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When an agency decides not to pay...
Thread poster: Cindy Agazzi

Cindy Agazzi
Canada
Local time: 07:05
English to Italian
+ ...
May 29, 2009

... there is really nothing you can do... They get the job done and then they tell you that the quality was poor and therefore your job won't be paid... this is really lame...

 

xxxPeter Manda
Local time: 08:05
German to English
+ ...
there is "stuff" you can do May 29, 2009

you can make an appropriate entry on Proz to warn your colleagues. To avoid the proz censors, just enter a "4" or "5" and make your entry like this "..."

you can also file a criminal complaint with your local police authority for conversion of services. That will likely not result in any payment of funds, but it will act as a flag on the agency and will prevent them from traveling to your country, or if they are located in your country, it provides you with an effective remedy in court.

you can also file a civil complaint for non-payment. you can do this in your own jurisdiction and then have the court provide service. In Europe you can recover your costs; but you also have cross-European small claims procedures. In certain intransigent cases, where the agency or translator is completely rude and offensive, it pays to continue the process through collection.

don't let anyone bully you out of your services. You are entitled to payment for your work and payment on a timely basis. Agencies also have remedies for poor work or for late work; to be fair in cases where I have failed to deliver on time or where I know my work was actually poor I have discounted the invoice or have cancelled my request for payment. This happened when I almost lost my wife at the time of her accident last year and when I was studying for exams in school and couldn't deliver.

Making these sacrifices hurts financially, of course; but I sleep better at night knowing that I am balanced in my billing approach. I treat those whom I have given work fairly, I respect the agencies who work with me fairly, and I expect fair treatment in return. That is my business philosopy - a seal of trust and reliability.


 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:05
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Write a detailed Blue Board entry May 29, 2009

Peter (Dutz) Manda wrote:
you can make an appropriate entry on Proz to warn your colleagues. To avoid the proz censors, just enter a "4" or "5" and make your entry like this "..."


Hi Peter,

Warning colleagues through the Blue Board is certainly the way to go -- but if I wonder how many of them would guess there was a problem if they saw a 4 or a 5 without a detailed comment. Sure you id not want to write a 1 or a 2?

Site rules and the FAQ give sufficient guidance on what is allowed in Blue Board comments. In my experience, it is not at all difficult to comply with these rules and give detailed information on why you would not want to work again with an outsourcer. Such a detailed feedback is, in my experience, is very valuable to others; it is much more informative than the LWA average. Also, take a good look at their Blue Board record, and consider contacting those translators who have already worked for this outsourcer.

Cindy, I would advise you to search the forums and the article knowledgebase for relevant information – there is plenty. And in many cases the first steps – even posting a negative feedback on the Blue Board – can solve the problems.

Kind regards,
Attila


 

Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 14:05
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
"this is really lame..." May 29, 2009

Cindy Mayo wrote:

... there is really nothing you can do... They get the job done and then they tell you that the quality was poor and therefore your job won't be paid... this is really lame...


Maybe it's really lame, but you don't need to freeze. The agency (asssuming they are honest about it) should provide the factual information. They could (objectively speaking)
i) be completely right
ii) be completely wrong
iii) be both right and wrong

Assuming they play a fair game, it could turn out to be iii) . In this case (talking from my own experience) it helps to see the revenue lost (to be agreed upon of course) as the learning expense - like in "I'll never ever split the infinitives again" or "from now on, I'll always spellchek twice".

However, if the agency does not play a fair game ... oh well... it's the learning money a again. In this case, it pays for realiying, that you will "never ever work for this kind of an agency again". Admittedly , this is a tough lesson. And unpractical too: tit-for-tat maybe a good strategy, but it takes a tit from the agency first, before you get a chance for a tat.

Regards and I wish you all the best. Believe me, it all sounds sooo familiar to me.


Vito


 

xxxPeter Manda
Local time: 08:05
German to English
+ ...
making a 1 or 2 entry May 29, 2009

Hi Attila.

I have tried making 1 or 2 entries on Proz and they are consistently rejected. The moderators, in my case at least, always take the side of the agency and demand documentary evidence.

I think there are many other freelancers who have had the same obstructionist experience, and the code for "really shitty agency" = "..." without any further comment. I think most freelancers when they see "..." understand that something went seriously wrong and that they should tread the waters carefully.

Thank you for your encouragement, of course. In matters of right and wrong, brightness and darkness - in the world of proz - agencies who harass their freelancers and refuse to pay, win.

Sincerely,


 

xxxPeter Manda
Local time: 08:05
German to English
+ ...
tit for tat May 29, 2009

I agree with Vito. Never start a tit for tat.

But when someone does, tit for tat is the right approach; until the other side makes a concession - if not, file a claim.

All best.


 

Tom Ellett  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:05
Swedish to English
+ ...
Bypass the agency and approach the end client May 29, 2009

If the identity of the end client was apparent from the text, you could try contacting them direct and pointing out that, until you are paid, any use of your translation amounts to a breach of your copyright.

I've never had to do this personally, but I've heard of colleagues for whom this approach has worked.

If you don't already, I would state in your terms of business that copyright in the translation remains with you until you are paid. I would also require a down payment of at least 50% (100% if there's anything "iffy" about the client, or if the total is less than $100) from all first-time clients.

Good luck!

----------
Tom Ellett, C.Tran. (Canada)
Alba Scandinavia Translations
www.albascan.com
tomellett.blogspot.com


 

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:05
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Cindy has mentioned that they said the "quality" was poor May 29, 2009

Of course, it does not at all currently matter whether - in reality - there is even a single mistake in the translation or not. If the outsourcer makes a complaint about the "quality" (as vaguely as he or she wishes, and without providing substantiation), a Blue Board entry is not allowed. Where does this leave the translator?

