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Client published my work and refuses to pay!
Thread poster: Lloyd Swinton
Lloyd Swinton
Local time: 08:25
Italian to English
Sep 21, 2007

Hi all,

never posted here before so excuse me in advance if I ramble on.

I recently did a small job for a client who saw an advert of mine on the internet.

To cut a long story short I translated the document and sent it off. After a week of her stating that she would come to meet me. This was so she could pay me in cash and not by bank transfer. She then sent me a text on the Friday morning (the day she should have paid) to state that "The translation is useless, I have to get it re-done I am sorry".

So anyway we exchanged some texts and e-mails and as the sum was minimal I just let it go as she seemed intent on a) not paying and b) not wanting to sort out the problems she had with the document. Still to this day I am waiting on an exact list of what was so wrong with the translation.

That is until I saw on a website that what I had translated, without getting paid for, has been published! Only about 3% of my original translation has been altered. Just a couple of words have been changed to make it not 100% the same as my original translation. There are paragraphs though where the work is all mine and this upsets me.

I sent this lady an e-mail stating that the work is under my copyright and I still have not received payment. I also asked how come if my translation was so bad, then why has it been put up on an internet site?

To this she replied that it is not my translation and that if I continue to bring this up she will call her lawyer.

I ask you this?

What kind of lawyer would take on a client like this?

After all of this I am thinking about seeing my lawyer but for the very small sum of money I don't think it's worth it.

I just wanted to know what anyone else thinks of this. I hope someone posts something positive as I think I am going crazy?!


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:25
English to German
+ ...
Post a BB entry Sep 21, 2007

If I were in your shoes, I would make a BB entry and post my experience to every payment practices list that I know. And I would let her know that I am doing this.

She may still not pay but you can spare other translators such a bad experience with the same person. After all, it smells very fishy too me and it does look like she planned it all beforehand.

Good luck,

Sonja


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Lloyd Swinton
Local time: 08:25
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for that Sonja Sep 21, 2007

She is a private client though and I think this is general practice for her!

I shall try and warn as many of my colleagues as I can though. It's just not on.

It's like buying a car, and then not paying for it as you don't like the exact tint of paint on it.

But I digress...


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Your call Sep 21, 2007

Hi Lloyd,

I imagine writing this post was somewhat cathartic in and of itself.

Now you need to make up your mind as to what you want to do. Either chalk it up to experience and let it go or pull your own lawyer out of your hat and go for the %&$*.

Personally, I believe every translator should have a lawyer who they trust and can get in contact with at a moment’s notice and who will send out an intimidating letter on their behalf.

I suppose it depends on how much it’s worth to you and whether the expenses you might incur can be justified.


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:25
English to German
+ ...
What you describe Sep 21, 2007

in my eyes is theft and fraud.

If you have a lawyer you can trust and who does not demand too much money upfront, you could talk to him or her.

There are lawyers who earn lots of money just by warning people off, to remove content, they have stolen, from their website.

And, maybe the legal system can help, too, since it might be a criminal act, that is to be persecuted by the state.

This person seems to be very easy-going with her strategy so I'd guess that was not the first time. If she tries threatening now, you could always threaten back, because she is cheating and she might have more to lose than you.

But it always depends on what this is worth to you: If it is was little money and you decide it is not worth it, let it go.
If, on the other hand, you feel, people should not get away with this, who else should try to stop her?

Of course it also is always a question of how much you can prove.

Good luck!


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Lloyd Swinton
Local time: 08:25
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks all Sep 21, 2007

and thanks for your comment John, that made me chuckle

As for what the translation is worth, it's actually peanuts.

That is the thing that upsets me the most though!

I did a *very* technical telecom contract (20,000 words and tight deadline) the other week and got some great feedback on that.

Then I go and do two pages for this lady and look what I end up with.

I have threatened her now with legal action and, for some reason, she has stopped replying to my e-mails.

I think I will have to let this one go but I will make sure she knows that she is not the one that should be threatening legal action.

What a cheek...


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:25
French to English
+ ...
Another thought.... Sep 21, 2007

Unless the website where your text is posted belongs to your client, it might be useful to inform the owner of the situation -- warning your client ahead of time in a letter written by a friendly attorney that you will do so unless you receive full payment...

