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About to work for a dubious client... too late or... ?
Thread poster: Philippe Noth

Philippe Noth  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 03:45
Member (2015)
German to French
+ ...
Aug 7

Hi,

I accepted today a small translation job (2-3 hours max.) for an outsourcer that has a very bad record in the blue board:
Past 5 years: note 3

Past 12 months: note 1.7 !
(I don't think I can give the agency name here, maybe some will recognize it).

Yes, I should have checked before, like I always do when I get contacted by a new client. But I had time and, as I said, it was only a short text so I did not bother.

My question is: is it too late or can I say something like "my translation is ready but considering your bad paying records, I will deliver it once the amount has been recorded by Paypal". Our agreement was very informal: 2 e-mails about the deadline and the rate, no NDA...

Not that I am worried to lose 2 hours of my time, in fact I take it as a good lesson (some of you in the Blue Board are reporting unpaid bills of several hundred euros). I am just wondering whether I can still turn the situation around.

Philippe


 

Morano El-Kholy  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 04:45
Member (2011)
English to Arabic
+ ...
A very bitter lesson! Aug 7

Yes, I think that as long as you have accepted to handle this small task, you should complete it.

Thank God, that it is a small one! Other translators- me one of them- have learned this lesson after experiencing

worst cases!

Let's hope that you will have a better luck than us icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2018-08-07 20:36 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-08-07 20:37 GMT]


Lucien Rousseau
 

Philippe Noth  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 03:45
Member (2015)
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Will definitely deliver, but why not play ? Aug 7

Morano El-Kholy wrote:
Yes, I think that as long as you have accepted to handle this small task, you should complete it.

Thank God, that it is a small one! Other translators- me one of them- have learned this lesson in worse cases!

Let's hope that you will have a better luck than us icon_smile.gif

Sorry to hear that. I am still smiling at this situation and the idea to "play" with them... What about a reverse ransomware ? I deliver the translated file but password-protected, and the password will be sent when the payment is confirmed. They seem to need that translation quite badly.

According to the blue boards entries, they do pay... but apparently after monthes or even yearsicon_confused.gif


Morano El-Kholy
 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:45
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
It might not be too late ... yet Aug 7

How about if you inform the client that the translation is ready and that you would like to receive payment for it before you can deliver it? I wouldn't mention their bad payment practice, but just ask for the money...unless you have agreed on something else, e. g. delivery first, then payment. To protect your work with a password is one way to semi-secure your translation.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2018-08-07 21:39 GMT]


Rachel Fell
Morano El-Kholy
Teresa Borges
Angie Garbarino
vird
 

Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Which payment terms have been agreed? Aug 7

If nothing (strange enough) had been agreed, I think you can safely use the password-protected trick. I would definively do it if I were in your shoes in this case. Of course, you cannot change payment terms once they have been agreed, though.

Morano El-Kholy
Yolanda Broad
Teresa Borges
vird
 

Philippe Noth  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 03:45
Member (2015)
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Will try the password thing and keep you informed Aug 7

What was agreed:
- they sent me the file together with their first e-mail to me, asking for rate and deadline
- I replied giving my rate for this job and a deadline
- they accepted the rate

But: they also issued a PO containg the term "Upon completion of the translation and confirmed delivery of the agreed files to us, we (...) agree to pay the below specified fee to (...) based on the invoice sent to us."

At the same, why should I play with the rules when they were so bad to us translators that the site even banned them from posting jobs hereicon_smile.gif They won't threaten me for 100 bucks, will they ?

Christel Zipfel wrote:
If nothing (strange enough) had been agreed, I think you can safely use the password-protected trick. I would definively do it if I were in your shoes in this case. Of course, you cannot change payment terms once they have been agreed, though.

What was stranger - and made me go check the Blue Board - was that they accepted my rate without discussion. I quoted a rate way above my usual rate because I do not need a new client at the moment.

[Edited at 2018-08-07 21:41 GMT]


vird
 

Daryo
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:45
Serbian to English
+ ...
I don't see the point in Aug 8

spending 3 hours on a job that will likely cost you 3 full days in wasted time to get paid, at some point in some not so near future. To prove what? That you keep your word, prove that to people who feel entitled to pay when they feel like?

You have agreed to a contract without being aware of who you are dealing with, so it could easily be argued that there isn't really a fully informed consent from your part.

If I agreed to buy a car, and learned next day that the seller is in the habit of selling cars that last about a week, contract or no contract I certainly wouldn't pay a penny - just inform the seller to keep the car for himself.

If nothing else, in such situation I wouldn't bother with any tricks of the password protection kind, just deliver ONLY after receiving the full payment - in a form that can not be cancelled. After all, a business that feels entitled to drag its feet to no end when it comes to paying can not expect to put in the same basket as those who pay in time.


Robert Forstag
vird
 

Anthony Teixeira
Japan
Local time: 11:45
Member (2011)
English to French
+ ...
Refuse right away or deliver and hope Aug 8

The situation is a bit different but it reminds of something that happened to me when I started outsourcing.

I was working on an extremely urgent project for a desperate client and had to split the load with a colleague. She had agreed to deliver by her end-of-day time (late night my time) so I could deliver first thing in the morning.

At 2 AM I received a mail from her saying she would only deliver after payment, which had to happen within 3 hours or else she'd go to bed and I'd miss my deadline.
We hadn't talked about payment up to that point - I would have paid upfront had she asked.

Fortunately (?) I woke up during the night and saw her message, so everything turned out OK in the end, but that was the equivalent of waking up to a loaded gun pointed at your face. I've never contacted that person again, and I never will.


