Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
False claims on payment by translation agency
Thread poster: Ioannis Lachanis

Ioannis Lachanis
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:34
Member (2008)
English to Greek
+ ...
Apr 5, 2013

Hi all

I have never ever made any entries, especially entries related to issues with another translation agency before, even though I have been a part of the ProZ community for many years and have had the privilege to work with more than 70 agencies across the world.

But recently I decided that we translators must always make a stand for our rights, seeing as how some (thankfully not many) continue to treat us like we are "grunts".

Two months ago I was assigned the translation from Greek to English of a children story by a German agency.

It was around 4000 words.

I completed my work in due time (as always) and delivered to the PM I was dealing with with comments and concerns about certain aspects.

For example, there was a sentence that was incomplete and generally the whole text was not of high quality. I can honestly attest to that being a writer myself and a keen reader. The story was not that of a professional writer but that is not the case in any way.

The agreement made with the company never included any reference material, or guidelines by their client.

Their PM never came back to me with feedback on my questions/notes. A couple of days later she returned to me saying their client was unhappy and that I used words that children would not understand. This is understandable and I must say that I never claimed of my work being beyond any polishing. I have to say though that any literature work can always be tweaked around in a what I consider mostly preferential way.
I approached my translation in the most professional manner and having an original Greek text at my disposal I tried to do the best job possible, working around what I was already thinking to be a poorly written children story.
For example, the author had written in Greek about a girl he was calling "chubby" in Greek. I used the word "chubby" in English because I believed it is not a very negative word to be used (like "fat" for instance), and in any case that was what the author chose in his Greek text.
When I received a reviewed copy of my word there were hundreds of changes and comments, and "chubby" was deemed totally inappropriate.
Also, there was a note about the missing text making it seem my fault!!

Obviously the PM never let the client know of my comments. It was also clear that the person who did the review had no contact with the client because I cannot believe he wouldn't ask them about certain things.

I made my case to the PM and expressed my disappointment. I told her that this is not a proofreading, rather than a new translation that somebody did, following their own ideas on how to approach this.
I told her I understood her position as she had to satisfy the client, but also that she should look after her translator too, especially when he (I) made specific comments that should have been passed on to the client.

She came back to me saying the client used his OWN reviewer. Again this makes no sense because if I were given directly a text by someone that was missing words or sentences, I would ask them directly.

I told the PM this is very frustrating and even though I could provide a new version, the way the client approached this (and "his" reviewer) I was afraid we would go through the same issues.

I felt that there was a complete lack of communication and that the PM was clearly not understanding my position.

She never came back to me and I assumed (frustrated as I was) that the matter was closed.

A few days later I contacted her regarding the invoice to be provided for the work I had done. I was contacted by their chief financial officer who according to his signature on his email is the owner as well.
He gave me instruction about the invoice and I sent it to him. He never made any comment about missing information on the invoice, or about any quality issues.

To this point I should say that we never signed any form of contract that had any terms/conditions regarding payments/quality issues/penalties, as most professional agencies do.

The amount was roughly 180EUR.

This all happened beginning of February.

Beginning of March I sent the owner/chief financial officer an email asking about the payment. He told me that the invoice would be paid April 1st. I thanked him for his reply.

April 2nd (Tuesday) I contacted him again and this is the communication:

"Hello XXXX

can you please confirm payment of invoice please?

Thank you

Ioannis"

This is what he replied:

"I confirm.
Have a nice day.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

XXXX
Owner and Chief Financial Officer
XXXX-XXXX"

Yesterday, seeing as no payment had been made, I contacted him again asking about the payment. His response was this:

"Hello Giannis,

YYYY informed me that due to quality issues 50% will be paid of your invoice. Malcom proofread all
and you saw the changed file.
Also I need to know your moneybooker or paypal adresse-there is no bank info on your invoice.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen"

So what we have here first and foremost is a false confirmation of payment.
I checked my invoice and saw that there was no bank/paypal info. I hadn't written anything related to that. But my first thought was "why didn't he say anything upon receipt of invoice?".
Secondly, as he is the chief financial officer, not having this information how could he confirm payment, even if at the time he confirmed he was about to process it? Even if he tried to pay me but saw the information was missing, why wasn't I informed?
Finally, when did they ever let me know about the 50% penalty? The answer is simple, NEVER.

Another note to make is about this "Malcom". I was informed the review/proofreading was done by a person the client used. The way this answer is given suggests Malcom is someone working for this company.

They also say I saw the changed file, even though they never took any step to fix this between us. I have had my work reviewed countless times, with changes to be made, and not only was I never penalised, but I was treated with respect and professionalism, meaning I was in an honest communication with my partners about the changes and if they should be made or they were unnecessary.

