What is one to do when the agency is trying to change the terms of payment?
Thread poster: Suzanne Thygesen (X)

Suzanne Thygesen (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:29
German to English
+ ...
Aug 25, 2009

I have worked 7 months on a public health report for one agency and, now that the job is concluded, the agency is attempting to pay me less than I think is fair. The project involves hundreds of statistical diagrams and tables, which all had to be translated and edited in Word. This meant dealing with countless text boxes that tended to overlap, correcting font sizes and localizing punctuation. The text of none of the diagrams or tables could be accessed-counted by Word's word count function. As part of the project, the author/editor required that the agency send my original translations to an external proofreader for corrections and commentary. Once the proofreader's comments were returned to me, I spent over 100 hours (3 weeks) extensively revising, correcting and proofreading the translations. Two months into the project, I decided to negotiate the rate and asked for 10 eurocents per source word and 20 euros/hr for the second phase of revising, editing and reproofing. The project manager at the time agreed in writing (in an email) to my rates. Once the project was finished, I billed the agency at the aforementioned rates, asking for extra payment for the second round of editing, correcting and proofing as agreed upon with the first of two project managers. The agency is now trying to pay me for only one-third of the extra time invested (that is, the 100 plus hours) and is trying not to pay me anything for the time invested in the illustrations and tables, claiming that it took their graphics expert a week to correct the figures and tables I submitted. Anyone who has worked with non-Word figures in MS Word knows that they are hard to edit and manipulate. They are also claiming that the translation as a whole took twice as long as expected. This is an exaggeration, since they in the first place had an overly optimistic view of what one translation alone could accomplish and because the deadline was exceeded by far less than they claim. At one point as the original deadline approached, they considered bringing another translator on board but the author/editor rejected the idea after consultation because they were very satisfied with the quality of work. The word count base rate is not being questioned by the agency but they are questioning--after the fact--the rate for and the number of hours spent on the extra work, which they now claim was all included in the rate per source word. How am I to deal with such people without becoming emotional and defensive. In my view they are changing the terms of payment after the fact.
Thanks for your comments and suggestions.


South Korea
English to Korean
+ ...
Do you want to work with them again in the future? Aug 25, 2009

If so, you should keep on negotiating with them.

They seem like having enough reasons not to pay you the amount you requested. You have also every reason to be paid for the extra work you've done.

In those cases like yours, most of agency want to re-negotiate the price in question at the end.

You should strain every nerve you can until you obtain the right price for you.

Probably you are so tired of the project which has absorbed your physical and mental energy. But try to get rid of fatigue feeling and look the payment issue alone from different perspective.

Just being more persistent, it will reward you after all.

[Edited at 2009-08-25 12:17 GMT]


Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:29
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
from their point of view... Aug 25, 2009

Do you have a modified PO for this too (or only an email)

Last time I had an "ok" from a project manager I called back to make sure, it surprised me a lot they just accepted a rate which was 40% higher than their usual rate.
(and they replied "oops we did not read this right, please stop the translation")

Email is exactly one of those medias which people do not read corrrectly.

Of course you should get paid for all the work you did and at a reasonable rate, but for such huge projects with all kinds of additional work you should really make clear what is included and what not, supposed they really had a Word Graph wizzard (their little cousin) and they promised him a trip to Disneyland, he would work 24/7 and get it all done in a quarter of the time you spend on it...

=== good luck ===


[Edited at 2009-08-25 13:24 GMT]


Md Abu Alam  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:29
Member (2009)
English to Bengali
+ ...
Negotiation Aug 25, 2009

Situation like this occurs sometimes when both parties have reasons behind their claims. Obviously negotiation is the best process here. Both of you need to reach a win-win situation. Try to convey them the message that you are agreed to move from your position, but they also should do the same to reach a suitable position.


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What is one to do when the agency is trying to change the terms of payment?

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