my advice: The translator should consistently claim her right to everything but be willing to accept most of what is coming to her--safely and immediately--in the interest of putting the matter behind her and being able to move on.

Mine would be: The translator should consistently claim her right to everything and be prepared to act to recover payments, but be willing to accept some compromise with regard to small amounts in the interest of putting the matter behind her and being able to move on.

$2000 does not constitute a small amount, IMHO. I'd maybe forget about $20, but not $2000.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 14:01
Japanese to English
Way too much to lose Nov 2, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:
$2000 does not constitute a small amount, IMHO. I'd maybe forget about $20, but not $2000.

This, really.
I would normally agree with Robert that it's good to get what you can as soon as you can and cut your losses. However $2,000 is way too much to let any agency get away with. On top of everything else you'd be doing a massive disservice to future translators who might work with these now-emboldened fraudsters.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I don't get it Nov 2, 2012

Lene Johansen wrote:
The PM agreed to a per word rate. Now that the job is complete and the invoice is almost 2 weeks past due, the PM insists that 1/3 discount on fuzzy matches is "industry standard" and that she should have anticipated the discount. The discount is about $2000 of a $7000 assignment.


Do you mean that throughout the entire payment term from the day the invoice was submitted, plus two weeks it has been past due, nobody at the agency actually read that invoice??? I can't believe it.

Sounds like the agency owner suddenly lost a bundle, perhaps gambling, and has ordered the staff to chisel every penny they can from their vendors.

If they didn't challenge the invoice upon receipt, and the amount there corresponds to what was agreed (PO accepted?), they have no grounds to change that later.

Bear in mind that some payment methods are reversible, and PayPal is one of them. As it was built for eBay, their parent company, there is a chance that the seller won't ship the goods after having been paid, so there is a possibility for the buyer to cancel the payment and fight. If you have alreadu withdrawn the funds from a verified account, they'll charge it to your credit card or bank account used for verification.

I'd demand immediate and full payment of the amount agreed via some irreversible method (bank transfer?), otherwise I'd have their image smeared on the Blue Board and similar places.

BTW, fuzzy match discounts are NOT standard practice, just an option. For instance, you can rent a car with limited or unlimited mileage, often from the same company. However after you have returned the car, you can't switch from the higher unlimited mileage daily rate to the lower limited mileage one because the miles you drove are within the limit.

[Edited at 2012-11-02 11:50 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:01
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Let's not be disingenuous here Nov 2, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Rather than paying a lawyer to write a threatening letter, I'd favor the translator notifying the non-paying agency that ratings and comments reflecting this individual's experience will be placed on the Blue Board, paymentpractices.net, and elsewhere if the matter is not resolved within 7 calendar days. This should have the same effect, and is a less expensive option.

A lawyer send a threatening letter? To my knowledge lawyers don't send threatening letters in such circumstances. They simply lay out the legal situation, citing laws and procedures as appropriate, and explain what steps their client will be taking to recover their monies. That isn't a threat.


Oh yes it is. The point of having a lawyer send a letter under such circumstances is precisely that of threatening legal action if payment is not received in full, or if some mutually agreed settlement is not reached. The fact that such a threat is implicit doesn't make it any less a threat.

Let's not mince words.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Shai Navé  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 16:01
Member
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Did she not receive a PO? Nov 2, 2012

Or any other kind of document (including plain email message) that details the project number, payment breakdown, total due and payment terms?

I agree with others, CAT tools discounts are an option and by no mean an industry or de-facto standard; I also agree with Robert that at times it is better to be smart rather than right, and seek to find most efficient solution, but in this specific case (while taking into account that some information is missing) I agree with Sheila. If they didn't send a PO, didn't check the invoice upon receipt and now, when it is already past due, are coming up with an administrative issue, it suggests a dishonest conduct that should be fought and not surrendered to. Even when the amount is small it is worth fighting for the principle, but when smaller amounts are concerned it is not always practical, so in this case, if anything, the significant amount should serve as a motivator to receive what is owed (again, provided that the facts that were presented here are all the relevant information).

[Edited at 2012-11-02 17:18 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Lene Johansen  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:01
Norwegian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Nov 2, 2012

For confirming my initial feelings regarding this issue. I have also received some more information on what is going on from other translators working with this issue. I am going to ask her to contact the owner directly and see where it will take her from there.

And for the question, the agreement was confirmed via email. No additional documentation/contracts was given by the company, and PO was issued after the fact because the company did not have total word count.

I will get her to update the Blueboard with information once this issue is resolved and inform Ted Wozniak of PaymentPractices.com as well as the WWPF group on Yahoo about the company.

Have a good weekend.

Lene


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Legally speaking... Nov 3, 2012

Here in the US, they would have to fall back on the Statute of Frauds, which defines what types of contracts (these agreements are considered here) need to be in writing. If there was no previous information stating that there would be a reduced rate, it doesn't matter if it's company policy or not. Also the argument that it is industry standard is incorrect and not applicable. The Statute of Frauds was created exactly for these circumstances, where one party adds to or modifies the agreement (contract) without the knowledge or consent of the other party.

Remember that a contract doesn't have to be a formal agreement, e-mails, po's, even verbal conversations can and do constitute contracts, therefore a lawsuit can be pursued for breach of contract. There may be an issue if the translation is viewed as a good rather than a service, as that would have required a formal signed contract (at least in the US).

If this applies to your friend then I would suggest that you "cry havoc and let lose the dogs of war!" In a civil and legal way of course ^_^

I hope that helps!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ricardy Ricot  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:01
French to English
+ ...
Very unprofessional Nov 4, 2012

It's very unprofessional to refuse the terms and conditions after they were already agreed upon.

Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Advice on PM that is insisting on changing agreement after the fact.

Advanced search







Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »
PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search