TA does not pay for numbers & repetitions HELP
Thread poster: Ivan Bertrand

Ivan Bertrand  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:46
Member
English to French
May 18, 2014

Hello everyone:
I am just finishing up a large project for a translation agency ( 44 K) at a very low rate.
Beside its extraordinary complexity, the agency is now informing me that the customer will not pay for the translation of numbers and repetition.
1- is this common practise?
2 - how the hell, can they count the numbers and repetitions they have in several hundreds of pages document? I am interested because I do not know how to do this (with word, trados, adobe stuff)
3- this was not mentionned in the PO I got from the agency, can I fight it?
Thank you in advance for your help.
Kind regards
Ivan
ps: I live in France, the agency is in the UK, the customer in the USA. If I was in the USA, I would have filed a lawsuit already or threatened them to do so, but in France...


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:46
English to German
+ ...
Why would you want to sue their end-customer and what does this have to do with the US May 18, 2014

Ivan Bertrand wrote:
If I was in the USA, I would have filed a lawsuit already or threatened them to do so, but in France...



Dear Ivan,

Your customer is the agency in the UK, nobody else. Your customer's client is none of your business. If your customer turns out to be unprofessional enough to blame their weird payment terms on their own client (!), it is not yours to get furious at a company that you don't have a contract with.

If you feel ripped off, you may sue your own client.

No, it is NOT common practice in the US not to pay for numbers because American companies large enough to order foreign language versions of their stuff are very well aware of the usage of periods and commas in different countries. Probably better than your customer. This comes from working at very low rates.

What I would like to know:
Did they try to change the payable amount on the PO later on? If there was a PO, you apparently agreed to it, right? Changing the amount after delivery is not possible. AFAIK, France has a legal system, too.


 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:46
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
It's common practice when you work with agencies in France May 18, 2014

I have not worked with an agency so far, but had several contracts to have a look at. What you mention is often the case and there are ways to count how many numbers etc. your document has. Some translators even make publicity saying that they have a different way of counting (not via word) which makes that clients have not to pay for numbers.

Nevertheless I think your agency should have informed you before you work on the document and I am suprised this was not mentionned in the contract you signed up with them.

[Modifié le 2014-05-18 09:37 GMT]


 

Ivan Bertrand  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:46
Member
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
thank you Nicole May 18, 2014

Of course I have nothing to do with the US customer.
Mine is only the TA.

Thank you for the info regarding numbers practice in the US. I did work with a couple of other US agencies and this problem was not even mentionned.

My contract with the TA, actually a PO did not mention any excision whatsoever.
It did mention though a count of words.
Since I received the files one after the other, when I reached the total number of words agreed upon, I wrote to the TA asking for instructions.
This is when the TA mentioned that the customer was not paying for digits and repetition.
I did finish the file I was working on, but stopped then saying that we had to reach an agreement before I would continue.

This is where we stand.
Do not get upset about the US, I am an American citizen too. I did have to get involved in lawsuits quite a bit in the regular process of doing business.
regards
Ivan


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:46
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My input, FWIW May 18, 2014

Ivan Bertrand wrote:
the agency is now informing me that the customer will not pay for the translation of numbers and repetition.
1- is this common practise?

I've absolutely no idea what agreements agencies have with their clients, and nor does this interest me. OTOH, it isn't normal for the agencies I work with to unilaterally decide not to pay me for them. All reputable agencies will pay the full agreed tariff on every word (including numbers) unless some sort of Trados-style grid of discounts has been agreed to beforehand. But then, is this the sort of agency I and others would class as "reputable"? I suspect not, seeing as you also say:
I am just finishing up a large project for a translation agency ( 44 K) at a very low rate.
An agency that expects you to work for about three weeks at a very low rate (unless the deadline is at least a couple of months ahead) is not likely to be a good one. BTW, I'm not sure what you mean by
Beside its extraordinary complexity
but if it means spending hours and hours filling in forms and reports, and using an inefficient interface, then that too is a sure sign of an agency you don't want to be linked to.

2 - how the hell, can they count the numbers and repetitions they have in several hundreds of pages document? I am interested because I do not know how to do this (with word, trados, adobe stuff)

That seems surprising if you're a Trados user. I believe any CAT tool can provide such statistics.

3- this was not mentionned in the PO I got from the agency, can I fight it?

Of course you can, if it was totally misleading. The PO constitutes a contract and it cannot be changed after it has been agreed upon, unless both parties agree to the changes. OTOH, if they stipulated that Trados had to be used then there may have been an implicit agreement to the word-count only including "new" words. Depends on all the communication you had.

It may be a long-drawn-out business to sue them, but the procedure itself is very simple and cheap between different EU member countries. Just raise an EU Payment Order (you can do it online) or take them to the European Small Claims Court. There's a limit of 3000 euros or thereabouts on what you can claim though.

And of course, as Nicole has said and you seem to already know, what their client is willing to pay for has absolutely nothing to do with what this agency is obligated to pay you for your work. BTW the legal system in France for this type of small claim is so good that it was used as the basis for the EU-wide system. And I can vouch for its effectiveness as I once very successfully sued a client when we were both based in France.


 

Ivan Bertrand  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:46
Member
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
thank you Sheila May 18, 2014

your statement about common practice confirms what I get from others sources:
- generally speaking reputable agencies pay for everything except if it is very clear, in their PO what they do exclude.
I had a week to do 44 K words....
The text itself was extremely specialized in a field that is not my specialty and a list of spares basically.
Ok for the counts.
Thank you very much for the information for the EU way of solving these claims.
I do know how to do it in France but was not aware that there was a similar EU process.

Well altogether , I am just stupid. Never do a job getting paid less than your value, it will lead to troubles.
Thank you everyone for the time spent.
Regards
Ivan


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:46
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Not stupid - just not too old to learn May 18, 2014

Ivan Bertrand wrote:
I had a week to do 44 K words....
The text itself was extremely specialized in a field that is not my specialty and a list of spares basically.

Aie, aie, aie! Couple that with the low per-word rate you spoke of, that ended up even lower than expected, and I can see why you say
Well altogether , I am just stupid. Never do a job getting paid less than your value, it will lead to troubles.

but I don't think you're stupid. Let's face it, anyone who's managed to make a living in this business for 25 years without having come across these unscrupulous practices from unscrupulous agencies can't be stupid!icon_wink.gif Your other clients must be a really good lot, and that gave you a false sense of security.


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:46
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Numbers / Repetitions May 18, 2014

If you have to type the numbers and/or reformat them in some way (ex: 5.234 to 5,234 or 28/04/2013 to 04/28/2013) then they are charged at full rate. If the numbers are already typed in a word document and you do not have to type them or do anything to them, I would still bill for them unless asked not to before the job (unless, of course, we are talking about ten pages of nothing but numbers - in which case I would inform the agency about this before accepting the job and inform them that the word count is not as high as they think, etc.).

Some people do grant discounts for repetitions. I choose not to when there are small repeated sections (a paragraph here, a sentence there). However, when there are large sections of a document repeated (such as a ten-page contract that is repeated over and over with only the client's name changed), then a discount makes sense (and we have always done this even before CAT tools with a simple cut and paste). In those cases where a company insists on discounts, I generally request a flat rate for the entire project that cannot be changed after the fact. I will let them play with word counts and cuddly matches to determine whether or not the flat rate is acceptable as I prefer to stay out of all that nonsense. I refuse to work on a project unless I know how much I will be paid before I start.




[Edited at 2014-05-18 17:51 GMT]


 


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