What should I do in this situation?
Thread poster: Dariush Robertson

Dariush Robertson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:20
Chinese to English
Aug 22, 2012

An agency gave me a fairly large project to do about 2 months ago. The agency has a policy that no translations should be started until they provide a document called a JAS - Job Assignment Sheet (a bit like a PO). They provided me with a JAS, and I finished the translation almost 2 months ago. Yesterday I received a group email, which was sent to all the translators working on the project. It was quite vague, but the general scope of the message was that because the client didn't provide confirmation for something - the JAS forms weren't valid, and that they are "pushing the client for confirmation", and that they are sorry for the inconvenience.

I replied asking for clarification, I also sent the JAS form, and quoted their policy about how a JAS form validifies the translation. I mentioned that they authorised the translation, and that I have provided a professional service, and expect to receive my fee without delay.

This is my first translation with the agency. My first impression of the agency was very good, they have a great looking website, and seem very organised. My main concern is that they are across the other side of the world. I don't know if I really have a problem yet or not - so I won't name the agency or mention the country in which they are located.

I just wanted to ask my fellow translators - has anyone had this problem before, and if so - what should I do?


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:20
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Post it on the Blue Board Aug 22, 2012

This is completely unacceptable!

If they have such a strict (however sensible) rule on the JAS, it shouldn't apply only when it interests them. They should have done their due diligence in getting a firm order/commitment from their client, which whom you are expected not to have any contact. So if they stuck their neck out by issuing you a JAS without a binding purchase order, it's their problem, they are liable to you for full payment.

It amazes me it took TWO months to come up. At the very worst, 30 days after you delivered the job - provided it was good - you should have been paid in full.

If you post this on the Proz Blue Board, you'll make them aware that you are serious about it. By the way, you shouldn't be impressed with their - or any - amazing web site. A clever web developer can make a kitchen table fly-by-nite operation look like a powerful international corporation.

In any case, your low WWA post on BB will touch their worst fear, if they intend to stay in this business: it should significantly reduce their chances of getting any translators to do the jobs they eventually have. This should help you getting paid faster than hiring a lawyer at this stage.

However don't compromise: you followed their rules to the dot; they didn't.


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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:20
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Insist on your payment Aug 22, 2012

Hi Dariush,

Well, I'm sure all of us here will agree that you are entitled to your money. Your deal was with them and you followed the agreements you had with them.

The question is just whether the agency will be of the same opinion. There are many cases where agencies (or middlemen of any kind) argue that they have not been paid by their client and therefore will not pay the translator. Bullocks, of course, but there are many who try it this way.

Have you checked their Blueboard record? What does it say?

If their BB is okay or empty still, I'd give them the benefit of doubt. Maybe this is a situation that has come up for them for the first time. They might really be short on cash right now if their client is unwilling to pay. But that cannot become your problem. If I were you, I'd make it clear that I insist on the payment, but I might give them a little extra time before announcing any harsher steps.

Good luck!

Stefanie


PS: José Henrique's post was not there when I posted mine, and after I've read it now, I must say that he is right in what he says about the long timespan since you completed the project. Under "normal" circumstances, you should have received your payment about a month ago. Instead, the agency starts haggling about it now, a month later.

Did you have any agreement with them about the payment period?

加油!

[Edited at 2012-08-22 22:46 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:20
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The cat is out of the bag already Aug 22, 2012

Stefanie Sendelbach wrote:
If their BB is okay or empty still, I'd give them the benefit of doubt. Maybe this is a situation that has come up for them for the first time. They might really be short on cash right now if their client is unwilling to pay. But that cannot become your problem. If I were you, I'd make it clear that I insist on the payment, but I might give them a little extra time before announcing any harsher steps.


I had a similar case not too long ago, however the payment term was 30 days, and they gave me adequate notice that there was internal trouble, which would cause my payment to be delayed. That agency's BB record was quite good and long, and they reassured me about the intention of keeping it so. I got paid about 1-2 weeks late.

No problem if their BB record is empty, to start with a low score. This shoud motivate them to get their act together. Today I applied for a job from an agency that had extremely bad scores at the outset, several years ago, and then improved to an almost solid stream of 5s. The telltale sign was the responses from people who were presumably 'taking it over' and setting it right. As the record shows, they were successful in doing it.


