Non-payment issues
Thread poster: jbex
jbex  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:01
French to English
+ ...
Sep 24, 2009

Hello,

I recently completed a 20,000 word translation, after receiving a purchase order agreeing to terms of payment, for a translation company in Slovenia, only to be told recently that I will not be paid, because of poor quality. Given that the firm knows of my relatively small experience, and charged a low rate, and that I spent the majority of the week on the project, I feel this is an unfair situation and want to know if I have any recourse. I am in the US, but lived in Slovenia and have colleagues(some of which are lawyers) who are still living there. I saw that there is an EU regulation on this but do not know if it would apply in this case. Any advice would be welcome.


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:01
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Good luck Sep 24, 2009

Hi jbex.

First of all, you might use this as a learning experience.

I see a lot wrong with this situation. I know it is tough breaking into the field. You are going to have to take some hits as you establish yourself.

Of course, you should ask the customer to provide you with justification of his complaints. Your marked up translation should be provided.

I'm not sure how the legal system works in Slovenia. My guess is you won't get too far that way. Any Slovenians out there with advice?


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:01
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
First establish whether their complaint is valid Sep 24, 2009

Yes, the first thing to do is give them a chance to show you whether there is any validity to their claims. In the future, you might consider smaller projects to start off on. 20000 words in a week is a stretch to provide with any level of quality, even for an experienced translator (unless you are using a CAT tool and there are a lot of repetitions).
Are they on the Blue Board? If so, you can consider leaving appropriate feedback for them. Also, think about limiting your foreign agency exposure to those who have solid, extensive BB ratings. Not that that's a guarantee of anything, but it's certainly better than having nothing to go on.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:01
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
More info would help assess the situation Sep 24, 2009

Did the agency give you an opportunity to correct your errors?

How long after receipt did they tell you it wasn't up to standard? Was it past the normal payment due date?

Did you deliver the job in one go, or in stages? If in stages, how long was it between receipt of the first part and their refusal to pay?

Answers to these questions won't change the situation, but it may help more experienced translators to assess whether this is an unfortunate beginner's experience or a company trying to do you out of your payment.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:01
French to German
+ ...
Undocumented issues... Sep 24, 2009

Rudolf Vedo wrote:

Yes, the first thing to do is give them a chance to show you whether there is any validity to their claims.

To agree with Rudolf, undocumented issues are*not issues*! And his hint as per the BB is also useful.
I will not repeat here the posts of a colleague, but simply telling you "This translation does not please me enough to be accepted as such" is definitely *not a way* to deal with quality issues in a professional manner.


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jbex  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:01
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the reply! Sep 24, 2009

Hello Sheila,

I appreciate yours and all the other responses on here, I think I am quickly realizing that the agency is most definitely in the wrong. They did not give me any opportunity to correct errors- I submitted the translation in one go, on the 7th of this month, and was told it was fine. After this, I did not hear back from them until I checked my email yesterday, and there was a message saying that there were so many errors for the proofreaders and that they therefore would not be paying me.
Given the fact that I was sent a Purchase Order at the beginning, prior to accepting the project, I would assume that they are legally bound to pay the stated amount? I would not have accepted a job of that size and with such a time constraint under those conditions otherwise.
It is worth noting, as well, the fact that they knew I was inexperienced and that they offered me the bottom rate. Trying to get it off me for free is, however, enraging. Any help or advice is appreciated,

James




Sheila Wilson wrote:

Did the agency give you an opportunity to correct your errors?

How long after receipt did they tell you it wasn't up to standard? Was it past the normal payment due date?

Did you deliver the job in one go, or in stages? If in stages, how long was it between receipt of the first part and their refusal to pay?

Answers to these questions won't change the situation, but it may help more experienced translators to assess whether this is an unfortunate beginner's experience or a company trying to do you out of your payment.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:01
French to German
+ ...
You may contact me Sep 24, 2009

jbex wrote:

Hello Sheila,

I appreciate yours and all the other responses on here, I think I am quickly realizing that the agency is most definitely in the wrong. They did not give me any opportunity to correct errors- I submitted the translation in one go, on the 7th of this month, and was told it was fine.

or any colleague who has been through that scheme - the answers would be looking surprising to you....


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:01
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Perhaps you will need to negotiate Sep 24, 2009

It really doesn't sound as though they have a right to withhold 100%, particularly as they said it was OK to start with - they shouldn't have then taken a fortnight before saying that it was absolutely useless.

