How to avoid refusal to pay for translations?
Thread poster: Peijun

Peijun  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:58
English to Chinese
+ ...
Aug 24, 2011

How to withheld the translation payment evasion?

Seeing the labor contract being due with the company, I found a local translation company to start up a part-time translator's job. Passing the test and sample translation, I finally obtained the company's part-time translator and interpreter's acknowledgement letter.
I studied financing subject in the university, so I decided to translate in the Business/Finance subject. However, the workload is not in a regular volume. Above all, the disadvantage is that the overseas client usually refuse to pay after the works were translated. It is impossible for me to travel over the nation boundary to claim this payment, so they become "bad debt". I, therefore, release my paypal account and bank account no. on the internet, asking the overseas client to pay 60% of the total payment in advance. I would start to translate, otherwise, I'd rather not translate.

My paypal account : zhangmeryl@gmail.com


 

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:58
Flemish to English
+ ...
Escrow account or Letter of Credit. Aug 24, 2011

Yalili wrote:

How to withheld the translation payment evasion?

Seeing the labor contract being due with the company, I found a local translation company to start up a part-time translator's job. Passing the test and sample translation, I finally obtained the company's part-time translator and interpreter's acknowledgement letter.
I studied financing subject in the university, so I decided to translate in the Business/Finance subject. However, the workload is not in a regular volume. Above all, the disadvantage is that the overseas client usually refuse to pay after the works were translated. It is impossible for me to travel over the nation boundary to claim this payment, so they become "bad debt". I, therefore, release my paypal account and bank account no. on the internet, asking the overseas client to pay 60% of the total payment in advance. I would start to translate, otherwise, I'd rather not translate.

My paypal account : zhangmeryl@gmail.com



If both parties to a deal don't know/trust each other, it is possible to set up an escrow account at your bank. The customer pays into that account. You will be paid when by the escrow agent (your bank) when you have fulfilled your obligations i.e.timely delivery of a correct translation. An escrow account ensures timely and correct payment.

When parties in an international business deal don't know/trust each other there is also the possibility of a letter of credit.


 

Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:58
Italian to English
+ ...
Any reason given? Aug 24, 2011

Yalili,

Are there quality issues here by any chance behind the refusal to pay? If I've understood correctly, this is a recurring problem.


 

gumuruhsspj
Local time: 12:58
English to Indonesian
+ ...
OMG Aug 24, 2011

omg... that's a bad experience.
So anyway, how is it now? Have you been paid by them?


 

Peijun  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:58
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
With respect to the quality issue behind the payment Aug 24, 2011

Hi Williamson and Susanna,

I feel pleased to receive your reply to my question. I'd like to share with you my experiences in Proz.com for this issue. About 4 months ago, I was sent a email from a US translation firm for translate a B/S sheet for a Taiwan technologies company in hasty. That moment in China was already in midnight. But the client asked me to complete it in just 2 hours. I reviewed this task. My job was to re-check the meaning for the account names. I accepted this task for I thought it was not a tough task. When I proceed to translation, I met some accounting terminologies which couldn't be found in dictionary. For example, the terminology of account no. 2140, "公平价值变动列入损益之金融负债——流动“. The value is "0" and I searched the its content in an accounting firm for clarifying this account name's meaning. But my knowledge in accounting restrict me in this field. With the time limits, I checked the account name in verbatim. I think it won't be wrong literally. Then before I went to bed, I submitted my translation to the client. To avoid the further arguments, I didn't sleep for the rest 2 hours waiting for customer's feedback.
However, the translation company doesn't satisfy with the translation to some extent. First, they are suspicious about the account name "公平价值变动列入损益之金融负债——流动" in English. Second, they are not satisfied with the remarks. I feel very frustrated about this result. From my true will, I don't want to see this negative feedback. On the other hand, I really can't find an bilingual accounting expert to explain to my client about its in-depth meaning.
Anyone herein knows the meaning of B/S sheet, please reply me. I feel thankful for your helping hand.

Thanks,

Yalili


 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member because it was not in line with site rule

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 23:58
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Make sure Aug 24, 2011

Failure of translations agencies to pay can happen to anyone but the most important thing for you is quality control. Make sure you are fluent in your language pairs and have expertise in the fields you are translating in. Dictionaries alone are not enough. If you are asked to work in a field you are not knowledgeable about, it would be wise to refuse the job.



[Edited at 2011-08-25 14:17 GMT]


 

wonita (X)
China
Local time: 02:58
What a statement! Aug 24, 2011

Yalili wrote:
Above all, the disadvantage is that the overseas client usually refuse to pay after the works were translated.


 

Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 05:58
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Hmm Aug 25, 2011

As far as I can tell, Yalili's client is unhappy because mistakes were made in the translation (or at least they think so). Is that the case? If you think their complaints are unjustified, you really do have to find another Eng-Chn translator to review your translation and then forward their comments to the client. I know you've said you can't find one, but there has to be at least one person out there.

If the client is right though... At best you can apologize profusely, fix the errors and give them a discount.


 

Tony M
France
Local time: 07:58
Member
French to English
+ ...
A different experience... Aug 25, 2011

In the over 15 years I have been translating, I have never once had a client refuse to pay; the only payment default I have had was from an agency in Spain, who I subsequently discovered had a very bad reputation, had left many other debts unpaid to translators around the world, and was eventually banned from ProZ.com

So I think that you need to distinguish here between real bad payers, and simply those who refuse to pay because they have issues with the quality of your translation.