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Dariush Robertson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:20
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
They seem to have a good record on the Blue Board Aug 22, 2012

Thank you José, and thank you Stefanie!

I've checked the Blue Board and they seem to have about 12 comments, and they all seem positive. The latest comment was in 2012, so perhaps I will give them the benefit of the doubt - for the time being. I've already sent them an email insisting that my fees are not delayed. I will wait and see how they respond - they have been very good with communications so far.


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telefpro
Local time: 19:50
Portuguese to English
+ ...
doctored? Aug 23, 2012

Perhaps, the BB report could be doctored.

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Sandra& Kenneth  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 17:20
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
They cannot invalidate the JAS Aug 23, 2012

This is like one-sidedly invalidating a contract after it was carried out. AFAIK this is an illegal practice.
You have no business with their client. You contracted the work with the agency and they are responsible for paying you.

And how come they do this two months later!?

An agency that does this is NOT a good agency, BB record notwithstanding.

I hope you get paid (don't hold your breath) and NEVER work with them again. Even if eventually they do pay, they may well pull this trick again when they have some difficulty or another.

Find out about collection agencies in that country.

Make sure you give them an appropriate BB entry in any case (I would not post it until all other nagging tactics have been exhausted).

Cancelling the PO after the fact is a big no-no.

Good luck.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 22:20
Chinese to English
You're going about it the right way... good luck Aug 23, 2012

Being clear and uncompromising on the basic point is the best thing you can do to ensure payment. We don't have many weapons in our armoury, so we need to make sure it never comes to a "fight". Just keep reminding them that they have voluntarily and knowingly entered into a legal contract with you, and they must now keep to that contract.

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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:20
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Exactly what the others said. Aug 23, 2012

Your contract is with the agency - what their client does isn't your concern, and they have an obligation to pay you. They surely know this, but are trying to see what they can get away with.

I had a recent experience with a "super" agency who does all the right things to look good to their clients but is not good for their translators: Every job offered is due yesterday, for translating and reviewing there are procedures involving all sorts of forms and reports you have to fill out which are part of their ISO requirements but also complete time sinks, all included in an unspectacular word price. So essentially I ended earning a rate that seemed ok at first, but devolved into a pittance because of all the extra work involved. I did one review and one translation. No more. Far too time-consuming for the return. The communication with the PM was great, but there was waaayyy too much of it because of the labyrinthine procedures. Prestigious agency or not, don't bother with yours again once you get paid - it doesn't bode well for the future if they try to weasel out of paying their translators using a phony excuse.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:20
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
BB Record Aug 23, 2012

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

No problem if their BB record is empty, to start with a low score. This shoud motivate them to get their act together. Today I applied for a job from an agency that had extremely bad scores at the outset, several years ago, and then improved to an almost solid stream of 5s. The telltale sign was the responses from people who were presumably 'taking it over' and setting it right. As the record shows, they were successful in doing it.


Hi José,

Basically, you are right. However, an improving BB record might possibly be that they have treated their translators better. You know about the feature "request a BB entry".

Last year I created a BB for an agency that not only one-sidedly reduced the agreed (and by them accepted) rate - after 30 days and only when payment became due! - , but have been refusing to pay the reduction of the invoice since then, and without ever having given me a reason for their deed! On a side note: they have always been somewhat late payers.

Since then, about 7 entries were made into their BB record, all straight 5s with emphasis on their payment practice, that is always! paying on time or before the due date.

I'm not saying these are "solicited" entries, but... this agency keeps sending me jobs but has ignored my repeated requests to pay their debt.


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Dariush Robertson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:20
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
They promise me I will receive my fee Aug 23, 2012

I sent a few emails to the PM who I worked with and a few other staff members. I stated the facts and quoted their policy. They said that the client has started to pay on a case by case basis, and that I would recieve my fee. This is a lot clearer than the vague message they gave me before about the JAS/PO not being confirmed/valid etc.

If the fee is a little delayed I can understand, but I'm still pretty annoyed about the whole thing. Hopefully they will transfer my fee shortly, and then I won't leave any negative feedback on the Blue Board. I don't think I will work with them in the future though.

Thanks for all the advice, it was most helpful.


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