A German client does not want to pay for the translation
Thread poster: Oleg Golyubin

Oleg Golyubin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 13:07
English to Russian
+ ...
Nov 20, 2009

I have a German client. I have made a translation from English into German. I was to get 130 Euro for 12 pages of the translation. The translation had small defects and the customer in Germany hired an editor for 315 Euro. And the client refused to pay me at all because of my extremely bad translation though it is not so. I reviewed the editor's correction and found that corrections were not radical in the text. So, I suppose that here is no reason for non-payment.

I want to ask everybody in this forum. On what sites can I post information about this client mentioning the name of his company so that he pays the money to me at first and so that all the other translators could know about his dishonest behaviour?
Is it possible to put the information about the client on ProZ if he is not a member of this community?


Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:07
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why such different rates Nov 20, 2009

Do you now why the client would pay you 120 and the editor 315?

Normally the translator gets more than the reviewer not the other way around.

Why does the client say they don't want to pay? Do they also think the editor's changes were "not radical"?

Regarding your question about where to post about them if the have a profile in Proz you can do give them a score and make a comment in their LWA section.


Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Dutch to German
+ ...
Somewhat fishy Nov 20, 2009

AFAIK, also non-paying users can post a Blueboard entry, in which problems of that kind can be stated. However, the Blueboard is not meant as an instrument to force a client to pay, it just indicates your willingness (or non-willingness) to work with this client again.

There are other means/forms to post a similar message, but mentioning them here would be against site rules. Google will do the job.

I am sorry for what happened to you. In some way, your story sounds strange indeed. No sensible person would hire an editor for more than double the amount of the original translation (but please allow me to mention that 12 pages for 130 EUR is most probably far below the usual German rates).


Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
English to Italian
+ ...
Non-paying clients Nov 20, 2009


I have a couple of general remarks about your story.

First thing, in order to avoid problems with clients, it is always better to only translate in your mother-tongue, which I assume is Russian, unless you are really bilingual (and this is rare.)

Second thing, as somebody already pointed out, 130 Euros for 12 pages of translation is a pretty low rate. My experience is that clients who offer low rates then will also find every good excuse to not pay at all. A low rate is about the same than nothing, so they'll go for it.

This does not mean I am blaming it all on you, this is just what I concluded from my past experience as a translator.


Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Dutch to German
+ ...
The native speaker issue... Nov 20, 2009

Giuseppina Gatta, MA wrote:

First thing, in order to avoid problems with clients, it is always better to only translate in your mother-tongue, which I assume is Russian, unless you are really bilingual (and this is rare.)

Did not pay attention to this, but this is certainly a valid point. I have a strong feeling that you should not have done this translation in the first place. On the other hand, the agency must have known what they are getting into when hiring a non-native speaker to do the job. What their motives are probably remains in the dark.

Want my advice? Forget about the money and learn from it for the future.

[Bearbeitet am 2009-11-20 22:47 GMT]


Anne Bohy  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:07
English to French
Do you really translate into Russian, French, English and German? Nov 20, 2009

I see from your Proz profile that Russian is your native language. You advertize five working pairs in Proz, and yet accept work in another oneicon_wink.gif
I do understand that you make some mistakes when you translate into German, mistakes which do not seem very important to you, as you're not a native speaker. However, be aware that many tiny mistakes are considered major errors by native speakers (these errors that you learn to avoid in primary school).
I would encourage you to work only in three pairs : French, English or German into your native language. This is already a lot. By working in other pairs, you run the risk of harming your reputation (and your WWA score).
You may eventually get your money (except if this agency does not care at all for its reputation), but hopefully both of you will have learned a good lesson. You should avoid translating into a non-native language, and this agency should be more careful about translators who do so.
[BTW: I am not a native speaker of English, and would work in FR>EN only for abstracting and with the help of a native speaker]


Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:07
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
client v. customer Nov 20, 2009

As I understand from golyubin's post client and customer are two different entities. Client was meant to pay him 130 Euro, while customer (the end client I suppose) found some problems with translation and hired editor whom he "handsomely" paid 315. Which may be btw. comparable to what he paid to the translation agency ordering translation.

If I am right - most likely translation agency is not going to be paid for this job and golyubin's chances of recovering money are rather slim.

Still especially in case of a translation done by a non native agency should expect small problems and arrange a native proofreader.



Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Dutch to German
+ ...
Stupid client Nov 21, 2009

Paul Cohen wrote:
Sometimes editing a translation can be more work than re-translating it from scratch.

Entirely correct, but a good proofreader/editor should see this after reading the first few lines or at least after having tortured himself through the first page. And that is where it ought to stop. If re-translating from scratch is the better option, then have it re-translated from scratch.
Ok, not doing this as such does not make the client dishonest, but lets him look rather stupid, to say the least. No matter what quality "golyubin" delivered, that client obviously did not know what he was doing.

[Bearbeitet am 2009-11-21 02:52 GMT]


PRAKASH SHARMA  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:37
Member (2007)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Some suggestions Nov 21, 2009


I agree with a point here that says your target language should be your mother tongue. Seond thing, that the client says, it has paid double to the editor/reviewer for the same translation job MERELY for editing purpose! Now, here linguistic capabilities of client always is a concern, who cannot differentiate between a good and a bad translation, an acceptable and an unacceptable language. Sometimes, I feel that even clients and organizations should employ the PMs having expertise in the different languagesicon_wink.gif, however it seems to me as next to impossible practice.

But, where is the solution then?

1. I think you should have charged more, at least double what you had charged and should have involved a proofreader/editor to check your possible corrections/changes that might have made your translation excellent in terms of quality. Having a final look once from your end, would have done the rest, I feel so.

2. I am not sure, if you ever did translation for this client in your past or not. But if not, in future, simply go for small piece of translations of 300 words only for any client initially to check whether the client is a genuine one or not, what sort of behavior he has towards his translators? Rude or nice whatsoever it is. If you find client paying late, not paying or raising unnecessary questions, simply don't go for that client from next time onwards and make it a mark to avoid jobs from that client apart from taking other sort of actions. Do not reply to their queries or make an excuse by saying, that you are busy (a polite way to avoid). That's how I work without bothering me too much for such stupid clients. There are always good clients in a long queue to treat good translators in the manner they deserve. The only stuff is that they have to wait for good translators to come up and good translators have to wait to find such good clients. If they can evaluate translators, then translators should also evaluate their working style.

3. Marking an entry in blue board is always a good idea (however, how much it is effective, I am not sure about it), but wait for it till client refuses to pay completely and you are sure that he wouldn't be paying at all. Wait to make you sure as long as you want. Also, check everything before you do so, everything means rules of Proz.com.


[Edited at 2009-11-21 04:06 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-11-21 04:08 GMT]


Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:07
French to German
+ ...
Yes, indeed Nov 21, 2009

Alex Lago wrote:

Do you now why the client would pay you 120 and the editor 315?

Normally the translator gets more than the reviewer not the other way around.

Indeed, and I am quite happy that Alex made this remark by the beginning of the thread. Why were you paid by the word and the reviewer by another unit? How can the client possibly justify this? Or is it just a way to tell you that you possibly owe them money? After all, you can only rely on the agency's communication to know what the client did or not.

As per the native language issue, I can only agree with the previous posts. However, having a non-native doing a translation into German and apparently not caring about that fact is quite a strange attitude from the side of a translation agency (which is also there to advise the client - they are the specialists). It smells of saving money at all costs - this usually won't work...

[Edited at 2009-11-21 06:12 GMT]


Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:07
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Conditions for making a Blue Board entry Nov 21, 2009

Hi all,

Since Blue Board entries have been mentioned here, could I remind everyone of the conditions for making Blue Board entries:


Please ensure that any Blue Board entry you make conforms to these conditions.

Best regards,



Brandis (X)
Local time: 11:07
English to German
+ ...
Is it a first time client? Nov 21, 2009

Hi! Did you check the BB record. From the pattern you describe, I think I know this one. It is probably he is in the business over decades and esteems himself to be an alround champ, so he assigns various figures for various processes and keeps all the money. I wish you good luck. Did he say who was revising your document or did he atleast send you a mark-up file?? Brandis


Oleg Osipov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 13:07
English to Russian
+ ...
Expert opinion section Nov 21, 2009

For such controversial/ disputable cases an Expert Opinion Section would be a good thing on this site to avoid subjective opinions on the quality of translations with no names or references made, of course.
The colleagues could comment on the authenticity of the target text and it's compliance with the customer's expectations as a native speaker.

It's a shame that there are more and more cases of non-paying clients.


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A German client does not want to pay for the translation

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