What can I do for a translation agency who postpones my payment?
Thread poster: amelie08

amelie08
Turkey
Local time: 03:51
Turkish to Spanish
+ ...
Dec 21, 2017

I live in Turkey and the agency is in Europe. They owe me around 1000 euro, however I delivered translation on time, actually before deadline, he was supposed to pay on 5 th december but he didn't make a step until I wrote to him. We are on 21st of december, and I am not paid. he said lastly before christmas, I am sick of asking. They have good bb points, thats why I had accepted. Should I talk to the client? What else do you suggest?

[Edited at 2017-12-23 08:21 GMT]


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Keep asking Dec 23, 2017

I had a somewhat similar experience this month with an outsourcer in the Netherlands, also with a good Blue Board record, but only for 375 euros. They had EOM+60 days to pay and still paid 10 calendar days after they were supposed to pay. They never gave a reason, but I have reason to suspect they have cash flow or other financial problems.

What I usually do is to keep demanding payment or action once a day when people aren't fulfilling their duties, preferably to the highest-ranking person possible, ideally by phone in parallel with emailed demands. It may well ruin future relations, but I'm not interested in that type of client in the first place. This method has no legal force, but the idea is that only by doing what they need to do will they no longer be bothered by you every day, and it may well get you ahead in the queue.

It should not turn into harassment or get personal, though, through insults or threats or anything similar, and remember that it is against the rules for the Blue Board to use that as a pressure tool. Wait until they have paid, and then describe your experience in objective terms. Remain polite but firm at all times.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:51
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
If you're talking, that's encouraging Dec 23, 2017

amelie08 wrote:
They owe me around 1000 euro

That's quite a large sum, so it will definitely be worth following up. Things to do include:
- Stop accepting any more work until you've been paid in full. No agency is going to take you seriously if you keep accepting work in this situation.
- Add your own rating to the BB to warn others that this agency is not paying on time.
- Leave negative feedback anywhere else you can find online.
- Keep contacting the agency. I'm sure you are sick of doing that, but it has to be done. You go quiet and the agency will likely go quiet too! Whatever you do, don't lose your temper. It isn't personal; it's business. Late payment is just something businesses deal with. It's actually a very good sign that you're still communicating with this client.
- If you feel you're not getting anywhere and are ready to really act, send a final demand by registered post and pay the extra to have the proof of delivery returned to you. That constitutes a legal proof of debt in the courts. Examples of the wording in English are available in many places online.

Other forms of action involve some cost, so before you do anything else you should make sure that the company is still solvent. Many countries make their companies' registers available online nowadays, although you generally have to pay if you want to look at a company's financial situation. Here's a list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_company_registers . If the agency has got serious problems, the lawyer responsible for handling their finances should be noted in the register. In that case, just follow the instructions - there's no point in doing anything else.

Otherwise, further action could involve:
- Pay a local lawyer to send a final demand on their embossed and very official paper with lots of stamps on it. Although it doesn't hold any more legal weight, it looks worrying, particularly as it shows you aren't prepared to go away!
- Contact a debt recovery company that acts in their country and ask them to recover the money for you. Many will only charge if they are successful, maybe about 30%.
- See a local lawyer and ask about suing them. I have no idea how you sue an EU country from Turkey, but I'm sure there's a way. Hopefully it won't be too expensive.

Should I talk to the client?

You mean the end client? I would make that a very last resort, and then think very hard before doing it. You may well have signed an NDA that expressly forbids it - or be covered by one anyway in certain cases, even though you didn't sign it. You definitely can't ask the end client for payment; all you can maybe do is prevent them from using your work - it's possibly, technically, a breach of your intellectual copyright, as it's possible that you retain it until you've received payment. But it's a grey area. I did it once, and it wasn't a happy experience. Mind you, the end-client obviously got straight in touch with the agency, because the money was in my account next morning!


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
Very long payment terms Dec 23, 2017

Here in America we have small claims courts to deal with nonpaying customers. I used it once but it turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory: I won in court but I collected zero dollars because I hadn't asked for advance payment or received a check with the financial information needed by the court to garnish the funds I was owed.

I agree with the statement be polite but remain firm.


