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Payment behaviour of some agencies
Thread poster: Leonhard Schmeiser

Leonhard Schmeiser  Identity Verified
Austria
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Mar 2, 2015

This morning, I started a new thread in this forum on the payment behaviour of an agency working with proz.com. It was immediately used by collegues (thanks!) and almost as immediately deleted by the moderator, because the name of the company was mentioned.

Now, this is interesting.
I have no personal interest in fighting against this agency, they finally paid their debts, and I am not working for them any more since more than a year. But during the last days, I received several e-mals from colleagues referring to my LWA -comment to this firm and asking if and how I got my money and if they should take legal action against the agency.

The main reason for that this agency can go on with their yearslong systematic "worst practice" with respect to payment of translators (and is financially very successful, if I am well informed) is, that they have to do in each case of non-payment or strongly deferred payment with a single freelancer. The best way to end it is in my opinion a forum, where they can exchange their experiences and plan common action, if necessary. So what would be better a place for this than "the the translation industry's leading workplace"? Well, that's what I thought.

To clarify matters: I am not speaking of an agency which once or twice overlooked a deadline ... During the last 36 months, they got 24 LWA entries with an average of 1.3 (!) -- and are still allowed to use this plattform.

To quote somebody very knowledgeable in this matter (from another thread in this forum):

"Projects with rates of less than 0,7 Euro should be considered unethical and banned from respectable sites!"

I agree, and I add a second proposal:

Agencies which repeatedly don't pay in time (that is, several months later) should be considered unethical and banned from respectable sites!

To the moderators& staff: Since you know anyway, which agency I am speaking of could you please check the possibility to exclude it from proz.com?

[Bearbeitet am 2015-03-02 18:45 GMT]

[Bearbeitet am 2015-03-02 20:11 GMT]

[Bearbeitet am 2015-03-02 20:11 GMT]


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:38
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Blue Board? Mar 3, 2015

I presume you've made your own Blue Board entry about these charmers? That's the only place Proz will allow names to be mentioned. There's a "Translators' Naming and Shaming Group" on Linkedin where agencies can be discussed by name. Maybe you should also join Linkedin?
Best wishes,
Jenny


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Leonhard Schmeiser  Identity Verified
Austria
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the LinkedIn-tip Mar 3, 2015

My point wasn't to slate agencies, but to help people who walked into the trap and to end the possibility for the agengy to play always and again the same game 1 freelancer vs. international agency, in which the freelancer is practically without chance.

In fact, the agency has good PMs, partly interesting jobs, and the rates are OK. But in payment matters they would definitely need some "moral support" by the community

And that's why I think proz.com should be the right place for this.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:38
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Forum yes, public no, and: banned already? Mar 3, 2015

Leonhard Schmeiser wrote:
The best way to end it is in my opinion a forum, where they can exchange their experiences and plan common action, if necessary.


You can create a private forum on ProZ.com and invite people to it to discuss things privately. Certain things are prohibited in the *public* forums, for sensible reasons.

[What I do find odd is that users can't opt to have their Blue Board entries non-hidden on their profile pages. So now I can see that you have made 6 Blue Board entries, and one of them is a "1", but I can't see which one that is. I think users should be allowed to choose to make such information public on their profile pages.]

Agencies which repeatedly don't pay in time (that is, several months later) should be considered unethical and banned from respectable sites!


Thanks to Google still having your original post in its results cache, I was able to see which agency you're referring to. So here's my question to you: Hasn't this agency been banned for posting jobs since 2006? What more do you want, then?



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Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:38
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Re: Blue board entries Mar 3, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:

Leonhard Schmeiser wrote:
The best way to end it is in my opinion a forum, where they can exchange their experiences and plan common action, if necessary.


You can create a private forum on ProZ.com and invite people to it to discuss things privately. Certain things are prohibited in the *public* forums, for sensible reasons.

[What I do find odd is that users can't opt to have their Blue Board entries non-hidden on their profile pages. So now I can see that you have made 6 Blue Board entries, and one of them is a "1", but I can't see which one that is. I think users should be allowed to choose to make such information public on their profile pages.]

Agencies which repeatedly don't pay in time (that is, several months later) should be considered unethical and banned from respectable sites!


Thanks to Google still having your original post in its results cache, I was able to see which agency you're referring to. So here's my question to you: Hasn't this agency been banned for posting jobs since 2006? What more do you want, then?





I think you can. Have a look at my profile (it's not a trap), you should be able to see who I've made Blue Board entries for. Do correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it's a choice not to show them.


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Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:38
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
I take it back! Mar 3, 2015

Nevermind. I am mistaken.

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Leonhard Schmeiser  Identity Verified
Austria
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good internet research, Samuel ;) Mar 3, 2015

I saw in the meantime, that the agency is already banned from posting jobs here, but the main problem still remains.
"My point wasn't to slate agencies, but to help people who walked into the trap and to end the possibility for the agengy to play always and again the same game 1 freelancer vs. international agency, in which the freelancer is practically without chance."

