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No payment received from outsourcer - feedback needed
Thread poster: Audra deFalco

Audra deFalco
United States
Local time: 14:37
Italian to English
+ ...
Jul 10, 2012

No payment since March.

Getting REALLY frustrated. Signed on as the sole Italian > English translator* for a huge Italian project on fashion/lifestyle articles. While I really like the articles and the lady I’m working with who is heading the project is very nice and accommodating, I’m finding it extremely hard to continue working. Granted, if I didn’t need the money I would just tell her that she’ll never hear from me again until she gives me a penny, but I digress.

We came up with a “pagamento a forfait” for the first five months of the project and then a per word rate further on. I specifically did this to give her a break (while still ensuring that I am paid as a professional) because she was short on funds when starting this project…

Little did I know, it’s been since March and I have not received a payment to date. I’ve stopped sending her articles and told her in the nicest way possible that while I have finished, proofread articles in my possession I would not be forwarding them to her until I see payment. She’s been promising me that she’ll pay since late May/early June when I finally started pressing her on the manner.

She owes me more than 2,000 euros at this point. I’ve also just realized she has never signed the contract I drew up for her (I know, I know). I just e-mailed her telling her “it’s a new quarter. New quarter, new rates” to keep up with the rising cost of living in NYC where I am based. This is fair on my part.
What do I do? I don’t want to be nasty to this woman but I am seriously running out of patience.

*I am honestly sick and tired of Italian business practices. I’ve lived, worked and studied in Italy and come from an Italian family so am all too familiar with this. I don’t know, but in the U.S. we don’t start a project without a) having funds available to pay subcontractors and b) don’t take months to pay. I give this woman a break when promised the guarantee of steady paid work and it bit me in the ass.

Edited to correct typo.



[Edited at 2012-07-10 15:58 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:37
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Who is she? Jul 10, 2012

Who is this woman ? Is she an agency? I'd be interested to know who. If you want to say, please email me privately using the link on this page (we're not allowed to mention specific names).

If you want the name of a very helpful lawyer in Italy maybe I can be of assistance.


 

Audra deFalco
United States
Local time: 14:37
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks. Jul 10, 2012

Tom, I'll PM you.

I also, coincidentally, just submitted a positive peer review for you for the PRO network before you even answered this question. I've seen your posts/your assistance on the forum and think you're a definite asset to the community.


 

Vladimír Hoffman  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 20:37
Member (2009)
English to Slovak
+ ...
Simple advice - Jul 10, 2012

BE nasty. The woman is, at the best, highly irresponsible and threatened your living standard.

You clearly wrote "Granted, if I didn’t need the money I would just tell her that she’ll never hear from me again until she gives me a penny", which means that in your mind you are decided not to continue in the business. Italian colleagues repeatedly mentioned in discussions in Money Matters that Italian collection agencies are really harsh an do not take gloves, so I would recommend you use their services. No mercy for or politeness with cheaters.

sognatrice wrote:

No payment since March.

Getting REALLY frustrated. Signed on as the sole Italian > English translator* for a huge Italian project on fashion/lifestyle articles. While I really like the articles and the lady I’m working with who is heading the project is very nice and accommodating, I’m finding it extremely hard to continue working. Granted, if I didn’t need the money I would just tell her that she’ll never hear from me again until she gives me a penny, but I digress.

We came up with a “pagamento a forfeit” for the first five months of the project and then a per word rate further on. I specifically did this to give her a break (while still ensuring that I am paid as a professional) because she was short on funds when starting this project…

Little did I know, it’s been since March and I have not received a payment to date. I’ve stopped sending her articles and told her in the nicest way possible that while I have finished, proofread articles in my possession I would not be forwarding them to her until I see payment. She’s been promising me that she’ll pay since late May/early June when I finally started pressing her on the manner.

She owes me more than 2,000 euros at this point. I’ve also just realized she has never signed the contract I drew up for her (I know, I know). I just e-mailed her telling her “it’s a new quarter. New quarter, new rates” to keep up with the rising cost of living in NYC where I am based. This is fair on my part.
What do I do? I don’t want to be nasty to this woman but I am seriously running out of patience.

*I am honestly sick and tired of Italian business practices. I’ve lived, worked and studied in Italy and come from an Italian family so am all too familiar with this. I don’t know, but in the U.S. we don’t start a project without a) having funds available to pay subcontractors and b) don’t take months to pay. I give this woman a break when promised the guarantee of steady paid work and it bit me in the ass.