On the other hand, maybe they have a right to reduce their payment. You say:

I spent the majority of the week on the project

which sounds a remarkably short time for an inexperienced translator to spend on a 20,000-word translation. There's a current thread on the French forum which shows that most experienced translators would take longer (note the MOST - I know there are exceptions). Perhaps you would be wise to turn down the high-pressure low-paid jobs in favour of ones that pay a little better per word - then you could spend more time researching and fine-tuning your translation.

Anyway, stand your ground and demand evidence of problems and a right to be paid for the bits that were OK.

(edited for typo)

[Edited at 2009-09-24 21:15 GMT]


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jbex  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:01
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reply to your message Sep 25, 2009

Hello Laurent,

I have given the company a final ultimatum, stating my problems and threatening to expose them to their client and others, if they do not pay me the full amount. Can you please tell me what my legal option would be at this point? I understand that the European Union has a process by which they go about to recover money owed, and that it is fairly straightforward. I will also contact my associates in Slovenia. Please advise,

James





Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

jbex wrote:

Hello Sheila,

I appreciate yours and all the other responses on here, I think I am quickly realizing that the agency is most definitely in the wrong. They did not give me any opportunity to correct errors- I submitted the translation in one go, on the 7th of this month, and was told it was fine.

or any colleague who has been through that scheme - the answers would be looking surprising to you....


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:01
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
EU procedure not for you Sep 25, 2009

jbex wrote:

I understand that the European Union has a process by which they go about to recover money owed, and that it is fairly straightforward.


I'm afraid that process is only for claims within the EU, so it wouldn't help someone resident in the US.

Hope they reply favourably to your letter, otherwise I think you'll have to see a lawyer if you think cost is justified - I know that here in France you can usually have a preliminary consultation for free.

BTW, I'd go a bit easy on threats if I were you, just stand up for your rights. Ultimately, you're really a very small fish to them and unlikely to hurt them much, and it makes you look unprofessional - best not to sink to their level of doing business.

Good luck


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 22:01
Turkish to English
+ ...
MY thoughts Sep 25, 2009

jbex wrote:

Hello,

I recently completed a 20,000 word translation, after receiving a purchase order agreeing to terms of payment, for a translation company in Slovenia, only to be told recently that I will not be paid, because of poor quality. Given that the firm knows of my relatively small experience, and charged a low rate, and that I spent the majority of the week on the project, I feel this is an unfair situation and want to know if I have any recourse. I am in the US, but lived in Slovenia and have colleagues(some of which are lawyers) who are still living there. I saw that there is an EU regulation on this but do not know if it would apply in this case. Any advice would be welcome.



I would respectfully suggest that if you know some lawyers in Slovenia, you consult with them. You have apparently entered into a contractual relationship and fulfilled your obligations by supplying the translation, so they are under an obligation to pay you. However, I do not know what the precise terms as stated on the purchase order were. If there is a clause stipulating that they can withhold payment if the translation does not meet certain quality requirements, then the onus will be on you to prove otherwise. If there is no such clause then in my opinion they have to pay you.


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:01
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
learning experience? Sep 25, 2009

So you have little experience, proposed a low rate and you spend the "majority of the week" on a 20.000 word translation... Even if you where really good 20.000 in less than a week is quite an achievement!
Now the agency claims there are so many errors they do not want to pay you

- let's verify if this is correct first, was the test proofread? Did the agency send you a copy with the first couple of pages corrected by the proofreader?

- the agency should have given you the chance to correct them, but since this was rush project to begin with, I guess their client did not want to wait for your corrections, or there are really a lot of errors and the agency does not think you can provide a correct translation. - this can be a business decision.

So, unless you can provide proof this text is of reasonable quality. (I mean, even if it was a low paid job, the customer would still expect a more or less perfect translation, they send you a PO to do a job - and you accepted it. 20.000 words in under a week.

I think at this point negotiation is your besdt option - you did put in a lot of hours maybe - so request to see the corrected version. If there are a lot of errors I would probably write is off as a learning experience - - you are not ready to accept this sort of work. If there are just a few, you can give them a little discount perhaps.

Lawyers and legal action is probably not even worth it, and they are in Slovenia, which is not really a country known for the success rate of such actions...

===
Ed


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Aymeric de Poyen Bellisle  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 20:01
English to French
+ ...
Threats Sep 25, 2009

Be careful with the threats, they could be taken as slander if you end up having to sue them, and obviously this would not be good for your case.

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