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Bad payers
Thread poster: Yulia2009

Yulia2009
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:52
English to Russian
+ ...
Feb 3, 2011

Hi guys,

I am sorry to not actually open a new topic as I am new in this forum and don't know how to do it. I desperately need your help and advice. I completed an urgent translation for one agency with which I signed a contract. The price was agreed.
A month later - but still prior to the agreed payment date - they rang and demanded (literally) I went to the notary on that day (!) and certified the documents legally. Moreover, I had to pay for it myself. I said I couldn't do that as I had other arrangements - the woman on the phone (who later turned out to be the managing director of the agency) said "In this case you will not get paid!".
When I agreed to go to the notary the next day but asked them to pay the notary charges in advance, she kept insisting I had to pay them. When I said that was unreasonable and didn't go, she said there was no chance in hell I would get paid.
I thought they were bluffing but they did not pay me.
I am desperate - it was quite a big order. Where do I go from there?
Would be most grateful for any useful advice.

Yulia


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:52
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
More info, please Feb 3, 2011

Hello Yulia,

It sounds as though you have been treated extremely unfairly. I imagine there was no mention of this is the contract - are you sure of that?

Please could you tell us which country your client is based in? A lot of things depend on that.

Do the company have a good record? Did you find an entry for them on the Blue Board here or on a similar listing elsewhere? Or did you know nothing about them apart from the fact that they needed a translation? You can't mention their name here but it would be good to know whether other translators consider them a good company to do business with.

One thing you can always be sure of: If they promise payment, they may be bluffing; if they promise not to pay you then they certainly aren't bluffing and you must prepare for a fight! It seems to me to be a fight you will win hands down if you have all the paperwork (contract plus completed translation plus emails).

So, next step is to let us have some more information.

Sheila


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:52
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
You did the right thing... Feb 3, 2011

...although perhaps you could also have simply had them agree in writing to include the notary charges in the total payment that is still due. Yet the fact that they themselves did not suggest that, and that they insisted that you cover those charges, shows lack of a fundamental sense of fairness on their part.

So what now?

If I were you, I would write a strongly worded letter letting the agency know that, since they have declared their lack of intention to pay, you will report them as non-payers on the proz.com Blue Board and other web directories, and that you will pursue collection by all legal means. Give them, say, 3-5 days to get back to you to agree upon payment arrangements prior to implementing said measures.

Good luck!


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Yulia2009
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:52
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Matter soon to be resolved! Feb 3, 2011

Guys,

Thank you so much for your bits of advice and support.
On a friend's advice I sent the agency an INTENDED COURT PROCEEDINGS letter so that they pay within 7 days. They replied straight away sating they will pay the money into my account within the next few days - well, most of it anyway. They said they would pay £250 out of £300 as they had to find another translator to proof-read my work and to go to the notary. At the moment I feel lucky to even be able to retrieve as much as this!
As I have all the documents - contract, emails proving the work had been completed on time and price had been agreed, they much have realised they did not stand a chance in court! I am not saying it would have definitely come to that but I was certainly prepared for a fight.

So, thank you everyone! You are great!


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:52
French to German
+ ...
An alternative approach Feb 3, 2011

Hi Yulia,
this is what I would suggest as an alternative approach if it is not too late: write to the agency (an e-mail will do, I guess), making a short summary of the events and asking them to confirm in written that your payment is conditioned by the notarisation of your translation at your own costs, as requested by Ms. XXX in her phone call.

Be sure to put some emphasis on the fact that notarisation at your own costs was not a part of the initial contract.

Explain that you will be waiting for a written confirmation within X working days and that you will have to report the agency for non-payment once the X days have elapsed.

If nothing else, I am quite sure that they will not confirm their phone call in written.


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sokolniki  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:52
English to Russian
+ ...
And also.. Feb 4, 2011

Please make an entry to the Blue Board - they deserve a "2" maximum for what you've been through. Some agencies (on both sides of the pond) think they own us and can do anything without consequences. They have to realize they are dead wrong.

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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:52
English to Japanese
+ ...
One question Feb 4, 2011

Yulia2009 wrote:

On a friend's advice I sent the agency an INTENDED COURT PROCEEDINGS letter so that they pay within 7 days. They replied straight away sating they will pay the money into my account within the next few days - well, most of it anyway. They said they would pay £250 out of £300 as they had to find another translator to proof-read my work and to go to the notary.

