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Problems with an agency, not getting paid: what would you do?
Thread poster: Robin Meurer

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:46
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Try this May 10, 2017

Hi Robin..

Several times, translating agencies have tried to not pay me, but so far (fingers crossed) nobody has ever succeeded.

Basically you have to decide in your own mind that **you are going to be paid** no matter what it takes. Don't be angry, don't be emotional, and don't be disappointed. Just deal professionally with the situation.

You've already done quite a lot, but one thing you don't seem to have done yet:

Proz has the power to ban
... See more
Hi Robin..

Several times, translating agencies have tried to not pay me, but so far (fingers crossed) nobody has ever succeeded.

Basically you have to decide in your own mind that **you are going to be paid** no matter what it takes. Don't be angry, don't be emotional, and don't be disappointed. Just deal professionally with the situation.

You've already done quite a lot, but one thing you don't seem to have done yet:

Proz has the power to ban an agency. Being banned from Proz (i.e. with no more access to translators) is what really puts the fear of God into agencies. I think this can be done via the Blue Board.

I did it once and it got me paid very quickly.

I would therefore suggest that you tell this agency:

1. That you are going to report them directly to Proz unless they pay you in full within 24 hours.
2. That as of this moment there will be no further direct communication between you and them.
3. That further action may follow without notice.

Then DO NOT CONTACT THEM ever again yourself, but only through a debt recovery agency or a lawyer.

[Edited at 2017-05-10 07:14 GMT]
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Robin Meurer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:46
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Tom! May 10, 2017

Well, yes, I've tried a lot of things already, including a very negative Blue Board entry. All this didn't help so far.

If you refer to submitting a "non-payment report" offered by Proz.com, then I haven't done this yet. I might just do it and see what happens.

Now I'm also compiling a detailed report (including delivery/invoicing dates and times of written payment reminders to the agency) which will be sent to a lawyer and/or dept collection agency.

Yes, I
... See more
Well, yes, I've tried a lot of things already, including a very negative Blue Board entry. All this didn't help so far.

If you refer to submitting a "non-payment report" offered by Proz.com, then I haven't done this yet. I might just do it and see what happens.

Now I'm also compiling a detailed report (including delivery/invoicing dates and times of written payment reminders to the agency) which will be sent to a lawyer and/or dept collection agency.

Yes, I want to get paid, no matter what it takes, because the agency manager is behaving very unprofessionally in my opinion. Quality issues (if there really were any in my case; the manager never specified them) usually can be solved in a completely different and professional way, and in due time. In my case, 155 days after delivery had to go by until I learned about this quality issue. And he came up with all this after reminding him of overdue payment for the third time. Sounds fishy, doesn't it?

Kind regards,

Robin
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Rebecca Davis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:46
French to English
+ ...
What I did when this happened to me... May 10, 2017

Contacted the end client (who was actually very nice) and told them that so upset was I that I was thinking of going to the trade press in desperation, etc.
Contacted the Departmental Chamber of Commerce where the agency was registered, and had long discussion with rather jolly woman, who noted it all down
Got paid within 24 hours... Don't know what did it, or whether it was all just coincidental, but it worked
Go for the jugular, if you have to, and good luck!


 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:46
French to German
+ ...
Not enough cashflow? May 10, 2017

In my eyes this agency probably has not enough cashflow.

Even for small projects their payment delays are 60 days end of month and when I did still work for them they did never manage to pay me before 80 days (it normally took them even quite longer) and I had to send them always at least one reminder, often a few and make a Blueboard entry because they did not reply.

There has to be a reason for that.


 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:46
French to German
+ ...
Agree with Tom May 10, 2017

They still do mainly get their translators via the job board though where they continue posting jobs.

So Tom's idea of contacting Proz and telling them you want them to be banned if they don't pay, may work - if they do actually have the money to pay you.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:46
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Not what I was suggesting May 10, 2017

Andrea Halbritter wrote:

They still do mainly get their translators via the job board though where they continue posting jobs.

So Tom's idea of contacting Proz and telling them you want them to be banned if they don't pay, may work - if they do actually have the money to pay you.


