What can we do when an outsourcer refuses to pay?
Thread poster: Dylan Jan Hartmann

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...

Jun 20, 2012

Having just sent a project that took 2 weeks to complete, which also required sub-contracting a typist, to a US based outsourcer, the outsourcer (on the ProZ blueboard) is claiming that the project was cancelled. There was never a mention of the project being cancelled. The standard protocol of receiving a job was followed, that is, 1. provide a quote, 2. receive the work, 3. confirm beginning the job. 4. sending the job on the deadline. The outsourcer is referring to an ambiguous statement she made in response to a question I asked about receiving credit if the work was published saying, 'Hold on we are still gathering everything together before we make a final decision.' This is the last contact I received and assumed it was in regards to the question I asked, so I held on, did the translation and sent it on time.

A lengthy amount of email correspondence has followed between the outsourcer and I and it has ended up with the outsourcer refusing to pay anything or even contact the client for my sake.

I have submitted a poor rating for that outsourcer so that someone hopefully in the future may be warned. Also a non-payment report, hoping that something may help.

What is left for me to do? I am not based in the USA, so can't go knocking on their door!

Left out of pocket for 2 weeks worth of other work I rejected to finish this job advertised on ProZ and for hiring a typist to type from source (thai) pdf to source .doc.


[Edited at 2012-06-20 08:33 GMT]


Local time: 04:35
never work without a PO Jun 20, 2012

You should never start work untill you have received an official purchase order from the vendor. Unfortunately that is your lesson learned now.


John Fossey  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:35
Member (2008)
French to English
POs in the US Jun 20, 2012

Rifraf wrote:

You should never start work untill you have received an official purchase order from the vendor. Unfortunately that is your lesson learned now.

POs are rarely used in the US as a clear offer and acceptance is legally binding. In this case it seems that there is some lack of clarity in the correspondence. Certainly any hesitation from the outsourcer is a reason to request clarification.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:35
Member (2007)
+ ...
Did you get a clear "go ahead" authorisation? Jun 20, 2012

Oh dear, it sounds as though there has been a misunderstanding here about whether they were ready for the job to be done. You say you followed the usual steps, and I totally agree with John that an offer/acceptance can be totally binding without a PO (I do it all the time), but did they actually say "go ahead"?

If they didn't, you may have a problem getting paid, even through the courts. If they did, you should be entitled to full payment, but of course you may have to fight for it. One thing is certain: until and unless you receive payment in full, that translation remains your property. Any attempt by the end client, the agency or anyone else to publish that text will be in breach of intellectual property rights. I'm no lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that's how it would work out. You might like to remind the agency of that, formally.

Good luck.



Tina Vonhof
Local time: 20:35
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Hold on Jun 20, 2012

They said "hold on". You should have clarified immediately what that meant. It happens often that an agency contacts me, we agree on rate, deadlines, etc. but then they have to confer with the client. Sometimes it takes days to receive the go ahead and sometimes the job never comes at all. If I am offered other work in the meantime, I notify the first agency that my deadline for their job has now changed.

I don't understand why you needed the source document re-typed. Could you not have printed it and worked from there?


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:35
Chinese to English
As I understand it... Jun 20, 2012

...basically, nothing.

I feel for you. You could try the small claims court in their jurisdiction, see if they'll allow you to phone in a claim - it sounds like you'd win. But according to this: http://community.lawyers.com/forums/t/121369.aspx , you have to go to the US to make a claim in small claims court. So legal options aren't likely to work out for you. If you don't have an ongoing relationship with the outsourcer, you have almost no leverage against them. We run 99% on trust, and it works out very often, but this example just shows you the weaknesses in the honour system.


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