I let them know that I have no intention of pursuing full payment, even though I find the 50% penalty totally unacceptable as it was never stated in any agreement signed, nor was it communicated at any point. Two things that I regard signs of serious business and respect.

I let them know that I will demand the 50% payment as soon as possible through PayPal (which they got). I stated my total frustration about their false confirmations, something that goes way beyond the scope of "we made a mistake" and forces me to think of them as terrible professionals and liars.

I checked their blue board and generally they have good reviews. I was horrified when I saw that in the cases of translators giving them low scores and expressing payment issues, the company gave terrible negative comments about them and their work, as a payback sort of way.

I made my Blue Board entry today and expect from them to call me a bad translator and my work of low quality. At the end of the day, I may be the worst translator ever. What I will never allow anyone to do though is lie to me, or to any of my colleagues.

As a professional translator there are two things nobody will ever accuse me of, missing a deadline and not communicating promptly and in a professional manner.

I demand the same.

I wanted to make this matter public because I feel sometimes completely alone and at the mercy of unprofessional people who think that because our job is carried out remotely via emails, they have the luxury of doing whatever they want.

Of course until this moment no confirmation has been made about my 50% payment through PayPal.

Thank you for listening.
Good luck to you all.

Ioannis Lachanis


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
Claim the 100% Apr 5, 2013

Hi Ioannis,

First of all, this sounds like a terrible situation and I really sympathise with you. However, I think that you have the right to claim 100% of the payment.
It would be really easy (for agencies) if agencies could just decide on the spot what percentage to pay of an invoice, especially when we are dealing with something that isn't finite, like a translation.

I would ignore all their comments so far and claim the 100% of your invoice as you normally would from any agency that doesn't pay you. After all, they ignored your comments about the source text and it is THEIR responsibility to have your work proofread by a professional linguist. That should be part of the service they offer the client and if they choose not to, they have to suffer the potential consequences.

As far as I'm concerned, any comments made about a translation need to be made by a professional linguist, not someone the client has decided to have check through the text. If the client makes an unfounded complaint based on comments by a non-linguist, it is the agency's role to mediate and deal with the client, not pass this problem on to the translator.

I had a similar situation a while ago with a text I translated from Dutch to English and the Dutch client seemed to think he knew English better than a professional linguist who is a native English speaker. Either that, or he thought that he could get away with getting the translation for free if he claimed it was no good. The agency was a one-woman-band and she seemed to buckle as soon as the client made a complaint but I stood my ground and thankfully got my invoice paid 100% in the end.

The agency certainly can't simply reduce the invoice if there was no prior agreement to this effect. They have no legal grounds to stand on there at all.

Treat them as you would any non-payer and claim the full amount of your invoice.
I'm not sure about the system in Germany for claiming unpaid invoices but maybe someone else will be able to help you there.

I would start off by explaining that a) you have completed the task as agreed, b) it is their job to mediate when they have conflict with a client, c) if they would like to make a case for a lack of quality in the translation provided, this case would need to be made by a professional linguist in the language pair concerned and d) you are informing your colleagues of the fact that they have not paid your invoice and will keep colleagues informed as to these developments and e) that you will be claiming 100% of your invoice through all the usual channels since they are in breach of your agreement if they do not pay you 100%.

Good luck!



[Edited at 2013-04-05 11:41 GMT]


 

Ioannis Lachanis
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:34
Member (2008)
English to Greek
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Apr 5, 2013

Dear Marie

thank you for going through the trouble of reading my huge post.

The thing is this problem has never happened to me before. Several years ago with one particular company in Greece that I had some issues with late payments and a very nasty accountant, I had managed to get my full payment in time, but I never dealt with non-communicative people, or with an agency refusing to pay me (100% or less).

So I don't know exactly how one goes about dealing with this scenario. I made a claim for non-payment via ProZ, but I don't know what exactly that involves.

Ioannis


 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member because it was not in line with site rule

NataliaAnne  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:34
Portuguese to English
Chin up! Apr 5, 2013

Ioannis, I really feel for you; this is an awful situation.

I think the worst part about it is the insinuation that it’s all your fault and so you should deal with the ramifications, including reduced payment. I totally agree with Marie-Helene, who clearly outlined all the key points when she said:

Marie-Helene Dubois wrote:

I would start off by explaining that a) you have completed the task as agreed, b) it is their job to mediate when they have conflict with a client, c) if they would like to make a case for a lack of quality in the translation provided, this case would need to be made by a professional linguist in the language pair concerned and d) you are informing your colleagues of the fact that they have not paid your invoice and will keep colleagues informed as to these developments and e) that you will be claiming 100% of your invoice through all the usual channels since they are in breach of your agreement if they do not pay you 100%.


