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My agency won't pay me because the client declined my work
Thread poster: Gali Shapira

Gali Shapira  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:23
Member (2011)
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Jun 5, 2015

What to do if your agency said the client declined your work and will not pay you?

 

Terry Richards
France
Local time: 03:23
French to English
+ ...
It depends. Jun 5, 2015

Did the end customer have a valid reason for declining the work? Has this reason been properly shown/explained to you? Was there a third-party review?

Strictly speaking, your contract is with the agency and they are required to pay you if you provided a satisfactory translation. Their interaction with the end customer is none of your business. However, if the end customer had good reason to decline the translation, it probably can not be described as "satisfactory". Although, even that is subject to discussion. If the client just didn't like your style but didn't provide a style guide then you could argue that the translation is satisfactory in accordance with the instructions you were given.

Another possibility is that the agency is simply lying. Have you tried Googling some of your text? If you find it then the end customer has used it and it is obviously satisfactory.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:23
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You ask why Jun 5, 2015

They can't just say that and disappear. You need to know exactly what caused the work to be rejected. And only if you are given proof that the work was really unfit for the purpose can there be grounds for non-payment. Even if there were some errors of terminology or language (gra.mmar, spelling etc), you should have been given the chance to correct them, or given the chance to offer a discount. This would not have been grounds for a 100% rejection.

Then there is the question of why an allegedly awful translation was delivered to the end client. Did the agency not check your work, or have it checked by a proofreader? If not, why not? If they did, then where is their share of the responsibility and loss for not having spotted anything wrong?

And if they are just taking the end client's word for it, does that person have sufficient knowledge of the two languages on which to base the claim? In other words, can anyone justify this action? Normally they don't know the languages themselves.

My advice is to stay polite, clearly ready to take responsibility for your work and any errors, but stand firm on the principle that 'acceptable' work must be paid for.

Good luck!


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:23
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I agree with Sheila Jun 5, 2015

You should politely voice your concern that your work was found wanting. Say you're not happy about this because you always produce high-quality, carefully checked translations and that you would wish to maintain this high standard. Ask for more detailed information as to why your work was considered unsatisfactory.

Why not ask a few other colleagues to proof-read the translation you sent? To see what they think?


 

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:23
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Your client Jun 5, 2015

Your client is the agency, not the agency's client.
Thus, the agency is bound to prove that your work is uneccaptable - have they done that?
(Somewhat tells me they haven't and would never have.)


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:23
Russian to English
+ ...
They still have to pay you. Jun 5, 2015

Choosing the right translator is the company's risk—they should have done more research or asked you for a sample translation. Otherwise, ask for the end client contact information and politely ask them what the problem is—if this is even true that the end client found some inconstancies in your translation. Contact the end client. Or just demand payment frorm the company. If they do not pay sue them.

[Edited at 2015-06-05 11:36 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:23
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Hebrew Jun 5, 2015

Try to get somebody who, like you, is native in Hebrew to read through your translation and tell you if it's good (or not), in writing (I'm assuming from your profile that this was a translation into Hebrew).

[Edited at 2015-06-05 11:52 GMT]


 

Gali Shapira  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:23
Member (2011)
English to Hebrew
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Non paying agency Jun 5, 2015

Thank you for all your comments. The sequence of events was as follow.
This particular agency (with which I've been collaborating successfully for more than a year) has offered me a job at the weekend with a low rate and a tight deadline. I told them that the particular field is not my specialism (technology) but I could give it a go for a better rate and an extended deadline. A higher rate was agreed on and I began working on the document which I must admit was very technical and hard for me. Perhaps I should have given up but I persevered and believed was doing quite well. A day before the deadline which I thought was agreed on I've received urgent emails saying "deadline has expired, the client is waiting". (All evidence of what I'm describing are on the emails we've sent to each other). I stood my ground regarding the wrong deadline and continued working but had a lot of pressure to provide the job earlier and not really have time to review it much. The hours I've put in were already very high and reluctantly I've sent it without much editing.
A couple of days later I've received an email from the agency complaining the client isn't happy and is rejecting the work. No reviewed work was sent with this email. I reminded them that I've advised her technology is not my specialism subject and the problem about the deadline. The agent says she knows I'm their best Hebrew translator that is why she chose me, just the same 3 days later she said the agency will not win their case and therefore they can only offer me a small compensation for the work.
I wrote back saying I'm contesting this decision and please send me the reviewed work asap as a first step. It was a few hours ago and the reviewed translation with the feedback from the client still hasn't arrived.
Is there any legal channel for this kind of situation?
Thanks for your time and advice


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:23
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Genuine difficulty Jun 5, 2015

galishapira wrote:

The agent says she knows I'm their best Hebrew translator that is why she chose me, just the same 3 days later she said the agency will not win their case and therefore they can only offer me a small compensation for the work.


