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Chronicles of a non-paying agency
Thread poster: Vanessa Rivera Rivier

Vanessa Rivera Rivier  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 08:45
Italian to English
+ ...
Jun 20, 2006

I've been working continuosly with an agency now for more than 2 months and I haven't received payment for any of the jobs I've done for them, one invoice is as of now 10 days late. I've made some postings about this agency, they are unbelievable, they pay extremely low rates and they're pushing me to go down to 0.04 which I just won't do. I've been exchanging e-mails with the agency and they are so outrageous I have to share them with somebody:



How's everything? I'm a little bit concerned because I haven't received
payment for the invoice that was due on June 6th plus I still haven't
received a lot of POs of jobs that I've done for you. Could you please help
me with this?""

After this I received an e-mail from in which they asked me to do another job for them.

I replied the following:


I'm so sorry to say this, but I have a lot of outstanding invoices with your
agency. It is dangerous for me to continue to work without receiving
payments. Again, I'm sorry but I don't think I will be available until I
receive at least some form of payment. I like to work with you very much but I also need to protect myself with regards to this matter.



After this I took a break during the weekend and did not check my emails.

This was what I found on Sunday night:



I am terribly disappointed that despite my various correspondences you did
not get in touch with me.
If there is a problem I would like to discuss this with you. However if you
decide to remain in silence I shall then conclude that you do no longer wish
to deal with our agency and shall act accordingly.
As you know we always have jobs for your language pair and up to now you
have been our preferred translator but not to say that we are short on
supply. I shall deal with your invoices on Wednesday as stated below but I
really would appreciate if you can get in touch in the meanwhile.
If on the other hand you prefer remaining in silence , then I guess it will
give me no other alternative than to mark you down as a translator.

I hope to hear from you. "

To which I replied:

"I'm sorry I did not answer before, I was out of the city all weekend and I
just got back today. I have no problems working with your agency as I told
XXXXXXX, I enjoy working with you, but at the same time I have to make a
living and this is not the first time I've had payment problems. I do not
mean any disrespect towards you, but the reality of the situation is that
the time I spend translating for you, I can also spend translating for
another agency that does pay on time. My decision is purely a cautionary
measure because I do have a lot of outstanding payments and PO's. If this
issues are resolved I have no problem working again for you and giving 100%,
but it is not very motivating to work and not receive anything in return.




"I am glad that you have at last responded. I understand that there might be
some slight irritations with regards to payment and for wish I truly
apologies. As expressed in my previous email remittance would be made this
coming Wednesday. If you prefer contracting work from another agency it is
entirely up to you, I can not comment on this. However if you wish to
continue doing business with us it will be our pleasure continuing doing so,
yet I would rather you raising issues as and when they occur rather than
just switching of. We are not short of Spanish translators as you know and
have regular jobs. I have already raised the issue of your rates and I
really would like you to consider what I said. We are willing to offer you
0.04 USD for all your jobs, if the offer is not satisfactory I am afraid we
won't be able to continue doing business together. As for the PO's I have
asked you to contact me so we can discuss those together. I am particularly
concerned about the crash job you did for me..As we were working under
pressure I never did a word count of the files and I wanted us to look at it
together. "

To which I responded:


Unfortunately at the moment I cannot get on Messenger because I am not
at home. With regards to switching off without issues coming up first, I'm
sorry to say this is completely not true, I have been requesting my PO's for
some time now and nothing has been done to that effect. I did a couple of
proofreading jobs for you and I received nothing. I did the xxxxx for 6500 words (this was a month ago) and I
never received a PO, as well as the XXXX for xxxx and pages 39
xxxxx document and I didn't receive anything. Another thing
that has led me to the decision of not working for you until some of my
payment issues are resolved is 1) this is not the first time this happens
and 2) I've been hearing around translating circles that your company has
gone into liquidation and is not paying translators. You must understand
that I cannot affort to work for free, so I have decided to take this
cautionary measure. Please understand my decision.




"Thank you for your email and clarity.

1) It is true that you requested the PO's to be sent across on several
accounts but whether this was slow moving from our end or not, PO's are just
formalities. We all know that you did the jobs and we would have accepted
your invoices anyway.

2) Hearsays about the company.
I leave it for you to decide whether you have been dealing with an insolvent
company or not. I would also not debate with you or justify decisions of
the company towards certain translators.

3) Protecting yourself.
We have been doing work and communicating for some time now, If you really
feel that you ought to "protect" yourself then maybe it is just about time
to move on.

