Translation agency wont pay for translation

Initially, he asked where he would go to report this.

The only way is a lawyer to make a complaint.

That is said with the understanding that everyone knows doing nothing is an option.

It wasn’t advice. It was an answer. I didn’t tell him what he should do. I didn’t tell him whether its worth it or not. He asked how to do something and I gave him the answer.

My lawyer will advise, for free, if something is not worth it. So I don’t have to make such advice myself.

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I thought that the lawyer can always inflate the amount asked for, because there has to be legal costs associated with this. It could be several times the amount.

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There is usually some recourse, but it’s all based on the platform (e.g., those that provide an escrow service) and the client caring about preserving their reputation. It would probably have been better for you to threaten the client with a bad review rather than adding one.

Of course it is. The problem is that you have no cost-effective way of enforcing this. Again, I’m unfamiliar with the specific platform, but it might be useful to consider asking for partial advance payments or service contracts for future work. (Do you even have a contract with this client?)

I believe they can…in some jurisdictions. If you have payment terms and late fees specified in your contract, that would also help. Perhaps Marco’s lawyer is an expert on Palestinian commercial law though - you could go and ask lol.

That’s the problem, ProZ doesn’t provide any of that, they should however.

And problem is if you demand partial advance payment you won’t get the job.

Because that’s the SOP of established agencies, why should any other agencies be different?

Sorry about that, had not caught the part about this being an international website.

I stand by my advice not to get a lawyer in Taiwan in general for Taiwan legal matters, based on personal experience. I have hired a lawyer before and they worked for the system and not for my interests.

I think you just had a shitty lawyer.

I’ve won multiple cases here.

We can agree that I had a shitty lawyer (two actually, they worked as a pair).

Let me get this straight. You connected with the client (the agency) via a website, and the client in turn has another client, and the client’s client refuses to pay, which the client is using as its excuse for not paying. Correct?

If so, my first question is, what are the terms of use of the website?

Does the contract/agreement for use of the website include a choice of law clause? (And is that clause legit?)

Is the website itself your client, making the agency the client’s client (and the agency’s client the client’s client’s client)?

If the website is not responsible for payment, what kind of agreement do you have with the client (the agency)? Does it include a choice of law clause? Does it say anything about payment from Party A to Party B depending on payment from Party C to Party A?

I assume this doesn’t fall under Taiwanese law, but if it does it’s probably either a 承攬契約 or a 委任契約. The labor department can offer advice and get you a free short consultation with a lawyer.

Regardless of choice of law, ask a lawyer anyway, preferably one who has experience with international cases like this.


Seems ProZ only connects translators to agencies, they are not responsible for collection of unpaid fees. In fact, they have almost no responsibility at all. Scams are a huge topic there yet ProZ does not have a way of escrow-ing payments to ensure compliance. The entire translation agency seems to be the wild west, no regulations or anything. Just that translators who gets lots of work can pick and choose and everyone else is stuck with accepting poor terms simply because they wouldn’t have work otherwise… There’s simply no collective bargaining going on at all.


They don’t. I can’t explain how angry I was that I had duns on my account that were totally made up.

I’m still getting emails from agencies and translators even though it’s been more than 10 years since I was seriously in the business.

If the people don’t pay you for your work you really have no recourse unless they live near where you can reach them. This business is all about trust. You trust that the translator is capable and honest in what they produce as product. You trust that you will be paid. It is a seriously high risk business unless you are working on government projects.

I was working for HUGE companies that would drag their feet in paying. Same excuses - holidays, people out sick, and on and on.

Even working for local customers, the ethics of business in Taiwan is not encouraging.

I did some work unrelated to translation where copyright came into question. Upon litigating the matter the court was told I was paid for my work. All the defendant had to do was produce a liar to say that they witnessed me being paid and my case was thrown out. No proof beyond the word of another was enough.


