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Dispute with an agency which refuses to pay my invoice (France > Switzerland)
Thread poster: Carole Pinto

ibz  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:45
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
@Carole Jul 5

I don't think that you will get anywhere with the EC's small claims procedure. It's much better if you follow the Swiss debt collection procedure according to the link in my earlier posting.
Good luck!


Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Carole Pinto
 

ibz  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:45
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
@Carole Jul 11

Just wondering: Did you manage to get your money…?

 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Business/personal Jul 11

Please do not take me wrong, but I always include free of charge reviewing of the edits my clients do to my translation. Recently, one of my clients wanted to pay me an hourly fee for this, but I didn’t charge them for reviewing the edits to my own translation.

Typically, my clients ask me to do so in order to avoid errors potentially introduced by the editor. In most of the cases, I spot two or three errors introduced and I simply decline those changes and explain the reason in comments.

I typically accept all preferential changes. I do point out in this case that the editor “abused” preferential changes, but that I accepted them as they were by no means incorrect.

It takes time, yes; definitely yes. But you want to keep your client happy (this way, they come back). I have a kid too, but I never (and “never is never”, as we say here in Spain) mention my kid, my wife, a party, the fact that I have to clean the house, etc. to my clients. Business is business. Our personal life is, and should be, of no concern to our business partners.

In any case, given the situation, I would accept the 50% discount proposal and move on.

Always check if people/companies are on Blue Board and what their ratings are. Watch out; there are companies on Blue Board that have 5 star rating and pay USD 0.03 or equivalent per word. 5 stars is not a guarantee that the agency is a fair and reliable partner, but 4.5 stars and below means trouble. If there is no Blue Board entry, this means you should ask for a down payments (at least 50%).

Good luck and I hope you’ll report what the outcome is.


[Edited at 2018-07-11 14:52 GMT]


Josephine Cassar
Rio Mesa Interpreting
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Business or personal, it is no use to get the lowest of the low Jul 11

Unless it's a negotiated little friendly favor, only some "free" 250 words or about ten minutes should do as pro bono, not a reproach with relatively considerable amount of overtime work while leaving children alone.

Mutual concessions and disclaimers are ok whereas both parties are aware of Why, What for, How worthy, and At whose expense... Not the case here.


Carole Pinto
 

Carole Pinto
France
Local time: 09:45
Member (2011)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all Jul 12

@ibz, my client is playing dead but I have filed a complaint to the ProZ board, I'll let them decide of the outcome and they are waiting for the resolution of this issue to publish my rating. Worst case scenario, she'll get a bad rating and this will help other people not to fall into this kind of trap...
Thank you ever so much for the link you sent me, I'll check it when I'm back from holidays. It's very kind and thoughtful of you, I really appreciate that.

To all the people who helped me with this issue, thank you ever so much. I don't really agree on "giving a litlte" (which was here a night of work, whence as much as I actually spent on the translation) as all the changes were preferential and I did not see the point of making them in order to tell me my work was mediocre when the PM is actually not a native, was very insulting (imagine being told that you used Google Translate by a person who actually makes terrible mistakes when communicating with you in French, it's hard not to lose one's patience) and when she especially used all her comments to tell me that she wanted a 50% discount.
She obviously was very unprofessional with me, did not like my style and wanted things done her way and justified this to get a discount, which I can't accept, as there was no contract specifying there would be a discount or charges if there was a quality problem, and I am very confident with my work as I had it reviewed by a peer who said that her corrections did not make any sense and that her corrections introduced laboured choices, mistranslations and many errors.

But mostly, thanks to all of you and for taking the time to support me, I really appreciate that.
Have a lovely day!!!



[Edited at 2018-07-12 05:13 GMT]


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Still Jul 12

I am not trying to “teach a lesson” to anyone, but if a client makes preferential changes and these are not improper (hence, “preferential”; it can be said either way), I simply recommend to:

- Accept them.
- Point out, either in comments or in a separate email, that these changes are preferential, but that you have no issue accepting them. This doesn't undermine your professionalism. Rather, to the contrary.