That isn't what I was suggesting. It is not my business to suggest to Proz what they should do. All I'm saying is that via the BlueBoard, there is a facility for reporting an agency to Proz if you can demonstrate that you are on the level and that you have genuinely tried everything else.

It is then up to Proz to make an assessment and decide what action, if any, to take.


 

Heidi Newby-Rose  Identity Verified
South Africa
Local time: 07:46
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
Blue Board May 11, 2017

I am experiencing the same with two agencies at the moment, one in Italy and one in Austria (thank goodness for the many others you never have a problem with!!!) After asking nicely for a few months, and then saying I might have to resort to the Blue Board if the matter is not resolved, all I've had back is "I'll check with the accounts department and get back to you as soon as possible" or "which invoices are still outstanding?" It hurts to be the one to run to the Blue Board, but I also think ... See more
I am experiencing the same with two agencies at the moment, one in Italy and one in Austria (thank goodness for the many others you never have a problem with!!!) After asking nicely for a few months, and then saying I might have to resort to the Blue Board if the matter is not resolved, all I've had back is "I'll check with the accounts department and get back to you as soon as possible" or "which invoices are still outstanding?" It hurts to be the one to run to the Blue Board, but I also think there is a responsibility towards others, and I wish I'd checked myself before taking on work with these agencies. The trend seems to be, with the one, to start off paying OK, sort of within 30 days, and then to become slacker and slacker.Collapse


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:46
Member (2008)
Italian to English
No no no May 11, 2017

Andrea Halbritter wrote:

They still do mainly get their translators via the job board though where they continue posting jobs.

So Tom's idea of contacting Proz and telling them you want them to be banned if they don't pay, may work - if they do actually have the money to pay you.


No no no! Read my earlier post more carefully. What I am suggesting is ONE MORE email to the agency and then NEVER CONTACTING THEM AGAIN. Certainly NOT telling them what you intend to do. The whole point is to warn them that further action may follow without notice - leaving them to work out what that might mean.


 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:46
Spanish to English
+ ...
Use your secretary May 11, 2017

The only time I came close it was a one-off and two months late despite reminders by e-mail, phone etc. My wife, who's got excellent phone manners (I do now, but didn't at the time), offered to talk to him as my "secretary", and she did so softly and persuasively. She's not a translator, but all she had to know was the job reference, the amount payable and how long it was past due. I was paid the next day. It occurred to me that, if that hadn't worked, I would have got someone else (or her again... See more
The only time I came close it was a one-off and two months late despite reminders by e-mail, phone etc. My wife, who's got excellent phone manners (I do now, but didn't at the time), offered to talk to him as my "secretary", and she did so softly and persuasively. She's not a translator, but all she had to know was the job reference, the amount payable and how long it was past due. I was paid the next day. It occurred to me that, if that hadn't worked, I would have got someone else (or her again, with a handkerchief over her mouth or something) to ring him as my "accountant". Maybe it was my wife, or maybe it was just the sensation this chap was getting that more than one person was aware that he was a dishonest so-and-so. Plus, nobody expects you to have a secretary. It kind of ups your status.

But prevention is the best cure. That was a long time ago now, and for the new customers it's best to focus on your end of the deal from the start. After they've made clear the endless list of what THEY want - deadline, format, rolling delivery etc. - you make very clear what YOU want - price, payment on or around a certain specific date after delivery (count the days you want and give them an "on or around" date). Then get them to confirm that specifically, i.e. NOT just an e-mail back saying "Fine", which can eventually be a way of saying they never agreed to it in the first place, but an e-mail saying "I confirm that payment will be X, paid on or around .... etc." If they become a regular customer you can eventually dispense with all that.

As for the eventual "bad translation" excuse, that's been covered here before and so often ...