Raising concerns about pay issues or POs is one thing, but acting as if you
are dealing with some kind of crooks is another. I would definitely not
comment and would not discuss this issue further unless it relates to you

I shall make payments on Wednesday and should you then decide to move on, I
shall wish you all the best for the future..

Many thanks and Kind regards


Finally I answered:

I have not said that you are crooks at any moment, you are putting words in my mouth and I don't appreciate that. I have just said that seeing as I have a lot of outstanding payments, I would rather not complete any additional jobs for you at the moment. I've also been advised by other translators that the company is going through financial difficulties and that because of this it is not making payments to translators. I think this is enough reason to be allarmed. I think you would be allarmed if you were in my position, and I repeat I cannot afford to work for free. I thank you for your consideration with regards to this matter and I shall be expecting payment next Wednesday, I will also be forwarding some invoices of other payments that are due.


Vanessa "

I know this doesn't make much sense but this Agency is insane, they don't pay their translators and they they try to make them feel bad for requesting money that they EARNED. I'm just venting, I'll keep my fingers crossed for Wednesday but I don't have much hope.


Sonja Tomaskovic (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:45
English to German
+ ...
You are entirely right Jun 20, 2006

Hello Vanessa,

You are entirely right not to work for them unless they have paid all outstanding invoices in full. Do not lower your rates in any case!

If they really have enough translators in your language pairs, then they should simply move on and work with them. Believe me, they wouldn't bother contacting you if you weren't better and/or already cheaper than any of the other translators they have on their lists.

Good luck. I'll keep my fingers crossed for Wednesday (though, honestly, I don't believe you'll see the money on Wednesday. If it is already 10+ days overdue, why don't they pay instantaneously, why wait another week?).



Rebecca Hendry  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:45
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't back down! Jun 20, 2006

Hi Vanessa,

I'm sure you know this already, but I believe you are entirely right in everything you have written to this company. I find their replies manipulative and most unprofessional. Their continued threats of finding a new translator as there are plenty of them are nothing short of childish.

On no account should you lower your rates. Stand your ground. I truly hope that you receive payment on Wednesday, please let us know how things pan out.

Good luck!



Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:45
Dutch to English
+ ...
Drop the agency Jun 20, 2006

If you can afford it, drop the agency. The hassle is not worth it.

Good luck!


Ara Mkrtchyan (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:45
English to Armenian
+ ...
Supporting Vanessa! Jun 20, 2006

Well, I'd say it's nerves that you have! If I were you, I would have been more strict and cruel towards them (trust me, when it gets to this, I AM cruel!). Such kind of behaviour on an agency's part is nothing really new to me, standard strategy - they feel they're wrong, but do keep attacking, trying to make you "see" at last how wrong have YOU been (shame on you!:)). I join the others and would really suggest dropping the 'agency' if you can afford, esp when this is not the first payment problem (you're sure you're not gonna have the same problems in the future???). And finally, it would be good to know the name of the agency for other translators to take this into consideration when starting to work with them.

Ara Mkrtchyan


Maria Antonietta Ricagno  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:45
English to Italian
+ ...
100% agree... Jun 20, 2006

...with the rest of colleagues: drop this agency. If they really intended to pay your invoices, they would have already done, instead of wasting time in useless e-mails.
I have an unpaid invoice dated February from an agency: I sent them 2 reminder e-mails, none of which received a reply, so checked again the BB on Proz, then I contacted the parent company explaining the issue: they replied in minutes and said they would have called their subsidiary in order to settle my invoice.
Of course, I have not seen any money so far, but at least I have a small hope to.
And of course not all the agencies have a parent company you can turn to.
I would be interested in the name of 'your' agency, so I can avoid it! I would be grateful if you could send it to, and hope I can return the favor.




Gianfranco Zecchino  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:45
German to Italian
+ ...
Translators of this world, resist! Jun 20, 2006

Hi Vanessa,

I thank you for your contribution to this community. As such, we have a power far beyond that of an individual and should use it to get the professional respect we deserve both from ourselves (believe me, many "colleagues" don't have an ounce of it) and from others. But let's not forget that nobody else will "fight" for us: it's up to us, with every decision and job we take. In practice, this means not lowering our rates under a "decent" minimum and refusing to work for unserious agencies and clients. In the long term, they'll learn or, at least, will just get what they deserve: poor quality (thus risking to run out of good clients).
Let's not forget all this and keep on sharing our thoughts and experiencies with older and new colleagues.



Rosa Diez Tagarro  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:45
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree Jun 20, 2006

Hi, Vanessa,

Chase them until you get paid but first, do not accept any more work from them! You could always tell them you are not available, full stop, no reason to explain why (at least, it may save you all these nasty messages you get, which I personally find disturbing to say the least).

