Need help with a non-paying agency in San Francisco
Thread poster: Zeynab Tajik

Zeynab Tajik  Identity Verified
Iran
Local time: 11:39
Member (2012)
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
Mar 23

Hello everyone,

A translation agency owes me about $600, and the manager has told me that they will not pay the invoice because I issued it about six months after the delivery of the project. Considering that we had no agreement regarding the deadline for submitting the invoice, I believe I should be paid for the services I have provided.

I need your advice on how I should approach this issue. What is the best way I can force them into paying the invoice? Do you think it is worth using a debt collection agency? If so, do you know a good one?

Thank you in advance for your help.


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Lourdes Barrientos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
You Absolutely Positively DESERVE your PAY!!!!!!!! Mar 23

If you have to make mention of your intent of using a collections agency to get paid, did you know that the collectors keep 1/2, in other words $300.00 of the total?

Well, that is what they used to, back when once in my life I used a collections agency.

Agencies can be so awful when they want to. They need the job "yesterday", and then you get paid IF and WHEN they feel like it.

Well...........no! You must have a string of emails going back and forth, and it can be 6 months old...........that is ok. They still got the job finished and I presume "on time".

I do live in California, but nowhere near SFO.

My search would start with good old faithful "google". I wish I knew someone working in a collections agency that could guide you. Sorry, I do not.

Also, how about checking the Better Business Bureau? BBB for short.

You can tell the agency in a CERTIFIED LETTER, so you'll have a physical signature of receipt that you are going to report their lack of professionalism to the BBB. No one, in business wants that! That may be incentive enough for them to pay you.

Certified mail, type a letter which will contain date of first contact, who hired you to do the job, copies of emails, all and all you have COPIES sent to them, explaining in the letter your intention to collect via: collection agency. Summarize that no replying will mean to you that they agree. (meaning you are forcing them to reply at least, and not ignore you any further).
Close the letter stating that you would have wished things could be solved easier and amicably, but, unless they pay you within the next 7 days, you'll proceed.

And begin your search........not sure if the agency has to be in SFO, or you could get an agency anywhere in California.........I don't know.

Hope you get more help from this forum, and YES, get your $$$................!!!

LuLu.


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:09
French to German
+ ...
Debt collecting agency Mar 23

I have a friend who has a debt collecting agency.

You only pay a pourcentage if he gets the money.

Let me know if you want his contact details. He is based in France, but also works with the US.


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finnword1
United States
Local time: 03:09
English to Finnish
+ ...
Let them know that they will be reported. Mar 24

Give them a couple of weeks more, after which invite them to find themselves on ProzCom blue board and Translation Ethics blog site: http://translationethics.blogspot.se/p/blog-page.html

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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:09
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Non-payer in S.F. Mar 24

I'm afraid the agency holds the cards when the translator takes six months to issue an invoice.

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Lourdes Barrientos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why is that, Michael? Mar 24

A job was turned in done and it deserves to be paid.

Lulú


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:09
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Late invoicing Mar 24

Michael Newton wrote:

I'm afraid the agency holds the cards when the translator takes six months to issue an invoice.


A few months ago I refused to sign a SLA because it contained a clause that stipulated I would be forfeiting payment if I didn't send them an invoice within 2 months of delivery (and they would be deducting a percentage if sent after 30 days), thing which sounded totally crazy and unfair to me.

Doing a quick search, it seems you have 4 years to invoice in California ( http://goo.gl/m8MQIA http://goo.gl/QUw7NC http://goo.gl/7Z8zwo etc.) so...


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:09
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Far more likely to be years not months Mar 24

Mirko Mainardi wrote:
Doing a quick search, it seems you have 4 years to invoice in California ( http://goo.gl/m8MQIA http://goo.gl/QUw7NC http://goo.gl/7Z8zwo etc.) so...

That sounds far more likely!

@ Zeynab: It's unfortunate that you've waited so long as this certainly does cause administrative and accounting headaches for clients, particularly when it goes into another tax year. So it's something to be avoided in the future. But you do still have the right to your money, even if it means losing the client afterwards. I suggest you send your client that link above if it's official or at least serious (I haven't read it). Maybe apologise for the inconvenience, if you haven't already, but let them know that you WILL do everything it takes to get this money you're owed. If they don't pay by the payment date, start escalating the non-payment procedure as suggested by others.

A few months ago I refused to sign a SLA because it contained a clause that stipulated I would be forfeiting payment if I didn't send them an invoice within 2 months of delivery (and they would be deducting a percentage if sent after 30 days), thing which sounded totally crazy and unfair to me.

Did you report that to anyone, Mirko? That really is appalling and could put less sensible translators at risk. It can't possibly be legal, and therefore it would be totally unenforceable, but many freelancers don't seem able to fight for their rights. Have you thought about sending a copy to their local Chamber of Commerce? Or to any other body whose logo appears on their website? They deserve to get some grief over it.


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:09
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Reporting Mar 25

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

A few months ago I refused to sign a SLA because it contained a clause that stipulated I would be forfeiting payment if I didn't send them an invoice within 2 months of delivery (and they would be deducting a percentage if sent after 30 days), thing which sounded totally crazy and unfair to me.


Did you report that to anyone, Mirko? That really is appalling and could put less sensible translators at risk. It can't possibly be legal, and therefore it would be totally unenforceable, but many freelancers don't seem able to fight for their rights. Have you thought about sending a copy to their local Chamber of Commerce? Or to any other body whose logo appears on their website? They deserve to get some grief over it.


No Sheila, I didn't. I just raised the matter directly with them on two separate occasions after reading the agreement they had sent me, but they didn't reply (on that specific topic), so I decided it wasn't worth pursuing it further (despite the fact they had accepted my rates) and moved on. I couldn't imagine doing business with someone who ignores me or doesn't even deign to answer my questions while we're negotiating the terms of our prospective cooperation (and this happened more than once, even with well known and respected agencies).

However, this agency is present on the BB with a couple of recent 5s and they're based in an European country which is not part of the EU. After reading your post, I did a quick search to see if there's some sort of authority specifically dealing with such matters in that country, but found none. Besides, since we're talking about B2B terms here, not B2C, I believe it would be harder to actually 'do something' about it. AFAIK, when it comes to unfair terms, the emphasis is usually put on customers' protection, even though we, as translators, often find ourselves in the unenviable position of being treated as 'clients' by our clients (such as agencies and bigger end-clients), in that they tend to force their own terms on us, which are often (and sometimes totally) biased in their favor, but without being granted the protection or attention customers are usually afforded. Or at least, that's my perception.

Sorry for the OT.


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