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Another spanish agency unwilling to pay
Thread poster: Cilan
Cilan
Local time: 12:04
German to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 19, 2009

Dear colleagues,

to cut a long story short: I am based in Germany and provided services here in Germany as an Interpreter to a client via a Spanish Agency that incidentally has been already banned from PROZ (guess why?) but unfortunately I learned this too late - actually this is how I first found out about PROZ...
Anyways, the point is that these people are now waaaaaaaay overdue paying my invoice (deadline has been September 20 (this year! ) but in spite of everything they are simply not paying.

What annoys me most is the fact that they won’t even shy away from lying, stating for instance (at the beginning of this month!) that the payment has been made to my account, but still there is no money. That was the last I heard of them, but now I’ve decided to take other type of actions.

I have inquired with a German attorney, and he is saying that the most he can do is send a letter. The downside being that if they still don’t pay, I have to cover their fee nonetheless.
I was reading a bit throughout the forums and my spirits are nearly down to beaten because even colleagues in Spain are often having a hard time collecting their fees, and the “proceso monitorio europeo” does sound good on paper, but in reality it seems something rather uncertain as far as success is concerned. My attorney at least hinted as much, stating that it was rather hopeless.

What do you think: what are my options, and, more importantly, what are my chances to get my payment?
Do I really have to forget about my fees? We’re talking about just over two thousand Euros…:cry:
Somebody please help.


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Miguel Garcia Lopez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:04
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
Proceso monitorio Nov 19, 2009

Hi Cilan,

Try to google "Proceso Monitorio" in English. It is the judicial procedure you can start immediately without need of an attorney. This procedure is to claim debts less than 60000 €.

Good luck !


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michelelemieux  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:04
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
Posts are your best retaliation Nov 19, 2009

Cilan,

I had problems years ago with an Indian agency. They never did pay me the $600US dollars they owed me. I went to as many translator groups I could to tell them what happened. We can at least help each other out. I never slammed them, just explained what happened.

Unfortunately that will not give you your money. Something I finally did is directly contact the agency's client. You have to be very careful in doing that, you must think about if it is your only solution. And if you signed a confidentiality agreement, you may not have that option. But when I contacted them, I was lucky that I still had some work to deliver and I told the agency that I was sorry their project was running late, it was not my work ethics, but the translation was done and I was not delivering to the agency until they paid the last part of the work for this same book I was translating. We had agreed they would pay per chapter. They were over 120 days late. As a consequence, I started working with the client directly.

Good luck!

Michele


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:04
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
EU's Small Claims Nov 19, 2009

I would advise you to forget about hiring an attorney in Spain as it will already mean losing half of your money. My best bet is the EU's Small Claims procedure, for amounts of up to 2,000.

As part of the procedure requires action from Spanish courts, and given our old-and-sick-snail-paced justice, it's best if you think of this as a matter of 18-24 months. If you are lucky you will see your money. I know this does not sound very reassuring, but living with false expectations with Spanish courts can be bad for your nerves, a truth I have learnt from direct experiences!

And of course a nice BlueBoard entry about them. And also all the noise you can make about this everywhere (except in Proz.com, where you are not allowed to mention the company's name directly), just to reduce the chances that other translators fall in the trap.

Good luck!


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Cilan
Local time: 12:04
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your comments Nov 19, 2009

But I already now of the "proceso monitorio europeo" aka "EU's small claims" aka Europäisches Mahnverfahren. As I said: the very lawyer I consulted told me in so many words that it won't work, better forget about it when looking at the costs and the time involved... Basically I got cheated and burned quite well and thats about it. No use griping when the agency can live perfectly happy and untouchable even if the very end client is totally aware of its "problematic" payment morality. Guess there's always a first time, since it never happened to me in over a decade of work experience as a freelancer in Mexico (of all countries... jejeje)

BTW: does anyone really believe they give a damn if I bash them at the Blueboard? They are already BANNED!!!

