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Agency won't accept invoice sent by a proxy
Thread poster: Gilles Wandel

Gilles Wandel
Belgium
Local time: 06:38
Member (2018)
English to French
+ ...
Aug 19

Dear fellow translators,

I was contacted by an agency 10 days ago, asking me to translate approximately 18K words. I have now finished the translation and trying to send them the invoice through a proxy. The reason for that is that I don't have the self-employed status, which is too expensive for me at the moment. This proxy allow people to send invoices without any self-employed status (and is in compliance with the Belgian jurisdiction). It is not the first time I do it.
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Dear fellow translators,

I was contacted by an agency 10 days ago, asking me to translate approximately 18K words. I have now finished the translation and trying to send them the invoice through a proxy. The reason for that is that I don't have the self-employed status, which is too expensive for me at the moment. This proxy allow people to send invoices without any self-employed status (and is in compliance with the Belgian jurisdiction). It is not the first time I do it.

The agency just refused the invoice stating that the proxy's Terms and Conditions are in direct conflict with theirs.

I haven't sent the translation yet, but am supposed to do it tomorrow.

I really don't know what to do. Are there legal risks for me if we don't find any solution? I haven't signed anything, but have accepted the project by email.

The agency seems legit, I have checked it on the Blue Board.

Thank you in advance for your comments and advice.


Gilles
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:38
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
It sounds as if Aug 19

Gilles Wandel wrote:
The agency just refused the invoice stating that the proxy's terms and conditions are in ... conflict with theirs.


It sounds as if the agency needs to register and/or accept the proxy's terms and conditions before they can download (or be sent) the invoice. I can understand their position, then. Why should they be forced to accept terms and conditions unfavourable to them, just to be able to get a document which they would otherwise expect to be sent without any strings attached to it?

Say, why can't you just download the invoice yourself, and send it to them personally?

Alternatively, send them a statement instead of an invoice. The statement looks just like the invoice, but doesn't contain the word "Invoice". A statement is simply a summary of what is owed and how it can be paid. What, according to Belgian law, is an invoice? Usually, a document that looks exactly like an invoice but doesn't proclaim itself to be an "invoice" or a "tax invoice" is not legally an invoice. Of course, if the agency's accountant wants to be unreasonable, he could refuse the pay the amount stated on the statement on the grounds that it doesn't say "Invoice" on it. But where I'm from, a business does not need to have received an actual invoice to be able to legally pay a service provider.

Where is the agency located?

I haven't sent the translation yet, but am supposed to do it tomorrow.


If the agency has not agreed to receive the invoice via proxy at the start of the project, then you can't make it a requirement now at the end of the project. You owe them a translation, and they owe you money for it -- that was the agreement. You can't withhold the translation simply because they refuse to consent to additional terms that you now require of them.


 

IanDhu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:38
Member (2005)
French to English


Posted via
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Which terms conflict? Aug 19

A blanket refusal by the client is not sufficient: it must give chapter and verse. Could a solution be found by enquiry to the Ministère des Classes Moyennes?

I hope you get paid soon.

With kind regards.


 

Gilles Wandel
Belgium
Local time: 06:38
Member (2018)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Samuel and Iandhu, Aug 19

Thank you both for your replies.

The normal procedure is as follows: I send the client a "purchaser form" with all the client's information (name, VAT number, etc.) along with a "cost estimate". I ask the client to date and sign those documents. Then I send the documents back to the proxy. The proxy registers the client's information in it's database (if not already done) and send the final invoice to the client.

The agency refused to sign the "purchaser form" and "cost
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Thank you both for your replies.

The normal procedure is as follows: I send the client a "purchaser form" with all the client's information (name, VAT number, etc.) along with a "cost estimate". I ask the client to date and sign those documents. Then I send the documents back to the proxy. The proxy registers the client's information in it's database (if not already done) and send the final invoice to the client.

The agency refused to sign the "purchaser form" and "cost estimate". They asked me to ask my proxy " to waive their T&Cs for this job so that ours are the only T&Cs applicable".

I do realize I should have mentioned them that I would send the invoice through a proxy (I agree with Samuel on this). But my proxy's Terms and Conditions aren't restrictive really.

I will send my client an email asking what exactly is in direct conflict with their own Terms and Conditions. And then call my proxy to see if they have a solution.

Under Belgian law, I think it is illegal to do send any kind of document asking for a payment if you are not either an employee or self-employed.
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:38
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
A business risk Aug 20

Gilles Wandel wrote:
The normal procedure is as follows: I send the client a "purchaser form" with all the client's information (name, VAT number, etc.) along with a "cost estimate". I ask the client to date and sign those documents. Then I send the documents back to the proxy. The proxy registers the client's information in it's database (if not already done) and send the final invoice to the client.


Okay, but then (as you state elsewhere) the normal procedure is that the client signs and dates the documents before you start working on the translation. You had started on the translation before you and the client had finished agreeing all the terms.

I understand your dilemma. Sometimes (no, in fact: often) we start working on a translation project before we have received all information from the client or before the client had agreed to all that we require, in the hope that all will work on fine in the end, and that all the agreements will fall into place by the time we have to send the invoice. We do this because translation jobs often have tight deadlines and we do not have the luxury of spending an entire week to onboard the client. In rare cases, the invoice can't be paid, and that is a business risk -- it is a risk that we take when we work for a new client before all the papers are in order. (I'm not suggesting that you give up before you've tried everything.)

