Non-paying Italian agency
Thread poster: Elvira_B
Elvira_B  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:12
English to Italian
+ ...
Nov 30, 2009

I know this isn't the right place to discuss this issue and I already posted my reply on blue board.
Still, I think it's important for evreybody to know the trick this agency used to have me working like a slave for nothing.
Well this Italian agency, with no previous bad records on blue board, approached me with a job offer. They asked if I could do a small job at the low rate of 0.03 euros for them to be sure about the quality of my work. They sent me at least 4 similar offer, stating after each offer someone else had already accepted to do the job (this was to convince me other people were working at this rate).
Well the small job at low rate became a 6875 words (no match) really 7900 words to type that I completed in 5 days.
Their order stated: "The translator in charge commits himself/herself to deliver a translation job that is complete, free of errors and reasonably free of misinterpretations. Translations containing spelling mistakes will be not considered acceptable. Otherwise, XXXX has the right to reduce the rate offered, accordingly to the damage caused. Payment terms are 60 days after the receipt of the invoice".
After delivery they said my job was in need of revision (I didn't see any amended text)and my invoice had no legal value for having no VAT number, (if job didn't need revision they would not pay disregarding the no VAT invoice)
That's how I worked five days for nothing.
Everybody knows about legal issues of such matters and naturally no trade unions for freelancers.
If anybody would like further details on this question, name of agency, copies of original and traslated text and whatsoever I'm here to answer.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:12
Member
English to French
Looking for trouble? Nov 30, 2009

Elvira Bianco wrote:
...They asked if I could do a small job at the low rate of 0.03 euros...

Well, the rate offered, even for a one-off, shows that this "agency" should be discarded.
Your subsequent problems are just an all-too-common outcome after working at such rates.
However, even if you lost 5 working days, you lost less than 300 euros. With such "agencies", the only good news is that you don't lose that much money when they don't pay.
My sympathies.
Philippe


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 12:12
German to English
+ ...
Non payment/copyright law Nov 30, 2009

One possible approach to deal with non payment is to inform the agency that you still have copyright in your translation, that the agency's CLIENT is in breach of this copyright if they use it, and that therefore you are entitled to contact the client and point this fact out to them, and finally that you reserve the right to bring an action for breach of copyright against the client. (It's useful to claim that you have legal insurance, even if in fact you don't). This only works of course if no serious changes are made during the "revision".

[Edited at 2009-11-30 13:04 GMT]


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:12
French to German
+ ...
No trade unions, indeed... Nov 30, 2009

Elvira Bianco wrote:

Everybody knows about legal issues of such matters and naturally no trade unions for freelancers.
If anybody would like further details on this question, name of agency, copies of original and traslated text and whatsoever I'm here to answer.


But what are translators' associations here for?

[Edited at 2009-11-30 13:12 GMT]


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 11:12
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
! Nov 30, 2009

Hello,

You shouldn't have accepted the offer given the rate and all the fishy behaviour of the agency !

You can force them to pay by threating to blacklist them and to engage in a legal procedure...

Best regards,


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 12:12
English to German
+ ...
these days italian agencies are not paying Nov 30, 2009

Hi! your news is nothing new, though I have atleast 3 italian agencies not paying, they just chage a few words here and there and argue that the quality does not match. We are not arguing or offering a matching translation, unless the agency comes up with it´s own glossary or TM., I do not know what to do other than posting at the BB which is promptly removed as per the above non- quality matching issue. Excuse me but this has nothing to do with the management of proz.com, they are doing their job, but they are not delivering the translation which I did, when they could have. Brandis

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xxxchristela
My uncle Nov 30, 2009

My uncle, a retired schoolteacher, sometimes does a translation for a shipping company in his town. In exchange, he receives a bottle of wine. Of course, he cannot claim the bottle of wine, and even cannot protest if the company decides to change the bottle of wine into vinegar. It was a gift for a small service rendered, not a commercial relationship.

So therefore my question is: what are YOUR rates. Did you send them to the agency? Did they accept them? Did they sign your quote?

[Edited at 2009-11-30 14:25 GMT]


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Francesca Pesce  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:12
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
Your mistake, their dishonesty Nov 30, 2009

Dear Elvira,

my feeling is that the agency in question thinks you are not a professional, or that you are a newbie to this profession. They are also right to think so, since you accepted such a low rate.

In this way, they think they can do whatever they want and that you have no real interest or means to follow up their missing payment.

One example: the VAT/no-VAT issue. An invoice is legally valid even if you don't charge VAT. If all the necessay items are there: your full details, including tax code and their full details, including their tax codes + the date, the service rendered, the amount invoiced, any withholding tax.

It is a silly excuse that only a newbie would fall for. And they think you are going to believe this.

Although it is almost impossible to recover small credits in Italy without spending much more that what you are owed, I would go for it anyway. I would send them a formal letter, ("raccomandata a.r."), telling them that either they pay what you invoiced or you will proceed through a lawyer. The best would be, if you have a lawyer friend, to ask him to send them a letter.

If it doesn't work, consider it a bad experience on a low amount. And, next time, think better before accepting a translation for 3 cents/word.


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sailingshoes
Local time: 12:12
Spanish to English
Gangsters Nov 30, 2009

These guys are obviously just gangsters. I think you'll never see your money. Why don't you download some fax freewear and fax them out of buisness hours a 300 page fax that just says "Pay me!" Eventually you might get even on the basis of fax paper use.

There must be a way of tagging these guys, even on the site. Did you post a 1 rating on the blueboard? That way we can see who it is.


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
There is a kind of Murphy's law in these cases Nov 30, 2009

"The less you are supposed to be paid, the more probability there is the agency does not pay in the end" .

Completely agree with Francesca here:
The outsourcer knows in advance that he will not pay, for whatever reason, as he is sure anyway that for such a small amount, the translator won't make trouble. Sad, but true!

So you did work for 6 Euros/hour for 5 days (if you worked 8 hours a day)....? Food for thought...:-)

I hope however you will be able to recover the money and wish you good luck, otherwise, consider it a "lesson learned"!


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Elvira_B  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:12
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your reply Nov 30, 2009

Dear Mr Laurent, here in Italy there is only one translator's trade union, they require translators to have at least two published books in the editorial or media sector.
It goes by itself that I don't fit in this category.

Dear Francesca, I'll follow your advice and I'll let you know what I'll come up to.

Dear Mr David, thanks for your advice, unfortunately I don't know the name of the end client and I haven't seen any amend on my translation. They complained about two words on 7900. An honest agency would have asked me to make the revision on such words.


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
This is really outrageous! Nov 30, 2009

Elvira Bianco wrote:

I haven't seen any amend on my translation. They complained about two words on 7900.


I hope those guys are not too far from where you live. If I were in your shoes I would go to their office and stay there until they give me the money they owe me! But I would first try the approach suggested by David and Francesca. Don't give up!


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Elvira_B  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:12
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Why such a low rate? Nov 30, 2009

I made my investigation and I found out this is a new would be agency, right now building its first website. Well, looking for agency's owner on "search by name" proz link, I found out the owner is a freelancer charging 0.05 p/w; now this nice person has just decided to became an agency, naturally she cannot pay 0.05 people working for her.

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