Advice needed - agency tends to avoid paying
Thread poster: rob17
rob17
Spanish to English
Oct 12, 2003

I'd welcome users' comments on the following situation..

I have just completed my first translation job, of a book. I got the job through an online advert posted by an agency, which I have visited a couple of times. The pay on offer was low, but (I guess like many first-timers) I thought it was worth doing to get some experience etc. In addition, the agency is not proposing to pay until 90 days after the translation is due in.

I've just found out from a friend who is a much more experienced translator that the agency in question is notorious for trying to avoid paying translators, and often uses first-timers who know no better.

Since I haven't yet handed over the translation, I'm wondering what the best approach should be in this situation. I don't want to give them the work and then spend months trying to chase them and wondering Will they Won't they pay?

So I'm inclined to tell them that I've heard that they have this reputation, and accordingly I will hand over the translation only if they pay upfront on delivery. I guess they'll try anything to avoid doing this, but it seems to make sense.

Any thoughts on this? any pitfalls I should be aware of?

many thanks in advance for comments


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sylvie malich
Germany
Local time: 15:00
German to English
You got the right idea... Oct 12, 2003

I think you got the right idea if you are completely sure about their payment practices. Hold the job for payment or you'll never see your money. I would NOT send the job. If they don't agree, then you know they wouldn't have paid. ...you've kept their job and saved face.

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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:00
English to German
+ ...
What was agreed? Oct 12, 2003

Hi Rob,
Tayfun raises a valid point: which payment arrangements were agreed upon when the job was placed? If nothing specific was agreed, how are you going to substantiate your demand for (full) upfront payment?

Trying to get a partial payment is probably more realistic.

Good luck, Ralf


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 06:00
English to French
+ ...
signed contract! Oct 12, 2003

I would recommend that you get that agency to sign a contract detailing the payment method before you even start translating. Second, what we often do in France is get paid in increments: 1/3 of the estimated price with the first third of the job, a second estimated third with the second delivery then the balance with the final delivery, when you know the exact word count hence your final price.
rob17 wrote:

I'd welcome users' comments on the following situation..

I have just completed my first translation job, of a book. I got the job through an online advert posted by an agency, which I have visited a couple of times. The pay on offer was low, but (I guess like many first-timers) I thought it was worth doing to get some experience etc. In addition, the agency is not proposing to pay until 90 days after the translation is due in.

I've just found out from a friend who is a much more experienced translator that the agency in question is notorious for trying to avoid paying translators, and often uses first-timers who know no better.

Since I haven't yet handed over the translation, I'm wondering what the best approach should be in this situation. I don't want to give them the work and then spend months trying to chase them and wondering Will they Won't they pay?

So I'm inclined to tell them that I've heard that they have this reputation, and accordingly I will hand over the translation only if they pay upfront on delivery. I guess they'll try anything to avoid doing this, but it seems to make sense.

Any thoughts on this? any pitfalls I should be aware of?

many thanks in advance for comments


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:00
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Pament in Increments Oct 12, 2003

sarahl wrote:

I would recommend that you get that agency to sign a contract detailing the payment method before you even start translating. Second, what we often do in France is get paid in increments: 1/3 of the estimated price with the first third of the job, a second estimated third with the second delivery then the balance with the final delivery, when you know the exact word count hence your final price.
rob17 wrote:

I'd welcome users' comments on the following situation..

I have just completed my first translation job, of a book. I got the job through an online advert posted by an agency, which I have visited a couple of times. The pay on offer was low, but (I guess like many first-timers) I thought it was worth doing to get some experience etc. In addition, the agency is not proposing to pay until 90 days after the translation is due in.

I've just found out from a friend who is a much more experienced translator that the agency in question is notorious for trying to avoid paying translators, and often uses first-timers who know no better.

Since I haven't yet handed over the translation, I'm wondering what the best approach should be in this situation. I don't want to give them the work and then spend months trying to chase them and wondering Will they Won't they pay?

So I'm inclined to tell them that I've heard that they have this reputation, and accordingly I will hand over the translation only if they pay upfront on delivery. I guess they'll try anything to avoid doing this, but it seems to make sense.

Any thoughts on this? any pitfalls I should be aware of?

many thanks in advance for comments

___________________________________________

I agree with Sarah. That's what I do, especially for a larger document/book. And of course have things clear on paper. Still, at times it is hard to get the money regardless of the PO. And if you are not in that country and can go knocking on their doors demanding you money, you are up the creek without a peddle. Collection agencies only go so far.

Next time save yourself a lot of agony and do the following:

1. Get a PO that clearly states what you have agreed upon.

2. Get an advance up front before you even start to work and then have the rest coming to you in increments as the project progresses the last one scheduled just about when you are delivering the last part.

