Off topic: What to do with non-payers?
Thread poster: Taru81

Taru81
Local time: 18:03
English to Finnish
+ ...
Jun 18, 2009

Hi all,

I recently did couple of projects for an outsourcer and when it came the time to pay he did not send the payment or replied to my emails. I was wondering is there any way I can get my payment or stop this outsourcer doing this to other translators.

I have been lucky enough not to have had any non-payers before, so I would appreciate any advice.

Thanks a mill!

Taru


 

Ahmad Hafeez  Identity Verified
Saudi Arabia
Local time: 20:03
English to Arabic
+ ...
warn then blacklist Jun 18, 2009

Hi Taru81

I think you should warn him firstly that you will blacklist him then inserting his/her name in the board of non-payers outsourcers.

Regards


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:03
Member (2008)
Italian to English
What if... Jun 18, 2009

What if the client is not a registered Proz.com member, but contacted you personally after identifying you at Proz.com? Quite a few clients do this, but there seems to be no come-back if they don't pay. I wonder if they can be banned from ever using Proz again ?

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hm... Jun 18, 2009

Make it look like an accident! That's what to do!

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Add them to BlueBoard Jun 18, 2009

Tom in London wrote:
What if the client is not a registered Proz.com member, but contacted you personally after identifying you at Proz.com? Quite a few clients do this, but there seems to be no come-back if they don't pay. I wonder if they can be banned from ever using Proz again ?


You can add them to the BlueBoard even if they never heard of Proz.com. Proz.com's moderators add them as long as you have an address and phone number.


 

The Misha
Local time: 13:03
Russian to English
+ ...
Shoot them, what else? Jun 18, 2009

Only half-kidding

 

Roberto Cavalcanti  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:03
English to Portuguese
Some options Jun 18, 2009

Contact a collecting service in the country of the client to get your money.
Make a comment in the Blueboard if they are listed and post comments in other translator's sites.
Finally subscribe to bad payers e-mail lists like PP-payment practices or WPPF and post them there.


 

Hellmut Kohlsdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:03
German to Spanish
+ ...
What if the non-payer threatens you with his lawyer? Jun 18, 2009

I have run into one customer that during the first 2 weeks after delivering the translation did not contact me at all. Then he contacted me asking to sign a document where I had to commit to have another party review my translations at my expense. The contact person of this agency said this was a prerequisite to be paid for the translation I had delivered. I obviously had to refuse to sign this document. Than 2 days later I was asked to send the TM of the service delivered. Because I was already not "amused" about the document they wanted me to sign I said that of course I was willing to take this job and asked him to send me a PO for 1 hour work. You must know that there was nothing said about delivering TMs so I used my generic TM. So generating a TM specifically for that project would mean some work!
Next thing I heard was a letter telling me that my translation was awful, that they would charge me for the costs they had incurred due to the bad quality of my translation and that they were planning to sue me!
Now this is a German agency so I did contact them and told them that of course, as it was their right by German law, I was willing to do any work required to fix whatever was bad with my translation! Now the lawyer did contact me telling me that the contract we had was of a kind were this does not apply. So I gave him a call to try to find a solution. Basically what he said tom was that the statement he had made was the last input he would give me without charging me for consulting services!
Now, I am a person who believes that it is better not throwing good money and stress on lost causes. So I decided not to issue an invoice and in consequence we had no contract, by German law, he had changed the condition of our contract from his side by requesting to sign that document. By not invoicing him no contract has come into effect because I did not accept the new proposal and in consequence he could not sue me.
And so far I have not been sued1
Why I am telling this long story? The agency is, this being my personal opinion, dangerous for a freelancer who cannot cope with the financial burden of a law suit. May be some other translator has run into the same trap and wishes to share his experience. But even more important, I want to point out that this kind of customer makes it too risky for a freelancer to report the agency. Does anybody have a clue how freelancers can protect themselves from agencies like this one? The reporting is not an option. We would need something like an institution that acts on our behalf.
If this kind of strategy gets more adopters it can be very much to the detriment of all of us freelancers!


 

Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:03
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Another joke Jun 18, 2009

"What if the non-payer threatens you with his lawyer?"

They' re just bullying you because you' re a small potatoe.

Personally, I'm a translator and I am very and fully capable of not only responding to a lawsuit, but also counter sueing with very expensive lawyers.

On the other hand, they must prove that your translation was bad. A purely subjective issue.

Then they have to prove that they actually suffered damages (meaning that they have to bring their own client to court to testify under oath).

You see... in reality, they can't do anything.

Why don't you send me a personal email, with the phone number of that agency and I'll call them and make sure you get at least a part of your money... I haven't exercised lately, and a little german agency looks like a good punching bag.




[Edited at 2009-06-18 21:47 GMT]


 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 18:03
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
My solution Jun 18, 2009

What to do with non-payers?


