Non-payment
Thread poster: Johan Venter

Johan Venter  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 18:47
Member (2004)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Jul 8, 2013

I am currently dealing with an issue and I would like to hear what you think about this:

I received a proposal for a large project (36,000 words) from an established translation agency in the UK. I was offered a lower rate than usual because of the volume of the work. The proposed rate was given to me in GBP, which I accepted by stating that the amount is nearly Euro 0.xx. I received the job and after I'd started working on it I received the PO in which the amount was stated in Euro (not GBP as agreed to) and the rate was Euro 0.005 lower than the actual rate and considering the volume of the project the amount is not insignificant. Nevertheless, I am a flexible translator and I accepted the PO.

I completed the project, cleaned it up and proofread the clean file, I did a grammar and spelling check and submitted the translated file on time. I was then contacted the next day and asked if I could also submit the bilingual file, which I did (it must be noted here that I was not requested to work with a CAT tool, I was not given a TM and the PO also did not state that had to submit anything other than a translated file). I admit that I did not apply the changes that I made to the file that I submitted as my translated project to the bilingual file, but the errors were not numerous and at any rate, that was not what I submitted as my translated product.

One month later I received an e-mail from the company in which they stated that they were happy with the overall quality of my work, but there were some issues and they had to spend 8 hours proofreading the document before submitting it to the client. This surprised me and I double-checked, but I found their complaint to be unjustified and I replied as such. The agency did not reply to this e-mail.

Nearly another month later, a few days before the 60 days payment term was overdue, I sent a reminder to the agency that the invoice was due within a few days, after which their replies became more frequent.

During our e-mail exchanges it became clear that they used the bilingual file as my translated product and they want me to accept responsibility for that, despite the fact that their terms and conditions state the following:

- I have not left any source language text in my translation; nor have I left any blanks or question marks.

- I have read through the translated text, independently of the source, to ensure the text reads / flows appropriately for the target audience.

I checked their edited file against my translation and found that most of the changes they made were stylistic of nature, not errors that were corrected and they even introduced a few errors to the document, which I highlighted. Their response was "Incidentally, if any errors were introduced when we amended the file, this is also down to your carelessness."

I also provided what I consider to be 'good service' by updating relevant website information where appropriate and by updating outdated information in the translation, which I highlighted to the client. The client subsequently dismissed this by stating that I was not instructed to do so, while at the same time stating that even though I was not directly instructed to work with a CAT tool, this was implied. Do I smell double standards?

So now here we are, well after the deadline and I have not received a single cent for my efforts. Proz.com rejected my BB entry which read as follows: "1 month after I submitted a large project I received a message with unjust complaints about quality, after which they failed to respond. After a payment reminder Paul has become arrogant and refuses to accept any responsibility." The grounds for rejecting my entry is stated as "Certain conditions must be met before Blue Board entries can be made. Entries concerning the Likelihood of Working Again (LWA) with given outsourcers are allowed only when (1) commissioned work has been completed in full and delivered on time, and (2) there have not been complaints related to quality shortly after delivery. Entries may not be made on the basis of negotiations, test translations, or other preliminary or non-commissioned interactions."

Clearly I did not receive a complaint about the quality shortly after delivery, so it is unclear to me why I cannot make a BB entry about this issue.

What do you think, what should I do next?

[Edited at 2013-07-08 18:10 GMT]


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Natalie  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:47
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...

MODERATOR
Hi Johan Jul 9, 2013

Please submit a support request and provide available correspondence with the agency. Please refer to http://www.proz.com/faq/blue_board_outsourcer_database_/for_service_providers.html#i_submitted_an_lwa_entry_for_an_outsourcer_and_it_is_no_longer_visible_why_

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Peter Gleason  Identity Verified
Poland
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Ask Them What They Want to Pay Jul 9, 2013

Johan Venter wrote:
What do you think, what should I do next?



Have you asked them or have they told you how much they want to pay?

Regards


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Camelia Colnic  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:47
Romanian to English
+ ...
It's just annoying.... Jul 9, 2013

I don't think they have the right to complain after so much time....They should've told you that they are not satisfied of what you delivered, and ask you to correct it, or at least show you what you did wrong, quick after your delivery....I think you should insist and explain to them what you think....they should pay everything.

