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Unpaid $5.10 not big enough to complain?
Thread poster: S. D.
S. D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:41
English to Japanese
Feb 29, 2016

Dear all translators:

I hope everyone here is doing well.

I wanted to share this experience and would like to know what you all think.
I have been working for this agency about 2 years. They have cloud-base translation platform that multiple translators can have access to translate/proofread. I noticed that this system allows translators to access to others' work and overwrite/modify it, so my earning sometimes decreases due to this. I started saving a screenshot of my earning page as a proof so that I can report when my earning goes down. This happened 2 or 3 times in the past and every time I reported with my proof of the screen shot and they were paying me back.

This decrease in my earning happened again and I requested to reimburse the difference ($5.10) back to my account. The PM originally said that someone modified my work and my translation was correct so they will adjust it later. Then I got another message from the same PM stating that I forgot to include a tag and I made some mistakes in not following the client's strict style guide. He gave me a few example. I admitted that I forgot to include the tag and apologized about it. However, for other sentences the PM pointed out as my mistake, it was NOT a mistake. The PM, whom I do not think he knows any Japanese, is the one who did not understand the style guide which is written in Japanese. I explained why mine is correct and he chose the other translators' work which are not correct and not following the style guide.

Later he replied just to tell me that "Unfortunately compensations are already issued and there is no way to change them." No mention about the point that I explained why my translation is correct. I thought it is not fair that I do not get paid for providing correct translation, so I brought this issue to the owner of this agency. I knew him because I have been working since he started this company and I was the one who let them win the contract from this end-client. He said that he talked to this PM and PM agreed that my translation was correct. However, he said:

"I also asked what that difference was and he informed me that the contested amount was $5.10. I also looked at the amount of work we did since you registered with us since the beginning of our relationship ($3925.04) and I am having a very hard time understanding why it is worthwhile to get rid of us as a client/partner for a reason like this. "

So I am not supposed to ask them to pay if it is only $5.10? $5.10 is not big enough to complain? It was $0.05 per word of proofreading (MT editing), so it was 102 words of work. Is it normal to give away free 102 words? I usually do free work for very tiny job like up to 20 words or so for an agency that I have good relationship, but I thought 102 words for this company is not a thing to let go because this is not the 1st time that my earning decreased and it adds up in the end. So each time I see the decrease I was asking for them to put it back to my account. Am I too cheap for complaining about this amount?

I explained to him that it is not about how big or small the amount is. What I am disappointed is that it is not fair that I do not get paid although I provided the correct translation and you will submit mine and yet other translators who did not follow the style guide gets paid. The PM agreed that mine was correct so how come I do not get my earning back?

What do you think? If it is a small amount like this, you do not complain and just let it go although your translation will be used to submit to the end-client? I warned him that I will definitely share this experience in Proz.com BB entry if they do not pay me the difference.

Another thing I did not like is that he is just wasting time handling this for me. He states:
"Again, you can chalk this to me being an idiot or not fully understanding the issue but even writing this e-mail takes more of my time than the contested amount (which can be seen as either the correction of an error or remedied in upcoming projects) - and I feel obliged to do it because you have been a part of us for 2 years now. " I told him that I am wasting my time as well to report each time my earning decreased and I need to make/keep screenshot of my earning.

I will delete my account after I get paid. I wanted to ask your opinions. Thank you for reading such a long silly story. I truly appreciate your input. Thank you!


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 01:41
English to Croatian
+ ...
My opinion... Feb 29, 2016

... is that I find that kind of system (other people landing freely on your work editing it) is quite chaotic. I wouldn't wanna be a part of it.

And to refer to your original question, yes, it's enough. If you feel they are playing cheap tricks on you, then you should ask to be paid what they owe you. Is this really the first time you are having "technical", logistic and financial issues with them? Somehow I doubt it as you sound like this was a last drop (with previous drops).

I would stay away from such "system".


