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How to handle cancelled project
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:47
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 12, 2012

Simplified story: Large established agency assigns translator (me) a large-sized project (purchase order issued). Two weeks later, agency cancels the project (client made a mistake and does not need the translation.) Translator has already completed almost half of the project (except for final proofreading). Agency wants detailed information about number of hours worked, status of project, etc. and is basically trying to negotiate payment. Translator offers to grant a 50% discount for the work done, but not proofread ($1000 instead of $2000) if agency pays immediately (instead of in 60 days) along with payment of another invoice from February ($1400). Agency claims they do not have the funds available to do this.

I think I am being extremely fair and generous under the circumstances. Do you agree?




[Edited at 2012-04-12 20:18 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:47
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Someone made a mistake and it was not you Apr 12, 2012

Either the customer made a mistake or the agency made a mistake issuing a firm order when there was no firm order from the customer. In any case, you should be paid your full amount for the part done. Full stop.

If the mistake was at the agency, then they bear the cost of the mistake. If at the customer, they should pay the part that was done, accept a partial delivery, and put it in a drawer.

If the agency is implying that they don't want to pay a penny or that they will not ask the customer for a partial payment... then they are not reliable business partners and you should reflect that in the Blueboard to help protect others from an unacceptable management of similar situations in the future.

(Edited for a typo.)

[Edited at 2012-04-12 20:39 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:47
Member (2007)
English
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Fair and generous Apr 12, 2012

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
Translator offers to grant a 50% discount for the work done, but not proofread ($1000 instead of $2000)


It's generous of you to accept any reduction, though I can see that youdidn't spend the normal time proofreading. I would have thought that 50% was very generous.

if agency pays immediately (instead of in 60 days) along with payment of another invoice from February ($1400). Agency claims they do not have the funds available to do this.


It sounds as though that's the problem area. If they are a reliable agency and are dealing honestly with this situation, then they are probably/maybe being honest about this too. In that case, it might be in your own interests to be a little more flexible, IMO.

Sheila


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Lennart Luhtaru  Identity Verified
United States
Member
English to Estonian
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That must be a miniature agency Apr 12, 2012

What kind of an agency does not have 1000 USD cash on account...

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Zhoudan  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:47
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
so the problem is that they do not have the funds Apr 13, 2012

Did they agree to pay? If yes, then ask them when they will have sufficient funds.

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

Simplified story: Large established agency assigns translator (me) a large-sized project (purchase order issued). Two weeks later, agency cancels the project (client made a mistake and does not need the translation.) Translator has already completed almost half of the project (except for final proofreading). Agency wants detailed information about number of hours worked, status of project, etc. and is basically trying to negotiate payment. Translator offers to grant a 50% discount for the work done, but not proofread ($1000 instead of $2000) if agency pays immediately (instead of in 60 days) along with payment of another invoice from February ($1400). Agency claims they do not have the funds available to do this.

I think I am being extremely fair and generous under the circumstances. Do you agree?




[Edited at 2012-04-12 20:18 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:47
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
An extra thought Apr 13, 2012

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
(client made a mistake and does not need the translation.)

It is interesting to see how some agencies never want us to be involved with the end customer... but when the agency is in trouble, all of a sudden, the end customer becomes part of the deal (have not paid the agency, changed their mind about the job, reduced the scope of the job, etc.).


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Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:47
Member (2004)
English to Russian
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Indeed Apr 13, 2012

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
... but when the agency is in trouble, all of a sudden, the end customer becomes part of the deal.

Bravo! It's too right!


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Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:47
Member (2004)
English to Russian
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You did it right Apr 13, 2012

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
Translator offers to grant a 50% discount for the work done, but not proofread ($1000 instead of $2000) if agency pays immediately ...

With any variations, this is a reasonable approach. You are a party with equal rights, and if your agency is in good relations with you this should only show them you are a serious (and valuable!) partner.

[Edited at 2012-04-13 05:30 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-04-13 05:31 GMT]


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:47
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
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Is the 50% = work done or an additional discount? Apr 13, 2012

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

Translator offers to grant a 50% discount for the work done, but not proofread ($1000 instead of $2000)


[Edited at 2012-04-12 20:18 GMT]


What do you mean by "50% discount? If you mean that you would simply invoice the work actually performed (half the job, minus proofreading not done), that's the bare minimum you should receive. You've actually suffered damages in addition to that, due to disruptions to your schedule, lucrative jobs you may have passed on because you thought you'd be busy with this one longer than you were, etc.