As has already been suggested, it would be very wise for you to examine your own quality isses before blaming the clients. From your own admission, at least one of your clients was dissatisfied with the quality of your work, and this really ought to ring warning bells for you — are other clients perhaps likewise dissatisfied, but simply not bothering to tell you? Most agencies are too busy to waste time on negative feedback, they will simply "vote with their feet" and refrain from using your services again.

Some quality pointers that may help you to find out "where you're at":

1) If you accept a job having seen the source text (and goodness knows, it's suicide to accept work "sight unseen"!), then you owe it to yourself and the client to read the text thoroughly to see if there are going to be any terminology problems; if there are, then you need to decide if the deadline is long enough to allow you to do proper research — after all, dictionaries are only the first, very basic resource, and of less and less use as the terminology becomes more and more specialized. If the job is too rushed, and you are not confident of mastering the terminology correctly, then the only sensible course of action is to refuse the job — pleading afterwards that you were "too rushed" to do a proper job simply is not going to be accepted as a valid excuse for substandard quality. I have on occasion warned a client in advance that a short deadline meant I couldn't guarantee full quality, enabling them to take an informed decision; for some purposes, less than 100% quality may be acceptable.

2) It's important not to overstretch yourself, or overestimate your own abilities. Although intellectually it is of course good to tackle challenges, as a relatively inexperienced translator, you would probably do best to stay within your "comfort zone", both for your own sake and for that of your customers.
In general, it is not usually considered advisable to translate into a language that is not your mother tongue — this is a very common cause of quality issues. If the translation agency works in your own native language, then they may not be aware of the quality issues here; but if their customer is native in the target language (often the case!), or if the agency itself is (and you mention agencies abroad, so this seems likely), then they will easily spot any linguistic inadequacies in their own language (even if not expert in the specific field).

I found a sadly laughable example on the Blue Board the other day: in a (rejected!) translation from FR > EN, someone had translated 'serveur' (ambiguous in FR) as 'waiter', even though in the IT context of the document in question it would of course be 'server' — the sort of mistake that is really unforgiveable, and likely to lead to payment issues!

3) Don't forget, too, that even a very small number of mistakes in a translation effectively ruins the whole thing; like the curate's egg, a bad translation is wholly bad, one cannot say it is "good in parts". Imagine the financial consequences for the end client if they have thousands of copies of a document printed, with a prominently visible embarrassing translation error...

I hope these few pointers will help you avoid future payment issues!

icon_smile.gif


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:58
French to German
+ ...
I have to agree... Aug 25, 2011

with Tony's post.

 

Dave Bindon  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 08:58
Member (2010)
Greek to English
I agree with the previous answers Aug 25, 2011

Nobody (from any country) has ever refused to pay me, nor even asked for a discount. I'm paid promptly, in full, and the clients come back for more.

As the others have said or inferred, maybe your clients have 'issues' with the quality of your translations. You need to ask your clients to give you an honest explanation.

Your query here on the forum seems to relate to translations into your non-native language. I started learning my '2nd language' (Greek) when I was 10 years old, I've lived in Greek-speaking countries for about 7 or 8 years, I studied Greek at King's College, London for 3 years, I studied at a Greek university for a year, I listened to Greek radio almost every day when I lived in London (15 years), I now live in Greece again and speak Greek every day...but I still refuse to translate into Greek: it's not my native language, and I don't have the skills required to write Greek like a (good, educated) native speaker. I can totally fool Greek people when I'm having a basic conversation (I often correct their errors!), but not when I'm writing about more specific subjects. Could that be your problem? Maybe you should, like most translators, translate into your native language.

Good luck, anyway! I hope you get paid soon.


 

Turnoi
Local time: 08:58
Right! Sep 6, 2011

Yalili wrote:

How to withheld the translation payment evasion?

Seeing the labor contract being due with the company, I found a local translation company to start up a part-time translator's job. Passing the test and sample translation, I finally obtained the company's part-time translator and interpreter's acknowledgement letter.
I studied financing subject in the university, so I decided to translate in the Business/Finance subject. However, the workload is not in a regular volume. Above all, the disadvantage is that the overseas client usually refuse to pay after the works were translated. It is impossible for me to travel over the nation boundary to claim this payment, so they become "bad debt". I, therefore, release my paypal account and bank account no. on the internet, asking the overseas client to pay 60% of the total payment in advance. I would start to translate, otherwise, I'd rather not translate.

My paypal account : zhangmeryl@gmail.com




You are right to do that in order to be sure that overseas clients pay you what has been agreed on after completing your job or them.

I am from Europe, and I have heard stories from other freelance translators about certain translation agencies that would not pay in full or on time for the work done for them. The freelance translator concerned currently resides in a country outside the European Union an thus may have some problems to take legal action against the agency in question.

I myself would never work for an agency as the rate they normally offer is far below what I think I should get. Sometimes there are disputes over rates due to the freelance translator, which can turn out be quite a hassle. I will therefore work for private clients only and directly.

I will normally not release my original translation work to the client until full payment has been made to my Paypal or another similar account. When sending an invoice to the client, I will normally attach a copy of my translation work done for him with a digital watermark in it for the client to see that the job was done on my part. The final version of my translation work without watermark will be sent to the client upon successful completion of payment to my account.
This has proved to be a quite efficient way over the years...


 


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