Very unreliable agency delaying payment - again!
Thread poster: Martin Harvey

Martin Harvey
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:07
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
Oct 26, 2016

Hello folks,

I'd imagine this is a common occurrence, but I haven't been able to find a thread which precisely describes my situation.

I have an agency I've been doing jobs for since I started working as a translator 19 months ago. They've never exactly been reliable payers, but they've paid up in the end, although often late.

However, they have now - for the third time - said that they cannot afford to pay me in one go and wonder if I will accept payment in instalments.

Reluctantly, I agreed to this latest arrangement as my client base is still very small (a combination of complacency and the fact that many agencies seem to want at least two years' experience) and I don't want to jeopardise one of my few sources of income, however unreliable it is.

Anyway, I was expecting a payment on the 20th, "without fail" (their words). What I instead got was an email from them saying (conveniently, I think) that there had been "fraudulent activity" on their account and that they can't pay me yet.

I now feel that a) since they - even if due to something not their fault - have broken their promise, I have the right to go back on my acceptance of their terms and demand payment in full and b) I don't have much to lose if I do demand everything owed to me and they no longer want to work with me, since I'm probably better off without them in the long run.

What are more experienced translators' views on this situation?

Any insight greatly appreciated!

Martin


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:07
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Bankruptcy looming? Oct 27, 2016

LavengroUK wrote:
However, they have now - for the third time - said that they cannot afford to pay me in one go and wonder if I will accept payment in instalments.

That sounds as though it's probably an honest statement

I was expecting a payment on the 20th, "without fail" (their words). What I instead got was an email from them saying (conveniently, I think) that there had been "fraudulent activity" on their account and that they can't pay me yet.

If they contacted you, without waiting for you to remind them, again I think this sounds as though it's true. Probably not the first part - probably just a grain of truth in that - but the fact that they can't pay.

I now feel that a) since they - even if due to something not their fault - have broken their promise, I have the right to go back on my acceptance of their terms and demand payment in full and b) I don't have much to lose if I do demand everything owed to me and they no longer want to work with me, since I'm probably better off without them in the long run.

You certainly do have that right. I just wonder what good it will do you. It really sounds as though this is an agency on the brink of bankruptcy. I think you have three choices:
- You could demand immediate payment. You'll either get it or you won't. If you don't, you'll be no worse off than you are now.
- You could call in a debt recovery company. It would need to be for quite a few hundred euro for them to bother but many will take 30% or so of what they recover, i.e. maybe nothing.
- You could play along with them and hope they really are well-intentioned as well as honest and appreciate you giving them time to pay. That depends a lot on what else you know about them. Maybe they're just stringing you along. Do they have a good BB record and a good reputation elsewhere?

But the first thing to do is to find out if they are still solvent. If it's a UK-based company then they'll be found on the CompaniesHouse website. Most countries have their register of registered companies online and there's a Wikipedia that lists many around the world. You may have to pay to find out financial status, but it's worth it. No point doing anything at all once a company has filed, except file your claim with the official receiver if possible.

Good luck!


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:07
Member (2004)
English to Italian
in trouble... Oct 27, 2016

stop working for them, wait until the money is finally in your bank, and run!

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:07
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Use the Blue Board Oct 27, 2016

Here's what I do when people try not to pay me. They have always paid in the end.

Any problems they may have, or claim to have, are no concern of yours and you should not even think about that.

First step: use the Blue Board. Outsourcers **really care** about the Blue Board.

Give them the lowest possible rating. Don't write anything in the comments box, because that will only give them an excuse to rebuff whatever you say.

If they are not listed on the Blue Board, you as a Proz member can create an entry for them.

Then tell them politely that you have done it and that other action may follow without any further warning unless you have received payment in full, confirmed by your bank, within seven consecutive calendar days (or any other period you prefer).

They may then try to contact you. DO NOT REPLY. Remain completely silent.

If they haven't paid within your stated deadline, come back here.

[Edited at 2016-10-27 12:25 GMT]


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
This works. Oct 27, 2016


First step: use the Blue Board. Outsourcers **really care** about the Blue Board.


Tom is right, and I've done this very successfully. You also have a duty to share this information with other translators so they don't get scammed too.


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Martin Harvey
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:07
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The company's status, BB, etc. Oct 27, 2016

I've just checked on the Companies House website, and the company is active, so I don't think that's the issue.

Re the Blue Board - I know that I really need access to this at the moment in order to progress my career, but funds are so low that I currently can't afford to subscribe to it.

[Edited at 2016-10-31 07:24 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:07
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Blueboard, but please... Oct 27, 2016

...do not think of the Blueboard as a way of collecting your money, i.e. post an entry now if you are sure that you will not take it back after getting paid. Such rollbacks of entries do not help others be protected from unreliable business partners.

You might want to consider to wait to an entry until you have been paid, to avoid the temptation to take it back after you have been paid, out of your good heart.


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Very unreliable agency delaying payment - again!

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