If the changes are improper/wrong, I recommend to:

- Reject them.
- Point out, either in comments or in a separate email, that these changes are improper/wrong, and briefly state the reason.

If you made typos/small mistakes, admit them and apologise (it's not unusual to make one or two typos in a, say, 8k word text).

That’s where your work ends. The client can have it reviewed by any other professional or whoever they feel comfortable with.

Now, refusing to review (or asking to be paid for) the edits to your own translation is not the smartest way to retain a customer. In any case, if the customer proves to be problematic, just do your job to the end and accept no more work from this particular customer.



Carole Pinto wrote:

@ibz, my client is playing dead but I have filed a complaint to the ProZ board, I'll let them decide of the outcome and they are waiting for the resolution of this issue to publish my rating. Worst case scenario, she'll get a bad rating and this will help other people not to fall into this kind of trap...
Thank you ever so much for the link you sent me, I'll check it when I'm back from holidays. It's very kind and thoughtful of you, I really appreciate that.

To all the people who helped me with this issue, thank you ever so much. I don't really agree on "giving a litlte" (which was here a night of work, whence as much as I actually spent on the translation) as all the changes were preferential and I did not see the point of making them in order to tell me my work was mediocre when the PM is actually not a native, was very insulting (imagine being told that you used Google Translate by a person who actually makes terrible mistakes when communicating with you in French, it's hard not to lose one's patience) and when she especially used all her comments to tell me that she wanted a 50% discount.
She obviously was very unprofessional with me, did not like my style and wanted things done her way and justified this to get a discount, which I can't accept, as there was no contract specifying there would be a discount or charges if there was a quality problem, and I am very confident with my work as I had it reviewed by a peer who said that her corrections did not make any sense and that her corrections introduced laboured choices, mistranslations and many errors.

But mostly, thanks to all of you and for taking the time to support me, I really appreciate that.
Have a lovely day!!!



[Edited at 2018-07-12 05:13 GMT]


Katalin Horváth McClure
Germaine
Lucien Rousseau
 

Carole Pinto
France
Local time: 09:45
Member (2011)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
@Merab Jul 13

Don't worry, we just have a different point of view. Let me explain why:

The edits were improper/wrong, so I took the time to send her a Word document mentioning all the corrections I didn't agree on and took the time to justify them and made a lot research to justify my point of view, firstly because I felt she was using all these corrections to justify the fact that she wouldn't pay me, and I was proved right, because she asked me for a 50% discount eventually.
Secondly, I was concerned she would send her client a document full of mistranslations and errors and I am way too professional to let this happen.

In my humble opinion, I acted as professionally as I could and I did apologise for the typos I made but she focused on 2 of them to tell me I had not reviewed my work and that I had used Google translate and was so shockingly agressive that I decided I could no longer deal with her, as I knew this was a deal breaker and that we could never reach an agreement. And even if I had agreed to work on the document she sent me, I couldn't, as there were so many corrections I couldn't work on it (and I'm a software engineer!). The document was illegible.

This would have taken me even longer than the project itself and she had crossed the line with me so I refused to do what she asked. This is my personal choice as a translator as I certainly don't want to work with that person again. I take pride in my work but there is a limit you cannot cross with me. In French we say you can't attract flies with vinegar. She was so agressive and insulting I had to stop working on this project and stop reading her emails (I had to wait a couple of days to read them) because I spend a sleepless night because of this issue.

