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Proof of translation delivery (a serious payment issue)
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 09:30
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Aug 9, 2011

I have quite a strange situation. One agency (from the UK) ordered my services, we agreed on everything, then I asked them to issue a PO (Purchase Order), did the translation, a little bit later sent them my invoice.

Today, the payment is late for 3 months (!),I sent them many email reminders, and never received anything in response to them about the situation with my payment.

I finally lost my patience and faxed them a formal (final) reminder letter where I told them I will take legal action and hire debt collectors. Today (they finally reacted!) I received an email from their PM (the same with whom I communicated regarding everything related to the job) who told me that their accountant needs to be sure I really worked for them and that I need to provide proof that I really did and delivered that job. I emailed them the PO issued and sent to me by the same (!) PM, copies of all emails that PM sent to me regarding that job, and even emailed a copy of the so-called "email read receipt" of my email in which I sent my translation files to that PM, and sent a cc to their company Managing Director. But see what I received in response from their “boss”:

Regarding the PO, you only sent an email showing that [PM] sent you
the PO and another one with a read receipt. I cannot tell from these emails if the
translation was indeed delivered. (It would be possible that the job was cancelled
and you confirmed that you wouldn't start the translation. The subject of the email
doesn't refer to a delivery either..). Please send the email copy with
the translation you sent to [PM], or the email [PM] sent you to confirm receipt? Then we will discuss the payment.

THE PROBLEM HERE is that I only have emails from them, and Sent emails disappeared after my system crash (but I still have ALL received emails that I was still "wise" to have online). Can their PO, received emails, and their "Read Receipt" be enough as a proof of job order and delivery for demanding the payment from them (even if I “transfer” this issue to a debt collection agency and/or Small Claims Court in the UK)? Just from the point of view of the common sense - I still expect that the PO is enough and it is (formally) the first and the only proof of our "cooperation". And if they say that the job was cancelled (it was not!) or that I did not start the translation (I did it all and as agreed), WHO shall prove the cancellation? Shall I really prove that “their PO was not cancelled”??? This is really crazy.

Any advice? I am determined to go till the end as the due amount is rather big.


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xxxyanadeni  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:30
French to Russian
+ ...
copy of the cancelled PO? Aug 9, 2011

Ask them a copy of their e-mail about the cancelled PO.

Actually, PO is a prove that they did ask you to do the job, but it's not a prove that you did deliver it.

In these extraordinary circumstances when you lost your sent items, the only proves you have are:
- screenshots of the system date of the translated files and of the TM (if any)
- prove of receipt of you e-mail (allegedly with your translation)

But smth is missing here. You could have sent them an "empty" e-mail. They can allege it in case they also "lost" your e-mail.

And by the way, have you tried to google your translation? Just in case.


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Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 09:30
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Unreasonable Aug 10, 2011

In my opinion they are being unreasonable. The responsibility of providing the proof that the project was cancelled lies with them, not with you.

[Edited at 2011-08-10 00:28 GMT]


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Werner Maurer  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
re-send? Aug 10, 2011

Did your crash nix your backup copy of the finished translation? (You did have one didn't you?)
- If you still have it, you could simply re-send the translation, along with a non- or quasi-apology like "in case the original delivery never arrived/was corrupted/you mislaid my original missive/..." or some such. The file itself should contain proof, in its metadata, of the original creation date, which should be very near the delivery date.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:30
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Email tracing? Aug 10, 2011

Your ISP very likely has copies of your emails, and they may be able to retrieve them based on the exact date, IP addresses and such. There is a lot of info in the email headers, including routing info, and other IDs.
Now, whether they would do it, that is another question. I think they are not obligated, unless required by a court.
You could still talk to them.

On the other hand, the way the agency is acting is rather suspicious.
If they did not receive the translation, the PM should have bombarded you with emails two hours after the missed deadline, if not earlier. You heard nothing from them. If the job was cancelled, they should say that clearly - but they don't say it. They just say "it could have been cancelled". I would ask them clearly: was the job cancelled? If they say, yes, have them prove it. Ask them to send you a copy of the cancellation email, and the copy of your acknowledgement of the cancellation.

In my view, they are either totally incompetent as an agency, and don't know what they are doing, or they are totally competent as fraudsters and trying to take you for a ride.

Katalin


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:30
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Re-send it Aug 10, 2011

Werner Maurer wrote:

Did your crash nix your backup copy of the finished translation? (You did have one didn't you?)
- If you still have it, you could simply re-send the translation, along with a non- or quasi-apology like "in case the original delivery never arrived/was corrupted/you mislaid my original missive/..." or some such. The file itself should contain proof, in its metadata, of the original creation date, which should be very near the delivery date.


I agree with Werner. Send them your translation again. The "properties" information in the translated file records the date when it was completed among other things.
As others have said here, it is up to the agency to prove that they never received it. If they didn't, why didn't the PM contact you at once to ask what had happened?
As a rule, I keep backup copies of the files I've translated for at least two years for situations such as the one you describe, among other reasons, unless the client asks me to delete my files earlier. Don't you keep backup copies?
Best of luck,
Jenny


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Jande  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 17:30
Danish to English
+ ...
They are giving you the run-around Aug 10, 2011

They are giving you the run-around.

