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Agency in Argentina pretty much refusing to pay - help!
Thread poster: Stéphanie Denton
Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
French to English
+ ...
Oct 21, 2011

Hello all

It's been a while since I've had a good whinge, so flick the kettle on, grab a cuppa, and prepare yourselves!

I completed a translation back in August, for an agency in Argentina (please contact for name). It was initially supposed to be a 60k project, but they decided to drip feed it to me. It was agreed upon that if I did not receive more than 50,000 words to translate, then I would charge my higher rate. However, if I received the whole project, then I would lower the rates slighlty.

I received the first installment, and translated it. A few days later they got back to me saying they'd had issues opening it, and I needed to re-do a part of it, but that it would be paid. I asked what the issue was and they said it was because I had used Trados Studio 2009 and not 2007.

So, along I trot with the second translation. I hand it in on time, everything seems fine.

A week later I receive an e-mail from the PM, saying that the client wasn't happy with my translation. Attached there was an excel sheet, with the client's "corrections". The PM said that all the changes were stylistic. I looked through the document, and there was a column for the translator's comments. Indeed, the changes were stylistic (i.e. correct answer had been changed to right answer and so on...).

We discuss payment. As I hadn't received anymore, it was agreed upon that I would charge the higher rate, and if I received more (which I thought was doubtful, considering that the client didn't like my style) then we would amend the next invoice to suit the lower rate. They said that as I was a new translator, they would pay me early.

I submitted my invoice, which was accepted.

I receive a further project (part of the initial project). I asked the (different) PM if they are sure they want me to complete the project, given that the client wasn't happy with my style. She said that I will have to change my style. I stated that this wasn't as easy as it seemed, but that I would stick to the TM provided by the agency. She said OK, and that if there are any problems, they would rectify it at their end. I had issues opening their TM, and eventually started 12 hours after the first e-mail exchange but they allocated no extension, despite them sending an empty TM!

I handed the project in on time, and received an e-mail 7 days later saying that they weren't happy. The "errors" that they pointed out were all due to their TM...I pointed this out and they agreed, and said that they would pay me. I said that I was no longer comfortable working on this project, and that I would charge my higher rate, as agreed initially. They accepted.

I submitted my invoice, which was accepted.

Along comes the payment due date for the first invoice. I e-mail a gentle reminder, only to be told that they cannot pay me early as agreed, because the client hasn't paid. I eventually get a date out of them, and it is a further 30 day wait.

Along comes their due date for the invoice, I send yet another gentle reminder. Only to receive any e-mail stating that the client doesn't want to pay because of "quality" issues, and that subsequently, the payment shall be delayed.

I e-mail back saying that it is not my problem if the client hasn't paid on time, their payment contract with me has nothing to do with their contract with the client. They clearly stated that the first project was of good quality, and why would they have given me the second installment if that were not the case?

No response.

I give them until midnight to pay, stating that if they do not pay, I shall seek legal advice (we're not talking a small amount of money here), no response.

There has been no mention of payment for the second invoice. They are ignoring me.

I don't know what to do from here, they do not have a Blue Board (although I want to create one), but even so, how can I post something when they're mentiong so-called quality issues?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

Stéphanie


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:13
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just a business matter Oct 21, 2011

I prefer not to comment on the other issues, but there is one thing that was probably not a very sound business decision:

If a new customer asks for a volume discount, you cannot offer the discount at the beginning, when you don't really know whether the full volume will happen in due time (for whatever reasons). A more sensible approach is to apply the regular rate, and once the volume has reached the threshold over which the discount applies, you reduce your rate on the work invoiced after that point in time, effectively aiming towards the final rate the customer wished for, and only if they really honour their part of the deal.

With the discounted rate from the beginning, you have ended in a situation in which you feel that the higher rate is the one that really applies, thus creating discomfort to both parties.


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Oct 21, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I prefer not to comment on the other issues, but there is one thing that was probably not a very sound business decision:

If a new customer asks for a volume discount, you cannot offer the discount at the beginning, when you don't really know whether the full volume will happen in due time (for whatever reasons). A more sensible approach is to apply the regular rate, and once the volume has reached the threshold over which the discount applies, you reduce your rate on the work invoiced after that point in time, effectively aiming towards the final rate the customer wished for, and only if they really honour their part of the deal.

