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Client wants to pay me half of what was agreed, because of "low quality" work.

Active Member
Julian L Member Since: Aug 4, 2014
1 of 13

Hello,

 

maybe someone here had a similar situation once.

 

I translated a book for a client and after handing it in for review, he said that about 1/4 of it was of "low quality". So I redid the whole book completely, meaning I checked every sentence thoroughly and revised passages that needed "work" (in my opinion).

He only gave me about 4 examples of what was not correct in his opinion. 2 of those however were completely correct. I still sat down and spend a whole day polishing it. A week later (today) I get a message that it's still "low quality" and he only wants to pay half.

I took the liberty of employing another proofreader/translator who I paid with my own money and told me that aside from a few minor mistakes that book was well translated and he has no idea, why the client says it's "low quality".

 

Did you encounter such a situation before and have any idea? The client set milestones that are funded and I spend a lot of time and work on the book, so I of course want my full payment. 

 

Regards and thanks in advance

 

Edit: I don't know if that's important, but from my profile you can see that all my clients were satisfied so far and I never had someone say that my translations are of "low quality".

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 13

Let's set aside completely whether or not the client's claims have any validity at all.

 

It is entirely possible that the client genuinely believes your work is of low quality.

 

It is also possible that the client is knowlingly trying to cheat you by claiming your work is of low quality.

 

There is no way to know which of these is true. There is no legal way to know. There is no physical way to know.

 

So let's set all this aside for a moment and point out one simple fact:

 

Contractually, the cient is not obligated to pay you the full amount.

 

This is a fixed-rate contract on oDesk, which means that it is up to the client's discression as to how much he pays you.

 

Ultimately, it may be irrelevent as to whether or not this is a "fair" contract or a good way for fixed rate contracts to be set up. This is how the contract you agreed to enter into works.

 

If you find that this doesn't work well for you, you may wish to choose to not accept fixed rate contracts in the future.

 

I know contractors who DO NOT accept fixed rate contracts because there is no inherent guarantee of payment. (Contractually, clients ARE able to pay the full amount, more than the full amount, less than the full amount, or zero.)

 

I also know contractors who DO NOT accept hourly contracts, because they don't like their hours being counted and/or they don't like using the oDesk Team application, which they feel "spies" on them or in some other way is unappealing to them.

Active Member
Julian L Member Since: Aug 4, 2014
3 of 13

Thanks for the reply. Yes, that is indeed true and I will probably not work on fixed-rate contracts again. 

 

So I am on the loosing side either way. Smiley Sad

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 13

I'm not saying this is your ONLY choice... but what I would probably do if I were in your situation would be to graciously accept the pay being offered, saying something like, "If that is what you are willing to pay, then that is what I will accept. Thank you for making the payment."

 

(Another alternative would be to refund all money and retain ownership of the translation, but I don't think you want to do that. Even if you did that, you would not be able to guarantee that the client would not use your work anyway.)

 

After you receive payment, you will obviously not want to work for that client again (or even communicate further with him).

Community Guru
Krisztina U Member Since: Aug 7, 2009
5 of 13

Make sure you submit your work through the Milestone system so the client has the option to pay in full or request changes. If he requests changes, he needs to be specific with what he wants changed. Is the client fluent in the target language? Could it be that you didn't match the tone of the source language? What does his reputation look like? Is he an established person with a track record of paying for work or could it be that he wants your translation for a discount?

 

I would try to communicate (make sure you let the frustration and emotion out) one last time (through the oDesk messaging system), and see what response you get. From there, you can ask oDesk for help (low likelihood but maybe they'll surprise you).

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
6 of 13

"I would try to communicate (make sure you let the frustration and emotion out) one last time"

 

Absolutely. 100% agree with this advice.

 

State your position clearly, professionally, without emotion. You are two business entities negotiating a mutually agreeable outcome. (Maybe ask for 75%, in exchange for which you guarantee to not discuss this topic any more or complain in anyway.)

 

DO NOT send your message immediately. Wait 30 minutes. Have somebody else read it. Make it sound even nicer than it did the first time.

Active Member
Julian L Member Since: Aug 4, 2014
7 of 13

Thanks for your answers. Yes, I will wait. I told him that I will do the changes and if he could please provide me more examples. 

 

If he is not willing to do that, I will use your advice. Thanks to both of you!

 

Edit: To answer you questions: Client is brand new on oDesk. As far as I know he doesn't speak the language. I tried to stay close to the source, but will ask him that.

Community Guru
David G Member Since: Oct 6, 2011
8 of 13

Contractually, the cient is not obligated to pay you the full amount.

This is a fixed-rate contract on oDesk, which means that it is up to the client's discression as to how much he pays you.

 

I'm not sure if this is right. Yes, oDesk states that the client can pay any amount but the client is still contractually obliged to pay the agreed amount. No one has entered a contract with oDesk. It is a contract between the client and the freelancer. ODesk simply states they won't get involved in the contract if the client refuses to pay the full amount (although from reading posts here, it seems clear that they will get involved on the client's side).

 

Unless, the client and freelancer agreed that the client wouldn't have to pay the full amount, then the client is contractually obligated to pay. And if there was this agreement, then I would expect to get a detailed response detailing the problems with my work.

 

The question is whether it's worth the freelancer's time to pursue it and if there are are any viable methods of pursuing the issue.

 

(Maybe ask for 75%, in exchange for which you guarantee to not discuss this topic any more or complain in anyway.)

 

I don't really agree with this either. If I were in this position, I would request detailed information about why the client feels my work is questionable. If the client is complaining about my work, then these examples should be easy to provide. If the client can do this, then I might accept a lesser payment or even no payment.

 

If the client can't come up with this information, then I would expect full payment.

 

I would agree to the 75% if that's all I thought I could get, but I definitely wouldn't agree to keep the issue quiet. If the client cannot provide numerous, specific examples of the problems, then I would categorize the client as a scammer who is just looking to cheat people out of a few dollars.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 13

Odesk has a very pertinent and easy-to-read document on the subject

 

Look here

The document is titled "What are the differences between hourly and fixed-price jobs for freelancers?"

 

I greatly respect David for his statement on ths subject.

 

But ultimately, the distinctions between what he said and what I said may be purely semantic, and of little practical difference to a contractor.

 

I believe David's position is that although oDesk states they will not guarantee payment, their fixed rate policy does not necessarily mean that a contractor is not obligated to pay an agreed upon amount for a fixed rate project.

 

David maybe looking at the situation from more of a legal standpoint (with reference to contract law) and even a moral standpoint, while I may be looking at the situation more from the perspective of a computer programmer (how does the system actually, instead of how it should work or how it is stated to work).

 

From the document, with regards to fixed-rate contracts:

"Currently there is no protection for fixed-price contracts."

"Fixed ­price contracts are paid at the client’s discretion"

"There is a risk of nonpayment, because there is no guarantee."

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
10 of 13

What I Do Personally With Fixed Rate Contracts

 

[not necessarily a suggestion for everyone]

 

What I personally  do with fixed rate contracts is remove all ambiguity from the equation. Whenever I bid on a fixed raet contract with clients, I tell them that I accept no up-front payment for the project. I tell them that once the project is done, they are welcome to pay the agreed upon amount for the work and receive it, or pay nothing at all.

I don't accept partial payments, and clients know that when I say a project is done, it is done. If they want more work done outside the scope of the project, that means a new project.

I have never had a client walk away without paying, even though they know they could, and they know I would not complain if they did.

Now, what I'm saying here probably WILL NOT WORK for all oDesk contractors, but this is what works for me. I recognize that the type of work I do is different from language translation and other types of work other contractors do.

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