Be prepared to send them the stuff in batches. As they pay they would wish to see a finished product.

Make agreements that you will proof the whole thing for consistency issues, etc. afterward so that the whole product looks like it is supposed to.

I hope that you get your money. This is not a good way to start translating, but don't give up. One rotten apple does not mean that they are all bad.

Suerte!
Lucinda


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Robert INGLEDEW  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 11:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
HAVE YOU CHECKED THE BLUE BOARD? Oct 12, 2003

Although the Blue Board is not 100% reliable, because translators do not always update their rating, it is one of the safest ways to check if the Agency is reliable. If the Company is there, you will see if they have honored payment to other translators in the past.

On caution: If any translators figure there having done jobs for them, check with them by E-mail what was their experience. Recently I accepted a job from an Agency rated with a 5, was not paid, checked with the translator, and she had not been paid for her last job, but ommitted to state this in the Blue Board. I lost over 1200 Dollars.

I think your approach makes sense. I wish I had done the same...

Robert Ingledew


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:00
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Cover yourself Oct 12, 2003

I suppose you are learning fast. Without harping on it, your actions are likely to give the impression that you are inexperienced and can be taken advantage of (i.e. accepting low rates, not clarifying the terms from the start, not getting anything in writing, not asking for any percentage up front, and the like). Luckily, you have woken up in time. I suggest you tactfully talk to your customer and clarify everything before sending in the translation. Once everything is clarified, you might consider writing it all down and asking if he wouldn't mind signing it and sending it back to you. This, of course, is all in good faith just to make sure nobody forgets anything to prevent future misunderstandings.
If at all possible get a third or so up front, in good faith. I know you are in Spain and that complicates matters. You probably won't get this, and an unprofessional and inexperienced customer (sounds like what you have) may feel offended by (gasp) writing down and signing the terms that you agreed to or paying a bit up front.
Good luck to you.


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PRAKAASH  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 19:30
Member (2007)
English to Hindi
+ ...
CHECK OUT INITALLY. ASK FOR SMALL JOBS INITIALLY FROM SUSPECTED JOB-PROVIDERS! Oct 13, 2003

well in any such case, I, at first consult my fellow translators, check out blue-board entries and then only go for the job. there are more ways to look upon the tendency of the job-provider by emailing and recieving responses from their side in an intelligent manner. You'd go for an upfront payment before handling over the translated text. Initially, you'd try to avoid such job providers and ask him/her (or the agency) to forward small jobs so that you may save your time and money. If job forwarder is not a genuine one he'll not pay for you whether it's a large volume job or small job. So, always prefer small job initially to check out the genuinity of the agency or job-provider.
PRAKAASH


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Ursula Peter-Czichi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:00
German to English
+ ...
Deliver a partial translation and ask for payment Oct 13, 2003

rob17 wrote:

.....
Since I haven't yet handed over the translation, I'm wondering what the best approach should be in this situation. I don't want to give them the work and then spend months trying to chase them and wondering Will they Won't they pay?

So I'm inclined to tell them that I've heard that they have this reputation, and accordingly I will hand over the translation only if they pay upfront on delivery. I guess they'll try anything to avoid doing this, but it seems to make sense.

Any thoughts on this? any pitfalls I should be aware of?

many thanks in advance for comments


If you have not agreed in writing to any conditions you could send 1/3 or 1/2 of the translation and ask for payment.

The last time I did a book translation, the editor (Thieme Verlag) actually asked for parts of the translation and immediately offered to pay for the delivered portion of the translation. They paid within a week. While this publisher is exceptional, PMs should know that this type of payment arrangement is reasonable and appropriate.
However, if you have promised to deliver on a certain date then you will have no choice.

Hope all works out well,
Ursula


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Jeannie Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:00
German to English
+ ...
check initial agreement Oct 14, 2003

If there was none - ensure you get a PO.

If they really are serious about a 90 day payment rule and you find this unacceptable (which I personally do!) then you can inform them you have finished the translation, but were unaware of their payment conditions which you find unacceptable.

Request a PO or new PO with mutually acceptable payment conditions i.e. 30 days payment.

Pushing for immediate payment might be too much, but if you inisist on a PO outlining eg. 30 days payment and they do not pay - at least you are covered.

Hope this helps, good luck and be persistent - if often helps!

Jeannie


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:00
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Partial payment Oct 14, 2003

I agree with the people who have suggested that you send, and request payment for, part of the translation, e.g. one third. For a large job such as this you really need a contract.

I also agree that 90 days is too long; 30 days is more or less standard.

Last year I translated a correspondence course in ten chapters. I sent in one chapter per month and was paid immediately. The client also preferred this, as they did not have to pay the whole amount at once.


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