Question about what do when agency is not happy with your work
Thread poster: Aida González del Álamo

Aida González del Álamo
Spain
Local time: 20:50
Member (2004)
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
Jan 19, 2004

I am a bit worried today. I have been working this last month for an agency. they had sent me a huge project for a company. I had to translate lots of slides, with graphics and at the beginning they gave me 24 days but in the end they urged me to have them ready in 14 days. I was non-stop working day and night in order to finish it. The agency sent it to a proofreader, and they told me that it was okay and that they were very happy. Today I was expecting my check, but now they say that the company did not like the translation and that they are not paying.
Is there anything that I could do? Should I claim?
I fell really blue, and I would appreciate some good counselling from someone who had a similar experience.
Thanks a lot.
A.


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Rosa Diez Tagarro  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:50
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
They should pay you Jan 19, 2004

If you have a PO, any number of e-mails proving the commercial nature of your relationship and the proofreader found no fault with your work...They have to pay.

Fortunately, I have never been through this kind of situation myself, so I hope somebody can offer you more valuable advice and not just an opinion.

Anyway, I can undestand how you feel after working so hard. Good luck, and don't forget to rate the agency on the Blue Board, some of us don't want to work for this kind of people!


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Russell Gillis  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:50
Spanish to English
Agency is ultimately responsible for collecting debts - not you. Jan 19, 2004

I have a very close relationship with an agency here in Canada, and this exact situation occurred for an English - Arabic translation. I got involved since the agency wanted me to meet with the client on their behalf (since the client lives in my city).

The client continued to stall and postpone meetings, and it was evident that they just didn't want to pay.

They gave the exact same reason - that they weren't happy with the translation. However, they did not return the translation and point out any problems, so ultimately they accepted the translation.

In this case, the agency still paid the Arabic translator, but pursued the client through legal channels.

Agencies are like any other company - they cannot base their payables on their receivables. Don't let them get away with it. If they are in your country, show up at their doorstep (or have someone show up at their doorstep) and apply some personal pressure.

I hope all goes well for you.


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Justine Sherwood  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:50
Dutch to English
+ ...
ask to see client's comments Jan 19, 2004

You should also ask what the client didn't like about the translation, i.e. have they revised it? If so ask to see the final version so that you can see what you have done wrong. Often agencies just say that the client didn't like the translation to avoid paying, if they can't come up with any proof that your work was bad they do have to pay.

Good Luck.


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Aida González del Álamo
Spain
Local time: 20:50
Member (2004)
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks that is a good advice. I have never thought about collection agencies, but I will find out. Jan 19, 2004

Tayfun Torunoglu wrote:

I recommend you to find immediately a collection agency and ask collection details (legal documentation requirements and costs).

But
First invoice them and send both via e-mail and fax (or better via a registered mail to their address) then if they do not pay immediately refer to collection agency.

In normal conditions when there was a complaint on your translation they must return your translation and demand you to revise it on the basis of complaints from client side.

There is not such a game acceptable in this industry first assigning a real job then not paying because their client does not like.





aidagda wrote:

I am a bit worried today. I have been working this last month for an agency. they had sent me a huge project for a company. I had to translate lots of slides, with graphics and at the beginning they gave me 24 days but in the end they urged me to have them ready in 14 days. I was non-stop working day and night in order to finish it. The agency sent it to a proofreader, and they told me that it was okay and that they were very happy. Today I was expecting my check, but now they say that the company did not like the translation and that they are not paying.
Is there anything that I could do? Should I claim?
I fell really blue, and I would appreciate some good counselling from someone who had a similar experience.
Thanks a lot.
A.


[Edited at 2004-01-19 20:52]


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Aida González del Álamo
Spain
Local time: 20:50
Member (2004)
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the advice and hopefully all will end up well. Jan 19, 2004

Russell Gillis wrote:

I have a very close relationship with an agency here in Canada, and this exact situation occurred for an English - Arabic translation. I got involved since the agency wanted me to meet with the client on their behalf (since the client lives in my city).