 

amelie08
Turkey
Local time: 03:51
Turkish to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What is NDA? Dec 28, 2017

Sheila Wilson wrote:

amelie08 wrote:
They owe me around 1000 euro

That's quite a large sum, so it will definitely be worth following up. Things to do include:
- Stop accepting any more work until you've been paid in full. No agency is going to take you seriously if you keep accepting work in this situation.
- Add your own rating to the BB to warn others that this agency is not paying on time.
- Leave negative feedback anywhere else you can find online.
- Keep contacting the agency. I'm sure you are sick of doing that, but it has to be done. You go quiet and the agency will likely go quiet too! Whatever you do, don't lose your temper. It isn't personal; it's business. Late payment is just something businesses deal with. It's actually a very good sign that you're still communicating with this client.
- If you feel you're not getting anywhere and are ready to really act, send a final demand by registered post and pay the extra to have the proof of delivery returned to you. That constitutes a legal proof of debt in the courts. Examples of the wording in English are available in many places online.

Other forms of action involve some cost, so before you do anything else you should make sure that the company is still solvent. Many countries make their companies' registers available online nowadays, although you generally have to pay if you want to look at a company's financial situation. Here's a list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_company_registers . If the agency has got serious problems, the lawyer responsible for handling their finances should be noted in the register. In that case, just follow the instructions - there's no point in doing anything else.

Otherwise, further action could involve:
- Pay a local lawyer to send a final demand on their embossed and very official paper with lots of stamps on it. Although it doesn't hold any more legal weight, it looks worrying, particularly as it shows you aren't prepared to go away!
- Contact a debt recovery company that acts in their country and ask them to recover the money for you. Many will only charge if they are successful, maybe about 30%.
- See a local lawyer and ask about suing them. I have no idea how you sue an EU country from Turkey, but I'm sure there's a way. Hopefully it won't be too expensive.

Should I talk to the client?

You mean the end client? I would make that a very last resort, and then think very hard before doing it. You may well have signed an NDA that expressly forbids it - or be covered by one anyway in certain cases, even though you didn't sign it. You definitely can't ask the end client for payment; all you can maybe do is prevent them from using your work - it's possibly, technically, a breach of your intellectual copyright, as it's possible that you retain it until you've received payment. But it's a grey area. I did it once, and it wasn't a happy experience. Mind you, the end-client obviously got straight in touch with the agency, because the money was in my account next morning!


I confirmed something to enroll in their webpage but I don' remember the articles.

It is a popular application. If I am not paid, I will declare them putting hastag in their names all over on social media. I can create a social media chaos. I spent one month and I declined a lot of offers. I delivered my job on time but he says "ah sorry, not today, ah they forgot, before christmas etc" still nothing.


 

Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:51
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
NDA Dec 29, 2017

NDA = non-disclosure agreement.

Here's a link to an example:
https://www.lawdepot.com/contracts/non-disclosure-agreement/?loc=US&pid=googleppc-nondis_us-NondisclosureT1_aa2-ggkey_non%20disclosure%20agreement%20template&gclid=CjwKCAiA7JfSBRBrEiwA1DWSG3hFbolKJD8JXAeftHDg3o9eiPmP-hbg_tUlGhr_7AxvxkLaNDbszBoCFrsQAvD_BwE#.Wka37jdOmUk


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:51
Member (2008)
French to English
Possible breach of contract Dec 30, 2017



The key phrase in that sample NDA is "In consideration of...".

Agencies love to issue NDAs, but often fail to understand that every contract, including an NDA, is a two-way street: I do something for you (such as agree not to disclose information) in consideration of which you do something for me (such as pay me). When the consideration (payment) is not forthcoming, there could be a strong argument that the NDA is no longer in force, due to breach of contract by the non-paying agency.

[Edited at 2017-12-30 01:29 GMT]


 

mariealpilles  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:51
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
Agency delaying payment Dec 30, 2017

There is nothing as annoying as not getting paid. You have waited long enough. I ould send the agency a registered letter with proof of delivery returned to you - adding the invoice in the letter to which you add the cost of the registered letter plus 10% for late payment. In that same letter inform them of the new invoice including all extra costs and warn them that if you are not paid by (give them 5 business days), you will turn to the end client who most certainly has paid them since they do not put this excuse forward to you. There is absolutely no reason to show understanding or kindness towards such people. And in the meantime flag them everywhere for being bad payers, especially in the BB (and inform them you are doing so). Good luck. Do not give up.