Settling for work done is quite generous, and there is no reason at all to consider anything less.


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ibz  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:47
Member (2007)
English to German
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Just wondering Apr 13, 2012

You write that this is "a large established agency" and they claim not to have 2,400$ available to pay you? This really makes me wonder ... Doesn't sound like a reliable business partner to me.

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Mark Hamlen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:47
Member (2010)
French to English
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There should be no discussion Apr 13, 2012

The problem belongs to the agency. They are trying to pass their problem on to you.

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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:47
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French to English
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Established agencies Apr 13, 2012

A few months ago, the end client of an established agency that I work for realised it didn't need a translation I was working on (turned out it had already been done by someone else) and the agency asked me to stop working on it immediately, but I was paid in full for what I had done and there was never any question of my being paid less than the full rate. That's the way it should be, as far as I'm concerned.

The February invoice shouldn't come into it, it sounds as though you're already resigned to it not being paid unless you prod them. Why did you agree to accept only 50% of your rate for the work you've done on this latest job? And can you be sure that they're telling the truth about the client cancelling the job and didn't ask another translator to do the rest of the job and try the same trick on them? Believe me, there are agencies out there that would do that sort of thing!

It's natural for us to assume that large + established = trustworthy, but even established agencies are perfectly capable of trying it on; in fact, I think there is a temptation for some of them to rely on our assumptions, and that's where they can trip people up. Negative BB entries can be warded off by complaining about a translator's work, as some of them well know by now. I am particularly wary of corporate organizations that constantly trumpet about their latest acquisition and their compliance with all manner of ISO standards when in reality they employ slapdash working practices. When dealing with a new client, I make a point of ignoring size and longevity and instead focus on my gut feeling and "red flags", one of which would certainly be reluctance to pay justified by implausible excuses; and as others have pointed out, a large agency should have the money to pay you. Sounds to me like you're simply being manoeuvred into accepting an extremely raw deal, but it's translators' readiness to oblige when asked to accept less than they deserve that encourages agencies to try it on, so I hope you will stand up for yourself.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:47
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
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@Jeff Apr 13, 2012

I agree with others here who have stated that you've not cut yourself the best deal here, but I do understand the concept of exchange for immediate and smaller payment for the peace of mind of at least having something in your pocket and being done with the whole mess, rather than wondering for 60 days if you will actually end up receiving payment, or instead have to deal with more hoo-ha about "unavailable funds," "making our utmost efforts to honor our commitment to you," etc.

I also find waiting 60 days for payment unacceptable.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:47
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Cancelled project Apr 13, 2012

I completely agree. However, in this case the work was easy and there was a very long deadline allowing me to fit in other work to pay bills in April.

Also, assuming that the agency would double my fee (and the client doesn't know this) and assuming that it was the client who cancelled the work, you would think that the client would be thrilled that they would only have to pay 25% of what they would otherwise owe.


Robert Forstag wrote:

I agree with others here who have stated that you've not cut yourself the best deal here, but I do understand the concept of exchange for immediate and smaller payment for the peace of mind of at least having something in your pocket and being done with the whole mess, rather than wondering for 60 days if you will actually end up receiving payment, or instead have to deal with more hoo-ha about "unavailable funds," "making our utmost efforts to honor our commitment to you," etc.

I also find waiting 60 days for payment unacceptable.



[Edited at 2012-04-13 15:14 GMT]


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Alison Sparks  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:47
French to English
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Just a minor point Apr 13, 2012

I don't know how it works in the States, but in Europe there is legislation about how long a client can make you wait for payment. For small companies (PME's in France) 30 days is the maximum wait legally enforceable. Some companies try to take longer, but then you can always add interest and if push comes to shove they'll be obliged to cough up.

I recently turned up for an interpreting job, (having stayed overnight at the town involved), only to find there were no English speakers to interpret for. The agency who employed me said the client had made a mistake. However, the agency said their usual policy was to pay 55% of the hours which would have been worked.

I have just been told (and verified) how many hours were worked by the other interpreters and have been asked by the agency to bill for 55% of the total. Very considerate and professional agency I thought.

Can't see why other agencies don't have a similar clause in their contracts either with end clients or translators.


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