So this is basically when I decided that my work ended with her, because I didn't want to spend anymore time on this project when I had other assignments and certainly did not want to take the risk to work on it and still not get paid for it as I clearly saw there was no way we could communicate amicably.
I'm sorry but I have my limits, this is where I could be wrong, but I have never been insulted this way in my entire career and to me, this is definitely a deal breaker.
If she had asked me to accept/refuse a few corrections, I would have gladly done it, but during work hours. She send me a document with dozens and dozens of corrections, there were so many of them it was illegible.
And of course she should have had a professional French proofreader to review it and should not have done it herself when she is clearly not a native.
As I said, I had my work reviewed by a peer in order to make sure I wasn't delusional and that person said that most corrections were preferential and introduced what she actually accused me of: mistranslations, gross errors, etc.
So I'm sorry, but no, I will never review a document for hours (and not being paid for it, as this was basically a waste of time) who is agressive and insulting and who basically asks me to work after hours and at night and stresses me out so much I have to leave my children unattended. But then again, this is my personal point of view. You have yours, I have mine, we have the right to disagree on the way se deal in such a situation, but in my case I decided to act accordingly to my professional standards and point of view, and accordingly to the person. End of story (as far as she's concerned, not you, of course).
I cannot grin and bear it when people act this way. As I said, I have my limits.

Have a nice day!


[Edited at 2018-07-13 05:28 GMT]


 

Carole Pinto
France
Local time: 09:45
Member (2011)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Totally agree with you Nikki Jul 13

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

I had this experience last year after 24 years' experience. A bureaucrat "corrected" a 3,000-word text. As a native speaker of French, she unfortunately provided a beautiful demonstration of classic mistakes on choice of tense, grammar and introduced a whole series of false friends. All were mistakes that would have been impossible for a native speaker. She had also actually sneaked in a couple of revisions, additional phrases, reformulations of the original. That was just not cricket*. There was a "correction" on almost every line covering half the document. She had simply spent valuable taxpayer's time fiddling around with a text she should not have played around with at all. What really made me cross was that she had asked me to finish the "correction"!

I was cross because defending my choices meant using (=wasting) time. This was through an agency paying terrible rates, so I was not going to make much money from it anyway. It the straw that broke the camel's back and once it was resolved, I ceased to work for this agency. To be fair on the agency, which paid appalling rates, it obviously negotiated rotten rates with government agencies, notoriously poor payers and later payers. The agency always paid spot on time. The agency also forwarded the feedback without adding to the misery.

What I did was this. I selected a couple of terms that were basically synonyms. I then went through half of what had been "corrected" and presented a table in which I itemized each mistake with a supporting reference, emphasizing that they were classic mistakes for a native speaker of French but ones that no native speaker of English would make. I then said that this was a time-consuming exercise, that I had illustrated my point and that further correction would be undertaken as requested by the client... at my usual rate of XX euros/hour and upon the condition that my name would never be mentioned in connection with this translation. It went no further, or perhaps the agency acquiesced, but I did not.

(*) http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/2013/04/130404_todays_phrase_not_cricket.shtml


This person was also a beautiful example of classic mistakes that were absolutely impossible for a native speaker. Imagine being told that a 'subsite' is a 'sous-page' (sub-page)! She, of course, sneaked a few revisions which didn't actually make any sense and indeed introduced horrid mistakes. All her corrections were mostly reformulations of my work. This is when I actually understood something was off. And of course there was a "correction" on every word and sentence, the entire Word document was red with track changes. I didn't count the number of corrections, but there could have a been a couple of hundreds of them in four pages!
She actually spent a day of her valuable time to show me that she didn't like my work and clearly should have done it herself. And of course she would have done a terrible job when you see what type of correction she sent me.
So of course I was really stressed out and cross, because I knew she was wasting my time, and time is money, as you said.
So when she asked me to review a document and accept/refuse over 200 corrections in a document that was illegible, and found out that I had only sent her a list of corrections I didn't agree on she said:

Je voudrais faire une observation : le but était de réaliser - sur la base des modifs, beaucoup desquels sont justifiées - une traduction finale à livrer au client. ​Vous m'avez envoyé une page de commentaires qui ne m'est en aucune façon utile dans mon but, mais qui expriment seulement votre determination à affirmer que votre traduction était parfaite et les modifications des bêtises. Je me permets de constater que, a mon avis, c’est une attitude qui n’a pas de sens. Vous avez pris du temps, malgré le préavis court et dans un moment où vous aviez des engagements familiales, mais pas pour accomplir le travail et me permettre de livrer en temps, sinon pour discuter : je me permets de vous demander, à quel but ? Cela est totalement inutile.