I assume the name of this Terofalstrasse-based agency will be removed shortly due to site rules but I would emphasise that any negative blue board entry at all should be cause for concern. When I looked at this agency’s record, they had a sprinkling of 1s and 2s amongst the 4s and 5s, meaning that you are not alone – other translators have had unpleasant experiences. For me, this sets the alarm bells ringing.

I think the important thing is to resolve the payment issue as quickly as possible and put the whole thing behind you. If you feel you’d like some specific advice on the payment, consider emailing the translators who have made negative blue board entries for this agency to find out how they resolved their issues.

Remember to take a deep breath, consider the number of years you’ve been translating successfully and put this one instance into perspective.


 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member because it was not in line with site rule

NataliaAnne  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:34
Portuguese to English
Banned from Proz Apr 5, 2013

That’s a big warning indeed! The Blue Board really does have all the information in this instance…

 

Ioannis Lachanis
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:34
Member (2008)
English to Greek
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Apr 5, 2013

Thank you all so far for your comments.

In all fairness, I never contacted this company through ProZ, but through another online translators community (they are too being notified as we speak on the matter).

After the first signs of trouble I checked with Blue Board and even though I saw the ban, I also saw several very recent entries so I assumed the ban could be for any number of reasons.

I will try and contact the colleagues who had issues with this company and see what they can offer in terms of advice.


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:34
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
A few issues not discussed so far Apr 6, 2013

4000 words for 180 euros is a rate of 0.045 euros per word. I think that is a very low rate, especially for someone living in London. Perhaps you accepted this low rate because you assumed the agency would hire a native editor who is a specialist in children's literature, as based on your profile, you are neither a native English speaker, nor specializing in this field.
In such a situation (and probably in general), you should not assume anything, but verify what the agency's project flow is like, and assess the risks involved.
The riskiest thing that can happen in this situation is your translation getting passed onto the end client as is, without editing. (This seems to be the situation here.) If the agency's process is like that (in other words, they are just file-pusher translation brokers), I would advice you to think twice before taking on such a job.
If the agency is using an editor, make sure the agreement you have with the agency covers quality issues, so that the editor's fees would not be deducted from your fees after the fact. Also, if the agency's editor is the last person touching the text that goes to the end client, any quality issues the end client raises are the agency's responsibility.
If the agency is not using an editor, then you yourself should hire one, and raise your rate accordingly, as you yourself will need to pay the editor. If the agency does not accept the higher rate, again, run away.

As I see it, there were problems with this business relationship from the beginning, and both sides made mistakes.

You already told them that you are not arguing for full payment, so just take the 50%, and leave it at that. I have a feeling that neither you nor the agency would want any future collaboration anyway.

Real professional agencies would just pay the whole amount, especially if it is this small, and never contact the translator again. They would just swallow the expense, and be done with it. It is true, though, that real professional agencies are very careful about their processes, and apply quality control right from the beginning, starting with their recruiting and project assignment process, so they don't get into such situations very often.

[Edited at 2013-04-06 16:51 GMT]


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:34
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Claim 100 % Apr 6, 2013

Hi Ioannis,

this is a genuine nightmare, and you do have my sympathy.

Ioannis Lachanis wrote:

I completed my work in due time (as always) and delivered to the PM I was dealing with with comments and concerns about certain aspects.

For example, there was a sentence that was incomplete and generally the whole text was not of high quality. I can honestly attest to that being a writer myself and a keen reader. The story was not that of a professional writer but that is not the case in any way.

The agreement made with the company never included any reference material, or guidelines by their client.


You have made the PM aware of the "discrepancies", hoping that matters would be clarified. That they weren't is not your fault. Consequently, there is no legit justification for the 50 % penalty.

Also, it is industry standard that you are entitled to making 2 corrections of your translation before any type of penalty becomes legal. You were not given that chance; not with all proper back-up information.

Ioannis Lachanis wrote:

He gave me instruction about the invoice and I sent it to him. He never made any comment about missing information on the invoice, or about any quality issues.

To this point I should say that we never signed any form of contract that had any terms/conditions regarding payments/quality issues/penalties, as most professional agencies do. ...
This is what he replied:

"I confirm.


These are clear indications that he has accepted your invoice and the therein stipulated amount.

Therefore, you are entitled to the payment of the 180.00 Euros. Simple as that.

You might check with the local Better Business Bureau, and report the agency to them for improper business conduct.