PS: I do not know which European country they are in, but in France there is now a possibility to give the whole matter to a recovery agency without paying a cent. They will bill the the agency owing you money. It is a relatively new law.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:51
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Consideration Dec 30, 2017

John Fossey wrote:
Agencies love to issue NDAs, but often fail to understand that every contract, including an NDA, is a two-way street: I do something for you (such as agree not to disclose information) in consideration of which you do something for me (such as pay me).

You're quite right John. At least under the law of England and Wales (and I guess Scotland also) consideration is one of the basic required elements of a contract, and a standard NDA arguably does not provide any consideration to the translator.

That's why a agency that wanted to be absolutely sure would use a deed in the UK, as consideration is not required in that case. However, deeds need to be witnessed, which is time-consuming, so the likelihood of getting a signed deed is significantly lower than getting an NDA.

I think the only time I was asked to sign a deed and get it witnessed, I decided to pass on working with the agency.

Regards,
Dan


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:51
French to English
Experience of slow/bad payers and suggestions for action Dec 30, 2017

I have learnt through experience and will set out some basic advice for action in the circumstances you describe.

1) You have a contract with the agent. You acccepted to provide a translation by a certain time and you did so. The agent agreeed to pay you. And they must pay you upon the terms agreed. Based on what you have said, you have respected the terms of the contract, but the agent has not. The agent is in breach of contract.

The agent has no excuse whatsoever and although it might not be easy, you must remember that they are in the wrong and you are in the right. Whatever term you use to describe the situation - postpone, delay, late - it remains "non-payment" and is a breach of contract. Indeed, in most countries it is a breach of a fundamental term of the contract. You provide a service and the client pays.

2) A second point that you need to be clear upon is what is called "privity of contract". It's a legal term in English to describe a contractual relationship (or link, if you prefer) between parties:
- You have a contract with the agent. The agent is your client.
- The agent has a contract with you and with the end client.
- You have no contract with the end client.
You have privity of contract with the agent only.
The agent has privity of contract with you and with the end client.

You can only use the rules of contract law where you have privity of contract. As you have no privity of contract with the end client, you cannot turn to the client to pay you. That would put you in breach of contract with your client (the agent). Others have already pointed to NDA agreements, etc.

It would be a useless move to contact the end client. You have no legal basis for doing so. You have one legal reason not to do so (your contract with the agent).

3) Point number three is that you should take formal action now. I would not waste my time contacting them now other than formally. They are in breach of a fundamental term of the contract. No explanation is sufficient. Classic ones you might hear from an agent are:
- the end client has not paid the agent (that's their problem, not yours; the end client is their client, not yours)
- they are not satisfied with your work (they have not said so and even then, they still have to pay you)
- they are having cash-flow problems or about to go bankrupt (all the more reason to formalise your demand and to do so as soon as possible).

Steps you should take now, if you have not already done so:

i) Send a letter setting out the original terms, indicating that you provided the work as agreed and that they have not paid. Include copies of e-mails to confirm the work was ordered, that it was sent on time and that they confirmed receipt.
Include copies of anything that indicated how much you were to be paid and the deadline for payment.
State that you have not received payment and include copies of your requests (and note dates/times of any calls made) for payment.
Make sure that you request payment by return of post (maximum within 7 days) by the means that was originally agreed.
If you originally agreed payment by cheque and you think they may be having cash problems, you might prefer for payment by bank transfer, so provide your necessary details (IBAN).
State that if you do not receive full payment within that time, you will have to take further action. If they can pay, they probably will. If they cannot or will not, you will then be certain that they are in difficulty or acting in bad faith. In either case, you will need to take further action.

ii) Send the letter by post with some means of delivery that requires a signature. Also send a copy by mail with tracking. If you have to pursue the matter further, a debt collector, lawyer and/or court will need to see proof that you have asked for payment.

iii) Decide how to collect the money owed. There is often a free or cheap way of making an official claim for payment without involving debt collectors and lawyers.

4) What you need to prepare for. Even if you go to the final stages of getting a judgment in your favour, confirming that the sum is owed, you sometimes have to take further action to have the judgment enforced.