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S. D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:41
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
this is not the 1st time Feb 29, 2016

Thank you, Lingua 5B, for reading my post and sharing your opinion.

This is not the 1st time to have decreased earning. In the past my earning was decreased but they were paying to me. This time it does not sound like they will pay me the difference because the balance he was stating does not include the lost $5.10.

I just received a reply from the owner after I explained what I really feel upset is the unfairness and I should get paid. I told him that I will share this experience over Proz.com to warn others. He says:

"Please share. I really don't respond well to threats."

I guess they will lose many translators soon.....


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 01:41
English to Croatian
+ ...
OK.... Feb 29, 2016

S. D. wrote:

Thank you, Lingua 5B, for reading my post and sharing your opinion.

This is not the 1st time to have decreased earning. In the past my earning was decreased but they were paying to me. This time it does not sound like they will pay me the difference because the balance he was stating does not include the lost $5.10.

I just received a reply from the owner after I explained what I really feel upset is the unfairness and I should get paid. I told him that I will share this experience over Proz.com to warn others. He says:

"Please share. I really don't respond well to threats."

I guess they will lose many translators soon.....


If you explain all this on Blue Board, we will all be warned. : ) Just for the BB you will have to summarize it in two sentences.

Well what does that mean? In the past, you had to go into trouble of proving your translation is correct, every time XYZ would randomly land on your translation, just to get paid? If that's not a continuous issue, I don't know what is That platform sounds very chaotic, or I missed something.

It's not about amount, it's about how they play it.



[Edited at 2016-02-29 23:10 GMT]


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:41
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
I might be a fossil... Feb 29, 2016

...but I wouldn't join such cloudy systems, exactly for the reasons you described.
Messing up with MY work?? No way. I don't think the agency svaes their money this way, but where's a guarantee that a jealous competitor doesn't try to take you out of scene?
And yes, five bucks is money, even several cents would be. Well, I would close the door with such chaos.
But if you choose to stay, demand what is yours or at least don't allow to create precedents.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 01:41
English to Croatian
+ ...
It's VERY time consuming. Feb 29, 2016

OK It's all fine if they would pay you in the past after you clarified your translation choices, but are you aware of how time consuming this is? Do you get extra payment for this (re-translation, clarifications, restructuring, etc)?

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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:41
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Unpaid $5.10 Mar 1, 2016

Dump these people and be mindful of two phrases in Japanese:
"songiri" and
"makete katsu"


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S. D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:41
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, I was stupid for being a part of this agency. Mar 1, 2016

At first it was not this bad before many other joined into their system.
Later the more translators joined into my language pair, the more chaotic it became.
I reported that they needed to fix the system so that others cannot access each other's work but it never happened. I was working for this agency only when I had no other jobs and was not busy, so I thought it is okay as long as they pay me in full. But I was wrong ... It is not just the money but what really bothers me is how they are handling this. Now I know that I should not have been part of this and this is a well-learned lesson.

Yes, Michael Newton-san. I will take this as "songiri"(loss-cut). I used to be an assistant trader in Tokyo FX market and I had to do "songiri" occasionally, so I know how it feels like! This time I held my bad position too long. But it will be "makete katsu" (lost but win in the end) from this well-learned lesson

Thank you all for taking time and sharing your opinions. I am glad that I shared about it here in this forum.


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philgoddard
United States
German to English
+ ...
They're a disgrace. Mar 1, 2016

They should apologize and pay you the money they owe.

If you don't care about losing them as a customer, why not send them a link to this page? And you have a duty to warn other translators by putting a note on BlueBoard.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
But... you took this risk when you signed up, didn't you? Mar 1, 2016

S. D. wrote:
The PM, whom I do not think he knows any Japanese, is the one who did not understand the style guide which is written in Japanese. I explained why mine is correct and he chose the other translators' work which are not correct and not following the style guide.