So, you've got a potentially bad client, two options not to be fooled and not to make an enemy:
- If you haven't started yet, let them know you need to be paid upfront considering their history, or refuse the project altogether
- If you did start, deliver and make it clear that you will be expecting a timely payment. Send regular reminders if needed. Considering the small amount, it may go just fine

Just don't hold them hostage, it won't do anybody any good.

[Edited at 2018-08-08 05:22 GMT]


Ricardo Suin
Sabrina Bruna
JaneD
vird
Kelly Lebel
 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:45
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Politely decline the job Aug 8

I think that in your situation I'd decline the job right now, saying something like "an emergency has cropped up and I regret that I must deciine your job Nº XYZ after all".
No need to explain what the "emergency" is.
Otherwise, as others have said here, you risk spending time on the work itself as well as further time, energy and anxiety trying to get paid.
You'll find other less worrying clients, you can be sure. Concentrate on them.


Robert Forstag
 

Angus Stewart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:45
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
Abide by the terms of your contract with them to the letter. Aug 8

I am afraid that you are in a position whereby you have contractually agreed to deliver this translation, so to keep yourself on the right side of the law you should implement your contractual obligations. The fact that they do not appear to treat other translators well makes no difference in this regard. If you now refuse to deliver or attempt to add an extra contractual term unilaterally by insisting upon payment before delivery that is very unprofessional on your part and the agency concerned would be justified in giving you a bad review.

Vera Schoen
Thayenga
Chris S
Rosalind Haigh
Tina Vonhof
Teresa Borges
Richard Purdom
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:45
French to English
Default payment terms Aug 8

What are the default payment terms in Switzerland? In the EU, if no terms were agreed, then the default deadline of 30 days applies. Time usually starts to run from delivery of the work, the invoice generally being submitted at the same time). Check out the default terms before you decide to "play".

Unless I am mistaken, the various e-mail exchanges set out a delivery deadline for the work. It is surprising, but a fair number of service providers will agree to a delivery deadline but overlook a formal agreement for a payment deadline. The default deadlines are there in that case. So, back to the start of this paragraph... if you do not deliver in accordance with the terms agreed, you are in breach of contract. From the client's point of view, why should he pay you if you have not delivered the work? He might be in such a rush that he decides to instruct another translator to do the job. He is even less likely in those circumstances to pay you at all.

In practical terms, the job only took you a couple of hours. The person might actually pay you within the statutory default terms that apply anyway. If you provide the work but only give access once payment has been received, that might seem fair to you, but if there was no such agreement that payment was to be on delivery, you would be on shaky ground. For example, if delivery was for 12h00 today, even if a bank transfer were to be made now, it would not be paid to your account until tomorrow (altho' I have had same-day payments from one of my Swiss clients in the past). You are making it impossible for the client to use the work you agreed to provide by a particular time. In effect, you are not delivering on time. Two wrongs do not make a right and shifting the payment goalposts to cover a potential late payment is a little silly. Should you really consider applying goal-shifting payment terms after the fact because you think the client might pay late?

I'd just ask myself if the faffing around is going to be worth it for a job that took you a couple of hours. You could end up spending more than 2-3 hours "playing". I'd prefer spending 2-3 hours earning money or on leisure.

Lesson learned: agree delivery time and payment terms before accepting to do the job.


[Edited at 2018-08-08 08:47 GMT]


Kevin Fulton
Chris S
vird
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:45
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It depends on the deadline Aug 8

If you're delivering well before the deadline, I'd say it's reasonable to password-protect the file and ask for payment in exchange for the "key". But they must be able to have access to the file before the deadline. Otherwise you haven't kept your side of the deal. So for me it depends on whether there's ample time (during business hours, not like as in Anthony's harrowing experience) for them to sort things out at their end.

Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Josephine Cassar
Tina Vonhof
 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:45
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agree with Daryo and Jennifer Aug 8

Yes you should have checked, but you should not have to pay for your mistake by waiting months to get paid for a small job.

If you follow Daryo and Jennifer’s advice, your less than saintly conduct would be a very small thing indeed compared to the repeated mendacity and breach of trust of the agency in question.

And if your conscious really bothers you, just tell ‘em the truth: You found out only after agreeing to do the work that they are an untrustworthy operator. This in fact would probably be the best course of all.

I do not think they will take you to court, and you cannot possibly care that they won’t contract your services again.

I do not think that they can review you if you have not actually worked for them, but if they do, you can honestly respond that you backed out after realizing that the agency had a dreadful BB record. The only parties that might take offense to such a comment are other agencies with lousy BB records - and you have no interest in dealing with such outfits anyway.

Get out now, while you can!


[Edited at 2018-08-08 14:03 GMT]


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:45
French to English
@Philippe Aug 8

Apart from the quick shift into reverse to get out of it, which needs to be done almost instantly, in all fairness to the agency. Like Robert, I reckon there is no harm in saying that their payment record does not instill confidence and you no longer wish to work with them. Bear in mind though that the BB entries only start to have value if a significant number of people have entered a score. You probably know that. The agency might pay you within 30 days anyway, which, considering the informality of the agreement, would be reasonable. Like you say, lesson learnt.

[Edited at 2018-08-08 13:38 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:45
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Here's your email Aug 8

Send this message:

"Dear XXXX

As agreed, please find the translation attached together with my invoice in the amount of XXXX. My full bank details are given on the invoice.

I note that according to the BlueBoard at Proz.com, you have a very poor record of not paying or paying very late.

Please be advised that unless I receive payment in full into my bank account within 30 calendar days from today's date, action may follow without further notice.

Regards

Philippe"

Then say nothing more. Do not reply to any emails they may send you. Keep absolutely quiet for 30 days. Complete silence on your part will convince the agency that they should pay. They will know perfectly well what *might* happen if they don't. And they won't get any notice of it!


Ricardo Suin
Thao Tran
Josephine Cassar
 
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