It is not beyond the bounds of possibility for an agency to "complain" simply in order not to have to pay the translator, while retaining the advantage of not receiving an adverse Blue Board entry either. The chance of this being the case is increased if the agency agrees to pay the translator the same or almost the same as it is charging the end client. That is not entirely unheard of either.

For this reason, I would personally like to see a system set up where each individual case of this kind can be investigated. For example, perhaps Certified Pros could review the translator's work if this happens, as arbiters, and arrive at a decision whether or not the agency has to pay for the work, and, if so, whether fully or partially (naming a percentage in the latter case). Agencies could be bound in some way to accept the decision if they wish to be allowed to advertise jobs on Proz.com. Without such a system translators will always be at risk from unscrupulous agencies.


 

xxxPeter Manda
Local time: 08:05
German to English
+ ...
Proz Arbitration Panel May 29, 2009

I second Astrid's brilliant idea.

That would elevate proz to a higher level and create an enforcement standard and bring a level of objectivity and certainty to the jobs that are offered through proz. The uncertain guess of "if I accept this job, will I be dickered" will disappear - and that certainty in itself will provide for better translations and enhance Proz's reputation in the long run.


 

Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:05
French to English
I would be willing to donate some time as a reviewer May 30, 2009

If the details can be worked out. In the meantime, you have the right to ask the company for a complete accounting of the alleged "quality issues" if they are really using this as a basis to refuse to pay.
P.S. if you go for the ... Blueboard entry, put a 3. I think that should get by ok, but it will bring down the rating enough to affect the company. I only look at detailed entries if the rating is less than 5.

[Edited at 2009-05-30 01:26 GMT]


 

Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:05
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Undocumented editing... (again) May 30, 2009

As long as we are the only industry in our galaxy which accepts undocumented reviews, these things will just happen. No other industry accepts reviewers who do not document their work. None.

Undocumented review = Unprofessional review, because without documentation the editor can't prove that they worked.

Who edits the editor?

Not even highschool teachers accept undocumented essays. Only the translation industry accepts and implements pre-kindergarten work processes.

I just can't believe that there are so many people in here who don't even think about this, or who talk about "professionalism" when everything is completely unsupported and undocumented. The funny thing? Nobody outside of this industry knows what's going on. I wonder if the issue of completely unsupported work is something that CNN would be interested in... or "60 minutes"... or the ISO board which seems to be clueless on the issue. The question is "Who edits the editor?". How can anyone support a claim such as "poor quality" or even "great quality" without documentation and proof?

Just send a letter to Boeing telling them "your airplanes are not good but I'm not telling you why". They will think that you' re paranoid or a 5 year old kid. Then tell them that this is actually the way we work in the translation industry...icon_smile.gificon_smile.gificon_smile.gif


 

Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:05
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Abusing the site May 30, 2009

Peter (Dutz) Manda wrote:

I have tried making 1 or 2 entries on Proz and they are consistently rejected. The moderators, in my case at least, always take the side of the agency and demand documentary evidence.

I think there are many other freelancers who have had the same obstructionist experience, and the code for "really shitty agency" = "..." without any further comment. I think most freelancers when they see "..." understand that something went seriously wrong and that they should tread the waters carefully.


I think that most freelancer, when they see a rating of 4 or 5 followed by "..." will not understand at all that "..." was supposed to mean "real shitty agency".

I also think that by giving a high numeric rating to an agency you think poorly of, you are actually helping them getting a better overall rating, since many translators will just see a high average rating, be content with that, and be unaware that they were supposed to average the legitimate ratings with the mysterious "...".



[Edited at 2009-05-31 16:59 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:05
French to German
+ ...
The "crisis thinking" May 30, 2009

My opinion is that (see some posts before mine) our industry goes by "quality standards" no company in their right mind would even dream of.

Furthemore, and with the ongoing "crisis" and its related "everything-going-down-the-drain" mentality, that kind of behaviour will become more and more common practice.

I don't think we need any third party (with the notable exception of a national or international translators' association, together with a lawyer) to solve problems with nonpaying outsourcers.

Laurent K.

PS: just as a side issue, I cannot understand why and how we should rely on any type of service known for its biased way of thinking.

[Edited at 2009-05-30 17:38 GMT]


 

Samuel Hunt  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:05
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
Prior written agreement on procedure for "quality issues" May 30, 2009

While I have had the good fortune never to have been denied payment on account of (real or imaginary) "quality issues," it is a scenario I have frequently played out in my head, largely due to the number of forum postings reporting problems of this kind.

First of all, if the agency has a legitimate "quality issue," it should report the problem in due time, within a week, I would say.
It is a pretty sure sign of foul play if an agency waits until you send a payment reminder to inform you that there were problems with the quality of your translation.
Needless to say, unsubstantiated complaints are also a sign of a scam.

A preventative measure would be to establish a procedure on handling complaints in a prior written agreement with the client. In it, you could establish that complaints do not consitute grounds for non-payment or a price reduction, as long as you are availabe to rectify the complaint in a timely manner. This would help filter out fraudulent claims of low quality. But if the client has a legitimate beef, you would simply revise your translation and move on.
Granted, some agencies may be unwilling to sign such an agreement - which constitutes a good reason not to work with such agencies.

Lastly, if no such agreement has been at all, you will have no reason to give in if an agency decides not to pay you. After all, there will be no contractual basis for a penalty due to low quality. You can thus (rightly) accuse the agency of making up the rules as they go along.

Granted, all of this may be for nought given the hard reality of the situation: a likely response from the agency may be simply not to write back ever again.
That's when it's time to resort to the "usual" course of action: the Blueboard, other payment practice sights, and, if losses are high, perhaps a collection agency or a letter from an attorney threatening legal action.


 
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