Andrea: you've got to write out "I must pay more attention" one hundred times on the blackboard this afternoon after school. And you're grounded this weekend too, girl, so don't make any plans.
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Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 07:46
German to English
+ ...
A possible modus operandi May 11, 2017

1. I would send my last notice to the debtor saying something along these lines: if I don't see my payment within 24 hours, I'll contact the end client. If the end client confirms their payment to you and no quality issues with me, I'll submit an application to State Revenue Service (or whatever its name in their country). I hope that you'll highly appreciate an in-depth audit.
2. If they keep playing dead, I'll perform the above actions. I believe that you are not interested in future co
... See more
1. I would send my last notice to the debtor saying something along these lines: if I don't see my payment within 24 hours, I'll contact the end client. If the end client confirms their payment to you and no quality issues with me, I'll submit an application to State Revenue Service (or whatever its name in their country). I hope that you'll highly appreciate an in-depth audit.
2. If they keep playing dead, I'll perform the above actions. I believe that you are not interested in future cooperation with this agency so this in my book is a possible solution of the problem and not time-consuming one to boot.

[Edited at 2017-05-11 12:19 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-05-11 16:50 GMT]
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Robin Meurer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:46
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks! May 12, 2017

Thanks for all your input and ideas. I really appreciate it.

It looks like the agency stopped corresponding with me. A final payment reminder with a 48-hour deadline to transfer the money was completely ignored by the manager. I explained him again that he never reported any issues with the project(s) until I reminded him of the unpaid invoices for the 3rd time (that was 86 days after delivery!). Besides, he never specified which project is the troublemaker. For me it only can be th
... See more
Thanks for all your input and ideas. I really appreciate it.

It looks like the agency stopped corresponding with me. A final payment reminder with a 48-hour deadline to transfer the money was completely ignored by the manager. I explained him again that he never reported any issues with the project(s) until I reminded him of the unpaid invoices for the 3rd time (that was 86 days after delivery!). Besides, he never specified which project is the troublemaker. For me it only can be the 7000 words project, which was more complex, but I just can't accept that my translation was so bad that the client completely refused to pay for it. This never happened to me before. The other 2 projects from a different client were straightforward and simple marketing texts. He could have paid me for those at least...
That's why I know he's trying to screw me.

Anyway, whether the client paid him or not, and whether the quality is good or bad, is of no relevance anymore. It was and is too late to make any claims now. My guess is that he simply doesn't have the money anymore.

So, now I will get the help from a lawyer and also get a debt collection agency involved.
I'm afraid the "battle" has just begun...
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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:46
Member (2008)
Italian to English
In fact May 12, 2017

In fact, my advice was to write one final email to the agency warning them that other action might follow without notice. It was already clear, long ago, that they were never going to answer.

 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:46
French to German
+ ...
Why both? May 12, 2017

I don't think you need a lawyer AND a debt collecting agency.

 

Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 07:46
German to English
+ ...
Just saying May 12, 2017

Robin Meurer wrote:

Thanks for all your input and ideas. I really appreciate it.

It looks like the agency stopped corresponding with me. A final payment reminder with a 48-hour deadline to transfer the money was completely ignored by the manager. I explained him again that he never reported any issues with the project(s) until I reminded him of the unpaid invoices for the 3rd time (that was 86 days after delivery!). Besides, he never specified which project is the troublemaker. For me it only can be the 7000 words project, which was more complex, but I just can't accept that my translation was so bad that the client completely refused to pay for it. This never happened to me before. The other 2 projects from a different client were straightforward and simple marketing texts. He could have paid me for those at least...
That's why I know he's trying to screw me.

Anyway, whether the client paid him or not, and whether the quality is good or bad, is of no relevance anymore. It was and is too late to make any claims now. My guess is that he simply doesn't have the money anymore.

So, now I will get the help from a lawyer and also get a debt collection agency involved.
I'm afraid the "battle" has just begun...


As I understand it, your debtor is located in Germany. Some time ago, a Germany-based small agency tried to delay payment, its owner (a lady with east european surname) adviced me "to be patient". I responded that I don't see any reason to be patient and explained that I am ready to address their Steuerverwaltung (or smth like this). The lady was foaming at the mouth and I received my money the next day without involving a lawyer or debt collectors, i.e., free of charge. The idea of frozen accounts at bank and arrested documents had a very powerful effect. True, this was the only time when I used this technique.


 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:46
French to German
+ ...
No, France May 12, 2017

No, they are not located in Germany, but in France.

Know that because I had a problem with the same agency.


 
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