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No payment from one PM (or the agency she used to work)
Thread poster: Shiho Fukuda Koski

Shiho Fukuda Koski
United States
Local time: 19:17
Member
English to Japanese
Sep 11, 2015

Dear my colleagues,

I need some advice regarding the payment that I have not received from one agency after 5 months of the completion of my work.

The situation of the troubles that I have got here is as follows:

1) A product manager made a huge mistake - she sent me a wrong file, which I translated and delivered on time. Only after the arrival of the translation, she found out that it was a wrong file. She apologized to me and promised to pay me out of her pocket, so I sent her an invoice.

2) While I was not paying special attention to this, two months passed. Since I received a payment for another project that I completed for this agency, I realized that I had not received the payment for this project in question. I asked about it to someone in the finance department, to which he replied that they do not have my invoice in their system.

I explained the situation to him, and he told me that the product manager is not working with them anymore. She left the agency only after a few days of my last correspondence with her (i.e. the e-mail which she confirmed the safe receipt of my invoice). I was given an e-mail address of someone in, perhaps, the same department she used to work.

3) I e-mailed him, asking for help, attaching all the e-mail records between the product manager and me. He told me that he would contact her.

4) When I did not hear back from him after half a month, I wrote him again, to which he seemed to be quite annoyed. He said that he told his ex-colleague to send me an e-mail. To my response that I have not heard anything from her, this time, he gave me her Gmail address, to which I sent a message, in vain. It was promptly bounced back to me.

5) I sent another e-mail to the person in charge, inquiring for the correct e-mail address, to which he said he would contact her again, but since then, there has been no e-mail from him.


I have signed for their Freelancer Contractor Agreement, but it was careless of me. I did so only after I finished the project, when they were preparing for the payment for another work that I completed. (The project in question was my first work for this agency.) Under such a circumstance, I am not sure if I can claim for the payment legally. And yet, I still want to get paid for my work. It would be appreciated if someone could tell me how to deal with this kind of situation smoothly.


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
You've been taken for a ride Sep 11, 2015

It looks like you've been taken for a ride by this PM.

The company is responsible for mistakes committed by their staff, not the individual employee. This is quite obvious, really: you have a contract with the company, but you have no contract with that individual. You should never have accepted that he would pay out of his own pocket. What he wanted was to avoid that his employers find out about his expensive mistake so that it wouldn't harm his career.

But the company is still responsible today for what their staff did in the past, as long as no statute of limitation has set in, so you need to persist with your claim to the company's CEO, and if necessary report non-payment on the Blue Board, as long as you can document what happened.


 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:17
English to French
+ ...
Small Claims Court Sep 11, 2015

I agree with Thomas Frost.

Assuming the company is in the USA, you should file a claim in Small Claims Court. Before to do that, you should send a detailed (Work Order for the unpaid project, your invoice, exchange of messages with the former PM, etc.) letter, by certified mail, to the agency, and be prepared to show the receipt of that letter, as well as all evidence, in court.

It may be that the PM was actually let go because of sheer incompetence.


Thomas T. Frost wrote:

It looks like you've been taken for a ride by this PM.

The company is responsible for mistakes committed by their staff, not the individual employee. This is quite obvious, really: you have a contract with the company, but you have no contract with that individual. You should never have accepted that he would pay out of his own pocket. What he wanted was to avoid that his employers find out about his expensive mistake so that it wouldn't harm his career.

But the company is still responsible today for what their staff did in the past, as long as no statute of limitation has set in, so you need to persist with your claim to the company's CEO, and if necessary report non-payment on the Blue Board, as long as you can document what happened.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Whose name was on the invoice? Sep 11, 2015

It sounds as though you made the invoice out to this person in her own name, without mention of the company. If that is so, you can't chase the company for payment of the invoice via the usual 'simplified' route. You can however sue the company, I would imagine, as you have the proof that they ordered and received the work in the normal, correct way, and that you'd already done similar work for them in the past. I would imagine that that is sufficient proof that the company ordered the work and must compensate you. But you'd have to consult a lawyer. It might not be too expensive, and worth a first consultation at least. But follow JL's advice first.

I don't think that the contract matters one way or the other. If anything, it may have taken away some of your rights if it contains some of the lopsided clauses common to that sort of agreement; but that doesn't apply because you hadn't signed it at that point. Whether covered by a signed contract or not, it sounds as though you have proof of an order for work - which is contractual in itself - so don't worry about that side of things.


 

Shiho Fukuda Koski
United States
Local time: 19:17
Member
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
Invoice and court Sep 11, 2015

Thank you very much for your insights, Thomas, JL01, and Sheila!

Indeed, I should not have told the PM that I would accept the money out of her pocket. (This taught me a lesson.) My invoice is actually billed to the company, not the PM. I do not know whether or not she noticed it, but I have got a confirmation e-mail for its receipt from her. So, naturally, I should be able to keep asking the company to pay for my work.

Since the total payment is only about $150, I prefer to avoid spending my time and energy at the court -although filing this claim to Small Claims Court sounds tempting. I have already told them that I would have to leave a negative review on Blue Board if I cannot receive the payment eventually (which I hope is not a threat). I am going to emphasize in my next message to them that the invoice is address to the company, not the PM. Let's see how they will answer me....



[Edited at 2015-09-11 17:32 GMT]


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:17
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
My 2 cents Sep 12, 2015

Shiho F Koski wrote:



Indeed, I should not have told the PM that I would accept the money out of her pocket. (This taught me a lesson.)



