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An outsourcer requesting refund for a delivered job
Thread poster: Yasutomo Kanazawa

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:01
English to Japanese
+ ...
Aug 19, 2010

Hi everyone,

I would like to hear your opinion about a situation which I am facing right now.

On August 3, I received a job from a certain outsourcer to translate two business cards. It was a sequel to a job which I've done earlier in July. I charged him the minimum rate of 30 USD for the job upfront via Paypal, and he agreed and paid me in advance. After confirming that the money was in my account, I started working on the job and finished the translation on the same day and sent him an email with the translated document and the invoice attached. I also thanked him for the upfront payment he made in full.

Up to this point, it's the ordinary scenario.

However, the next day, he sent me a message that he has not received the translation, and asked me to deliver it as soon as possible. I wrote him back that I did indeed send the translation yesterday, by using the "Forward" button with his email address in the address line so that the attached files would remain as they are.

Since then, he hasn't replied, so I thought everything was ok.

Then, yesterday, out of the blue, he sent me another email telling me that he never got my translation, and he requested that I refund the money that he paid me in advance. So I replied to him attaching the original message I sent to him on August 4 to prove that I have done the translation and delivered it on time, addressing to three email accounts, including "Send message thru Proz" just in case that the message wouldn't be lost in cyberspace.

It seems that he got my reply this time, but he's still asking me to refund the money, since he says that he had to hire another translator to deliver the job to his client because he didn't hear from me and the translation I delivered is already well past deadline and does no good to him. The time elapsed between the upfront payment and today is 2 weeks. I told him that if he hadn't received the translation, he could have contacted me through Proz or other translation site(s) where my name appears, but seems like he hasn't done that.

He's also telling me that if I don't return his money, he will file a complaint to Paypal and other translation posts and blogs such as XXX and ProZ.

I replied to him telling that I delivered the translation on time, and I would not refund the money since I have done my job without delay.

My question is:

Do I have to take all the blame and responsibility for my client not receiving the email/translation where the fault is unknown?

I would like to hear your opinions and comments.

Yasutomo


 

Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:01
Swedish to English
+ ...
Right legally; wrong commercialy Aug 19, 2010

You are clearly in the right - legally. you did the work, you delivered on time. But commercially perhaps not so smart. Do you want to keep this customer? If so, writing off USD 30 would probably be smart and a good investment for the future.

 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Do you want to keep this customer? Aug 19, 2010

I don't think so. He must have received it if you sent it several times, so he's chiseling you. Forget him.

 

Ines Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:01
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Not so sure Peter! Aug 19, 2010

Peter Linton wrote:

You are clearly in the right - legally. you did the work, you delivered on time. But commercially perhaps not so smart. Do you want to keep this customer? If so, writing off USD 30 would probably be smart and a good investment for the future.


Would you want a customer like that?

I certainly would not. I always ask the clients to confirm receipt and chase them up if they do not reply the same day. Might be a bit annoying for the customer if he is not very formal, but at least they cannot deny that I have sent the translation.

As to the original question - you are clearly right and the client is wrong. The question here is what is Paypal going to do about it? As far as I remember buyer protection does not apply to services, only goods (and then only in certain countries) but then again - with Paypal seller is always in the wrong, I doubt they will let you even defend your position. Other people who have better knowledge of Paypal's policies might be able to advise you. I would tell the client where he can stick his complaint.

Good luck!
Ines

[Edited at 2010-08-19 16:05 GMT]


 

Francisco Pavez (X)  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Cui Bono? Aug 19, 2010

I agree in part with keeping the client happy, so I will let a lot of things slip for longtime clients or clients that get me a lot of work. Having said that, your case seems a little different. It may be a follow up to a previous job but letting two weeks pass by before complaining is not very diligent (at best) or ethical (at worst).

So the question is, who would benefit most from a 30 dollar refund? You by retaining a trusted client? or them by getting a one off translation for free?

As we say in Mexico: If there's going to be weeping, I rather it be at your home than mine.