Ah.

This sounds as if it may be a genuine problem. The agency respects your linguistic expertise, but cannot get payment for a translation that was (you admit) outside your range of specialisms.

If I were you I would smooth things over, accept the lower payment, keep working for this agency, and learn from experience.


icon_smile.gif


 

Gali Shapira  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:23
Member (2011)
English to Hebrew
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Non paying agency Jun 5, 2015

But why I have not received the reviewed work straight away? I assume this is the first thing you do when your work is refused? The client must have given it to the agency. Also, the deadline fiasco was not my fault and I know it affected my work. If I felt it was all my fault I would have taken on the nose as they say, but I don't. I think the agency is at fault also. And weather the client is wrong or not I don't know as I haven't even seen their feedback.

 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:23
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
My agency won't pay me because the client declined my work Jun 5, 2015

Sorry, Tom, but this time I completely disagree with you.

The agency has demonstrated that it will not stick up for its translators. How do I know this won't happen again in the future and with a much larger translation? They have shown that at the slightest complaint, they will attempt to deny payment without giving the translator the opportunity to make amends. Why should she accept a discount when absolutely no evidence of any wrong-doing has been provided?

I think that sometimes translators are too passive and people with a more aggressive business acumen take advantage of this.

Tom in London wrote:


If I were you I would smooth things over, accept the lower payment, keep working for this agency, and learn from experience.


icon_smile.gif


 

Gali Shapira  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:23
Member (2011)
English to Hebrew
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Non paying agency Jun 5, 2015

I would also like to add that this project was not well paid from the start. They have offered
0,04 EUR per word and I've managed to raise it up to 0,05 EUR per word. Perhaps it is not my best work (I still haven't seen the review yet so I don't know yet, but considering the low payment and the tight pressured deadline and the subject field I couldn't really be expected to produce prefect results. I though they were aware of that. Yes, I have agreed to take it on and refused other better paid work during the weekend but now of course I simply feel exploited. I believe that one should try produce the best work they can when they take on a job but I also agree with with Jeff Whitaker that sometimes translators are too passive and people with a more aggressive business acumen take advantage of this.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:23
Member (2008)
Italian to English
The key thing Jun 5, 2015

The key thing, no matter what other factors may be in play, is that your translation must ALWAYS be word-perfect.

In this case, by your own admission, it wasn't.

So it isn't a case of the outsourcer being strong; it's a case of you being in a weak position, unable to defend what you admit was not a good piece of work (low rate or not, tight deadline or not).


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:23
Member
Italian to English
Tricky situation Jun 5, 2015

I would continue to persevere with the agency, keep at them to provide you with details on where your translation is (allegedly) not up to scratch. However, I think this is a good lesson in not taking on jobs you are not qualified to do - it simply means more stress for you, with an uncertain outcome at the end of it all.

One method that has worked for me in the past is consulting a lawyer - you may be able to find one who is willing to write a letter for a modest fee. And the threat of legal action may be enough to make the agency pay you.

From the sound of things, however, this is not really an agency worth working for. The rates are low, also they changed a deadline without warning, and they have not yet given you details on where your work was "insufficient". Not good business practice.


 

Gali Shapira  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:23
Member (2011)
English to Hebrew
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Non paying agency Jun 5, 2015

I do not agree Tom. There is something called reasonable expectations and circumstances. People are not machines or slaves. I do a lot good voluntary work for good causes in my spare time. Enriching a translation agency is not a good cause for me this is why I work for payment. I think in business what you are expected to deliver is related to payment specially after I've warned them the quality might be compromised because of the different elements which were at work. Also I don't understand how come they still haven't send me the reviewed project?. It should be available for me to look at there and then, should it not?
I definitely agree with you and Fiona about learning lessons from this bad practice.
I might have to bite the bullet and move on but of course I am upset by it.


 
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