Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
I got screwed out of $1400
Thread poster: mike316
Jul 31, 2012

I run my own agency.

Here is some background info: a company contacted me, saying they had already done a English to Spanish translation of a contract and they needed some modifications made to it.
In addition, they had a new contract that they needed translated.
I hired someone that I always work with and trust and had them do the translation.

I wait and wait and wait. Invoice due date comes and goes, and I dont hear back.
So today I emailed the CFO of the company, who is the one who signed our agreement, and she says she is not paying because the translation was not done properly and did not match the original translation that they had. she has also implied a lawsuit by saying I wasted her time and damaged her company's reputation.

I am in the US and will be filing in small claims. Unless someone here advises me against it.
I am not sure if I have a strong case. The agreement clearly states that she is paying for our translation services, and makes no mention that translation will match their original translation.
I am not sure what to do here. I am a small time guy and $1400 is a big deal to me, while to them, it is nothing.

This is a big company (it is a company that produces TV shows) so they have plenty of attorneys to defend them and screw me more, while I am just a dude who does translations.

What should I do?


 

David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 16:49
German to English
+ ...
you're not a dude who does translations Jul 31, 2012

you're an agency - you need to sort your business out properly - what sort of paperwork did you have for the job, what did you tell your translator. What does she mean by "doesn't match the original translation"? (did they already have a translation or does she mean terminology?)

etc.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:49
Russian to English
+ ...
Hi, Mike, my feeling is they want to screw you Jul 31, 2012

If she did not like the translation, she should have notified you within a reasonable time that the editing or translation was not of the quality they had expected. Reasonable time, I mean a week the most. No, she will have to pay for it, I think, no matter if the translation is good or bad. You could also have a second opinion whether the translation is good or bad. There are people who specialize in legal translation, some bilingual lawyers would also be able to judge -- or even monolingual if this is just an issue of style.

 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: Empty post.

Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:49
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Not sure of the legal points, but... Jul 31, 2012

It seems to me that the client should have immediately contacted you (or within a reasonable period of having received the translation) if there were objections to the quality. This might be an argument in your favor. Certainly the wording of the complaint is also odd, very ambiguous. Was there anything about that in the agreement or instructions to begin with? The least they should do (maybe can be pressured to do so?) is send the translation back to you with detailed comments regarding the specific objections.

In any event, you have learned to add a clause to your contract/agreement about claims being made within X amount of days after completion/submission of the assignment. What a nasty surprise, I'm sorry I don't have more concrete advice for you, and hope you get it resolved. Maybe a compromise with the client is possible, if they can justify their argument.


Edited punctuation for clarity.

[Edited at 2012-07-31 10:32 GMT]


 

Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:49
French to English
+ ...
Question Jul 31, 2012

mike316 wrote:

I run my own agency.

Here is some background info: a company contacted me, saying they had already done a English to Spanish translation of a contract and they needed some modifications made to it.
In addition, they had a new contract that they needed translated.
I hired someone that I always work with and trust and had them do the translation.


What procedures do you have in place to ensure that the work delivered to you is of good quality, and did you adhere to these procedures in this case?


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:49
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Some more questions Jul 31, 2012

mike316 wrote:
I am not sure if I have a strong case. The agreement clearly states that she is paying for our translation services, and makes no mention that translation will match their original translation.

So was the translation you provided good or bad? Did you get it proofread? Do you understand the two languages enough to check it yourself? Have you asked to see the original translation to see in which way(s) it differs. Does your client know that two translations will NEVER be the same? They could both be perfectly acceptable, yet different. On the other hand...

I am just a dude who does translations.

But you didn't do this one, did you? You said yourself that you are running an agency, with everything that entails:
- As an agency, you are responsible for checking and ensuring the suitability of your sub-contractors.
- If you aren't 100% sure of the translation quality, then it should be proofread. Actually, I see this as a basic duty of any agency: I translate then proofread my work, but a second pair of eyes is invaluable.
- If both the translator and the proofreader mess up, that's your business risk. You chose them, you get the blame.

There are a zillion other things that an agency should be doing, that freelance translators can't or don't have to do. That's why you don't pay your translators as much as you charge the client. I'm sure you know that but it sometimes pays to get these things down in black and white.

If you know you (i.e. your agency) provided an acceptable translation, and the client is refusing to pay, then it's a straightforward case for the courts. The client won't have a leg to stand on. However, if you have any worries at all that this company will be able to successfully sue you (with or without expensive barristers), then you need to seriously get your act in order. It won't be the only time.

Sheila


 

urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:49
German to English
+ ...
business model Jul 31, 2012

Only a couple of weeks ago the OP described himself as a "freelance translator" and had no CAT tools:
http://www.proz.com/forum/cat_tools_technical_help/228934-comparing_multiple_word_documents.html

But by last week he was "running [his] own translation agency":
http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/229481-client_getting_annoyed_by_having_to_sign_a_contract_every_time.html

From last week's thread:

Sorry if I sound pessimistic, maybe it's because i have been screwed out of money before.
so I always always make sure to cover myself legally.

Can the OP tell us what steps he took to "cover himself legally" in this case?

Still, as long as the OP, as the owner of a "translation agency", has taken care to set up his business in a suitable form so as to limit his liability and has effective quality control processes in place, he should be able to verify that he took adequate steps to ensure that he delivered a translation of appropriate quality to the client, right?