And this can't work in a private forum: I could invite the collegues who expressed their discontent on the blue board, OK, might be for two or three of them, the subject is still interesting (in fact, I doubt this). The ones, who wrote to me and have presently a problem, didn't leave a comment on the blue board, maybe they think that would still reduce their chances of getting the money...

So, how should such a forum reach the people for whom it can be useful? Invite all proz-members? That's somehow the definition of public, isn't it?


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:38
Russian to English
+ ...
Hi, what is the best way to make an agency in Austria Mar 12, 2015

pay for work done over two months ago? I have never had any problems with payments in my life. Once, perhaps, when the client said the tape did not have what she expected it to have, some criminal conspiracy content on the part of her husband. Other that that, never.

First they wanted to pay a little less because the submission was about 15 minutes late. It might have been but it was almost night there anyhow, and i asked them initially for three hours more, but they said no, and then they kept asking me various silly questions for another two hours, so they most likely did not need it at that time. The person did not know English well, and was kind of obsessed with some technicalities, and then she wanted to deduct some money.

When I said no, they finally stopped responding to payment requests. Can you imagine any thing like that. I have a cousin there, but I do to really want to have him get involved. it is not that much money, just about $200 because I charged them a really descent rate—not rush, even though it was a rush job. What is the best way to deal with them?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:38
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Forum discussions are not revisited, the Blue Board is Mar 12, 2015

Leonhard Schmeiser wrote:
My point wasn't to slate agencies, but to help people who walked into the trap...


Do you mean that you have specific advice or assistance for people who have already become victims of this agency?

...and to end the possibility for the agengy to play always and again the same game.


If an agency is discussed in a forum, only the people who read the forums at that time will see the discussion. Very few people read old discussions. The Blue Board, on the other hand, is revisited by members every time they are contacted by a new client.


[Edited at 2015-03-12 10:59 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:38
Russian to English
+ ...
i am just sort of reviving the thread. Any suggestions ? Mar 14, 2015

Please see my post above. Many agencies more and more often seem to think that if they are in a different country they have some kind of an immunity, and nothing will happen to them, from the legal point of view.

[Edited at 2015-03-14 10:02 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:38
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A terminology issue here Mar 14, 2015

LilianNekipelov wrote:

Please see my post above. Many agencies more and more often seem to think that if they are in a different country they have some kind of an immunity, and nothing will happen to them, from the legal point of view.


IMO these are not translation agencies, but criminals who chose across-borders translation outsourcing as their m.o.

Two points here:
a) It's unlikely that they'd hire a translator in their immediate neighborhood; and
b) If market demand for translation declined for any reason, they'd quickly switch their core business to some other scam*.

A true translation agency will pay their translators exactly as agreed 99% of the time, exceptions being made only when they realize that a bad selection decision was made, and have reason to believe that, unless payment is withheld, that new translator won't fix legitimate quality issues found in the work delivered.

Apart from outright dishonesty on either side, most undesirable situations arise from desperation: either a translation outsourcer is desperate to make a few extra bucks by playing some slick trick on a translator, or a translator is desperate enough to take any job, regardless of whether they have the skills to do it properly.


*Incidentally, yesterday I was caught in a traffic jam here in Sao Paulo, and I had a glimpse on how these outfits get built. The scene took place at an intersection with Av. Paulista, a tall spine in town, hence the ideal place to put broadcasting antennas, one of the most radio waves-crowded places on our planet, so interference on the cell phone signal is high. The car beside me was a weathered mid-size BMW sedan, and the driver's countenance and attire, a man in his early 30s, failed to match the vehicle anyway. As the traffic wouldn't move, he decided to make a call, and spoke very loudly. Of course I only overheard one side of the conversation:
"Hey, pal, how is it going?"
"Wanna make some money?"
"No, no. I don't want any money from you, I know you haven't any. I asked if you wanna make some."
"Yeah, right, sure you do. I'll set up a travel agency in your name. You won't have to do a thing."
"No, my name won't be in the deal, only yours. You'll be my front."
"I know your name isn't clean, mine isn't either, however we've got that covered at the bank."
"You see, all we'll have to do is set up a travel agency in your name, I have people to do everything else, and you'll make a bundle!"
"Let me explain to you how it works."

At this time, the man noticed that a couple of eavesdropping pedestrians who'd heard his loud introduction had stopped on the sidewalk, eagerly gaping to learn "how it works", so he rolled up his car's dark tinted windows before proceeding.

Off-topic? Yes! However it COULD be a translation agency, why not?


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:38
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, absolutely—criminal, but they think that may be invincible. Mar 14, 2015

It is quite hard to fight them. I think their initial intention is already not to pay, or to pay a reduced rate. They know that they can always question some terms, for which there are three or more possible translations, all good, or simply stop responding. I think there has to be some way to fight them, though. First they let you work for another hour, and then they say the translation was late???

