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Payment problem with local agency
Thread poster: Débora D'Eramo

Débora D'Eramo
United States
Local time: 13:41
English to Spanish
Dec 5, 2007

Dear all,
I did a fairly important job during september for an agency located in my home town, Rosario, Argentina. My job, along with other fellow translators' was thoroughly proofread and edited.
Upon delivery of the job, I also sent the corresponding invoice. The PM in question informed me that the agency's policy is to issue payment upon 45 days after receipt of the invoice.
After 45 days, I contacted the agency to find out why payment was still pending. The answer I got was that the agency's policy was to issue payment on days 15 and 30 every month, and since my due date was an 18, then I should have to wait till day 30.
After day 30, I contacted the agency again to see what was going on, since, as you can imagine, payment was not issued. I didn't get any answers from the financial controller, so I contacted the production manager who had originally called me for the job. He said that the end customer was not happy with the quality of the job delivered, and had therefore suspended all payment. They ask me to be patient because if they don't get paid, then it's impossible for them to pay freelance translators.
This last contact took place on November 14, and they also said they were editing most of the job again. I haven't heard from them since.
I must add that this agency has a Blue Board record of 5, with more than 10 entries, and is also a member of ATA and Gala Global. I personally met the production manager and the financial controller on the occasion of being interviewed for an in-house job.
This is the first time I have a problem with payment, and I'm really at a loss. I wouldn't like to ruin these people's reputation everywhere, but they seem not to care on bit for me (I do this for a living). I also think that they knew what was going on all along and they kept beating about the bush. I wonder why the editors didn't mention anything wrong about quality upon delivery also.
I hope some of you can throw some light on this matter and give some ideas as to what to do.
Many thanks in advance!


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:41
English to German
+ ...
Post a Blue Board entry Dec 5, 2007

Hi Débora,
I think you should post a Blue Board entry. If you post an LWA level of 1 or 2, the system will prompt you whether you wish to submit a non-payment complaint - please do so.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Débora D'Eramo
United States
Local time: 13:41
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Without previous warning? Dec 5, 2007

Thanks for the advice, Ralf.
However, I haven't sent any ultimatum to the agency about reporting them to BB or ATA. Should I do it before post a BB entry?


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:41
Dutch to English
+ ...
I would inform them in advance about what you will do Dec 5, 2007

I would also tell them that you are seeking legal advice. I would write them a letter in a friendly tone but very to the point informing them of the actions you will take should they not pay your invoice in full within say 5 working days. You need this, I think, should you ever have to take them to court. A long time has passed and they should have told you that there was a quality issue way before now. Your contract is with them and not the end customer and they accepted your work. End of story.

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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:41
English to Dutch
+ ...
Quality issue Dec 5, 2007

Hi Debora,

a quality issue should be apparent after proofreading and editing. They should have contacted you about that within two weeks after delivery.

I know a number of agencies and freelancers who state in their terms and conditions that quality issues should be brought up within 7 to 10 days after delivery, or else they will not be dealt with.

I think you should try one final contact (phone or write) to say that you think they are too late in bringing this up, and that you will take action if they do not pay within a reasonable period of time. That's what I'd do, anyway.

If they stick to the quality issue, ask to see the edited and revised text. They should at least give you a chance to see what's wrong with your translation. If they don't agree to this.... suspicious!

My 2 cents.

Margreet


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:41
English to German
+ ...
No warning required for a BB entry Dec 5, 2007

Hi again,
However, I haven't sent any ultimatum to the agency about reporting them to BB or ATA. Should I do it before post a BB entry?

A Blue Board entry expresses your likelihood of working again for a given outsourcer - this requires no warning or "ultimatum". Specifically, the Blue Board must not be used to exercise pressure (see BB rule no. 9).

Best regards,
Ralf


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Débora D'Eramo
United States
Local time: 13:41
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
I definitely agree with you, Margreet Dec 5, 2007

If the job was so lousy, why they called me in the meantime to work for them in-house?
There's something fishy going on here...
Thanks to Marijke for the advice too. I'm going to write to them one last time and then I tell you guys what happens.
Have a nice day!