PD: I accepted the job because they said that the end client was a large company I know very well; it turned out the end client was a supplier for the large company, but I still felt safe enough - of course I told them after a while (and as a last recourse), but unfortunately they don't seem to be too concerned about my predicament either...

Right now I'm torn between giving my german attorney a shot or try the infamous small claims procedure... The attorney stated that I am entitled to recover any expenses from them, saying it was part of the - I can't think of the legal term in English right now - Verzugsschaden...

[Edited at 2009-11-20 13:59 GMT]


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Doron Greenspan MITI  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 13:04
Member (2005)
English to Hebrew
+ ...
The direct approach Nov 19, 2009

Dear Cilan,

Apart from all the legal action, which from what I see here won't get you anywhere soon, if I were you I'd take a more direct approach.

It does offend me real bad when I'm cheated, as the last guy who did that to me (in Israel) learnt after I made his life hell with repeating phone calls and one near-meeting (he paid in full when threatened with a law suite, so luckily I didn't have to meet him in person).

Why don't you call them, again and again, trying to be nice yet assertive first, then moving over to more direct threats about exposure/legal action?

This direct approach, although tough on you, may show them that there's a real person on the other side of their unkind act, and that that person is very angry.

If nothing, it will give you a channel into which you can vent some of your anger and frustration.

Just don't overdo it!

Good luck, Doron


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:04
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Risky business Nov 20, 2009

I do not understand why people accept work from strangers over the internet, especially those who are in other countries.

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Anna Haxen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:04
Member (2005)
English to Danish
+ ...
Now, now ... Nov 20, 2009

If I never accepted work over the internet from people in other countries, I would have to give up earning half a living translating.

Almost all of my clients pay on time, and I have always managed to get paid in the end by the rest by bombarding them with polite but increasingly insistent emails.

The worst case - the one I described recently in this forum - finally coughed up the money this week after I suggested that I owed it to their end clients to inform them of the problem.

So keep pestering them. Email them at increasingly short intervals and gradually raise your level of insistence without being abusive. Stay cool and professional.

By the way, it seems that you have actually met the end client - have you informed him/her, or suggested that you might?

Correction: Sorry. I was wrong. The agency I mentioned hasn't paid yet. It was an almost identical amount from another agency, which I had forgotten was due this week. So the pestering must continue ...

[Edited at 2009-11-20 22:07 GMT]


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Christopher Fitzsimons
Switzerland
Local time: 12:04
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Persevere Nov 20, 2009

Anna Haxen wrote:
Email them at increasingly short intervals and gradually raise your level of insistence without being abusive. Stay cool and professional.


I had a similar experience with a Portuguese agency. I found that e-mailing everyday for about a month did nothing. I was getting messages back insisting that the money had been paid when it quite clearly hadn't. As a last resort I went to the offices of the agency. They lied to my face the first time telling me that the invoices had been paid. Two days later I returned and calmly but firmly demanded proof of payment. In fact, I refused to leave until I had proof that my overdue invoices had been settled. Suddenly all of the excuses (the vendor manager is on holiday, we can't reach the general manager today, the accounting department is busy.... etc) evaporated and the payment was made there and then.

I recommend that you are firm and persistent but professional. Request proof of payment. If e-mails don't work, phone. Leave a Blue Board entry, report the agency to any professional organisations of which you are a member and let the agency know this. Don't threaten them but equally make sure they are aware of how far you are willing to take this. If necessary resort to legal action against them. I think that one of the most important things to do in this situation is to make fellow translators aware of this company and make sure that this doesn't happen to anyone else. Also, make sure that the agency knows that you are informing colleagues of their bad payment practises. And certainly, contact the client, unless you are legally prevented from doing so. After all, without translators and without clients, agencies are nothing.
Good luck in getting paid for your hard work.