Patricia


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idemasi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:25
English to Italian
+ ...
did you bill the client? Sep 21, 2007

Hi,
what happened to you is wrong and unfair, but in order to find a solution it is important to know if you billed the client. Under Italian law (and most of the countries I know) you cannot ask for payment if you haven't billed the person. Only after the client has received the invoice there is an obligation to pay you. If there is no invoice sent your e-mails and phone calls are useless and she is actually right when she says she's going to call her lawyer, because you are "disturbing" her and have no right to do so( sorry, I don't want to be mean to you).
If the client is based in your country of residence I would seek the advice of a lawyer, if your client lives in an other country I would forget about the lawyer etc...(if the sum is below 500/600 Euros).
Another important question: Have you got a VAT number? If you haven't things are more complicated ...
Regards,
idemasi


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Lloyd Swinton
Local time: 08:25
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Billing Sep 21, 2007

I have billed and yes, I do have a registered VAT number.

That's what I also think caused some initial conflict as I wanted to be paid by bank transfer and not as she suggested which was "cash in hand".

I have never liked it when someone says "I'll come to you and pay you".

I am a translator - not a shop.

As the sum is less than €100 euros I will let sleeping dogs lie.

I guess I posted to vent some frustration. Never done it before but...aaagggghhhhhh I sure feel better now.

Thanks all for your comments and suggestions.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 12:55
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
My experience Sep 21, 2007

I was in a similar situation and following Patricia's method worked for me.

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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:25
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
Your option in Italy Sep 21, 2007

Lloyd Swinton wrote:

I have billed and yes, I do have a registered VAT number.



Hi Lloyd,
I see that you're based in Italy. Since you've issued an invoice and the amount is small, you can take it to the Giudice di Pace in your town/province. I'm not sure about the procedure, but these offices are very helpful (at least where I am) and you can probably even walk in and just ask how to go about it. There was an Italian forum about this here just a few weeks ago, but I can't find the link.
If I were you, I'd print out the pages from the website as proof.
It may be a small sum, but it's the principle. You don't know who that woman will scam the next time.
Catherine

PS: Just found the link: http://www.proz.com/post/662777#662777

[Edited at 2007-09-21 21:05]


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Jonathan Sanders  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:25
Small claims court? Sep 22, 2007

Is there an Italian or British equivalent to what Americans call "small claims court"? Something that doesn't require a lawyer? A client pulled a similar trick on me, after I interpreted for a deposition this year. Although she didn't question the quality, she did say she would pay me but repeatedly didn't and ignored my phone calls and e-mails. When she got a summons from the local court, however, that caught her attention. And the day before the hearing she actually paid.

A trick you might try is making her submit to British jurisdiciton, which might conceivably give you the upper hand. That might scare her into paying you, plus your fees. Although, I don't know if that is possible under European Law.


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:25
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...

MODERATOR
Hi Lloyd Sep 22, 2007

Lloyd Swinton wrote:
She is a private client though and I think this is general practice for her!


Private or corporate - it makes no difference. Please make a Blue Board entry for her; your WWA would be the best way of warning colleagues.


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:25
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Please make a Blue Board entry Sep 22, 2007

It would help the rest of us if you would make an entry on the Blue Board.

I agree with the rest that you should let this one go. Count your blessings that it was only 2 pages and not 200.

This obviously was not an A client. My feeling is that an outsourcer should ALWAYS pay, whether they like your work or not. I've had a couple of cases where I did not like the work of a translator, and paid them extremely fast, just so I wouldn't have to ever hear from them again.


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Claudia Vera  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 04:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
Too many coincidences... Sep 22, 2007

Well, I feel that we are talking about the same "lady"... But mine were 13,000 useless words, which according to her, took about 12 hours to be proofread, and of course I will receive a 30% of what we had agreed upon (... if "she" pays... ...)

I have done very technical translations such as digital camera reviews, and have always received positive feedbacks...
It's her "modus operandi" and is a "colleague" ...

Nice week-end!




Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.
Henry David Thoreau


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