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Agency threatens with non-payment without a good reason
Thread poster: Emily Cox (medical and technical translator)

Emily Cox (medical and technical translator)
Germany
Local time: 03:00
German to English
Nov 12, 2015

I delivered a medium-size project in good order and on time. It was a technical project, for which the customer/the agency did not provide any termbases or similar, so I did my terminology research to the best of my ability.

I was not contacted with any queries, complaints, or similar afterwards.

3 weeks later, the agency is coming back to me, citing an alleged complaint from the customer. The complaint concerns just two terms (which are used often throughout the document), and a few formatting issues. According to the agency, the customer is unwilling to pay for the project due to “low quality” because of the above.

My translation of the terms in question is as good as the customer’s, which is easy to prove.
The agency is allegedly in the process of consulting the customer, which I have been told might take them around 2 weeks.

My invoice is due next week; I’ve told them it must be paid in full and on time, without ifs and buts.

I have never had issues with this agency, but acc. to their blueboard entry, they have tried to reduce invoices of a few translators already.

What would your next step be?


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Aakash5555
India
Local time: 07:30
Member (2014)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Wait for their response Nov 12, 2015

Hi,
I would suggest you to wait for their response and if they try to reduce the Invoice or show any other tantrum then go for some harsh action like a negative BB entry.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:00
Member (2008)
Italian to English
My next step Nov 12, 2015

Your only job now is to get paid. Don't be emotional or angry about it. It's just another thing you have to do.

Don't wait. Do this now:

The next step would be to give them a negative rating on the BlueBoard, and send them ONE email as follows:

- telling them that you have done so (with a link to your rating) and that you have started a discussion thread about them (with a link to this thread).

- specifying a deadline by which you expect payment in full to be received into your bank account.

- warning them that unless this happens, further action may follow without warning.

*Do not say anything else*.

Above all do not, under any circumstances, enter into any further discussion about the translation and any deficiences it may be said to contain.

After this point, break off all other contact with them FOREVER. Do not reply to any emails or calls, EVER. This is very important. You have to show that you MEAN IT.

Start asking around (on Proz) for the names of a few suitable lawyers, preferably based in the same city as the agency that isn't paying you.

When your deadline arrives, If you have still not been paid, take the next step. But my guess is, you'll be paid.



[Edited at 2015-11-12 17:28 GMT]


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golf264  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:00
English to Dutch
+ ...
Bite through the bitter apple Nov 12, 2015

You didn't say whether the agency is in the same country and what the specific terms of your contract are.
The first one definitely matters from a legal standpoint as well as the last one.

If foreign country, there is not much you can do besides the 'peer-review system'. Place a negative feedback on all such sites with such capability and eventually, if the agency continues to do bad business, it will reap its fruit.

Success in any case with your collection(s).


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:00
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Sounds to me as though you're doing just fine Nov 12, 2015

Emily Cox wrote:
My invoice is due next week; I’ve told them it must be paid in full and on time, without ifs and buts.

You've told them that two queried terms and a couple of formatting issues do not justify non-payment. Now you just send them your invoice as you intended and they had better pay.

I wouldn't do anything more until the payment due date. If at that time there's no money then you start normal procedures to get paid, and in full. Of course if they do contact you with some more information you'll need to answer them, but just a short reply restating the facts is enough if they start trying to force the issue.

The BB is a side issue. I wouldn't personally post until things either get gritty or get resolved to your satisfaction, but it's up to you.

Just don't let them bully you. You don't sound as though you're up for that anyway.


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philgoddard
United States
German to English
+ ...
. Nov 12, 2015

Tom in London wrote:
Above all do not, under any circumstances, enter into any further discussion about the translation and any deficiencies it may be said to contain.



I think Tom has made the most important point so far - if you start getting involved in wrangles about individual words, it makes things worse, not better.

But I wouldn't necessarily go in with all guns blazing. Often the agency will simply forward the complaint to you without thinking, and without knowing whether the customer is right or not. But they forwarded it to the customer, so they must have thought it was OK.


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Rita Pang  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:00
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
Stay patient, but don't forget to keep pushing Nov 13, 2015

Hi Emily,

I am sorry to hear about your troubles. I am currently struggling with a late payer too, though the issue is not related to QA. The day I finished submitting the project to the PM, two fresh entries were made under this agency's name on the Blueboard, specifically on late/non-payments. Too late :/ I wouldn't have worked with them at that point. Bad timing I guess.

While I think a lot of useful suggestions have been made, please do be careful about the use of Blueboard entries, in particular to the following rule:
http://www.proz.com/siterules/blue_board_bb_blueboard/9#9

The Blue Board may not be used to coerce. Using the Blue Board, or threatening to use the Blue Board, in such a way as to pressure an outsourcer or service provider into taking some action, is strictly prohibited.