And, of course, do not lower your rates if you can afford to.

Anyway, for me right now, the important thing would be to stop taking any jobs from them. As a good friend of mine says: if you are not sure whether you're going to be paid, better spend the afternoon reading a nice book. At least, that way you won't be working for free.

Best of luck!



Jennifer Baker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:45
Member (2004)
Italian to English
"Mark them down... Jun 20, 2006

... as an agency". That totally rude comment would be enough for me to walk. I personally insist on professional and courteous communication with all clients, and find that it is generally a reflection of their business practices.
If you can afford it, insist on payment and then drop them.
Good luck. It's a jungle out there-


Ioanna Karamitsa  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:45
Member (2005)
English to Greek
+ ...
Warn others! Jun 20, 2006

I suppose you could warn other translators to avoid working with this agency. If I were you I would give their name and send e-mails to everyone I have met through proz (the least I could do).

Bottom line is that there are thousands of translators but thousands of agencies too!

Dont you worry! It once took me 7 months to receive payment from an agency I was working for but I finaly got it. You have to be patient.

I wish you the best of luck!!!


Rosa Maria Duenas Rios (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:45
Use the Blue Board! Jun 20, 2006

To warn other colleagues, and then drop them if you can afford it.

I would also stop getting into the "logic" of their correspondence. I would restrict the discussion to immediate payment of the work you have already delivered for them.

Good luck!


Local time: 13:45
English to German
Don't be afraid to have a straight talk with them Jun 20, 2006

Hi Vanessa,

these types *are* crooks and - as someone else already said - they know it. And you do know it too , don't you?

That's why I'd like to point out to you that, in my opinion, you were apologising way too much in your previous e-mails. There's absolutely no need to act like you did something wrong by not replying immediately or whatever they expected you to do.
Your fear and insecurity is clearly showing and despite it's only human to feel that way in such a situation, it surely isn't the best idea to let them know their bullying is working on you.

Sit down, get a cup of coffee (or tea, whatever you prefer) and set aside your anxiety about the future for a moment. Do you really consider yourself as some sort of loser who has to be grateful to be given any work at all? No, Vanessa, you're no loser, you're a translator. Okay, a translator who hasn't developed too many connections to potential new clients so far, but that is *not* the point, although your bullies are trying to make you believe that. Remember why you chose your profession in the first place. Some keywords spring to mind: being independent, freedom, and most of all - enjoying what you're doing.

Do you experience any of the above at the moment? So why are you so afraid of what might happen if you tell them to "stop messing around with me, fork the money out and bugger off!"
Worst case scenario: you end up with no job and no money - same situation as it already is. You have nothing to lose but your self-respect. Don't be afraid to cut them down to size. It might do wonders, especially with such morons.

If they turn you down, there's always something you can make some money with, not necessarily translation. Even if you have to work as a waitress for a while, so what? All that matters is: you can survive without them, once you understood that, it's a lot easier to make them understand it as well.

All the best,


Gianfranco Zecchino  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:45
German to Italian
+ ...
I couldn't have put it in better words... Jun 20, 2006

I totally agree with MiGru.
This kind of people will keep on trying to "vampyrise" us translators as long as we let them do it. By accepting their behaviour and their humiliating rates not only do we hurt ourselves - our pocket and our dignity - but we help them beat the competion of agencies which might pay us more and treat us in a professional way.
So let's not help them, but state clear and without any shyness that we won't accept such policy!
As regards me, I'd prefer to take a part-time job during the "drought" than to feel humiliated and fooled by such ********.
Good luck!


Vanessa Rivera Rivier  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 08:45
Italian to English
+ ...
I just want my money... Jun 20, 2006

I'm not insecure I'm just trying to be polite so that I can get my money. The apologies were, how should I put it, a mere courtesy on my part. I already decided a long time ago that I'll never work for this agency again. If anyone would like to know the agency I'm talking about, please send me an e-mail and I'll tell you all about it.
Thanks to everyone for your kind advice!

P.S. The agency is British and I was trying to show proper "English manners" which they obviously haven't shown...

[Edited at 2006-06-20 16:43]


Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:45
English to Turkish
+ ...
Moved the topic Jun 20, 2006

Hi Vanessa,

Sorry to hear the problems you're having with this agency and I hope you will sort them out the soonest.

Also, note that I've moved your topic to the forum "Money Matters" from "Off-Topic", since I believe this subject is right on topic for us translators and this is the forum where it should be discussed.

And again, good luck!

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