Some agencies work on the principle that the translator has the final say about whether the proofreader is right or wrong, whereas other agencies trust the proofreader more than the translator. If the PM doesn't speak the language, then he has to do either of these.

Some agencies then deduct amounts from your invoice for such quality issues. When you sign up with an agency, they should mention this in the agreement. In your case, if I understand correctly, they did. In other words, you knew all the time that there is always a risk that sooner or later they will deduct a bit of money for what they consider quality issues.

Perhaps you had hoped/thought that this would only happen during your first few weeks/months of working with them, and that they have a "reputation" system in place that would protect you against such deductions the longer you work for them, yes?

$5.10 is a tiny deduction, and this is (as far as I can see) your first quality related deduction. The other deductions were system glitches, if I understand your post correctly. I don't think you should have made such a fuss.


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:41
Member (2014)
English to German
Time to move on? Mar 1, 2016

It does sound chaotic, such platforms usually pay miserable rates to start with, so maybe it is time for you to put that one down to experience, move on and find better clients?

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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:41
German to English
Hard for me to understand ... Mar 1, 2016

... why the owner of the company was willing to part ways with an obviously valued translator for $5.10 (plus the fees for sending the money, if it couldn't be lumped together with another payment) - particularly when he was willing to invest time in an e-mail exchange about that money. (It would have cost him less time/money to simply write that he was sorry about the problem and have accounting send you the money.)

I think 5 dollars or 50 dollars are a very bad reason to end a good relationship between a client and a translator. However, the five dollars here are a symptom of some very good reasons to give up on this former client.


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:41
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Fuss? Mar 1, 2016

Samuel Murray wrote:

Some agencies work on the principle that the translator has the final say about whether the proofreader is right or wrong, whereas other agencies trust the proofreader more than the translator. If the PM doesn't speak the language, then he has to do either of these.

Some agencies then deduct amounts from your invoice for such quality issues. When you sign up with an agency, they should mention this in the agreement. In your case, if I understand correctly, they did. In other words, you knew all the time that there is always a risk that sooner or later they will deduct a bit of money for what they consider quality issues.

Perhaps you had hoped/thought that this would only happen during your first few weeks/months of working with them, and that they have a "reputation" system in place that would protect you against such deductions the longer you work for them, yes?

$5.10 is a tiny deduction, and this is (as far as I can see) your first quality related deduction. The other deductions were system glitches, if I understand your post correctly. I don't think you should have made such a fuss.


But the OP also wrote:

I explained to him that it is not about how big or small the amount is. What I am disappointed is that it is not fair that I do not get paid although I provided the correct translation and you will submit mine and yet other translators who did not follow the style guide gets paid. The PM agreed that mine was correct so how come I do not get my earning back?


So, if that is the case (and we have no reason to doubt that), why would he be "making a fuss" and not just complaining with good reason? Besides, he also wrote "this is not the 1st time that my earning decreased and it adds up in the end", but even if it was the first time that happens, if the only mistake he did was omit a tag, then I honestly believe that not getting paid for his work is definitely unacceptable, whatever the amount. Furthermore, in most agreements I have read (or signed), penalties are usually mentioned more or less as a "last resort", when the translation quality is unacceptable, and even then the translator is often given a chance to fix it within X days before the translation is sent to someone else and the penalties deducted.

Also, I may be wrong, but to me, "this system allows translators to access to others' work and overwrite/modify it" sounds different from the classic scenario with translator+proofreader.


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Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 02:41
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
I would Mar 1, 2016

contact the end client of this agency - you said you made it happen that this agency cooperates with this end client. Tell them that the agency they have been dealing with steals money from their translators.

Just as simple as that.

You won`t get any work from this agency anymore, so why bother?


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:41
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
No need to drag others into it Mar 1, 2016

Vadim Kadyrov wrote:
contact the end client of this agency

That's not going to make the OP look good to the client - quite the reverse, in fact.

Dan


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