I would be inclined to kill them all and let God sort them out. If they survive, then send in the lawyers.

I'm surprised that E. didn't bring up his favorite subject of documented reviews. It's most likely relevant here. And by all means - issue the invoice.

************

Edited to fixed tired, sloppy typing

[Edited at 2009-06-18 23:03 GMT]


 

Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:03
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
It's a shame, isn't it... Jun 19, 2009

"I'm surprised that E. didn't bring up his favorite subject of documented reviews."

They wouldn't understand, although it's the only solution for any kind of standard in this business.
In "helmut's" case, if that agency brought the case to court, they would have to prove that the translation was very bad, and they would have to prove that they suffered damages (end client must testify), and then they would also have to prove that they were completely relying on the translator (which is not the case by the nature of the transaction itself). Therefore, they have no case in court. They' re just telling him lies, because they know he's a young guy without "power" in the market, and they' re bullying him around.

The other thing is that many agency contracts out there are non-enforceable (they contradict the relationship itself, and sometimes even the law - any court would have thrown them out the window).

Nevertheless, it's a petty behavior for small (tiny) companies to bully the kids like that. Shame.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:03
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Some general principles Jun 19, 2009

hellmut1956 wrote:
I have run into one customer that during the first 2 weeks after delivering the translation did not contact me at all. Then he contacted me asking to sign a document where I had to commit to have another party review my translations at my expense.


I am not a lawyer, but I often translate agreements written by them. In many of these there is something about the "stronger" party having the "weaker' party's accounts audited by a third party, professionally qualified to do it. The usual setup is that if errors add up to more than 5% of the amount involved, the weaker party will pay for the auditing costs (on top of getting everything straightened out, of course).

It's a matter of a translator standing by their guns. If s/he has good grounds to believe that their work is good, they'll take the bet. If not, quite frankly, they'd better improve, or drop translation as a profession altogether.

Then there is the agency's outlook. Is the agency after squeezing a bargain from a translator who is rather low on self-esteem? Or are they trying to offer the best cost/benefit to their end-clients?

hellmut1956 wrote:
Next thing I heard was a letter telling me that my translation was awful, that they would charge me for the costs they had incurred due to the bad quality of my translation and that they were planning to sue me!


I have 'fixed' some pretty ghastly translations. None of yours for sure, Helmut, because I don't know squat auf Deutsch. However in these cases, I deliver a clean file, as well as a file with the track changes on, which the agency can show the perp who did it, if they want to argue about anything.

hellmut1956 wrote:
Now this is a German agency so I did contact them and told them that of course, as it was their right by German law, I was willing to do any work required to fix whatever was bad with my translation!


That's the proper way to handle it even where the German laws don't reach. I've had cases where one client or another wanted the translation improved in some specific and sensible way. I always complied with such requests, as they usually involve additional freedom to detach from the original text, at no extra charge.

Finally, I'm almost sure that this agency of yours is one that always asks their translators about their 'best rates'. I reverse the game. I have my standard rate, which will ensure they get my best service!


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:03
French to German
+ ...
Germany may be an "exception" Jun 19, 2009

Although this discussion is not really about the case mentioned by hellmut1956, I'd like to point to the fact that lawsuits in Germany can be launched for the most futile motives and end with the most improbable results - (serious and less serious) magazines and newspapers are full of these. To a certain degree, this mentality is worse than in the U.S. of America.

So it may be a standard reply of people fearing for their position and thus thinking that "the best defence is attack".

I second Kevin's advice at any rate:
Kevin Lossner wrote:
I would be inclined to kill them all and let God sort them out. If they survive, then send in the lawyers.


That is, if there's anything left for lawyers to dispute about!

Laurent K.

@hellmut1956: the French SFT offers a good legal service. Does the BDÜ not??

[Edited at 2009-06-19 06:23 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
More than enough for a negative BlueBoard Jun 19, 2009

hellmut1956 wrote:
Now, I am a person who believes that it is better not throwing good money and stress on lost causes. So I decided not to issue an invoice and in consequence we had no contract, by German law, he had changed the condition of our contract from his side by requesting to sign that document. By not invoicing him no contract has come into effect because I did not accept the new proposal and in consequence he could not sue me.
And so far I have not been sued.


Don't you guys think that this agency is a good candidate for a negative BlueBoard? Even if the translation was in a bad shape and needed edits, don't you think all this suing menace is enough to post a warning in the BlueBoard for other translators to take into account?


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:03
French to German
+ ...
Blackmailing? Jun 19, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Don't you guys think that this agency is a good candidate for a negative BlueBoard? Even if the translation was in a bad shape and needed edits, don't you think all this suing menace is enough to post a warning in the BlueBoard for other translators to take into account?


A suing threat can be seen as blackmailing, I guessicon_wink.gif.

Laurent K.


 


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