 

Audra deFalco
United States
Local time: 14:37
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Correspondence Jul 10, 2012

I just sent her another e-mail outlining my grievances (lack of payment, no signed contract ever sent back to me, etc) and am waiting for her response. Unless she says, "remitting payment immediately. Sorry for the confusion!" I'll be contacting a lawyer.

Anyone know of anyone good in Italy? I could, I suppose, ask my cousins but they're not translators.


 

Audra deFalco
United States
Local time: 14:37
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Surprise surprise! Jul 10, 2012

Just got a response. FINALMENTE.

She says the first payment will be made tomorrow (for ONE month of work, not the total amount due) and that she will make payments for the other two months in August and September. She also states that she won't have any more funds going forward until the very end of September AND on top of that, has decided without my consent to split my work up with another translator so that effectively from September on I will be making half the amount of money agreed upon.

What do I do?

I want to demand current payment NOW, not for just one month. What kind of gall does this person have to basically say "this is how it's going to be"??? How can she pay me five or six months down the road for work already completed?

Ugh. Italians.


 

Audra deFalco
United States
Local time: 14:37
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Rates Jul 10, 2012

I'm tempted to tell her that I gave her a discounted rate for guaranteed 36,000 words per month and now that I'm down to 18,000 my rate will almost double. Is this okay?

I'm looking to move to a new place and need this money, otherwise I would tell her to take a hike.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:37
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Be suddenly very busy! Jul 10, 2012

If I was in this situation I would simply become suddenly busy with a pile of work from other customers, and would cease cooperation with this person until she has paid all amounts due. She's simply financing her business with your money, and that is not acceptable. You cannot keep financing her forever. When she has paid your money, you might consider working for her again.

To me, this is clearly an unrealiable business partner and as a Proz member you can surely think of reporting this low level of reliability in the Blueboard so that other colleagues are warned.

Good luck with the collection! (And make sure you hire a lawyer to write this person a letter warning of legal action if payment does not take place as agreed.)


 

Audra deFalco
United States
Local time: 14:37
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hmm Jul 10, 2012

I'm not sufficiently busy in translations during this particular time to actually "appear" busy. I work in real estate development in an office and so have been only able to translate part time these days. This money, should it come in steadily, was going to be a God-send for me to move into a new apartment.

Sigh. I need that money. I wish it just actually would come in!

What do you think about raising my rate so I don't take much of a hit? She still gets the same quality work... why should I have to suffer so much?


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:37
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Money for moving Jul 10, 2012

Maybe I am too negative here, but honestly I would not make a decision about entering bigger expenses only based on an unreliable business partner... I am not at all convinced that she will send you the money tomorrow, and even if she does and finally pays gradually, her unilateral decision of hiring another person for part of the work means that your expected income is not at all guaranteed, neither for payment terms nor for volume of work...

As for increasing your rate now... it would only reduce the flow of work even more, if you ask me.

I would try to find more customers, maybe in an international market where payment terms are more sensible.

Good luck!


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:37
English to German
+ ...
keep telling her what she is doing to you Jul 10, 2012

Hi, Sognatrice.

I don't think she'll be paying you almost twice the rate when she hasn't paid you at all at the current rate or at least what is overdue to you. Here is a suggestion although other colleagues might think it's not proz.com's job. Not sure how you got the job or if the woman contacted you via proz.com at all, but send a support ticket, explaining the situation and find out if proz.com will intervene on your behalf.
Also, is the outsourcer on blueboard? Did you check before you accepted the job? If so, I would enter a comment because it might put pressure on her.

From my own experience, it's very hard to get money from someone who is far away. It took me 8 months, once, back in 2008/2009. I simply sent them emails almost every day and explained to them how I needed the money. I had first asked nicely, then became more adamant about it, and then started threatening (you leave me no choice, tomorrow I will call the BBB, contact the police, contact my lawyer, ....) I actually sent an email to the police, without getting a reply. Anyway, it took me 8 months. After 7 months, they finally sent me a check (supposedly international) but I refused and sent it back because it wouldn't have cleared for a whole month (I lived in Austria then). I had given them a choice of bank accounts for wiring the money, one in Europe and one in the US, and they mixed up the information and gained a few more weeks by claiming I must have given them the wrong numbers (it turned out they had put together various numbers and information from both my accounts which of course meant the money never left their account). In your case, I would try to get paid for what you already did and not move a finger for her anymore = stop translating for her. These cases only get worse.

So, let's see what she is going to pay you tomorrow (how is she paying anyway?)

I would also tell her that as long as you haven't been paid, you are the owner of the translation and you reserve all rights, including going to court . You certainlt can't give her anything else you already translated and can't translate anything else.

