Please please some advices with a client who tries everything for not paying me
Thread poster: Gaelle_London

Gaelle_London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:27
English to French
+ ...
Feb 16, 2017

Hi All,

I have a problem with an translation agency in UK who hired me to translate a 270,000 word document (actually 5 documents in total) from German to English. It was a technical document with scanned text so it did take a long time to proceed through the entire document (I hired other translators and proofreaders to work with me on this project). The rate was low but I thought it would be good as an experience and the project seemed interesting.

In the agreement, the word count was estimated at 270,000 words. They paid a deposit which I requested. Where it goes wrong :
- They asked me to send all the translations (there were 5 documents in total) before signing the agreement which I refused. I send 4 translations and they finally sent the agreement signed
- They told me that they would refuse a 30 days payment which was agreed and signed for.
- After several emails (one or two each day during several weeks), and with some invoices already overdue they are telling me today that the payment is based on the word count of the translation and not the original document. How come is it possible? They are telling me that if I want to get paid, I must accept those terms. And if I want to proceed further (legal actions), I can go ahead.

I'am desperate as I hired other translators and I need to pay them which I cannot do without their payements. I want obviously proceed further. Any good advice for me ?

Thank you for your help!

Gaelle


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Claire Titchmarsh  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:27
Member (2013)
Italian to English
+ ...
Go to a solicitor Feb 17, 2017

Immediately. With all the emails and paperwork from this client printed off and organised so the solicitor can see exactly what was agreed.

There is nothing else you can do. Bit of a steep learning curve, this one!!


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Mair A-W (PhD)
Germany
Local time: 16:27
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
am i missing something? Feb 17, 2017

Gaelle_London wrote:
they are telling me today that the payment is based on the word count of the translation and not the original document. How come is it possible? They are telling me that if I want to get paid, I must accept those terms.


This is not unusual for scanned documents where the word count of the original is not known. Is it a big problem for you? From German to English there are likely more words in the English than in the German, after all...

[Edited at 2017-02-17 17:58 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:27
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Some thoughts Feb 17, 2017

Gaelle_London wrote:
In the agreement, the word count was estimated at 270,000 words.

they are telling me today that the payment is based on the word count of the translation and not the original document. How come is it possible?

You said yourself that this was an estimated word count - estimated because you can't have an accurate word count of a scanned document. So they were estimating that number of target words. It's quite normal.

I have a problem with an translation agency in UK who hired me to translate a 270,000 word document (actually 5 documents in total) from German to English. It was a technical document with scanned text so it did take a long time to proceed through the entire document (I hired other translators and proofreaders to work with me on this project). The rate was low but I thought it would be good as an experience and the project seemed interesting.

Wow! That sounds like a massive risk to take. I don't know how low the rate was but you were risking not only your own fees for, what, 500-1,000 hours of work (!?!), but also a vast amount that you're obliged to pay your translators and proofreaders. Less the deposit and the fifth file that you presumably didn't work on as you were already in contention (?). That's a massive risk for any freelancer, although I know freelancers who outsource regularly may accept it if everything seems fine. Did you do extensive checks to make sure it was an agency with a good reputation? For that matter, were your translators and proofreaders tried and tested? If not, any number of other things could have gone awry.

They told me that they would refuse a 30 days payment which was agreed and signed for.

If you have clear proof of that then you can contest that in court, certainly.

They are telling me that if I want to get paid, I must accept those terms. And if I want to proceed further (legal actions), I can go ahead.

I'am desperate as I hired other translators and I need to pay them which I cannot do without their payements. I want obviously proceed further.

Do they seem happy to pay on their revised payment date, and for the number of words you've produced? No quality concerns? If so, my own advice would be to accept. You have some pretty massive bills to pay and you need that money (or a substantial part of it if that's all that's forthcoming) as soon as possible. Otherwise you'll find your suppliers will be taking legal action against you.


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Álvaro Espantaleón  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:27
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sue them Feb 18, 2017

Read your contract carefully and, if you are covered, sue them.

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cloudhunter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:27
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
Sheila has got the point Feb 18, 2017

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Do they seem happy to pay on their revised payment date, and for the number of words you've produced? No quality concerns? If so, my own advice would be to accept. You have some pretty massive bills to pay and you need that money (or a substantial part of it if that's all that's forthcoming) as soon as possible. Otherwise you'll find your suppliers will be taking legal action against you.


Apart from all other things, THIS is the point here. You have taken a massive risk (or better: massive risks) but this one is the worst one. If you had worked on this project alone - it would be bitter and hard but you could afford waiting (I assume?) to get paid and fight with the agency for whatever has been agreed. But you have hired people (how many? How much money do you owe them? What are their payment terms?) and I am sorry, but it is none of their business if you get paid or not (I don't mean to offend you but it is basically the situation we all hate - an agency (an outsourcer) cannot /doesn't want to pay because they haven't been paid...).

Like Mair said - there are likely more words in the translation than in the original, right? The other question - can you afford to pay your translators and then solve the issue with the agency?


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:27
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
What was going on? Feb 18, 2017

cloudhunter wrote:
Like Mair said - there are likely more words in the translation than in the original, right? The other question - can you afford to pay your translators and then solve the issue with the agency?


If there were more words in the translation than in the original, what is the point of not accepting the target word count? Was the OP fighting with his/her client because his/or her client wanted to pay him/her more than the agreed amount?

This is totally pointless.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
Cut your losses Feb 19, 2017

I agree with Sheila - the best thing for you to do is probably take whatever you can get from them and pay off the translators you outsourced the work to. Unless of course, you have plenty of money to spare for the cost of a court case. It's very easy to say "sue them" if you're wealthy enough to do so.

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cloudhunter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:27
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
That is what is unclear Feb 19, 2017

jyuan_us wrote:

cloudhunter wrote:
Like Mair said - there are likely more words in the translation than in the original, right? The other question - can you afford to pay your translators and then solve the issue with the agency?


If there were more words in the translation than in the original, what is the point of not accepting the target word count? Was the OP fighting with his/her client because his/or her client wanted to pay him/her more than the agreed amount?

This is totally pointless.


This is unclear here. Like Mair wrote - there are likely more words in the translation than in the original document. The OP did not wrote if these 270,000 were an estimation regarding the source or the target file and this is the most important point here.

I assume, like Sheila, that these 270,000 concerned the target text and it turned out to be less after all (probably way less). Which does not change anything, if the parties agreed on 270,000.


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