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The fix amount of payment for delayed delivery
Thread poster: Oksana Morozova

Oksana Morozova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 22:54
English to Russian
+ ...
Jan 27, 2014

Good day colleagues,

One of my prospective clients sends me an agreement where it is written I should pay $300 in case of late delivery:

"pay a late-delivery fine of US$300 to the employer, if the contractor breaches this term".

I never had problems with late delivery, but this rule has alerted me. Do you think it is legal to ask fixed fines for late delivery? Do you think it is reasonable to sign such agreement?

Thanks in advance!

Oksana


 

Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:54
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Fines vary Jan 27, 2014

But the parties counter-signing a contract of the kind may agree on any fine. Reasonable to sign? If you can trust them and are confident as regards your obligation to deliver always in time I see no obstacles. But to be on the safe side, there should be a clause or provision regarding any failure to deliver in case of force majore, which would release your from responsibility in such cases.

[Edited at 2014-01-27 14:14 GMT]


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:54
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Fine vs. rate Jan 27, 2014

Whether to sign a contract which includes a late delivery fine also depends on the value of the project(s). If the value of the work in question is, let's say, below USD 100, and you (for whatever reason) deliver late, then a fine of USD 300 is somewhat blown out of proportion.

Also, since the contract includes such a fine, it should also stipulate what exactly is a late delivery that would justify such fine, a day, 2 days, an hour, 2 minutes? Yes, I know that we all do our very best to deliver on or before time, but things do happen that make a timely delivery impossible.

Is the delivery considered to be late when you turn in the project later than agreed upon, or when the PM opens the email late? Is it still late when you inform the client of unforeseen incidents and request an extension?

Just some things to consider.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 10:54
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Percentage Jan 27, 2014

A fixed fine seems unreasonable. Some agencies charge a percentage, for example 15 or 20%, so that on a $100 dollar project, the fine would be $15 or $20. Maybe you can persuade them to do that instead. As Thayenga suggests, you should also check what exactly they consider to be 'late'.

Note also, that the agency is not your employer. If you are a freelance translator, the agency is your client. It's only a difference in words but it would be good to clarify that.


 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 11:54
German to English
+ ...
Be preventive/proactive instead Jan 27, 2014

It's not a question of whether it is legal, but whether it is reasonable. I would not sign something like that. But what I would do is ensure that my delivery will be early or on time, by making sure that I have quoted a time frame that is generous enough. If it should take 3 days, quote 4 or 5. If the company insists on a tight time frame which puts quality and timeliness at risk, don't accept it. Especially don't accept an unworkable time frame while also signing an agreement with this kind of penalty.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:54
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Hmm... Jan 27, 2014

Tina Vonhof wrote:
the agency is not your employer. If you are a freelance translator, the agency is your client.

If they can't get the relationship right, do they really know what they're doing?

Edited to add: Or could it be a Freudian slip showing how they see the relationship, which probably means bad news every step of the way.

Have they specified whether this payment will be required if you've asked questions relating to the text and they haven't provided timely answers?

[Edited at 2014-01-27 17:41 GMT]


 

Denise Phelps  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sauce for the goose Jan 27, 2014

And does this contract also specify the fine the agency will pay the translator in case of late payment?

 

Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:54
Russian to English
+ ...
No, I don't think that this is reasonable Jan 27, 2014

I don't think that this amount is reasonable if the project is late. For example, if it's just a small project (for example $100) then $300 is three times the amount of the project fee. I don't think that the fine for late submission should ever be more than the project is worth. Unless the project is worth $10,000 then $300 would be 3 percent of the total price, which would be not unreasonable.

Also, I think you should come up with an agreement about what is meant by a late submission. What if you are sick, or you have a power outage or some other adverse conditions that you can't help? Also, what it they don't answer your questions in time for you to finish the translation in time? These things will all need to be specified.

By the way, unless you are working with them full-time in their office and receive a salary, you are NOT an employee. They are not your employer - they are a client.

Hope this helps and good luck!


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 10:54
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
@Sheila Jan 27, 2014

You wrote: "Or could it be a Freudian slip showing how they see the relationship, which probably means bad news every step of the way."

That is exactly what I meant as well. If the agency views itself as an employer, they may feel free to make all kinds of rules and demands that could leave the translator tied hand and foot. It's important, I think, to make clear that you are an independent professional.


 

Oksana Morozova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 22:54
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Revised rules Jan 28, 2014

Thanks all for your comments.

They revised some parts of their rules.

About $300 fee they reply me that it is a rule to have such fine and if I won't be able to deliver it on time I should forget about my project payment and pay extra $300. Will someone work on such conditions?


 

Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:54
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
This prognosis is unfavorable Jan 28, 2014

So this is just foisting off the unacceptable conditions on you. Now that they are not flexible in this (you have the right for terms adjustment at this stage, until it's too late) don't expect relaxation of restrictions from them in future. In support of the above opinions, don't take upon yourself unnecessary burdens.

 

Lennart Luhtaru  Identity Verified
United States
Member
English to Estonian
+ ...
Easy Jan 28, 2014

The contract should also include an automatic $300 fine if they're late with payment.

[Edited at 2014-01-28 02:54 GMT]


 

Daryo
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:54
Serbian to English
+ ...
better just block their email address and move on Jan 28, 2014

About $300 fee they reply me that it is a rule to have such fine and if I won't be able to deliver it on time I should forget about my project payment and pay extra $300. Will someone work on such conditions?

Totally pointless ... sounds too much as they are looking in advance for any possible excuse not to pay, or even to charge you for the privilege of working for free (forget about my project payment and pay extra $300?)

Are they obliged to send you the ST before you can decide what is a reasonable deadline?
Do they guaranty you'll have quick direct access to the authors/clients in case you need any terms clarified?
How much they get fined for late payment?
Is revising your translation included in the deadline?
etc etc ...

All these are only rhetorical questions - better just block their email address and move on


 

Elina Sellgren  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 19:54
Member (2013)
Finnish to English
+ ...
Recommend against it! Jan 28, 2014

A late delivery can be many things. Sometimes in the middle of a fairly small project with a fairly quick schedule you notice something that demands more context, a point that you couldn't have spotted at the time of accepting the project. You ask the client to give more context and they take their sweet time getting it. By the time you get the response, the deadline may have already passed. I would think that most clients wouldn't consider this late delivery, but the people you mention just might!

So if you decide in the end to sign the contract, at least ask first what kind of case would constitute a late delivery and whether re-negotiation of deadlines is possible. Sensible agency clients have deadlines for translators that are much earlier than the final deadline for the end client so there is usually leeway if something unexpected happens. This client you mention doesn't sound like one if they have to impose such a fine.


 

Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:54
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Better not ask Jan 28, 2014

but have them put everything in written otherwise you know what would happen. Especially when they don't agree to a contract revision.

 
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