[Edited at 2015-09-11 17:32 GMT]


I didn't teach you a lesson. Even if you have accepted the money out of her pocket, it doesn't mean you cannot chase the money from the agency if he has disappeared. Your have a contractual relationship with the agency, not her.


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:17
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
The value of the efforts you have made about this incident has been more than $150 Sep 12, 2015

Shiho F Koski wrote:


Since the total payment is only about $150, I prefer to avoid spending my time and energy at the court -although filing this claim to Small Claims Court sounds tempting. I have already told them that I would have to leave a negative review on Blue Board if I cannot receive the payment eventually (which I hope is not a threat). I am going to emphasize in my next message to them that the invoice is address to the company, not the PM. Let's see how they will answer me....



[Edited at 2015-09-11 17:32 GMT]


You should have already been at a loss even if you have secured that payment by now, because you have spent a lot of extra time. Even worse if you eventually will not get paid.

I think the agency usually would not track anything that happened in the past for which the PM is no longer there. It is nobody's duty anyway. If you know how to reach the boss you can do so. The boss might be more concerned because he doesn't want the image of his company damaged.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
What are you suggesting? Sep 12, 2015

jyuan_us wrote:
You should have already been at a loss even if you have secured that payment by now, because you have spent a lot of extra time. Even worse if you eventually will not get paid.

Do you really treat payment chasing that way? Personally, I can see that there has to be a strict limit when it comes to possibly "throwing good money after bad". But I always have a half-hour that I can spend on marketing, networking... or on chasing payments when necessary.

If we all look at it your way, the less honest agencies are going to be laughing all the way to the bank. And they already have too much to laugh about. We can at least stand firm on being paid what has been agreed. And now we know that the invoice was made out to the company, there's very little reason to suppose that recovery is impossible. In many countries, small claims only cost €50 or so, can be submitted online, and that and any other cost is paid by the losing party.

Every valid claim for payment that is written off by a translator does a little bit more harm to us all.


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:17
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
My suggestion was very clear Sep 12, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:

jyuan_us wrote:
You should have already been at a loss even if you have secured that payment by now, because you have spent a lot of extra time. Even worse if you eventually will not get paid.

Do you really treat payment chasing that way? Personally, I can see that there has to be a strict limit when it comes to possibly "throwing good money after bad". But I always have a half-hour that I can spend on marketing, networking... or on chasing payments when necessary.

If we all look at it your way, the less honest agencies are going to be laughing all the way to the bank. And they already have too much to laugh about. We can at least stand firm on being paid what has been agreed. And now we know that the invoice was made out to the company, there's very little reason to suppose that recovery is impossible. In many countries, small claims only cost €50 or so, can be submitted online, and that and any other cost is paid by the losing party.

Every valid claim for payment that is written off by a translator does a little bit more harm to us all.


Stop doing anything about it. It is only $150. It is not worth the time spent on chasing it. The more you do, the more will you lose: your time, energy, etc.


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:17
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
What if the agency still doesn't pay after you have won the case in the small claim court? Sep 12, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:
In many countries, small claims only cost €50 or so, can be submitted online, and that and any other cost is paid by the losing party.

Every valid claim for payment that is written off by a translator does a little bit more harm to us all.


What can the small claim court do?


 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:17
English to French
+ ...
Local sheriff Sep 12, 2015

Law enforcement agencies are in charge of enforcing judgments. In NYC, ask the sheriff's office to have the judgment enforced.

jyuan_us wrote:

What can the small claim court do?


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Call in the bailiffs Sep 12, 2015

jyuan_us wrote:
What can the small claim court do?

A very large percentage of clients, almost all, will pay. Being in contempt of court doesn't do a lot for their future business prospects.

In my case, in France, the client chose to ignore the judgement. I can't imagine what he thought he was doing. I decided to take the small risk of asking the bailiffs to collect the debt - something you have to pay for in advance. A while later the bailiff reported that he attended the premises with the police and a warrant to seize property to the value of my invoice (€400) plus my expenses and interest since payment due date, plus all other expenses: the court hearing, the bailiff, the police presence... The client apparently handed over a cheque for more than twice the original debt and I paid only for photocopies, postage and phone calls. And my time. Most certainly worth it.


 

Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 23:17
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
泣き寝入りしないでください Sep 12, 2015

I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I would hate for "The PM has left the company" to become a valid excuse for agencies to refuse to pay for work commissioned, even in error. I hope Shiho Koski will keep trying get what she is owed, if nothing else for the sake for future translators who will work with that agency.

 

Shiho Fukuda Koski
United States
Local time: 19:17
Member
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
I am going to keep asking. Sep 12, 2015

Thank you all for each suggestion. I have already spent some time, which is valuable to me, for nothing as jyuan_us pointed out, and yet, I believe that I am entitled to get the payment for my work and that agencies should not get away without taking responsibilities for payment under any circumstances. I am going to keep asking the agency to show their business integrity and make the payment. If they continue to fail to respond, I will have to consider bringing this to the court.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Watch the mindset, Shiho Sep 12, 2015

Shiho F Koski wrote:
I am going to keep asking the agency to show their business integrity and make the payment

I think you're doing the right thing and wish you success. But you don't need to ask for what is yours by right. They are now in default of contract. Although you should stay away from threatening, you should be demanding payment; insisting on payment. It may not seem very different, but don't go anywhere near begging.


 
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