I am just a dude who does translations

Oh.

[Edited at 2012-07-31 11:17 GMT]


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:49
Russian to English
+ ...
Hi, Mike. They would also have to prove it in court that the translation was inaccurate Jul 31, 2012

They will definitely have to prove in court that the translation was not usable. For that they would need an opinion of an expert who would testify in court, if the jude decided he would like to depose the person. Experts charge $5,000, in the best scenario, so I don't think they will bring one, unless they have a linguist with appropriate credentials who works for them. If your translation is so bad that the judge can tell it without knowing the source language, this might be a different story.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:49
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Ah! That Mike! Jul 31, 2012

I had wondered whether this wasn't the same agency owner who was sending contracts for each and every job. I hadn't seen the other thread about CAT tools but I must say that I find it very disturbing to hear this from an agency (rather than a translator):
I know Trados does this, but I dont have the money to buy it.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:49
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Really? Jul 31, 2012

LilianBoland wrote:
They will definitely have to prove in court that the translation was not usable. For that they would need an opinion of an expert who would testify in court, if the jude decided he would like to depose the person. Experts charge $5,000, in the best scenario, so I don't think they will bring one, unless they have a linguist with appropriate credentials who works for them. If your translation is so bad that the judge can tell it without knowing the source language, this might be a different story.

All I know about the American legal system is what John Grisham tells meicon_biggrin.gif. However, it does sound as though you might be mixing your courts here, Lilian.

I don't think this case would be heard by high Federal criminal courts (whatever they're called). This would be a civil action for a small claim. I really can't imagine that someone in the small claims court, with a claim that can't exceed a few thousand dollars, would be expected to pay those fees.

It certainly doesn't work that way in the French SCC, where I successfully sued a non-paying teaching client once.

Sheila


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:49
Russian to English
+ ...
Hi, Sheilla. Jul 31, 2012

These are not the court's fees -- these are the fees experts charge to testify, not just in federal court, or supreme court but even in small claims courts. Here I agree it is not worth the money for the parties to spend because the maximum compensation sought in New York City small claims courts is $3,000. The experts don't really care what kind of court it is, but how much time they have to spend.

 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:49
Member (2008)
French to English
Need to be businesslike Jul 31, 2012

mike316 wrote:

I run my own agency.


If you run your own agency, be aware that you need sufficient financial resources to pay your translators even if some of your clients don't pay you. You need a sound business plan, a good accountant and a good lawyer. That's just basic business practice.

I hired someone that I always work with and trust and had them do the translation.


That's good. Who did you hire to do quality control, i.e., proofread, revise? That second step is essential for an agency.

I wait and wait and wait. Invoice due date comes and goes, and I dont hear back.


What did their credit check reveal which you would have done before accepting to extend credit? Do they ever pay anyone? Do they have a lot of lawsuits on the go? Or are they known for being a trouble-free client?

Or don't you know?

I am in the US and will be filing in small claims. Unless someone here advises me against it.


You don't have much to lose in small claims.

I am not sure if I have a strong case. The agreement clearly states that she is paying for our translation services, and makes no mention that translation will match their original translation.


If you have a clear agreement, you might be in a good position.

I am not sure what to do here. I am a small time guy and $1400 is a big deal to me, while to them, it is nothing.

This is a big company (it is a company that produces TV shows) so they have plenty of attorneys to defend them and screw me more


Not so fast. There will be no attorneys in small claims court. In fact, you might even be able to subpoena a Director of the company, since in small claims court representatives of the parties are not usually allowed, only the parties themselves. Corporations have a hard time defending themselves in small claims court and will often settle out of court.

I am just a dude who does translations.


No you're not, you said you're an agency. They're two completely different things. One sells services (dudes who do translations) with very little cost of the goods sold and a direct hand in the work delivered, while the other (agencies) sells goods (the documents) with significant cost of the goods sold and little involvement in the work delivered. A world of difference.


 

Vladimír Hoffman  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 16:49
Member (2009)
English to Slovak
+ ...
First of all, Jul 31, 2012

you must ascertain some facts:

mike316 wrote:

I am not sure if I have a strong case.



Why you are not sure? Have you read the translation or have it proofread? Have you contacted the translator with your client's response, asking for comment? Did your client require to observe terminology from old text in the new translation (it is quite common requirement and very important one. CAT tools are invaluable in such case.)? If so, did you require it of the translator? Have you already paid to the translator?

Maybe the company is trying to cheat you. Maybe they got so upset with the translation that they didn't even bother to ask for correction. I do not know and, frankly, it seems that you do not know it either. Ascertain the facts.


 

mystymy
Local time: 10:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
Small claims has a limit Jul 31, 2012

First, being currently in the US and having gone to small claims, there is a limit on the amount you can claim. You'll have to check but a few years back it was $1k max, not a penny more. It may have changed, hopefully you would be able to get it paid to you.

However, they should have contacted you about the translation soon after receiving it. You also should have done a bit more follow up regarding the translation and payment. But that's past now, usually big companies to whom $1k is small change, pay up, because it is easier than dealing with court, but it really depends on the company that sent you the translation-maybe $1k is big money to them too.

Best of luck, I hate hearing of things like this happening to translators, but unfortunately it still happens.


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

I got screwed out of $1400

Advanced search







TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »
PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search