There are so many agencies/clients like this....It's really frustrating....


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:47
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Start getting serious with them Jul 9, 2013

2 things occur to me immediately here:
1) This agency is clearly used to dealing with amateur translators who need that ridiculous checklist. I imagine they offered a lousy rate (which they further unilaterally reduced), in addition to a 60-day payment term.
2) As Natalie says, contact ProZ.com and give them the details. If they only have your comment to go on, they really are bound to remove it, but there are real staff on the site.

I have to say that, reading through this posting, it doesn't surprise me at all that they're claiming quality issues. Not because you don't deliver quality (I couldn't possibly say), but because that's the way this type of agency works. Already low rate gets reduced for 'volume', when the next email might have been for a client with an equal volume and willing to pay your normal rate? Discounted rate gets reduced after agreement - why ever did you let them do that? Bilingual file meekly produced simply because they demanded it, after the fact? I'm sorry, and I mean no disrespect whatsoever, but they saw you coming, Johan.

After getting the BB issued sorted, I would advise you to send them a formal demand by registered post, stating that you will take legal action if you aren't paid, in full, within nn days. Follow that with a completed European Payment Order - you can fill one in online at
https://e-justice.europa.eu/dynform_intro_taxonomy_action.do?1354375024536
If they still don't pay, go ahead and submit the form. It doesn't cost much. Or hand the matter over to a recovery company. Or send some uncles over there. Just don't take any more of their nonsense. Unless they can prove that the quality issue resulted from the translation you agreed to produce (ie the clean file since they didn't request anything else), then they don't have a leg to stand on. And don't accept yet another rate cut if they can't find more than a few errors in 36,000 words.


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Johan Venter  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 18:47
Member (2004)
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Support ticket submitted Jul 9, 2013

Natalie wrote:

Please submit a support request and provide available correspondence with the agency. Please refer to http://www.proz.com/faq/blue_board_outsourcer_database_/for_service_providers.html#i_submitted_an_lwa_entry_for_an_outsourcer_and_it_is_no_longer_visible_why_


Thank you for your advice Natalie, I submitted a support ticket a few minutes ago.

I also appreciate all the other input so far on this forum. I am certainly not new to the translation world, but I have never come across such arrogance before and I certainly hope that this is also the last time.

[Edited at 2013-07-09 11:34 GMT]


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Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:47
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Have they implied that they will not pay you? Jul 9, 2013

Have they mentioned that their complaints about the quality of your work will affect your payment?
It doesn't look as though the agency is dealing with this professionally, honestly or ethically and, from your post, it looks as though they're trying to shirk their payment responsibilities.

In any case, they need to give you a definitive answer on the payment aspect.
Either:
1) They are not willing to pay you anything at all due to their supposed issues with quality; or
2) They are willing to pay you but at a reduced rate to "make up for" the supposed quality issues; or
3) They are willing to pay you the full rate but are late in doing so.

Either way, you need to establish what they are planning to do with regard to payment as it seems that they are using the dialogue about the purported quality issues to avoid the question of payment.

If I were you, I'd start focusing right now on the question of payment by:

1) Placing a comment on the Blue Board to say "Invoice issued/sent in on X date and no payment received to date. No answer received on the subject of payment despite repeated requests". (I'm presuming that they haven't mentioned payment or their unwillingness to make it by the way. Whatever you say, stick to the facts)
You'll find that this comment will be accepted on the BB because it's factual and doesn't include any personal opinions.

2) Write them an e-mail stating that your payment is currently X days late and that a) you have informed your colleagues of this fact and will be keeping them posted on your progress with obtaining payment from them, b) you have consulted a lawyer and this lawyer has advised that you can serve a wind-up notice (more info here for you on that: https://www.gov.uk/wind-up-a-company-that-owes-you-money/overview). N.B. This is only for debts of over 750 pounds. If this doesn't apply to you, just say that you have been advised to take legal action, c) that you are willing to give them until X date to proceed to payment, failing which, you will have no alternative but to commence legal action. (Give them about 10 calendar days for the latter. If there is no reponse to this email, send it by letter recorded delivery.

3) Don't get involved in any more discussion about your work. Explain that all issues have already been discussed and that you are open to discussing the quality of your work based on a report from a qualified linguist in your language pair on the work that you handed in as your final project, and that until you receive such a report, the only discussions you are willing to enter into are those regarding the overdue payment.