Naturally, you must not start working unless the client had confirmed that they want you to do the job for the price that you quoted (unless you are absolutely convinced that you have an implied "go-ahead"), but sometimes (especially with new clients) there are additional procedures that either of you may be are unaware of at the time that you start the translation.
- Surprisingly often it happens that the client's accounting department suddenly demands additional documentation by the time they process your invoice, that the project manager had neglected to tell you about, though most of the time it's simple to comply and sometimes even a mere formality.
- On other occasions, a project manager might send you a contract to sign after you have done the translation, and if you're unwilling to sign the contract, and they're unwilling to pay you without the contract, all you can do is cut your loss and create a negative Blue Board entry.
- Or: the project manager might send you a purchase order (i.e. a document that contains the job numbers) shortly after you started on the job, with a surprise footer saying that if the translator accepts the order, then the translator automatically agrees to such-and-such additional stipulations.
- I have had clients send me files though special services that required me to "sign up" or agree to its terms and conditions in order to get the files (and in truth, no-one reads those), or to install a free tool that is required of the job (and although I may not object to the free tool, the free tool always comes with its own terms and conditions). If I've already accepted the job, it's very hard to tell the client: "sorry, but I can't accept the additional terms and conditions", as the deadline looms. I think most clients (and translators) will think you're being unreasonable (or weird) if you refuse to install a free version of e.g. MemoQ or Trados, just because of the terms and conditions.

I hope you reach a resolution with your client.

IanDhu wrote:
A blanket refusal by the client is not sufficient: it must give chapter and verse.


I disagree. The client (or the translator, if the roles were reversed) is within its rights to refuse to agree to any additional terms and conditions, after the original agreement was reached, without having to explain what and why. It is not necessary for the client to defend his decision to be safe rather than sorry.

[Edited at 2019-08-20 06:57 GMT]


 

Gilles Wandel
Belgium
Local time: 06:38
Member (2018)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes Samuel, Aug 20

That was my dilemma. And this project was extremely tempting. Furthermore, I am relatively new in the translation industry and struggling to find new clients. So I'm always afraid to loose a project by adding requirements right away.

I am not sure how to behave on this. Of course, I would like to be in good terms with this agency and sort it out one way or another. But what if we don't find any acceptable solution? Am I supposed to send my translation and just loose 10 days of work?


 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Dutch to French
+ ...
strange Aug 20

Are you sure what you're doing is legal even in Belgium? Could you please indicate which articles of the Belgian law provide for this exemption?

[Modifié le 2019-08-20 07:06 GMT]


writeaway
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:38
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Gilles Aug 20

Gilles Wandel wrote:
Am I supposed to send my translation and just loose 10 days of work?


I recommend that you send the translation (so that you show good faith and so that you comply with the agreements that are in place), and then continue to try to find ways to help the client to pay you. Can you use a different proxy with less onerous terms and conditions (or even one without any terms and conditions apart from the translator's own terms and conditions)?

Can you tell us who the proxy is (I assume it is some public online service)? In which country is the client located?


Philippe Etienne
 

Gilles Wandel
Belgium
Local time: 06:38
Member (2018)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
David and Samuel, Aug 20

The proxy is SMart (you should find it by typing "SMart Belgium" in your search bar). It is well known in Belgium and has even offices in a few European countries. It acts as an employer but the employee has the freedom of a self-employed. Their Terms and Conditions are not onerous for the client nor thath restrictive. In fact I am the only one to pay a small percentage of my salary to the proxy for their services.

My client is based in the United Kingdom.


 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Dutch to French
+ ...
in this case Aug 20

you're an employee of this firm, so it's perfectly legal. In this case, this firm is your employer, not a proxy: you should make it clear to your client

 

Gilles Wandel
Belgium
Local time: 06:38
Member (2018)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
David Gay, Aug 20

It is legal indeed. The problem is that the client didn't know I had this status in the first place. If I had sent them the purchase order right away, they would have read the firm's Terms and Conditions and refused to work with me at that moment. So I was wrong not to make it clear 10 days ago. Then again, their Terms and Conditions aren't really restrictive at all.

 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Dutch to French
+ ...
not a proxy Aug 20

what I meant is that you shouldn't call it a proxy: it's your employer, not a proxy

 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Dutch to French
+ ...
in any case Aug 20

you have to send them the translation. Tell them that this company is entitled to collect the
amount directly from them.


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:38
Member
English to French
Dodgy Aug 20

Gilles Wandel wrote:
...The problem is that the client didn't know I had this status in the first place...

Didn't they request information about your legal status such as VAT number, business address...)?
If the agency is larger than a KTA (kitchen-table agency, courtesy of late JHL I seem to remember), I understand this may be a problem for their accounting dept: They issued a purchase order to you because they assumed you were a legal entity, natural person or otherwise, like the vast majority of translators they deal with.
And now another legal entity issues the invoice for the work you (are about to) deliver. So they'll have to pay an entity from whom they haven't ordered anything. There will be some mismatch, that a taxman could interpret as fraud.

I hope you'll find a way to get paid. Can't you register as self-employed just for this and close it up as soon as you're paid? The amount involved may be worth the trouble.
But I agree that retaining the translation on such grounds is not the thing to do.

Philippe


 

Gilles Wandel
Belgium
Local time: 06:38
Member (2018)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Philippe, Aug 20

I have now delivered the translation.

I understand your point about the mismatch. But the document I sent them clearly mention my name as follows:

Worker's information:
Name: (Firm's name)
Represented by: (My name)

Registering as self-employed and close it up may cost me almost the whole salary for this job (in Belgium, if I remember well, we pay for the status every quarter, and I guess I'd have to pay for the whole quarter)


 
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