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:41
English to French
+ ...
I agree with all of the above Dec 5, 2007

I think Margreet resumes very well how to deal with this situation. I just wanted to add that the argument of the agency that if they don't get paid, then they will not be able to pay you, simply doesn't hold. The contract was convened between you and the agency - this contract doesn't bind the end client. This means that whether the agency gets paid by the end client or not has nothing to do with the contract you and the agency entered. In other words, if the end client doesn't pay the agency, your contract with the agency is still valid and they should act accordingly.

I don't know about other countries, but in Canada, the law is that claims about any unsatisfactory good or service should be made within ten days from delivery (and the fact that a claim exists doesn't automatically mean that you are at fault - such claims must be substantiated). Once this delay is expired, the client (in your case, the agency) is reputed to accept the good or service as is and no further claim will be considered. It may be useful for you to find out if such a legal delay exists in your country, and if it is the case, find out how long the delay is. You may want to include such a clause in your contract from now on. Even if you don't, such regulations are still valid, but if you do include it in the contract, then the process you are going through can be avoided altogether because the client who signs the contract is aware of this even before the start of the translation work and that they will have to comply.

All the best!

[Edited at 2007-12-05 17:48]


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Andres & Leticia Enjuto  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 14:41
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Bluffing Dec 5, 2007

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

I just wanted to add that the argument of the agency that if they don't get paid, then they will not be able to pay you, simply doesn't hold. The contract was convened between you and the agency - this contract doesn't bind the end client. This means that whether the agency gets paid by the end client or not has nothing to do with the contract you and the agency entered. In other words, if the end client doesn't pay the agency, your contract with the agency is still valid and they should act accordingly.



Viktoria put it very clearly. It seems some agencies are willing to pay lower fees to freelancers without wanting to take the normal responsability and risks an agency should.

Besides, the final responsability for what they deliver to the end customer is the agency's.

We have worked with Débora in the past, and she is an excellent professional. Her work was meticulous and responsible, and we have a hard time believing she produced such a lousy material as to not to be paid.

So our opinion is that they are lying.

Go for them, Débora!

Andrés & Leticia

[Edited at 2007-12-06 00:36]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:41
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Where is the evidence? Dec 5, 2007

You say they have stopped your payment because the end client raised quality issues, and stopped their payment for this reason.

The very least they should do would be to, e.g. quote from an end-client e-mail precisely WHAT were their quality issues. After all, the agency also makes a living from getting paid. You can't get me drunk enough to believe that this end-client paid the agency only their mark-up and forfeited the translator's share.

Therefore it's pretty safe to take for granted that the end-client paid the agency, which is taking you for a ride.

It may be your case or not, but I've been avoiding any job with payment terms longer than 30 days. Whenever they want to pay in, say, 45, 60, or more days, it usually means at least one of these two things:

1. They are reoutsourcing a job from another agency, which is possibly blacklisted everywhere, so no translator will work for them. They know it might take them two weeks of hired thugs tailing the other agency's owners on their way home to get paid.

2. They have problems with negative cash flow, which they intend to solve at the expense of the more naïve translators.

Some thoroughly honest agencies concentrate their payments to translators on, e.g. two days of every month. But if anything went wrong with a specific payment for any reason, it will be made ASAP, and not postponed to the next payday.


Débora, I suggest you demand that they produce concrete evidence of the quality problems they found on your translation, immediately! If they can't or won't provide it, or if it's not adequate proof (e.g. some internal proofreader there botched up your perfect translation - it wouldn't be the first time ever), threaten them with both legal action and smearing their name in all five continents (the Proz BlueBoard will do it, but it sounds more impressive this way).


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Maximiliano Jozami  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 14:41
English to Spanish
+ ...
Unfortunately, you are not alone... Dec 5, 2007

Dear Debora,

As everyone here told you, that's the typical "modus operandi" of non-payers. Aside of reporting them to the BB (you should do that immediately, not only for you, but for other translators that may be cheated by these guys), I'd suggest you send them an ultimatum (after reporting them to the BB) and then hire a collection company.