4) If all else fails, take the action that best suits your case which is either a) serving a winding up notice, b) using the EU system (European Payment Order or EU Small Claims Procedure), or c) use a debt collector.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:47
English to Polish
+ ...
Wow Jul 9, 2013

Johan Venter wrote:

I am currently dealing with an issue and I would like to hear what you think about this:

I received a proposal for a large project (36,000 words) from an established translation agency in the UK. I was offered a lower rate than usual because of the volume of the work. The proposed rate was given to me in GBP, which I accepted by stating that the amount is nearly Euro 0.xx. I received the job and after I'd started working on it I received the PO in which the amount was stated in Euro (not GBP as agreed to) and the rate was Euro 0.005 lower than the actual rate and considering the volume of the project the amount is not insignificant. Nevertheless, I am a flexible translator and I accepted the PO.


That's unprofessional of them.

I completed the project, cleaned it up and proofread the clean file, I did a grammar and spelling check and submitted the translated file on time. I was then contacted the next day and asked if I could also submit the bilingual file, which I did (it must be noted here that I was not requested to work with a CAT tool, I was not given a TM and the PO also did not state that had to submit anything other than a translated file). I admit that I did not apply the changes that I made to the file that I submitted as my translated project to the bilingual file, but the errors were not numerous and at any rate, that was not what I submitted as my translated product.


Well, lesson for the future: make sure the bilingual file is okay or at least ask if it's going to be used as the final version instead of the file you returned as the final product of your work.

One month later I received an e-mail from the company in which they stated that they were happy with the overall quality of my work, but there were some issues


That's not a ground for a discount. Proofreaders exist because pretty much all writing by anybody contains at least some imperfections. I am worried about the professionalism of any language-sector entity or employee who fails to understand this.

and they had to spend 8 hours proofreading the document before submitting it to the client.


1. Just because they did doesn't mean they had to.
2. Just because they took 8 hours doesn't mean a real proofreader would have. This is a professional industry. Reimbursement of DIY attempts by non-professionals isn't really professional.

I checked their edited file against my translation and found that most of the changes they made were stylistic of nature, not errors that were corrected and they even introduced a few errors to the document, which I highlighted.


DIY proofreading by non-professionals is likely to lead to such results.

Their response was "Incidentally, if any errors were introduced when we amended the file, this is also down to your carelessness."


Highly unprofessional and highly rude. I've noticed that some people in the language industry seem to have some kind of 'class consciousness', in which it appears to them that they are members of some sort of a privileged class. However, that type of language is not actually acceptable among gentlemen (basically, polite circles) or serious, professional businessmen. This is, unfortunately, a marked tendency.

Also, the claim that their introduction of errors is due to your carelessness is preposterous.

I also provided what I consider to be 'good service' by updating relevant website information where appropriate and by updating outdated information in the translation, which I highlighted to the client. The client subsequently dismissed this by stating that I was not instructed to do so, while at the same time stating that even though I was not directly instructed to work with a CAT tool, this was implied. Do I smell double standards?


I smell lack of professionalism, possibly with an underhanded way to renegotiate your already lowered fee. I would trace the problem to the first red flags when they asked you to accept a lower fee and then mishandled the PO (I'm not saying they messed up the forex to your detriment intentionally). When somebody's acting unprofessionally and at the same time chasing cash, problems are very likely to occur.

Proz.com rejected my BB entry which read as follows: "1 month after I submitted a large project I received a message with unjust complaints about quality, after which they failed to respond. After a payment reminder Paul has become arrogant and refuses to accept any responsibility." The grounds for rejecting my entry is stated as "Certain conditions must be met before Blue Board entries can be made. Entries concerning the Likelihood of Working Again (LWA) with given outsourcers are allowed only when (1) commissioned work has been completed in full and delivered on time, and (2) there have not been complaints related to quality shortly after delivery. Entries may not be made on the basis of negotiations, test translations, or other preliminary or non-commissioned interactions."


I am requesting any staff member who reads this to reconsider the matter. A stringent interpretation of those conditions is likely to lead to a situation in which any sort of complaint by the agency will pre-empt negative comments. Basically, agencies would then be able to lodge at least a token, tiny complaint with the translator about his work and thus be safe from any sort of LWA backlash no matter how they acted.