So, thank you everyone! You are great!


I have one question. According to what you wrote above, there is one thing not clear to me, namely, "They replied straight away sating they will pay the money into my account within the next few days - well, most of it anyway."

Are they paying you 250 Euros for a 300 Euros worth of job because they needed to hire a proofreader to proofread your translation and ask that person to go to the notary? And is this because your translation was not up to their expectations (no offense intended here)? If that's the case, I would understand, but there's no mentioning of delivering a sub-standard quality translation on your side. What I'm trying to say here is that why would YOU have to bear the cost of 50 Euros for the agency hiring another person for proofreading and for the notary errand? Is that also included in the contract? If not, the agency always has to bear that cost.

Or am I missing something?


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Patryk Bartkiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:52
English to Polish
+ ...
do explain the quality claim Feb 4, 2011

Have you been contacted by the agency, right after you submitted your completed work, on quality issues? Have they informed you that your translation was poorly done and needed heavy proofing & correction? If yes, then when exactly have they reported this to you?

Also, is there any chance they could have been thinking that you were somehow capable of notarizing the papers?

If you answer NO on both accounts, then there seems to be no reason whatsoever for them to ROB you of euro 50.

Whatever the outcome, please make an entry to the board to identify the company. Use fair judgment and grade them properly, but DO describe in a few words what happened. I'm now dealing with a Chinese outsourcer who withholds payment for me and another translator as they claim their customer failed to pay. Whatever happens I'll sure be posting who it is and what the deal was.

[Edited at 2011-02-04 08:16 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:52
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Proofreading is what an agency does Feb 4, 2011

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:

Are they paying you 250 Euros for a 300 Euros worth of job because they needed to hire a proofreader to proofread your translation and ask that person to go to the notary? And is this because your translation was not up to their expectations (no offense intended here)? If that's the case, I would understand, but there's no mentioning of delivering a sub-standard quality translation on your side. What I'm trying to say here is that why would YOU have to bear the cost of 50 Euros for the agency hiring another person for proofreading and for the notary errand? Is that also included in the contract? If not, the agency always has to bear that cost.



Just wanted to second Yasutomo on this.

Even if the quality is superb, the agency is expected to have it proofread - that's the job of the agency. As long as your translation was adequate, there's no legitimate reason for witholding money from you.

And if they suddenly introduce another element to the job after it's been completed - well that's something entirely different and needs to be negotiated separately. From what you've told us, there was no obligation for you to do this job. They certainly have no right to deduct money from you for not doing it.

If you are sure that you are not to blame for any of this, please stand up for your rights, otherwise they will do the same for the next translator, and the next ...


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Yulia2009
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:52
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Answer to Yasutomo Kanazava Feb 4, 2011

Answer to Yasutomo Kanazava who wrote:

"Are they paying you 250 Euros for a 300 Euros worth of job because they needed to hire a proofreader to proofread your translation and ask that person to go to the notary? And is this because your translation was not up to their expectations (no offense intended here)? If that's the case, I would understand, but there's no mentioning of delivering a sub-standard quality translation on your side. What I'm trying to say here is that why would YOU have to bear the cost of 50 Euros for the agency hiring another person for proofreading and for the notary errand? Is that also included in the contract? If not, the agency always has to bear that cost.

Or am I missing something?"



Well, the thing is Sheila is absolutely right: a good, reputable agency is supposed to have all the projects proof-read by other translators. This will allow to eliminate misprints and possible errors missed by the first translator. But this agency was not going to do this! When I finished translating the project back in December, they were quite satisfied with the quality of my work and there were no complaints on their part whatsoever.
Yes, I absolutely agree with you that the agency should have hired a proof-reader at their cost but it was pretty evident that I was dealing with the most unreasonable agency in my experience with rude staff who would not hear any of my points.


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Yulia2009
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:52
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reply to Laurent Krauland Feb 4, 2011

Reply to Laurent Krauland who wrote:

"Hi Yulia,
this is what I would suggest as an alternative approach if it is not too late: write to the agency (an e-mail will do, I guess), making a short summary of the events and asking them to confirm in written that your payment is conditioned by the notarisation of your translation at your own costs, as requested by Ms. XXX in her phone call.

Be sure to put some emphasis on the fact that notarisation at your own costs was not a part of the initial contract."