> which basically means: your only goal was to prove me wrong when my corrections are justified. You sent me your comments which are absolutely useless and only express your determination to show that your translation is perfect and that my corrections are stupid. I only note that, in my opinion, your attitude doesn't make any sense. You took some time, despite the short notice, and when you had family obligations, not to deliver the work I asked you to do, which would have allowed me to deliver the project on time, but only to discuss my choices. Let me ask you what your goal was? It is absolutely useless.

So when you read this, how can you possibly react? I took 2 hours to justify the corrections I didn't agree on an decided I could not deliver a "clean" file when there were so many edits I could not possibly work on the document. She pointed the fact that the work she sent me was sent on short notice (in the morning, and for an hour - when it clearly needed hours of work - and the document sent at 7pm when I specifically told her that I could only work from 5 to 6pm because I had family obligations.
Still, I took the time to send her a document in which I explained why the corrections were preferential and mostly wrong (and I didn't even know at the time the she actually was the reviewer, which explains why she took it so bad) and had to neglect my kids and not fix them dinner, spend valuable time with them and even help them with their homework. I wouldn't qualify my behaviour as unprofessional as I made work my first priority, to the detriment of my children.

And what she didn't get was that I only was concerned by the terrible mistakes that were introduced in the text and that she would send her client a mediocre translation. I admit being a bit blunt about the reviewing, because I was cross and stressed out and also wanted to let her know that there was a problem with the reviewer. That's when I realised that she was actually the reviewer. Imagine what I felt when I realised that! I just could not believe what I read... So of course I felt attacked and was horrified by what I read. How can one possibly work when all this was done in bad faith and in a insulting way?

Have this read by a native French speaker:
Vous avez faites tellement tantes fautes que je suis en shock, et chaque fois que je relie, j'en trouves des nouveaux.

> Vous avez fait tellement de fautes que je suis choquée, et chaque fois que je relis votre texte, j'en trouve de nouvelles.
6 syntax/grammar/spelling mistakes in one sentence...

And please bear in mind that she held the translation for a day before asking me to review it and send a clean file (something I should have done within a hour, when she sent it at 7pm and with over 200 of corrections). How could I possibly do that?

As you said Nikki, this was a waste of time and I knew that it was also a waste of money as I wouldn't be paid for what she asked, let alone be paid for the translation I delivered on time and reviewed and checked with Antidote.
Had my work been bad, I would have spent the night correcting it and I would have profusely apologised, but I couldn't possibly spend anymore time with such a horrible person. As I said, I have my limits and she clearly crossed the line.

I had the same reaction as you: I took every correction in a Word document and compared my translation to her correction and justified the fact that there were either preferential and even gross mistakes a native would have never done. My point was somewhat to show as well that this was a time-consuming exercise and that I couldn't possibly do what she was asking, and just like you, I illustrated my point that her corrections were absolute nonsense and time-consuming. But then again, I was thinking about a potential reviewer and did not intend to attack her directly. I was just defending my work, as I hate injustice and to me, this situation was totally unfair.

I tried to remain factual and professional for the whole time, until she became agressive and insulting. This is when I threatened to contact the European commission and submit this issue to the ProZ board.