What do you think, what should I do next?


The agency are acting like unprofessional boors and are basically asking for solicitors to come knocking on their door. This is doubly sad considering that in the translation world UK agencies represent the very nation which gave the world the notion of both 'gentleman' and 'businessman' (as well as business standards in a modern sense), if not actually also 'professional'.

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I have to say that, reading through this posting, it doesn't surprise me at all that they're claiming quality issues. Not because you don't deliver quality (I couldn't possibly say), but because that's the way this type of agency works. Already low rate gets reduced for 'volume', when the next email might have been for a client with an equal volume and willing to pay your normal rate? Discounted rate gets reduced after agreement - why ever did you let them do that? Bilingual file meekly produced simply because they demanded it, after the fact? I'm sorry, and I mean no disrespect whatsoever, but they saw you coming, Johan.


Another way to put it, yeah.

Regarding the last sentence, well, that was Johan's first brush with the problem. I remember it took me a while to get used to.

[Edited at 2013-07-09 13:33 GMT]


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Cristina Heraud-van Tol  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 11:47
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
They love to do this! Jul 18, 2013

Case 1:

Many corrupt agencies ask you for a translation, which they get for free as they already were not planning to pay you (only they didn't tell you this part).

In the best case scenario, then they hire a proofreader to whom they pay half your rate, for proofreading your work. Probably in many cases, they don't even do it but that's what they tell you.

Then they get a nice job done for half the price.

-----------------

Case 2:

In many cases also, the proofreader is a bad as them (or worse), destroying your beautiful artwork, just to tell them that the translation is terrible, unreadable, not fluent, literal, etc., etc., trying to convince the agency to forget paying you and pay him/her instead the amount of a normal translation rate and not a proofreading rate.

The agency, who has no-one on-site that knows your language, is then mad at you, believes the proofreader, and decides not to pay you.

Unfortunately, it has also happened to me and no matter how much I have complained, I have never managed to get paid; a win-lose situation


THE ONLY THING I'M ASTONISHED TO HEAR IS THAT PROZ.COM BANNED YOU TO POST THIS COMMENT ON THE BLUE BOARD !!!!!!

[Edited at 2013-07-18 05:06 GMT]


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:47
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Proofreading Jul 18, 2013

So, they are saying they "had to spend 8 hours proofreading the document before submitting to the client".
It was 36000 words, right?
If "proofreading" means bilingual editing, 36000 words would take much more than 8 hours, even if the translation is of excellent quality.
If they just did target proofing, even that would be more than 8 hours (36000 words is approx. 144 pages.)
If they got the job done in 8 hours, they should be dancing happily, not complaining.
What on Earth are they talking about?
Didn't they budget editing/proofreading into the process at all?
Did they plan on sending the translation directly to the end client?

Shame on them.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:47
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
One or two comments (but you know that already) Jul 18, 2013

Johan Venter wrote:
I received the PO in which the amount was stated in Euro (not GBP as agreed to) and the rate was Euro 0.005 lower than the actual rate and considering the volume of the project the amount is not insignificant. Nevertheless, I am a flexible translator and I accepted the PO.


Wow, they got away with a EUR 180 discount. For interest sake, did you calculate this when you got the PO or did you just accept it, being a flexible translator, without actually checking how much money that was?

I admit that I did not apply the changes that I made to the file that I submitted as my translated project to the bilingual file...


Well, I think that that is important information. Agencies tend to regard the bilingual file not as a by-product or as a draft version of the final product, but as the final product. I realise that if you use a CAT tool for non-agency clients, the bilingual file can be considered a late draft version of the final version, because the final edits will be done in the "cleaned" file... but I think if an agency asks for a bilingual file, then they usually want to use that file as if is the final version.

Still, they did not ask you to use a CAT tool (nor a specific one), and you can try to argue that you do not consider the bilingual file to be the final version because some edits have to be made on the cleaned file afterwards, which would not be reflected in the bilingual file. My experience with agencies is, however, that they seem to think updating a bilingual file with edits is "no effort".

They had to spend 8 hours proofreading the document before submitting it to the client.