Best of luck!


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Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
English to Russian
+ ...
Phrasing Nov 13, 2015

Rita Pang wrote:

Hi Emily,

I am sorry to hear about your troubles. I am currently struggling with a late payer too, though the issue is not related to QA. The day I finished submitting the project to the PM, two fresh entries were made under this agency's name on the Blueboard, specifically on late/non-payments. Too late :/ I wouldn't have worked with them at that point. Bad timing I guess.

While I think a lot of useful suggestions have been made, please do be careful about the use of Blueboard entries, in particular to the following rule:
http://www.proz.com/siterules/blue_board_bb_blueboard/9#9

The Blue Board may not be used to coerce. Using the Blue Board, or threatening to use the Blue Board, in such a way as to pressure an outsourcer or service provider into taking some action, is strictly prohibited.

Best of luck!


Just phrase it as if your BB posting would not be contingent on the outsourcer's future actions. "Unfortunately, I'll have to rate your agency negatively on the BB". After all, nothing prevents you from changing your mind post factum and refrain from actually doing it.

[Edited at 2015-11-13 17:52 GMT]


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Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 02:00
Japanese to English
Wait a little Nov 13, 2015

You've made your stance clear. Now wait until the due date and see whether they actually pay you or not. Then you can start with the threats and cajoling.

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Emily Cox (medical and technical translator)
Germany
Local time: 03:00
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Still no payment. Nov 19, 2015

Thanks to everyone for your input. The payment was due yesterday and it didn't arrive. I filed a non-payment dispute with proz today, apart from giving the agency a bad BB entry. Currently waiting for the BB entry to be published, before I inform the agency as per Tom's advice.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:00
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Good Nov 19, 2015

Emily Cox wrote:

Thanks to everyone for your input. The payment was due yesterday and it didn't arrive. I filed a non-payment dispute with proz today, apart from giving the agency a bad BB entry. Currently waiting for the BB entry to be published, before I inform the agency as per Tom's advice.


Good - so far. Just keep in your mind that one way or another, you will get paid. Plus extra compensation for the trouble you're being put through. Have you identified any suitable lawyers yet?


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Emily Cox (medical and technical translator)
Germany
Local time: 03:00
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Got a reply. Nov 19, 2015

Immediately after my 2 BB entries have been posted on proz (for the two branches concerned), the agency emailed me back saying they have paid 80% of the invoice amount; the remaining 20% shall be paid after consultation with the end customer.

What would be your reply, if any? Bear in mind that all this is completely unjustified.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:00
Member (2008)
Italian to English
DO NOT REPLY TO THEM Nov 19, 2015

Emily Cox wrote:

Immediately after my 2 BB entries have been posted on proz (for the two branches concerned), the agency emailed me back saying they have paid 80% of the invoice amount; the remaining 20% shall be paid after consultation with the end customer.

What would be your reply, if any? Bear in mind that all this is completely unjustified.


DO NOT REPLY and continue on the path you're already following. I hope the agency is following this discussion thread. Have you found a lawyer yet?

[Edited at 2015-11-19 09:36 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:00
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
But they've had plenty of time to do that Nov 19, 2015

Emily Cox wrote:
Immediately after my 2 BB entries have been posted on proz (for the two branches concerned), the agency emailed me back saying they have paid 80% of the invoice amount; the remaining 20% shall be paid after consultation with the end customer.

What would be your reply, if any? Bear in mind that all this is completely unjustified.

By my rough calculations from the info given in your first post, you delivered this work in late October. Why do they now need time to consult with their client, on 19th November? They've had a week since they first spoke of the alleged problem. That should have been long enough.

My own personal reaction would be to reply with a reminder that the whole amount was due on dd/mm/yy and that the 20% outstanding is now overdue and is expected immediately. I would then give a date (maybe one week hence, maximum) when continued non-payment would be reported to the competent authorities (or whatever action you propose taking). I wouldn't refer to the quality concerns they raised. As far as you are concerned, this is a non-payment issue.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:00
Member (2008)
Italian to English
No reminder needed Nov 19, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:

My own personal reaction would be to reply with a reminder that the whole amount was due on dd/mm/yy and that the 20% outstanding is now overdue and is expected immediately. I would then give a date .


All of that has already been done. It is very important that there should be no further direct correspondence with the agency, as this will only re-open discussion about the supposed "quality" of the translation. Their payment of only PART of the sum due is a trick intended to muddy the waters. DO NOT REPLY!

From now on the only correspondence with the agency should come from the lawyer.

Do bear in mind that the agency is probably reading this discussion. I hope so anyway.


[Edited at 2015-11-19 11:46 GMT]


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