It seems to me she's in over her head with her business - another case of "yes, outsourcing translations that's and easy business." She probably has a hard time getting money from her clients (could be 30-45 days there) and she is in need of it for herself.
These are desperate times for many people. I wouldn't actually pursue anything through the courts. It'll take a long time and will cost you.

I would keep emailing her and pressuring her - about how much you need the money, that you were counting on it, that this is your translation with your rights, but I would definitely tell her that if she doesn't pay you, you will have to enter a blueboard comment. You kept up your part of the bargain (and she did accept your translations), but she didn't keep up hers (paying you). Also, file that support ticket with staff here - they might be able to help by contacting the woman or giving you additional advice (they have in the past, so I was told).

It would be great if you could get a new translation job right away from somebody else - I know this time you'll make sure to ask them to sign a contract. Reputable companies or agencies will sign, and if they are new to you, they need to pay a down payment in addition to (co-) signing a contract with you.

It's a jungle out there!

Hope this helps.

Bernhard


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:37
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Appearing to be busy Jul 10, 2012

sognatrice wrote:

I'm not sufficiently busy in translations during this particular time to actually "appear" busy.


Well, this customer doesn't know whether you are actually busy or just appear to be.icon_smile.gif

It's not easy to pass on jobs when one needs the money. However, consider this.... you keep working for her and you'll get paid whenever she feels like it. Would that help you any? Frankly, I don't think so.

So now she's splitting the work between you and a colleague. Maybe today's not my "blue-eyed" day, but to me this sounds like that other translator is working for lower rates than you are. So increasing your rates for this customer might lead to her splitting the work between more than just two translators. In this case you'll end up working less and making less - despite your raised rates! - and still will get paid whenever she feels like it.

You should take legal actions to collect what she owes you and then... find honest clients who don't depend on translators' "loans" to finance their business/lifestyle.

Good luck!icon_smile.gif


 

Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:37
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nothing for nothing Jul 10, 2012

sognatrice wrote:

Just got a response. FINALMENTE.

She says the first payment will be made tomorrow (for ONE month of work, not the total amount due) and that she will make payments for the other two months in August and September. She also states that she won't have any more funds going forward until the very end of September AND on top of that, has decided without my consent to split my work up with another translator so that effectively from September on I will be making half the amount of money agreed upon.

What do I do?

I want to demand current payment NOW, not for just one month. What kind of gall does this person have to basically say "this is how it's going to be"??? How can she pay me five or six months down the road for work already completed?

Ugh. Italians.




Take a breath, don't get worked up, one of the biggest mistakes many freelancers make is taking things personally, this is business treat it as such.

She owes you money, you've stopped sending files, that's a good start.

Don't send her anything until you actually receive the money in your bank, if the first payment does not cover the work you have already sent don't send any more work until the payments cover the work already delivered. Once you are up to date with your payments decide if you want to keep taking the chance of not getting paid before you send any more work.

Working and not getting paid is time wasted which would be better spent looking for other clients (even if no clients come out of it straight away this is "planting for the future").

If she's decided to split the work it is a bad sign it might well mean she's realized you are not easily fooled, so I would make sure I get paid before sending any more work, if she threatens not to pay unless you do, then think of it this way, why send her more of your work which you may not get paid for, better she only has part of the work and not all of it.


 

123Translations
Venezuela
Local time: 14:37
Member (2008)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Definitely drop the discount Jul 10, 2012

sognatrice wrote:

I'm not sufficiently busy in translations during this particular time to actually "appear" busy. I work in real estate development in an office and so have been only able to translate part time these days. This money, should it come in steadily, was going to be a God-send for me to move into a new apartment.

Sigh. I need that money. I wish it just actually would come in!

What do you think about raising my rate so I don't take much of a hit? She still gets the same quality work... why should I have to suffer so much?


First of all, I am sorry to read about your trouble getting paid, which is, to all of us, a nightmare.

With regard to dropping the discount, do it. The discount was given based on a certain workload, so if the agreed workload decreases, so does the discount. If only to sent her a(nother) message that you are serious.

I also agree with other advice our fellow translators have provided, such as not sending any more files until all work submitted has been paid for, and getting a lawyer if the first payment is not made.

Good luck with it, and, if all goes well, with the move.


 

urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:37
German to English
+ ...
Q for clarification Jul 11, 2012

There's one thing that's not clear (to me, at least) from the OP's description of the situation: Have you actually sent any invoices to the client? Or have you just been waiting for her to send payment?

[Edited at 2012-07-11 10:05 GMT]


 
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