I agree with Katalin's post on this -- that means 4500 words per hour. On the other hand, perhaps they did a number of spot checks, followed by a find/replace operation.

- I have not left any source language text in my translation; nor have I left any blanks or question marks.
- I have read through the translated text, independently of the source, to ensure the text reads / flows appropriately for the target audience.


Hmm, no I think you're grabbing at straws. I don't think you can take these two points as an indication that the delivery should not be a bilingual file. Obviously "no source text left in the translation" means "no source text left in the target field of segments" even if the source text field of those segments still contain the source text.

Their response was "Incidentally, if any errors were introduced when we amended the file, this is also down to your carelessness."


I can understand their logic, but it is not business logic.

The client subsequently dismissed this by stating that I was not instructed to do so, while at the same time stating that even though I was not directly instructed to work with a CAT tool, this was implied.


How was it implied? Since no TM was given, the only way I think that this may have been implied is if the instructions or PO mentioned a a fuzzy match discount scheme. Was there such a scheme? Did the client's instructions contain anything that one would reasonably think can only be done efficiently using a CAT tool?

Besides, not all CAT tools produce bilingual files.

On the other hand, I have learnt from experience that I must always ask the client what format they want the translation done in. It has happened to me countless times that a client asks for such-and-such a file afterwards, only to discover that I didn't use the tool that they thought I would have used for the job.

Clearly I did not receive a complaint about the quality shortly after delivery, so it is unclear to me why I cannot make a BB entry about this issue.


Keep us posted on this, if you are allowed to.

Samuel


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Johan Venter  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 18:47
Member (2004)
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Update Jul 18, 2013

Thank you for all your comments. I appreciate that some of you pointed out some issues on my part and I certainly do not consider myself beyond reproach. The point is that I am an experienced translator with a very good track record and this is the first time in my career that I have come up against anyone who is so utterly inflexible, who considers himself completely beyond reproach and who shifts all blame to the other party, no matter what.

I was very surprised myself that the company did not budget any time for proofreading this project on their part, which shows a great lack of professionalism. This was also confirmed by some of the outlandish replies I received from them. I delivered a good product and the fact that they found a few mistakes (certainly far and few between, even in the bilingual version that was not proofread) does not entitle them to withhold or deduct payment, especially considering the discount they have already arranged for themselves.

This matter is now in the hands of my lawyer. I will keep you posted on the result.


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pregelous
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:47
Each country should have a black list Aug 12, 2013

check out all new clients first
for Uk = ITI!!


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:47
English to Polish
+ ...
Afterthought Aug 12, 2013

Johan Venter wrote:

Thank you for all your comments. I appreciate that some of you pointed out some issues on my part and I certainly do not consider myself beyond reproach. The point is that I am an experienced translator with a very good track record and this is the first time in my career that I have come up against anyone who is so utterly inflexible, who considers himself completely beyond reproach and who shifts all blame to the other party, no matter what.

I was very surprised myself that the company did not budget any time for proofreading this project on their part, which shows a great lack of professionalism. This was also confirmed by some of the outlandish replies I received from them. I delivered a good product and the fact that they found a few mistakes (certainly far and few between, even in the bilingual version that was not proofread) does not entitle them to withhold or deduct payment, especially considering the discount they have already arranged for themselves.

This matter is now in the hands of my lawyer. I will keep you posted on the result.


I was initially intending to start on a different thought, but I couldn't not say that the way you wrote your message cast a made a very good professional impression on me. It also has a lot more to do with the proverbial calm, self-controlled politeness and professional conduct so much valued by the British culture than whatever that UK-based company seems to be acting like through the process.

Also, please pass my regards and best wishes of success to your later. If you could please drop me a line as to how the courts have handled the case.

Now onto the matter I'd thought about first (which is the titular afterthought):

Nevertheless, I am a flexible translator and I accepted the PO.


You don't need to be so flexible as to allow others to take advantage of you in unfair ways. Well, in this case, it may well have looked like you were simply being accommodating in not making a huge fuss out of what may have seemed like an honest mistake or a slight case of less than professional business conduct.

On the other hand, the value of flexibility that's being promoted all the time is akin to the employer-centric employee ethics that are put forth in some environments. There's basically a line somewhat and that line will tend to be stretch by those people in whose interest it lies to stretch it.


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