I did try this when the agency contacted me at the end of January to do the notirization. They would not do it! All of my emails where I said there was no mention of the notary in the contract or when I first got the project went unanswered - I could only communicate with them on the phone. Besides, one friend who is training to be a lawyer, looked at their contract and regulations and noted to me that there was no mention of their responsibilities towards their freelancers at all in them - not even one! There was no mention of their terms of payment either.
Once this is over, I will be rating them on Blue Board - I do not want others to ever go through the same. Translators do deserve to at least be treated with respect.


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Yulia2009
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:52
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
For Patryk Bartkiewicz Feb 4, 2011

For Patryk Bartkiewicz who wrote:

"Have you been contacted by the agency, right after you submitted your completed work, on quality issues? Have they informed you that your translation was poorly done and needed heavy proofing & correction? If yes, then when exactly have they reported this to you?

Also, is there any chance they could have been thinking that you were somehow capable of notarizing the papers?

If you answer NO on both accounts, then there seems to be no reason whatsoever for them to ROB you of euro 50."



You are absolutely right! I will be robbed of £50 for my honest work. What can I do? I do understand this is wrong but would rather have £250 in my pocket than nothing. If I continue trying to prove my point with this agency, the whole thing might drag on for months - even then there are no guarantees!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:52
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Your client has a (small) point, maybe Feb 4, 2011

Yulia2009 wrote:
A month later - but still prior to the agreed payment date - they rang and demanded (literally) I went to the notary on that day (!) and certified the documents legally. Moreover, I had to pay for it myself.


The rude behaviour of the client is not an issue here. What is an issue is whether you or the client should notarise the documents, and if you, then whether you should bear the costs.

Normally, the freelancer is responsible for all costs relating to providing the translation, unless certain costs are specifically excluded when the agreement with the client was reached. All costs necessary to produce the translation should be covered by the amount that the translator had quoted for the job. It is up to the translator to decide if he wants to add certain costs as line items to his quotation, but even if he doesn't, he is still responsible for those costs. For example, if you have to travel to do the translation, then the cost of travelling is included in your fee unless you've specified otherwise. Similarly, if you need to print the translation, courier it, deliver it, have it signed and stamped, etc, all of those costs are your costs.

So if the agreement was that you would deliver a notarised translation, then the notarisation costs are your costs (unless you specified something else beforehand).

The question is then whether you had agreed to deliver a normal translation or a notarised translation.

If this is the type of translation that would normally be notarised, then it is prudent to inform the client beforehand that you will not take care of the notarisation. For example, every time a client asks me to translate a diploma, I repeat the whole explanation about how such documents usually require a sworn translator and that I'm not a sworn translator and that I can only do X, Y and Z. When the client then agrees, he agrees while having the full picture.

If the agreement was not specifically for a notarised translation, then the client can't withhold payment simply because you did not get it notarised. It would be kind of you do have it notarised but if it wasn't the agreement, then that is an extra service (which you can refuse to perform) which has to be paid for by the client separately.



[Edited at 2011-02-04 08:50 GMT]


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Yulia2009
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:52
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
For Samuel Murray Feb 4, 2011

For Samuel Murray who wrote:

"So if the agreement was that you would deliver a notarised translation, then the notarisation costs are your costs (unless you specified something else beforehand)."


There was nothing in the agreement about the notarization when I first got the project. A month after the project had been translated the agency phoned me and asked to notarize the documents at my expense - the same day! Any reasonable arguments of mine, like "You did not say anything about the notarization when you asked me to do the translation" were just ignored. I was told the client made this request a month later out of the blue.
If the agency had told me straight away there was going to be a notarization, I would have argued the increase in their offered price.


Samuel Murray also wrote:

"All costs necessary to produce the translation should be covered by the amount that the translator had quoted for the job."


I probably forgot to mention that I did not get to quote my price for the project. The agency said in the beginning they were prepared to pay just £300 for the translation - and even though it is £100 less than I would normally charge for a similar project, I went along with it as I needed the money.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:52
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
@ Samuel Feb 4, 2011

I understand what you are saying, but you are dealing with clients who know nothing about translations.

Here's what the OP said in her first posting:

Yulia2009 wrote:
I completed an urgent translation for one agency with which I signed a contract.


So I think we must assume we are dealing with a client who knows exactly what needs to be done and by whom. If there was nothing at all specified in the original contract, I think the client must have come back to the agency saying "oh, but I asked for it to be certified" and the agency is now expecting the translator to pay the price of having a forgetful PM.


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