[Edited at 2018-07-13 05:31 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-07-13 05:31 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-07-13 05:32 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-07-13 05:33 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-07-13 05:38 GMT]


 

CATHERINE MARCHAND  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 10:45
French to Greek
+ ...
REFUSAL PAYMENT 0N INVOICES Jul 13

Dear Carole,

In any case, if one of the agency is not satisfied by your translation, they have to pay you for your time spent on this translation and it is their choice to not employ you anymore after this.
It happened to me one time in my career : the client said that he was not satisfied by my translation and I refused this argument and I just said that maybe some words could have been translated better as it was a very difficult legal document but in any case they paid me normally and actually I am still doing some translations for this agency... They have to pay you anyway.


Carole Pinto
 

Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Fritalian Jul 13

Carole Pinto wrote:



Have this read by a native French speaker:
Vous avez faites tellement tantes fautes que je suis en shock, et chaque fois que je relie, j'en trouves des nouveaux.

> Vous avez fait tellement de fautes que je suis choquée, et chaque fois que je relis votre texte, j'en trouve de nouvelles.


This is Fritalian or Italfranicon_smile.gif. (tantes fautes, et nouveaux (masculin) erreurs, yes is typicalicon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2018-07-13 11:53 GMT]


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
@Carole Jul 13

@Carole

You mentioned we have different points of view. I think we are quite in agreement here. I just never thought it was that bad…

The most taxing experiences I can recall are texts edited by typical newcomers who in their attempt to kill the text, end up doing an overkill. I understand them. Perhaps I’ve been there too many, many years ago. They just think if the text isn’t “red enough”, they won’t get paid (I’ve edited short texts and delivered them with no changes at all; these are not frequent, though).

In these cases, I just accept preferential changes and reject errors introduced, if any. Now, that doesn’t take anywhere more than, say, 1/20 of the time spent on the translation, and clients don’t send me text all the time; actually, they do it way less frequently than I would like to (it’s always good to have a look at honest and professional edits of your translation). And let me tell you, you do learn in some cases too, no matter how experienced you are.

Ah, and there was one instance when an end client who "spoke some Spanish" thought the inverted exclamation mark (¡!) was actually the letter "i" misplaced. No kidding, I had to call the end client, at my agency's request, and explain her on the phone that some centuries ago, in middle ages, some academics decided it would be more "expressive" and "precise" if they also marked the start of an exclamatory or interrogative sentence or part of it, especially when the sentence was too long, like this very one... She was nice on the phone and understood everything. Again, I've done it just once in my entire career.

There are toxic people out there. In Spanish we say: “tiene jeta de acero” (he/she has a face/mug made out of steel”). Avoid, avoid, avoid. And spread the word (Blue Board, etc.).


Josephine Cassar
Angie Garbarino
Carole Pinto
 

Carole Pinto
France
Local time: 09:45
Member (2011)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Continued Jul 26

Hi all,

I hope you are all taking it easy on holidays or working hard.
As far as I'm concerned, the business is slow on my side!
So I'm going to take the time to go throught the Swiss recovery process, hoping it works. As you said, there is no way an agency or an outsourcer can decide no to pay you or ask for a 50% discount if they're not happy with the quality. This would mean that virtually anyone could decide not to pay you because they're not happy with your work, especially when there are no factual reasons for it. It would be like telling a butcher 'I did not like that steak I bought that much, I want a 50% refund' Unbelievable.

I will not contact her directly because she's so agressive it's unreal.

I was shocked to hear that the Blue Board won't take my rating because they think that when quality issues are concerned, you are not allowed to publish a comment, even after I transfered all our conversations and even my work. It's crazy, they say they don't want to 'interfere'.

A friend advised me to post a rating with nothing in it, so it cannot be refused, let's see if it works.

Thanks for your help and have a nice day!