It is not even as much about the $200 but rather a matter of honor. i will not let it go like that, most likely ever. <

I think this agency may not have money—it definitely looks like that because they reversed some credit card payments for at least one person in the past, also on a rush job, and also an American translation, I guess not charging bottom rates. They agree on any rates, because they know that they won't pay them, anyhow. How is that? Perhaps they can get a loan form a bank, or sell some office equipment.

[Edited at 2015-03-14 13:22 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:38
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It's a matter of stepping up to professional level Mar 14, 2015

LilianNekipelov wrote:

It is quite hard to fight them. I think their initial intention is already not to pay, or to pay a reduced rate. They know that they can always question some terms, for which there are three or more possible translations, all good, or simply stop responding. I think there has to be some way to fight them, though. First they let you work for another hour, and then they say the translation was late???

It is not even as much about the $200 but rather a matter of honor. iI will not let it go like that, most likely ever.

I think this agency may not have money—it definitely looks like that because they reversed some credit card payments for at least one person in the past, also on a rush job, and also an American translation, I guess not charging bottom rates. They agree on any rates, because they know that they won't pay them, anyhow. How is that? Perhaps they can get a loan form a bank, or sell some office equipment.


The translation profession suffers from too many bilingual amateurs posing as professional translators. No, I don't favor regulating our trade, I think it would do more harm than good.

Many translation agencies are merely profit-driven: buy cheap, and sell with a hefty markup. If they ever become unable to continue doing it in the translation market, they'll seek some 'other commodity' to trade.

Blame me for being a former HR professional: we always assemble any issue into a 2x2 matrix. Here we have on one axis professional and amateur translations, and on the other professionally-minded and amateur-minded translation agencies.

No point in delving into each of the four resulting quadrants here, however the overwhelmingly pervasive presence of amateur bilinguals posing as translators makes it possible for amateur-minded translation agencies to become quite large.

Having done an honest self-check, yes, I am a professional translator. After having spent four decades earning most of my income directly or indirectly from translation, I'd be long bankrupt if I weren't. This entitles me to work only for professionally-minded translation agencies.

Haven't I ever worked for amateur-minded translation agencies? Of course I have! However only once - or at most twice - for each of them. The www enables a clever web developer to make a city dump look like a gold mine; evidence is in what you take out from each place.

The beauty of being an online freelancer is that you can turn down job offers for no reason at all. If it looks 'fishy', you may choose to have pasta, meat, poultry, or a salad instead.

A commercial establishment must have grounds to discard business offers. A hotel or a restaurant must have good reasons to oust a client from their premises. A commercial company may have to show that the prospect's credit is not good enough for the intended purchase. A freelancer may simply say NO!

So I chose to deliver professional-level services to professionally-minded clients only. That's one quadrant in my 2x2 matrix, but it is enough for both parties in there.

Part of the everyday life in that quadrant requires delivering superb customer service, exceeding expectations every time it is possible. Perhaps my main specialty area in translation (HRD courseware) gave me the opportunity of translating too many different training programs on customer service, so I couldn't avoid learning a lot about it.

One interesting point that struck me right now is that amateur-minded translation agencies completely fail to recognize - and value - outstanding customer service. They simply want their current job done, as quickly and as cheaply as possible, nothing else. Looking back, it would have been a reliable indicator in all cases I had.

So safety lies in being thoroughly professional as a translator and, in exchange, expecting professionalism from all clients, staying away from those who obtrusively show they don't have it. The problem, a tough one, is to cut through the camouflage built around the agency's lack of professionalism by that clever web site developer, to see the truth.

[Edited at 2015-03-14 14:25 GMT]


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:38
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
A warning Mar 15, 2015

I recently discovered that an agency which suddenly went into liquidation last April owing money to several translators, including me, has reopened under a new name, operated by the same people at the same address, using identical purchase orders and identical documentation. This is entirely legitimate - under UK law, at any rate.
I didn't realise the situation until I had accepted an urgent order from the "new" agency whose Blue Board record is excellent. I informed the PM of what I had discovered and said I'd have to abandon the urgent order I was working on unless they'd agree to pay me the full amount up front (for the current job, not the upaid debt I had lost). To my surprise, they agreed and the money was transferred to my account within an hour, whereupon I resumed and completed the job. The defunct agency's behaviour had always been impeccable until its sudden disappearance so I had no inkling about its financial difficulties until then. I've no doubt the "new" agency intends to do better this time, but I wanted to warn others that such things can happen without notice.
Proz will not allow me to name the agencies here, but please contact me privately for the details.


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Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 12:38
Japanese to English
If it's legal Mar 15, 2015

If it's legal to go into liquidation and reopen then what's to stop a business from pulling that trick several times a year? Get 100 translators to do 100 jobs, shut down, reopen, begin the process again.

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