Final note. Remain polite and keep your side of the contract. Two wrongs do not make a right, however tempting it may be. If the agent is not having cash problems but is acting in bad faith, any action on your part - such as contacting the end-client which will not change anything as the end client owes you nothing - is likely to slow the whole process. I would not waset time on the phone or writing mails. Just move into recovery mode as described : formal notice, if no payment, take formal steps for recovery. That will already require energy. Use your energy effectively and being polite helps preserve your energy.

Good luck.

[Edited at 2017-12-30 11:30 GMT]


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:51
Member (2008)
French to English
Copyright issues Dec 30, 2017

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

As you have no privity of contract with the end client, you cannot turn to the client to pay you.


I don't quite agree that the translator has no recourse via the end client, due to copyright issues. This is not a contract matter but covered by, I believe, the laws of virtually every country in the world. A translator who has not been paid retains copyright to the translation, a derivative work, and that can be imposed on the end client.

I once had a non-paying agency and was able to point out to the end client that use of the translation when I had not been paid violated my copyright. In fact I discovered that it would be pursued by the intellectual property crimes section of my provincial police force, a discovery that prompted immediate payment once I pointed it out.


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:51
French to English
Contract law and other law Dec 31, 2017

John Fossey wrote:

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

As you have no privity of contract with the end client, you cannot turn to the client to pay you.


I don't quite agree that the translator has no recourse via the end client, due to copyright issues. This is not a contract matter but covered by, I believe, the laws of virtually every country in the world. A translator who has not been paid retains copyright to the translation, a derivative work, and that can be imposed on the end client.

I once had a non-paying agency and was able to point out to the end client that use of the translation when I had not been paid violated my copyright. In fact I discovered that it would be pursued by the intellectual property crimes section of my provincial police force, a discovery that prompted immediate payment once I pointed it out.


John, you will note that I did not say that Amelie had no recourse. I was describing the situation with regard to contract law, or how I think it may apply in many countries. With no contractual relationship existing between the translator and the end-client, with the agent as an intermediary, there is no privity of contract. Contract law offers no solution with regard to the end-client. Amelie can no doubt reply upon contract law to pursue the agent for non-payment. That does not mean that other solutions do not exist, of course. I did not venture into the realm of copyright as it is not an area I know much about, although from what I gather, there are significant differences of basic principles from one country to another.

We have both pointed out that non-payment is a breach of contract, and, as you also point out, that probably means that the NDA loses it value too.

You helpfully point one route - copyright - out that may be of assistance. It might indeed be helpful for Amelie to put the end client on notice that as the work has not been paid for, it cannot be used for copyright reasons. That is likely to unblock the payment tubes if the agent does actually have the money to pay!

P.S. I say all this, in spite of the fact that I once contacted an end-client when the communication agency (my client) had not paid up. I had decided to take a break from translation at that point as I was sick of at least half my clients not respecting deadlines. It was a multinational whom I called to say that if their website was in English and if their sports sponsorship project was up and running in English, it was thanks to me. I managed to speak directly with the Director of Marketing and Communication. The agent had said the big company had not paid him and I was phoning to say that I would be informing other people who worked on the project that they exposed themselves to late payment. The guy heard me out and within 10 minutes, literally, was back on the phone and listed the amounts and the dates of when payment had been made. The payments were in tens of thousands of euros, so the agent was lying. I called the agent back and asked him when he thought I could be paid. Without prompting, he repeated that he had not been paid. I then interrupted him, said I knew that was not true and explained that I'd just had the company on the phone, and that the company had itemised the amounts and the dates. The money was on my account within 48 hours.

So in the event of non-payment, once an oversight can be ruled out, it pays to set the usual things in motion, using whatever means are appropriate, remaining firm and polite.

[Edited at 2017-12-31 12:15 GMT]


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:51
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
BB rating can (and should) be entered *now* Jan 4

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

It should not turn into harassment or get personal, though, through insults or threats or anything similar, and remember that it is against the rules for the Blue Board to use that as a pressure tool. Wait until they have paid, and then describe your experience in objective terms. Remain polite but firm at all times.


Given that the agency has not paid and is unresponsive to the translator's attempts to contact them and resolve the matter, a Blue Board rating of "1" accompanied by a note of non-payment is appropriate *now*.


[Edited at 2018-01-04 18:51 GMT]


 


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