Best of luck


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:01
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
The customer had ample time to ask for the delivery Aug 19, 2010

Ten days sounds like a lot to me as a timeframe to complain about not having received the delivery of such a tiny job. It makes me think that there was some mismanagement on the part of the outsourcer and he's just trying to recover his loss. Whether it makes any sense to spend time trying to recover US$ 30 is another question. If you ask me, it does not make any sense.

Since it is quite clear that this customer is someone you cannot trust as a business partner, I would return the US$ 30 (just to forget the matter) but would immediately post an entry in the Blueboard with a LWA of 1 and no further comments.

Having said all this.... do you really think it was worth to charge your minimum charge for two business cards? I would have given the job for free to the customer, who would see you as his first choice from now on... all at the cost of under 5 minutes of your time. You have probably spent more time writing emails and managing the payment in Paypal than translating the text...

I am not saying we should give work for free all the time, but sometimes a tiny extra work for free keeps a customer happy, which is simply invaluable, and takes a lot less time than writing an invoice, waiting for a payment, etc. etc. etc.


 

Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:01
English to Russian
+ ...
I would stick to my guns Aug 19, 2010

and wait for the customer to provide the full set of proofs confirming NON-delivery of the translation ordered.

The translator has received the remuneration for his job and the job has been delivered.
The case closed.

Any way such customer is not worth struggling for IT.


 

Kazuhiko Kocho  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:01
Member (2009)
English to Japanese
+ ...
Outlook 2007 attached file disappears Aug 20, 2010

Kanazawa-san,

If you are using Outlook 2007, the software has a Japanese-specific problem of disappearing attachment. (I had this problem when I was using Outlook 2007 a year ago, since then I switched to Windows Mail.)

If you search through the net with keywords "Outlook 2007 添付ファイル" you will find many postings on this issue. If this is the case, the file should be sent by some other method than Outlook 2007.

But if you are not using Outlook 2007, I don't know what's going on...

[Edited at 2010-08-20 01:35 GMT]


 

svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:01
French to German
+ ...
A trusted client? Aug 20, 2010

Francisco Pavez wrote:
So the question is, who would benefit most from a 30 dollar refund? You by retaining a trusted client? or them by getting a one off translation for free?


I certainly would not call this client a trusted one. Before hiring another translator, as he claims to have done, he could have asked the person he paid for the job what happened to the translation if he really had not received it. But just keeping quiet about it and then wanting the money back seems a bit fishy to me.

It may be only 30 USD now, next time it may well be more. I certainly don't think that this is a trustworthy client and not a client I would want to keep. We as translators shouldn't let clients get away with anything but as long as we do, there will be enough to take advantage of this.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:01
English to German
+ ...
Correct, KazKocho! Aug 20, 2010

KazKocho wrote:

Kanazawa-san,

If you are using Outlook 2007, the software has a Japanese-specific problem of disappearing attachment. (I had this problem when I was using Outlook 2007 a year ago, since then I switched to Windows Mail.)

If you search through the net with keywords "Outlook 2007 添付ファイル" you will find many postings on this issue. If this is the case, the file should be sent by some other method than Outlook 2007.

But if you are not using Outlook 2007, I don't know what's going on...

[Edited at 2010-08-20 01:35 GMT]



I experienced a similar scenario when I was not able to exchange files with a colleague in England (we were editing each others files). Regular emails were delivered, any email with attachments got lost in cyberspace. We ended up communicating via some web-based email accounts.

I also learned that my colleague's email provider considers emails from Comcast (the largest cable provider in the US and my internet access) as spam.


 

Katarina Delic  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 05:01
Member (2008)
English to Serbian
+ ...
A bit offtopic... Comcast... Aug 20, 2010

[quote]Nicole Schnell wrote:

KazKocho wrote:

I also learned that my colleague's email provider considers emails from Comcast (the largest cable provider in the US and my internet access) as spam.