I had a great experience with Síntesis SRL (www.sintesis.com.ar), you can contact Mr. Ariel Vázquez (or Vásquez, I don't remember). They worked for me on a very similar case, with the exception that the client was from China, and they got my payment within a couple of weeks. They charge you 25% of the amount recovered and, if you don't get paid, they charge you nothing.

You could also try any local collection company, but be sure they're serious, I think it's plenty of scary people linked to collection companies...

Best,


Maximiliano


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Débora D'Eramo
United States
Local time: 13:41
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to all of you for your support Dec 5, 2007

I've just received an e-mail from the financial controller, stating that the agency is actually going to pay vendors out of their own pocket, but asking to hold on till the end of the month.
So I've decided to wait until then to report the agency to the BB, ATA and all other associations involved. I'd like to be given a chance if I were in their position...
Forgive me if I sound too naive (I get that all the time, anyway). I think they'll pay.
I know where their offices are, also, I can also pay them a visit.
Thanks all of you for your support, specially Andrés and Leticia for their kind words.
Have a nice day


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Ana Freitas  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 18:41
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Money problems Dec 5, 2007

Débora de D'Eramo wrote:

Dear all,
I did a fairly important job during september for an agency located in my home town, Rosario, Argentina. My job, along with other fellow translators' was thoroughly proofread and edited.
Upon delivery of the job, I also sent the corresponding invoice. The PM in question informed me that the agency's policy is to issue payment upon 45 days after receipt of the invoice.
After 45 days, I contacted the agency to find out why payment was still pending. The answer I got was that the agency's policy was to issue payment on days 15 and 30 every month, and since my due date was an 18, then I should have to wait till day 30.
After day 30, I contacted the agency again to see what was going on, since, as you can imagine, payment was not issued. I didn't get any answers from the financial controller, so I contacted the production manager who had originally called me for the job. He said that the end customer was not happy with the quality of the job delivered, and had therefore suspended all payment. They ask me to be patient because if they don't get paid, then it's impossible for them to pay freelance translators.
This last contact took place on November 14, and they also said they were editing most of the job again. I haven't heard from them since.
I must add that this agency has a Blue Board record of 5, with more than 10 entries, and is also a member of ATA and Gala Global. I personally met the production manager and the financial controller on the occasion of being interviewed for an in-house job.
This is the first time I have a problem with payment, and I'm really at a loss. I wouldn't like to ruin these people's reputation everywhere, but they seem not to care on bit for me (I do this for a living). I also think that they knew what was going on all along and they kept beating about the bush. I wonder why the editors didn't mention anything wrong about quality upon delivery also.
I hope some of you can throw some light on this matter and give some ideas as to what to do.
Many thanks in advance!


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Ana Freitas  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 18:41
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Money matters Dec 5, 2007

I agree with you all, because I also had problems but with a translator.
This translator that is also a Proz member contacted me to do some translation in May. It was a hard work because the delay was really short, and I only had from her the confirmation that the work was OK.
Until now, and even I have tried to contact her many and many times , I didn't get my payment. I also do this for living so, how well I understand you.
What I don't understand is why translators sometimes are not honest people, when they know perfectly well that translation means hardworking.


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Andres & Leticia Enjuto  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 14:41
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Post a BB Dec 5, 2007

Ana Freitas wrote:


I agree with you all, because I also had problems but with a translator.
This translator that is also a Proz member contacted me to do some translation in May. It was a hard work because the delay was really short, and I only had from her the confirmation that the work was OK.
Until now, and even I have tried to contact her many and many times , I didn't get my payment. I also do this for living so, how well I understand you.
What I don't understand is why translators sometimes are not honest people, when they know perfectly well that translation means hardworking.


Dear Ana,

You can also post a BB to a translator. She acted as an outsourcer after all. I hope you can solve this issue soon

Best,

Letty


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