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Christopher Fitzsimons
Switzerland
Local time: 12:04
Portuguese to English
+ ...
a real person Nov 20, 2009

Doron Greenspan MITI wrote:
This direct approach, although tough on you, may show them that there's a real person on the other side of their unkind act, and that that person is very angry.


I agree 100% with Doron- I think that this is key. In my experience, once human emotion became involved and the agency witnessed my frustration in person they paid up.

Best of luck.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Don't let it drop Nov 20, 2009

Hello,

I'm afraid I don't have anything helpful to add that hasn't already been mentioned. But I see you stand to lose over 2,000 euros - that's not peanuts!

I would imagine it's worth while throwing a little good money after this debt. AS LONG AS you're sure this company is still trading and solvent, then I urge you to fight them for their money. Even if fees mean that you only end up with 1,000 in your pocket, there will be a great sense of satisfaction at having rubbed their noses in their disgraceful behaviour - I speak from experience here


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:04
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dual action: legal procedure and pestering them until they pay Nov 20, 2009

Cilan wrote:
Right now I'm torn between giving my german attorney a shot or try the infamous small claims procedure... The attorney stated that I am entitled to recover any expenses from them, saying it was part of the - I can't think of the legal term in English right now - Verzugsschaden...

Of course. Lawyers don't like the small claims procedure at all because it cuts the money they can make with the whole process. I am waiting to recover my money after I was cheated by a local firm (not a translation firm, just someone who sold me a tractor he did not own and was not authorised to sell) and it was really hard to ask my lawyer to make a monitorio.

All in all, and if you are generally OK financially with other customers and jobs and don't need the money to feed yourself and your family, I would go for the monitorio so that you don't have to pay a penny and let it advance (it will advance very slowly, that you know already) to its maximum consequences. If you don't get paid, at least you will not have paid an attorney on top.

However, I also think that calling them and insisting time and time again that you get paid might work while the legal action is moving.


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
Threats and promises Nov 20, 2009

Anna Haxan was able to bring pressure from Greenland on a Spanish agency by threatening to contact the end client (see above). You may have already contacted the end client - but have you threatened to contact the end client?

The end client may not be too bothered, but have you told them that they are breaching your copyright if they publish your translation. Perhaps you could threaten them with legal action too!

Another approach would be to tell the agency that you will be visiting their offices on such and such a day and have no intention of leaving without full payment in cash.

Remember - the noisest squeak gets oiled first.


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Cilan
Local time: 12:04
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Double cutting edge - always the best! ;-) Nov 20, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
Dual action: legal procedure and pestering them until they pay


Thanks Tomas, will do! It seems that I hit a nerve with them precisely today when I told them that they are to expect a "requerimiento europeo de pago" these days. They immediately wrote back to say that the transfer was made starting the second week of November, and would I please check the data (why not over a week ago, when I politely asked them about precisely that?), and guess what? The data was wrong, mea culpa, but they could and should have answered my inquiry, didn't they?... Now let's wait some more, until this gets straightened out... *sigh*

I swear, the day I will finally get my money I'm gonna feel like it's my birthday.

BTW: I really thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for her/his advice, but please DO take some time to read my postings! We are NOT talking about a TRANSLATION, for instance, and I am based in Germany, while they have their office in Spain - kind of hard to just drop by...

[Edited at 2009-11-20 16:52 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:04
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A public record of bad payment practices Nov 20, 2009

Cilan wrote:
Thanks Tomas, will do! It seems that I hit a nerve with them precisely today when I told them that they are to expect a "requerimiento europeo de pago" these days.

Personally I think that the EU should promote a public record of bad payment practices among companies and public administrations (for instance city councils etc.), in the sense that if you have to resort to a small claims procedure, that fact would be public and seen by everyone.

Furthermore, companies with three successful small claims against them should be banned from contracting with the EU and all authorities of all 27 EU countries for a number of years. That would certainly give a big push against bad payment practices within the EU.


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