Carole

PS: @Merab
I couldn't agree more. Some reviewers think they have to kill (whence sometimes overkill) your work in order to justify being paid, which is beyond outrageous. It's sad really, but I realise that it happens more often than it should. Thinking that a text is not fully reviewed if it's not entirely red and if they don't spend a day dismantling it.
I remember working on the term "Town Hall" once, which I translated as "discussion ouverte" and the proofreader corrected it for something like "réunion", when it actually means an 'open discussion' in which a group of professionals start talking (in a Town hall first, but then the term started being used in the corporate world as well). I had spent a hour looking that term up, asked an Australian friend of mine what it meant and even found some valuable information in the kudoz, only to find that the reviewer had "killed" my work and research to correct it with something that was clearly not appropriate. I told the agency' PM who took it very well, but in this case, she's both the outsourcer and reviewer... My luck, really.


 

Carole Pinto
France
Local time: 09:45
Member (2011)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Unbelievable Jul 26

The Proz Board won't accept my rating, which means that they basically protect dishonnest people whenever they judge that your work is mediocre.
I'm speechless.
And the recovery procedure is very tedious.
I'm outraged.


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:45
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
That's why you need a contract Jul 26

Carole Pinto wrote:

The Proz Board won't accept my rating, which means that they basically protect dishonnest people whenever they judge that your work is mediocre.
I'm speechless.
And the recovery procedure is very tedious.
I'm outraged.


Carole, the BB rules state very clearly that you cannot submit a rating if quality complaints or late delivery was involved. I think I warned you about this earlier in the thread. As to whether it is fair or not is another topic, but think about it how it could be abused from the translators' side, if it were allowed. ProZ is a marketplace, not a language authority, so it is simply not in the position to judge the quality of translations.
You may not think, but there are many impostors out there, who produce "translations" that are not up to commercially viable quality. I know that because I do a lot of review for agencies. The agencies for which I do review work have strict quality processes and screen their translators well, so most of the time I work with very good translations. But there are still some, time-to-time, who slip through those initial filters and their "true colors" only show at the first real job. (Those people perhaps submitted test translations or work samples that were not entirely their own work, I don't know.) So, quality issues can arise any time, in any translator-client relationship, that is why it is so important to be prepared for that.

It is really unfortunate that you got into this mess with this client, and I feel sorry for you. I am not sure whether you would have a positive outcome with the claim procedures you are trying. Since you ceased communication with her, I guess there is no point for me to suggest to take the 50% cut and chalk it up as an experience. At this point you will either end up with some sort of judgement requiring her to pay you (which may not be enforceable) or you may end up with nothing. I am not sure how much money is at stake, but chasing it may not worth all the hassle.

The only way for you to avoid such issues in the future is to make sure you have an agreement with your clients in writing that has a clause about quality. It has to be fair to both parties. Such clauses usually include a time limit for the client to review the translation and discuss any concerns about quality. It is customary for the translator to correct any errors free of charge. Some contracts include a definition of "errors" vs. "preferential changes".
Before you work for anyone, you need to know what kind of quality processes are in place at their end. Decent agencies have editing/proofreading built into their processes, either as a "serial" process (the editor/proofreader edits/finalizes the document), or as a looping one (the editor edits with tracked changes and it goes back to the translator who then accepts/rejects the edits and finalizes the document). You need to know about this process, because your work may not end when you send the translation to them. You need to manage your own expectations, and theirs as well.

These days and in this world, it is not enough to be a good translator. To run our own business, we have to be good at risk management as well.
Katalin


Kerlene Telesford
Carole Pinto
 

Carole Pinto
France
Local time: 09:45
Member (2011)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Katalin Jul 26

@katalin, I couldn't agree more.
I'm going to send a Standard form contract to all my clients, a colleague had some very good ones but I never thought I would have to go that far as this issue is complicated by the fact that she lives in Switzerland.
In France or in the EU it would have been fairly simple, but it's going to be time consuming, sure, and time is money.
But still, as I said, I just cannot grin and bear it, I hate injustice so I will go as far as I can.

Thanks ever so much.


 
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Dispute with an agency which refuses to pay my invoice (France > Switzerland)

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