Here is a possible solution. If the translation reveals who the company is the documents will be used for you can threaten the agency saying you will sue that company for copyright. If it is a global brand you can sue them locally as they would likely do business in Taiwan.

The agency might get upset enough that you could cause this trouble and pay you.

I worked for a NYC based packaging designer for Logitech (at least 15 years ago) and did the translation and layout for all of the packaging in 12 languages. When they broke the agreement for payment and I knew my deliverables had been delivered to Logitech I explained I would sue Logitech for copyright. I got paid in full very soon after and of course never heard from that agency again.

Sadly there is always someone willing to take the chance on these jobs. You really need a full-time office for collections with people knowledgeable of the law.


Well, the documents in question was a NBA x Citibank thing in China, another is Ajex (seems to be a subsidiary of SF Express) which is basically a term of service translated into Chinese.

A friend suggested that I contact those companies and inform them that I did the translation and was not paid for the work.

I think they got all their ducks in a row, and knew they could get away with not paying me.

I had a HUGE contract with a Chinese based agency who was working for Dell. I did a huge amount of business with them for more than 5 years. My role was translation and functional QA. I was so fortunate that I never had any trouble with payments ever with them. I would have zero recourse with them but it was Dell that steered them to me to me to begin with like so many of the other Dell vendors I worked with. You really need to be extremely picky who you do business with and even then you will often find troubles.

I was financing these huge projects for many global brands out of my own pocket. I always paid my translators even if I had to wait months to get paid. Really a high risk business.

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Now the agency is claiming that I had damaged the client’s reputation with bad translations, and posted an “example” that was literally client’s instruction to me to translate a certain terms a certain way.

They said I was being unprofessional and all that for posting the negative review and that they would not pay me at all if I don’t remove it. Further they said they’d pay me “50 percent” out of pocket because the client had chosen not to pay the agency (course I have no assurance that they will do any of that either).

This is after 2 months of a whole lot of nothing except that I’ll be paid mid december, without any complaints or reviewer notes.

If they had quality issues, they only have it just after I had written a bad review…

Tell them to pay you and you will remove the blue board review.

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I removed it anyways. Blueboard is useless and they claim they have evidence (likely fabricated) that can get me banned from ProZ and ban me from being able to post anymore entries on blue board.

I don’t think they ever intended to pay me at all, regardless of what I do anyhow.

Why did you do that? They own you 100% of the payment and you cave with 50% only, and they even didn’t pay you.

You HAD something to bargain with.
Now, you DON’T.


So you’ve removed the review and still not got paid? It doesn’t seem like you’ve handled this very well tbh.

If you can stand by the work you’ve done (including the bit about the client asking things to be translated a certain way), I don’t see why you’d accept being paid 50% of what you said was already a low fee (it shouldn’t matter here whether the end client paid - that’s the agency’s problem and part of their cost of doing business).

If you can’t stand by the work you’ve done, that’s another issue of course. The thing about translating into traditional Chinese then converting into simplified Chinese seemed a bit dubious to me (aren’t there differences in usage as well?), but I don’t know much/anything about that. But unless there was something in your arrangement with the agency that your payment was dependent on work quality, I think they should still pay you the full amount you agreed.

Have you also looked for ProZ-specific information about situations like this? Here, for example. I imagine there are better places than Forumosa for info about this subject.

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I don’t think ProZ cares.

I have not been contacted by ProZ for my side of the story or evidence of the work. I’ve come to the conclusion that the blue board is about as useful as a random internet blog, and is the reason I removed it.

I decided that they weren’t going to pay me regardless of what I do anyhow, or if they did it will be very late and at a vastly reduced amount compared to what I got. In the future I’ll have to require pre payment for any job more than 50 dollars, and that unfortunately means a lot less work. Unless the client is more organized and has accounting department that will pay automatically once the invoice is released.

Honestly I don’t even think I’ll hear anything from them ever again. I’ll just take this as a lesson to choose who I work for very carefully.