A couple of days ago I've been trying to send an email to a person using Comcast - I was trying to deliver work. Whenever I sent an email I would get a message that the email's delivery is late because of destination's unavailability. There was also a report attached saying:

Reporting-MTA: dns; xxxxxxxxxx.isp.nadlanu.com

Final-Recipient: xxxxxx;xxx@comcast.net
Action: delayed
Status: 4.0.0 (temporary failure)
Diagnostic-Code: smtp; 4.3.2 - Not accepting messages at this time 554-'imta37.emeryville.ca.mail.comcast.net comcast 212.200.xx.xxx Comcast block for spam. Please see http://help.comcast.net/content/faq/BL000000 ' (delivery attempts: 0)
Will-Retry-Until: 18 Aug 2010 17:03:12 +0200

I hope I deleted all private information from this report.
At the time when I was trying to send the message, the page from the link provided could not be loaded. I've just tried to open the page and it works. It says that my message looked like spam. I wonder what makes a message look like spam?

BTW, luckily, the person did get one message and it contained my work. But it was very annoying... So many attempts...


[Edited at 2010-08-20 10:58 GMT]


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 05:01
German to Serbian
+ ...
Exactely. Aug 20, 2010

Henry Hinds wrote:

I don't think so. He must have received it if you sent it several times, so he's chiseling you. Forget him.


Sounds like the most likely scenario, unfortunately.


 

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:01
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you everyone, for your comments and ideas Aug 20, 2010

@Peter,

I agree to what you say. But unfortunately, this client is NOT a good client of mine. His agency is listed in the BB here on Proz, with a rating between 2-3, with several entries regarding non-payment issues, which is in one sense, an impressive record. That's why I asked for an upfront payment even if this job in question was the 'second' time I worked for him.

@Henry

No, I don't mind keeping this customer, but if he is willing to pay in exchange for the delivered job (i.e. immediate payment), I wouldn't mind working with him again (and he agreed to it, see my comments at the bottom).

@Tomás

Like I wrote above, this is a new client whom I worked for twice including this last incident, and with a low rating, I think he would be happy to have his $30 back, but at the same time, he wouldn't be discouraged from an entry of "1" from me, since he seems not to care. So I'm keeping the money. Keeping a customer happy is one of the most important elements in this business, but in this case, I don't think it's worth it.

@Segei

That's what my colleague told me. She said that the outsourcer hasn't provided any proof that he didn't receive my translation, while on the otherhand, I submitted proof that I sent him the translation by deadline. I haven't thought of that, and your opinion and hers rang a bell.

@KazKocho-san,

Thanks for your input. I use Outlook Express 6, and I haven't had any problem so far using this software. But I will keep in mind when I upgrade it to Outlook 7.

@inkweaver,

As I wrote to Tomás's reply, personally I don't fully trust this client. If I had trusted him, I wouldn't ask for an upfront payment even if it was the first time to work with him.

@Nicole

I don't know about attachments disappearing in cyberspace when using ComCast, but the client clearly said that he didn't receive my translation NOR my email(s). So it seems that it's not only the problem of attachments disappearing in thin air, but a more serious issue. And thanks for sharing the info.

@Katarina

My emails did not bounce, since I didn't get any kind of report(s) which you copy and pasted in your comments. That's why everything is a mystery to me.

After posting this topic, the client has given up to retrieve his money, since I wrote to him that I cannot refund the money because the work was delivered promptly. And he said that from now on, he would not make any pre-payments, but will pay immediately after delivery.

So I guess everything is in order now, and thank you all for your precious and practical comments.

Yasutomo


 

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:01
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That came up to my mind too. Aug 20, 2010

Lingua 5B wrote:

Henry Hinds wrote:

I don't think so. He must have received it if you sent it several times, so he's chiseling you. Forget him.


Sounds like the most likely scenario, unfortunately.


Especially with a low rating on the BB...


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:01
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
What about the telephone? Aug 20, 2010

In cases such as this, when you *cannot* get confirmation that your email + job was received, why not use the telephone? It can't be that expensive and at least, one supposes, you can actually talk to a human being and sort the problem out before it becomes an "issue". Telephone expenses are tax-deductible, surely? (I'm assuming that one wouldn't accept work - especially for a somewhat dubious client - without having a contact telephone number.
Anyway, I'm glad you've resolved the problem now.
Best wishes,
Jenny


 
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