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Retrospectively "fined" by agency - how do I dispute this?
Thread poster: Francesca Collodo

Francesca Collodo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:16
Member (2012)
German to English
+ ...
Dec 9, 2014

I have had a very strange and unpleasant experience with an Italian agency.

I have done work for the agency for well over a year. They had a lot of work in my field.

From the very first submitted text, it was clear that every translation would be returned to you with vast amounts of strange edits. The QA team (which I believe to just be the PMs themselves, though obviously cannot prove this) seems to be incenitivised on the number of changes it makes. Commas were removed and added, and synonyms substituted.

At times, I was asked to change work so that it didn't even make sense. The reviewer was clearly a non-English speaker, each time.

As time went on, a number of factors made me decide to no longer accept work from this agency. Their rates are very low, plus the translator must revisit each text and make their requested changes him/herself.

Coupled to this, the Project Managers were so rude in comparison to all my other customers, and also incredibly demanding. They would barrage me via telephone, email and Skype, each time they wanted a technical translation.

As a result, simply no longer taking work on from the agency, was not working. So I have told them that I would like them to remove me from their database.

Foolishly, I had outstanding work to invoice. On submission of my last invoice, I have received advice of a €500 reduction for "detrazione legata a detrazione globale di 500 euro a fine rapporto", which I roughly translate as some form of termination fee.

I am shocked and disappointed at this agency. The PO they are cancelling is for work which I completed many months ago.

I wondered if anyone had any advice on how to proceed, or has done anything similar?

I have recorded a non-payment on the blue board. I would like to warn other translators about this agency. But mainly I would like to be paid the money I am rightly owed.

All advice appreciated! I wondered whether to begin the EU small claims process?


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:16
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Suggestion Dec 9, 2014

I have a suggestion - email me privately if you want to know more !

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
How can they even try that on? Dec 9, 2014

Francesca Collodo wrote:
I wondered whether to begin the EU small claims process?

Severance payments? Whatever next? It's clearly totally unacceptable and certainly the EU SCC would find in your favour in an instant.

It sounds as though Tom may have some specific advice relating to this company/situation. If that doesn't lead to a quick and full payment, I'd advise you to proceed through your normal escalation process, including the final demand sent by registered post, clearly stating that they have no right to retain anything from your invoices.

If nothing comes of the final demand, I personally would then prepare an EU Payment Order, which you can complete on-line. I'd first send them the printed or PDF version to advise them that the Order will be submitted to the courts on dd/mm/yy if payment was not received before then, and I'd remind them courteously that the courts will assign all legal costs to the losing party.

It only costs a few euros to kick off the process (maybe €30?). It might take some while to process, and there may be further costs along the way, but it must surely be worthwhile risking a little as it's inconceivable that they have a right to do such a thing. But I can't imagine your ex-client would let it go that far as they'd know they were bound to lose and would stand to receive a bill from the courts for probably double the amount they owe you.

Good luck and keep us posted.


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Francesca Collodo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:16
Member (2012)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agree wholeheartedly! Dec 9, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:

It might take some while to process, and there may be further costs along the way, but it must surely be worthwhile risking a little as it's inconceivable that they have a right to do such a thing.

Thank you so much for your advice Shelia, and I completely agree with this.

I am just so horrified at the unprofessional behaviour from this agency - for whom I did a LOT of work, over time - I have even had pages worth of personal attack on my character from them. All I did, was politely advise them that I no longer wished to pursue our collaboration.

I refuse to be treated in this way and I can't bear to think of them getting away with this, and feeling they can do it to others.

I will most definitely keep you posted!

Thanks

Francesca


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:16
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
I know it can be difficult to understand but Dec 9, 2014

Francesca Collodo wrote:

All I did, was politely advise them that I no longer wished to pursue our collaboration.

Francesca


A suggestion for the future "never say you will no loger collaborate to Italians if they still owe you money".

I know this is a generalization and cannot be applied to everyone in Italy, BUT just to be on the safe side I try not to close work realations if they still owe me money.

Believe me, I have a long experience about Italian commercial ethics and being Italian my self I think I can be objective.

I hope not to be misunderstood here, in case I will try to better explain what I mean.

[Edited at 2014-12-09 14:16 GMT]


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:16
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Yes start with a registered letter Dec 9, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I'd advise you to proceed through your normal escalation process, including the final demand sent by registered post, clearly stating that they have no right to retain anything from your invoices.

If nothing comes of the final demand, I personally would then prepare an EU Payment Order, which you can complete on-line. I'd first send them the printed or PDF version to advise them that the Order will be submitted to the courts on dd/mm/yy if payment was not received before then, and I'd remind them courteously that the courts will assign all legal costs to the losing party.
Good luck and keep us posted.