Take control of the situation and try to avoid their games. You may just need to send your invoice to a debt collection agency.

Good Luck in getting your payment.


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Maria Antonietta Ricagno  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:30
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Try this Aug 10, 2011

I used the services of the Small Claims Court once and it worked fine.
http://www.courtroomadvice.co.uk/how-make-claim-small-claims-court.html

Hope it helps


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Seconded Aug 10, 2011

Jande wrote:
They are giving you the run-around.
Take control of the situation and try to avoid their games. You may just need to send your invoice to a debt collection agency.

I completely agree.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 09:30
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks a lot! Aug 10, 2011

Dear colleagues,
Many thanks for your advice - you told me lots of helpful things. I will still try to deal with them without debt collectors and courts (will try one more time). And yes, if no luck, then will take other actions.

By the way, any idea about how long those Small Claims Court procedures can take from the day I file my case to the court till the day I get the money? Having in mind also that I am from a different country (outside UK)? Or would it be a better idea to forward all this to a debt collector in the UK who can still try to push them (if they really see I am not just talking, and when the collector gives a call to them), can the collector make this thing faster than the court? Also what about debt collection costs? So far, I have two emails from debt collectors where one asks for a fixed fee to be paid in advance (quite strange), yet another, more serious, asks for 15% from the amount (but only after they collect the money).


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Talking is not helping you Aug 10, 2011

MariusV wrote:
Dear colleagues,
Many thanks for your advice - you told me lots of helpful things. I will still try to deal with them without debt collectors and courts (will try one more time). And yes, if no luck, then will take other actions.

But you have warned them already and they simply did not care! I would stop losing my time talking to them and would initiate the Small Claims procedure immediately. Thus, you will start moving things; if they only plan to pay you when they are forced to, the sooner you are in that position, the better.

May I suggest that you add a Blueboard entry for this company so that colleagues are warned about them?


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 09:30
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
true Aug 10, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

MariusV wrote:
Dear colleagues,
Many thanks for your advice - you told me lots of helpful things. I will still try to deal with them without debt collectors and courts (will try one more time). And yes, if no luck, then will take other actions.

But you have warned them already and they simply did not care! I would stop losing my time talking to them and would initiate the Small Claims procedure immediately. Thus, you will start moving things; if they only plan to pay you when they are forced to, the sooner you are in that position, the better.

May I suggest that you add a Blueboard entry for this company so that colleagues are warned about them?


Tomás, really good words. I think I am rather naive waiting for so long. But do you think I will prove I delivered them the translation if I cannot show the copy of the email SENT to them (I only have emails received from them)? What if I lose the court procedures because of this formality?


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 08:30
German to Swedish
+ ...
Metadata proves nothing Aug 10, 2011

File properties and metadata can be edited with any binary hex editor and prove nothing. Just saying.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Don't worry Aug 10, 2011

MariusV wrote:
What if I lose the court procedures because of this formality?

Impossible. You have the PO, you have your invoice. Nothing else is required: just proof that an order was made and a valid invoice. If the customer rejected the accusation and tried to say that the PO and the job were cancelled, they would have to show proof of that (i.e. an email from them informing you of the cancellation and your reply accepting the cancellation).

No judge will believe that they have cancelled the job over the phone and that you have accepted that without any written record.

Also, if they made up the proof that you accepted the cancellation, no judge would believe that you did not charge a penny for the part of job you would normally start before the cancellation, so they would need to show proof that you issued an invoice for the part done before cancellation, a bank transfer to your name for that amount, and the list goes on.

Spend your time initiating the process. They are just bargaining for time. Maybe their customer did not pay them and they are making all this up to delay the payment. They will clearly not pay until so ordered.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 09:30
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yes, understand that, but Aug 10, 2011

Joakim Braun wrote:

File properties and metadata can be edited with any binary hex editor and prove nothing. Just saying.


I understand that, but look - how we usually cooperate with translation agencies (and other clients)? We usually communicate via emails. Please now imagine a "hypothetical situation" (where, in my situation, it is not quite "hypothetical"):

the agency contacts the translator, they agree on all things regarding the job, the agency sends the PO, the translator does the job, and then sends it (via email) to the agency, then sends the invoice (via email), then sends reminders, and then the agency can ask "Who are you? Please send the proof who you are, that we really ordered the job, that we really sent you the PO, that you really delivered the job/files to us"...

OK, good that all is still by email, with files received and sent by email. Still can be at least some proof. But what if they send a job to be done online into their (or end client's) server , some online tool, etc., and where even the POs are on their system (many agencies already have this) where they gave you a temporarily login (or where they can change the login information any time and you won't be able to access to that)?

So, what actual proof shall we get confirming the receipt? A signed document with their original signature sent by registered snail mail to the translator with the text like "I, the undersigned, confirm the receipt of the translation from ..."??

Just saying...


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