The client continued to stall and postpone meetings, and it was evident that they just didn't want to pay.

They gave the exact same reason - that they weren't happy with the translation. However, they did not return the translation and point out any problems, so ultimately they accepted the translation.

In this case, the agency still paid the Arabic translator, but pursued the client through legal channels.

Agencies are like any other company - they cannot base their payables on their receivables. Don't let them get away with it. If they are in your country, show up at their doorstep (or have someone show up at their doorstep) and apply some personal pressure.

I hope all goes well for you.


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Aida González del Álamo
Spain
Local time: 20:50
Member (2004)
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, I was very nervous but now I see that things will solve in the end. Thanks for the support Jan 19, 2004

Rosa Diez Tagarro wrote:

If you have a PO, any number of e-mails proving the commercial nature of your relationship and the proofreader found no fault with your work...They have to pay.

Fortunately, I have never been through this kind of situation myself, so I hope somebody can offer you more valuable advice and not just an opinion.

Anyway, I can undestand how you feel after working so hard. Good luck, and don't forget to rate the agency on the Blue Board, some of us don't want to work for this kind of people!



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Aida González del Álamo
Spain
Local time: 20:50
Member (2004)
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Justine for your advice. Jan 19, 2004

Justine Fischbach wrote:

You should also ask what the client didn't like about the translation, i.e. have they revised it? If so ask to see the final version so that you can see what you have done wrong. Often agencies just say that the client didn't like the translation to avoid paying, if they can't come up with any proof that your work was bad they do have to pay.

Good Luck.


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xxxPaul Roige
Spain
Local time: 20:50
English to Spanish
+ ...
Take a deep breath first, Aida Jan 19, 2004

Aida, in my experience most translation agencies are honest and professional. They hate these situations as much as we do and respect their translators, they depend on them. You must make sure the agency is on your side from the outset. It's all in the "feel", you instantly know it by the way they communicate with you. Otherwise it's best to pass, and even more when the first job is huge, you've never worked for them before, there's no PO and they want you to do zillions of words in half the time without even having the (professional) detail to send you a downpayment. That does not look good I'm afraid, and, if it all goes to pot, you'll always be on the receiving end.
But be strong and give them the benefit of the doubt. You must be paid for that job, since it was proofread and accepted and were happy. The agency must also be paid by the client, but that's their business, they're the middle (wo)man and must accept all the consequences as the professionals they are.
One for the agency: a client refuse to pay for a large project I did through this agency. 50% of the translation was bad, the client said. The agency pressed the guy hard and found out that in fact what happened is that the guy handed the job to his secretary but did not specify to her what he wanted translated (he actually wanted half of the manual). It took them 12 months to pay, but paid up to the last cent. That because the agency took responsibility. And I never doubted them, I always knew they were cool. I'm explaining this just to show that the unexpected does happen when you least expect it.
Make sure, the agency must be on your side. If you don't feel this and they don't put up, then it's either sueing if possible and/or Blue Board. The client must specify what s/he's not happy with too, and getting this information is also the agency's job.
Don't despair just yet. Fight for your rights. It's between you and the agency.
Ánimo y al toro
P


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Maria Belarra  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:50
French to Spanish
+ ...
Have you signed an agreement? Jan 19, 2004

Sometimes, agencies ask their translators to sign a "collaboration agreement" in which translators specifically accept "fines" on their payement when it is clearly evidenced that the translation was of a very bad quality.

If you have signed one of those, they have had to establish the "fining" percentage (which in my belief rarely amounts to 100%) and then prove very clearly that the quality of the translation is poor.

If you haven't signed anything, which I believe to be the case, they have to pay you anyway. In case you have to take legal measures, DO NOT ERASE any e-mail from the agency, ESPECIALLY the ones in which you settled the conditions and those in which they expressed their satisfaction with your job.

Do not forget to rate the agency in the BlueBoard. Since I am Spanish too, I know there are a couple of agencies famous for their reluctancy to pay, and it is better to know about them beforehand. And keep us posted. We will be delighted to hear about a happy end to this situation.

Good luck!

