Not paid on small proofing: Can such situations be avoided? How?
Thread poster: Bertha S. Deffenbaugh

Bertha S. Deffenbaugh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jan 2, 2002

Months ago, I accepted doing a proofreading FR> ESP for an agency located in the Arab Emirates. I had never heard of that agency but, as the proofreading was very small,- only one page- I accepted the job without hesitation.

As the translation from French into Spanish was a really good one - quite a nice surprise- and I did not have much to correct, after some minor adjustments, mainly in style, I sent the file back to the agency.

40 days later, when I sent an e-mail to the agency in order to remind them that they were behind in their payment, I was informed that the \"client\" considered that I had not done a \"good\" proofreading, that I had done only a few corrections, that the \"client\" refused to pay the agency for the proofreading and that the agency was informing me that I would not get paid.

As the job was so small and I charged my minimum rate, I did not make an issue out of it. But I would really like to know how to be protected against these situations and against unscrupulous agency behaviour.

Any ideas?




United States
Local time: 09:44
English to Arabic
+ ...
What is the name of that agency in UAE? Jan 2, 2002


That set of excuses shows, unfortunately, how \"flakey and shakey\" that firm is.

What is the name of that bad agency in UAE?

There are not too many operating in UAE, and most are in the coastal cities of Dubai, Sharjah or Abu Dhabi.


Regards from Los Angeles,

Stephen H. Franke

(English Arabic,

Kurdish and Farsi)


Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO) (X)
Local time: 12:44
German to English
+ ...
Tough question Jan 2, 2002

They are avoidable up to a point.

You need to set out very clear terms & conditions, and you must get your client (direct clients and agencies) to accept them.

Proofreading is always a delicate matter: if you charge them by the hour, they will likely come back and say, \"Hey, you took too long. We won\'t pay you for 3 hours!\"

The client who claims that your proofreading was not good enough because you did not make a sufficient number of corrections is an idiot. If they are so smart, they should have done the job themselves. Crazy, eh? Instead of being happy about the good quality of the original translation, they shoot the messenger for bringing good news. Unbelievable!

You should include their name in the ProZ agency rating and give them the rating they deserve.


Dyran Altenburg (X)  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
They probably can't be avoided Jan 2, 2002

Hi Bertha!

One of the questions I ask myself when accepting jobs from new clients is: \"If they decide not to pay, will I be able to do something about it?\"

If the answer is \"probably not\", I politely refuse to do the job.

Warning signs, in my experience, are (among others):

* PM\'s who are not familiar at all with the target language, or with the translation process.

* Lack of a contract or PO where all relevant issues are detailed.

* Being asked to accept a reduction in rate.

Granted, not having enough work is rather stressful, but investing hours in a job that will never get paid is even worse, imnsho.


(who\'ll probably never be a millionaire, but earns enough to live comfortably -- with a lot less stress)

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-01-02 19:26 ]


Scott Li  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 00:44
Member (2005)
Chinese to English
+ ...
Did you mention .... Jan 2, 2002

Did you mention the original translation was very good and required not much correction ?

If you could mention this fact to your client, I guess this may help the agency and the end client as both of them probably do not understand the source nor target texts.

And of course, they should pay you no matter how.


Bertha S. Deffenbaugh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thank you Werner and Dylan Jan 2, 2002

I will be very careful with my Terms & Conditions. This is the first time I do not get paid,icon_frown.gif and hope it will be the last one.

I have already added the agency to rating.

Thanks. icon_smile.gif


Bertha S. Deffenbaugh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, Euro Jan 3, 2002

I certainly did mention that the original translation was very good.


peaeigler  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:44
English to German
+ ...
File under "Experience" Jan 10, 2002

I guess for a small job like the one you mentioned, it\'s easiest to simply forget about it. After all, it is nasty enough to deal with (unfair) criticism by a client. As for bigger jobs, I have found that, after a few reminders, mentioning my \"legal advisors\" often does the trick... Good luck and I hope your clients will all pay punctually and diligently in 2002!


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Not paid on small proofing: Can such situations be avoided? How?

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