Seconded and strongly agree


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Francesca Collodo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:16
Member (2012)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Registered letter it is then - to start Dec 9, 2014

Angie Garbarino wrote:

Francesca Collodo wrote:

All I did, was politely advise them that I no longer wished to pursue our collaboration.

Francesca


A suggestion for the future "never say you will no loger collaborate to Italians if they still owe you money".

I know this is a generalization and cannot be applied to everyone in Italy, BUT jus to be on the safe side I try not to close work realations if they still owe me money.

Believe me, I have a long experience about Italian commercial ethics and being Italian my self I think I can be objective.

I hope not to be misunderstood here, in case I will try to better explain what I mean.

[Edited at 2014-12-09 13:27 GMT]

I quite understand what you mean. I too am of Italian origin, lived there for many years. You are quite right and I cannot, in retrospect, believe that I was quite so naive.

I just wanted them to stop blowing up my telephone, skype and email every five minutes!

However, I fear that the speed with which the abuse and proposed sanctions were sent to me, means that they have done this before. The behaviour was too quick, too absurd, and so totally undeserved. It really did feel as though this may well be an "old trick" of this outsourcer.


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:16
Member
Italian to English
Threat of legal action Dec 9, 2014

A few years ago I had the experience of two customers who refused to pay. They kept promising the money would arrive, but it never did.

I managed to find a lawyer who composed a letter for a very reasonable rate.

They both paid promptly.

When the sums to paid are not excessive, often agencies believe translators will not believe it worthwhile to pursue their collection, so they "try it on". Sometimes the shock of getting a lawyer's letter is enough to make them see sense.

Best of luck.


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texjax DDS PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:16
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
Unbelievable Dec 9, 2014

Francesca Collodo wrote:

On submission of my last invoice, I have received advice of a €500 reduction for "detrazione legata a detrazione globale di 500 euro a fine rapporto", which I roughly translate as some form of termination fee.


"Fine rapporto"?

They have no ground for any claim of that sort.

Your work relationship with your clients starts with a Work Order and ends with an Invoice. That's pretty much it. As there are no benefits, no retirement plan, no sick leave, no paid holidays, no health insurance, no severance package, etc., how can they possibly claim a "termination" fee is beyond me.

I'm no expert but I do think that what they are trying to impose is illegal. Don't let them get away with this.

You have all my moral support. Keep us posted!

All the best




[Edited at 2014-12-09 22:57 GMT]


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 12:16
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Pursue Dec 9, 2014

Francesca Collodo wrote:

I fear that the speed with which the abuse and proposed sanctions were sent to me, means that they have done this before. The behaviour was too quick, too absurd, and so totally undeserved. It really did feel as though this may well be an "old trick" of this outsourcer.

It probably is. However, I fully expect that they will pay post haste if you take some firm steps as suggested by others (threat of small claims court, threat of legal action through lawyer). They know they can pull this stuff with some people, so they try it... but they also know that they are in the wrong and that they need to retreat before they incur major losses (legal fees, being outed publicly etc).


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:16
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
How imprudent! Dec 10, 2014

As our colleagues have already stated, you need to stop this fraudulent agency and retrieve what is rightfully yours, the full amount for your work.

They have no legal right to any fine. This is a freelance business, and not a hired position.

All the best!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Just a thought Dec 10, 2014

I wonder if you implicitly agree to some wacky set of T&C when you sign up with them, some link hidden at the bottom of the screen maybe.

Doesn't make any difference: any court in any land would throw it out as abusive. But many freelancers could cave in and accept, thinking it was their fault to have signed.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:16
Member (2008)
French to English
Copyright Dec 10, 2014

You could also remind them that you still own the copyright to the unpaid translation. Using it without payment is a criminal offence, not just damages. That sometimes gets non-payers to sit up and take notice - it has for me.

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Francesca Collodo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:16
Member (2012)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Update Dec 12, 2014

Having followed all your great advice, I have this morning received an email from the agency, which does not mention the previous "fine" (which, when I looked at the invoice, actually totalled 600 Euros, not 500) but disputes just the last job I did for them, which amounted to 91.98.

As much as it pains me, I have issued an invoice for the full amount minus this last job - JUST TO BE RID OF THEM - and I will apparently be paid on 15 January.

The personal abuse sent to me by one of the PMs suggests hormonal issues/a nervous breakdown.

Thank you all so much for your advice and support. I have a terrible taste in my mouth but boy I have learned some hard lessons. People without morals can be TERRIBLE.

Thank you all!

Francesca


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Thomas Rebotier  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:16
English to French
We all hope you will make a blue board entry... Dec 12, 2014

Even if the payment is made.

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