Maria


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Aida González del Álamo
Spain
Local time: 20:50
Member (2004)
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
True, maybe I should think first then react. Jan 20, 2004

Yesterday I was in such despair I could not think properly. That is why I wrote my problem in the forum, so others could help me with their experience, as I do not want to do something wrong. At first the agency was very scarce with the information, and that made me suspicious. But you are right I should wait, now they have written a new e-mail and I feel a bit better. Maybe it will all end up well in the end. I will certainly let you know. I will keep my fingers crossed, But thanks to everyone for their advice, it has been very helpful and now I do not feel alone at all. Thanks to all of you a lot.
Paul Roigé wrote:

Aida, in my experience most translation agencies are honest and professional. They hate these situations as much as we do and respect their translators, they depend on them. You must make sure the agency is on your side from the outset. It's all in the "feel", you instantly know it by the way they communicate with you. Otherwise it's best to pass, and even more when the first job is huge, you've never worked for them before, there's no PO and they want you to do zillions of words in half the time without even having the (professional) detail to send you a downpayment. That does not look good I'm afraid, and, if it all goes to pot, you'll always be on the receiving end.
But be strong and give them the benefit of the doubt. You must be paid for that job, since it was proofread and accepted and were happy. The agency must also be paid by the client, but that's their business, they're the middle (wo)man and must accept all the consequences as the professionals they are.
One for the agency: a client refuse to pay for a large project I did through this agency. 50% of the translation was bad, the client said. The agency pressed the guy hard and found out that in fact what happened is that the guy handed the job to his secretary but did not specify to her what he wanted translated (he actually wanted half of the manual). It took them 12 months to pay, but paid up to the last cent. That because the agency took responsibility. And I never doubted them, I always knew they were cool. I'm explaining this just to show that the unexpected does happen when you least expect it.
Make sure, the agency must be on your side. If you don't feel this and they don't put up, then it's either sueing if possible and/or Blue Board. The client must specify what s/he's not happy with too, and getting this information is also the agency's job.
Don't despair just yet. Fight for your rights. It's between you and the agency.
Ánimo y al toro
P


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Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:50
German to English
+ ...
If you have a colleague you can ask, get him or her to read over the job Jan 20, 2004

As everyone says, a client is obliged to send a translation back for revision should they have any complaints - this applies to all service contracts (at least this is the case in Germany). In Germany, where I am based, there is even a certain legal deadline for this and, if the client has failed to send the translation back within this period, he has officially accepted it and is thus obliged to pay the amount due in full.

I have had this problem before - the client was trying to find a reason not to pay and I knew my translation was O.K. Like you too, I was really worried, but I took another look at the translation and found it to be O.K. Then, I asked a good colleague of mine to take a look at it and write an appraisal for it, which he did (and which I am very grateful for). This was then sent to the agency and to the end client.

The client can't just complain and not justify his complaint, but it is difficult to comment on your own work (because you're not really going to be impartial). That is why it is a good idea to get a third party involved (who is likely to be on your side, should the complaint be unjustified). After all, I hardly think a colleague is going to put his or her reputation at stake by saying a translation is O.K. when it isn't.

It's annoying that there are so many customers out there like that. The other problem is that translation can at times be very subjective. My problem was that my work was sent by the customer to be proofread a second time. The proofreader, being paid a fee, felt obliged to change things, which were mostly stylistic (as everyone has their own style). However, changing style doesn't mean that the original translation was wrong, as everyone has their own style.

I realise that the agency got your translation proofread and the proofreader found it O.K., but maybe it is nonetheless worth asking a colleague so that you can have an offiical appraisal produced (official appraisals and quoting of legal paragraphs worked very well for me in this case).

On a final note, if you choose to get the debt collectors on to these people (I guess it would be the agency and not the end client you're collecting the money from), try and check the agency's solubility (ability to pay) if you don't already know this, because there is nothing worse that paying out all the legal costs, the court saying you're right and then being told that you will never see the money because the client doesn't have it and there is insufficient property to be pawned off.

Good luck!

Sarah


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