With the discounted rate from the beginning, you have ended in a situation in which you feel that the higher rate is the one that really applies, thus creating discomfort to both parties.


That is what was done, but it's extremely difficult to apply discount in that manner. As the discount should apply to the entire project (if I had received it all), which would have meant part of it would have either been invoiced at very little or not at all (I haven't worked it out). Thus, over-complicating things. It was always agreed to that if I didn't get all of it, the higher rate would be applied. No discomfort about that.

[Edited at 2011-10-21 12:04 GMT]


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Tina Colquhoun  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:13
Danish to English
+ ...
Why the first extension? Oct 21, 2011

Stéphanie Denton wrote:



Along comes the payment due date for the first invoice. I e-mail a gentle reminder, only to be told that they cannot pay me early as agreed, because the client hasn't paid. I eventually get a date out of them, and it is a further 30 day wait.





Why did you give them a 30-day extension??

Tina


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:13
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Blue Board Oct 21, 2011

Stéphanie Denton wrote:
they do not have a Blue Board (although I want to create one), but even so, how can I post something when they're mentiong so-called quality issues?


Blue Board rules refer to your client having raised quality issues. Surely, if your client is happy - it's only the end client who has doubts - then you are free to use the Blue Board. That's my interpretation, although you'd need to check with staff to be sure. I agre with you that the agency must pay you, on time and in full, if satisfied with the quality.

Why anyone lets clients dictate unreasonable terms amazes me, but it does happen all the time. Surely, if you are going to offer a volume discount (something much more suitable to production line manufacturing than intellectual services), then you either have to receive the complete job up-front or the lower rate only kicks in when you translate the nth word. I suppose the next invoice could carry a rebate for words translated at the higher rate, but on no account would it make sense to offer a volume discount before the volume has been processed.

Still, that's off-topic here, really. I don't think you have any legal problem demanding your payment from the agency - just a practical problem!

Sheila


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Standard payment terms Oct 21, 2011

Tina Colquhoun wrote:


Why did you give them a 30-day extension??

Tina


Because their standard payment terms are 60 days, they had said that they'd try and pay before, but that that was the last deadline.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:13
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Did you know? Oct 21, 2011

Stéphanie Denton wrote:
Because their standard payment terms are 60 days, they had said that they'd try and pay before, but that that was the last deadline.

When you issued the invoice, was it known to you that it was 60 days?


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Payment terms Oct 21, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

When you issued the invoice, was it known to you that it was 60 days?


Yes, but the date on the invoice was not at 60 days, but at 30 as discussed with the Project Manager. So yes, I shouldn't have accepted the extension, of that I am well aware, but I did it in good faith, and they said that them paying early hadn't been set in stone...


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
Hebrew to English
Alternative contact methods; have you tried calling them? Oct 21, 2011

Stéphanie Denton wrote:

I don't know what to do from here, they do not have a Blue Board (although I want to create one), but even so, how can I post something when they're mentiong so-called quality issues?


I don't think you can create a BB for someone and then slate them on it. I have a funny feeling that that would be sailing too close to the wind.

If you chose to work for an agency who doesn't have a BB record, and you surely would have known this beforehand, then you kind of made your bed there....time to lie in it.

However, nothing irks me more than an agency/client trying to use stylistic differences to justify non-/late payment. Hopefully you have some concrete contact details for them? Phone number? Address? Have you tried calling them?

If they ignore your calls too, then your only recourse is the law.
Seek legal advice (if you believe the amount justifies the cost).


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Stéphanie Denton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
BB/Phone Oct 21, 2011

Ty Kendall wrote:

Stéphanie Denton wrote:

I don't know what to do from here, they do not have a Blue Board (although I want to create one), but even so, how can I post something when they're mentiong so-called quality issues?


I don't think you can create a BB for someone and then slate them on it. I have a funny feeling that that would be sailing too close to the wind.

If you chose to work for an agency who doesn't have a BB record, and you surely would have known this beforehand, then you kind of made your bed there....time to lie in it.

However, nothing irks me more than an agency/client trying to use stylistic differences to justify non-/late payment. Hopefully you have some concrete contact details for them? Phone number? Address? Have you tried calling them?

If they ignore your calls too, then your only recourse is the law.
Seek legal advice (if you believe the amount justifies the cost).