And don't worry about being called the "worst translator". by a company of such low reputation. You've been in the business long enough and haver successfully served many clients. And there are legal steps in case the try to ruin your good reputation.icon_wink.gif

Good luck!



[Edited at 2013-04-06 09:22 GMT]


 

Ioannis Lachanis
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:34
Member (2008)
English to Greek
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Again a big thank you Apr 6, 2013

A big thank you to all who have given their input and advise on the matter.
As my earlier post about my phone conversation with this company was deleted due to the fact that I had included the outsourcer's name, here is a detailed account of this conversation without any company info.

"I later contacted by phone this company and spoke to a woman who didn't identify herself. She claimed she knew about my case and in a very strict tone kept asking me to send an amended invoice with the 50% deduction.
She refused to comment on the false confirmation of pay, or anything regarding the fact that the invoice originally sent was acknowledged by them and they never helped me with this matter of "low-quality" issues, nor did she allow me to explain to her any of my concerns.
She hang up the phone saying "we will not discuss this any further"."


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:34
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I agree in the main with Katalin Apr 7, 2013

Katalin Horváth McClure wrote:
As I see it, there were problems with this business relationship from the beginning, and both sides made mistakes.

Katalin has already detailed the problems, problems that weren't inevitable but were definitely on the cards, especially bearing in mind that this agency had been banned by ProZ.com in the past. You weren't to know it, but they clearly haven't changed their way of working.

But what to do about it now? In principle, I agree with Marie-Hélène, who said:
I would start off by explaining that a) you have completed the task as agreed, b) it is their job to mediate when they have conflict with a client, c) if they would like to make a case for a lack of quality in the translation provided, this case would need to be made by a professional linguist in the language pair concerned and d) you are informing your colleagues of the fact that they have not paid your invoice and will keep colleagues informed as to these developments and e) that you will be claiming 100% of your invoice through all the usual channels since they are in breach of your agreement if they do not pay you 100%.


I too believe that, unless the quality is proven to be low and you can't or won't deliver a corrected text, you're entitled to 100%. However, you've already told them you'll accept the 50% offered, and I believe they have that in writing (?), so I doubt you'll get much joy from them now by insisting on 100%, and maybe even the courts would say you only have a right to the agreed 50% now. Don't let that stop you having a go, though!icon_smile.gif

So Katalin may have suggested the only route for this one, under the circumstances:
You already told them that you are not arguing for full payment, so just take the 50%, and leave it at that. I have a feeling that neither you nor the agency would want any future collaboration anyway.


 

ExScientiaVera
Faroe Islands
Local time: 14:34
Danish to English
+ ...
You own the copyrights to your work Apr 8, 2013

Funny this should come up, but few translators understand, translated works are original pieces that borrow heavily from other sources, and you own the copyright to any book you translate.
You can, if the client refuses to pay the full fee, withdraw your work, and publish the book yourself. If the client refuses to purchase the item, the client doesn't own the item, or the copyrights. The client cannot make any claims on the sales.
But why is this something no one ever talks about?


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:34
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
No, you can't publish it Apr 8, 2013

ExScientiaVera wrote:

Funny this should come up, but few translators understand, translated works are original pieces that borrow heavily from other sources, and you own the copyright to any book you translate.
You can, if the client refuses to pay the full fee, withdraw your work, and publish the book yourself. If the client refuses to purchase the item, the client doesn't own the item, or the copyrights. The client cannot make any claims on the sales.
But why is this something no one ever talks about?


Maybe because it is not true?
Translated works are derivative works, not originals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derivative_work

"Definition

In the United States, the Copyright Act defines "derivative work" in 17 U.S.C. § 101:

A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation,..."


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:34
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Prevent them publishing? Apr 8, 2013

As Katalin says, you can't publish it yourself - only the holder of the copyright of the original work has that right. However, I believe you have the right to prevent them publishing your translation if they haven't paid the agreed amount. Of course, if you agree to be paid 50%, then you forfeit your right to anything else, once paid. Quite what happens if they publish a translation which is based on your work but has been extensively altered, I couldn't say. I would imagine you'd then be getting into areas where the party with the biggest budget for legal expenses would win - and that wouldn't be the translator.icon_frown.gif

I've never tested it in the courts, but I have successfully used it once in the past to alert an end client to the fact that their English-version website was (probablyicon_wink.gif) contravening my rights to my work. It isn't a practice I'd recommend to others as anything but a last resort as contacting end clients is not going to win any friends, but in this instance the agency claimed (rightly or wrongly) that they had not been paid. An unhappy experience, but I did get my payment.


 
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 »

False claims on payment by translation agency

Advanced search







memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »



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