I have e-mailed everyone including their big boss. Everything is going without a response, so my next step is to just phone them.

I've got a couple of legal contacts so that'll be the next step from there.

In terms of the BB...I don't see why I shouldn't create a BB, if they are messing people around. They've made their bed, maybe they should lie in it?

Stylistic complaints really irk me too, as translation is so subjective. What one person may love, another may hate. And, they said themselves that the "corrections" were all stylistic and that they personally preferred my versions.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:13
Hebrew to English
Blue Board Rules Oct 21, 2011

Stéphanie Denton wrote:
In terms of the BB...I don't see why I shouldn't create a BB, if they are messing people around. They've made their bed, maybe they should lie in it?


I understand you feeling aggrieved, but there are at least three Blue Board Rules which would prohibit you from doing this:

2 Certain conditions must be met before Blue Board entries can be made. Entries concerning the Likelihood of Working Again (LWA) with given outsourcers are allowed only when (1) commissioned work has been completed in full and delivered on time, and (2) there have not been complaints related to quality shortly after delivery. Entries may not be made on the basis of negotiations, test translations, or other preliminary or non-commissioned interactions.

Whether justified or not, this is what the rule states (although I think this rule should be amended slightly for cases of underhanded claims of quality complaints).

7 Defamation is not permitted. The Blue Board may not be used to defame any individual or business. Entries, comments accompanying entries, and responses to entries, must focus strictly on willingness to work again.

If you specifically create a BB entry for a business merely to post a negative comment, this could be seen as a deliberate attack or attempt to defame them. (After all, you have motive - no payment).

9 The Blue Board may not be used to coerce. Using the Blue Board, or threatening to use the Blue Board, in such a way as to pressure an outsourcer or service provider into taking some action, is strictly prohibited.

A BB entry made by you in this regard might be seen as an attempt to "shame" them into paying you (which could be construed as coercion).

I'm not saying that it is your inention to defame, coerce or anything else, I'm just pointing out that your wanting to create a BB for them could easily be rebuffed by any number of official BB rules.


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 02:13
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...

MODERATOR
Hi Stéphanie Oct 21, 2011

You are free to create a Blue Board record, however, in accordance with the site rules you are not allowed to make an entry for this client in case the quality issues have been raised ( http://www.proz.com/siterules/blue_board_bb_blueboard/2#2 )

In case quality issues have been raised you would need to resolve them with your client (ask for an independent 3rd-party review, for example). Otherwise, in the "word against word" situation you will get nothing.

Please also note that creation of a BB record (even though you will be unable to make an entry) will be useful as there will be a possibility of receiving entries from other translators who probably worked for this outsourcer. In fact, you should create a BB record for them before starting to work for them and not afterwards.

Natalia


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:13
French to German
+ ...
Time for standardisation Oct 21, 2011

Hello Stéphanie,
I am not expressing any kind of criticism but I think it is time for you to implement some standardisation in your business rules.

If some clients (or potential clients) are not ready to accept them, don't do business with them.

I have never had a problem for strictly enforcing my defined rules, T&C and so on.

Good luck with this agency anyway!


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:13
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Weak dealings... Oct 21, 2011

Stéphanie Denton wrote:
Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
When you issued the invoice, was it known to you that it was 60 days?

Yes, but the date on the invoice was not at 60 days, but at 30 as discussed with the Project Manager. So yes, I shouldn't have accepted the extension, of that I am well aware, but I did it in good faith, and they said that them paying early hadn't been set in stone...

This dealing of special conditions outside the agency's standard terms sound to me like weak dealings: the company can take it back once they got the project started. Unless you have the special terms black on white in a specific PO for this project, I'm affraid there is little you can do. The PM can always say that you misunderstood his good intentions about paying before their standard terms.

In Spain we have a very rude saying: "Prometer hasta meter, y una vez metido olvidar lo prometido." (could be --very-- freely translated as "Commit until you meet meat, and once meat is met, all the commitments forget.")


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:13
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Exactly Oct 21, 2011

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:
If some clients (or potential clients) are not ready to accept them, don't do business with them.

I completely agree. Clear terms black on white are best for all parties. Negotiation should be kept at a minimum, unless we are dealing with a very long-term, complex task. The more I express my conditions in the first (or at most second) email to a prospect, the happier I can live my life.


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