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What to do about a client I don't want to work with
Thread poster: satranslations

satranslations
Local time: 21:50
English to German
Aug 7, 2008

Hi

I have been approached by an agency (which seems to be just a one-man-agency) if I am interested in working with them and if I still have free capacities. Although I am generally busy, business has got a bit slow recently, so I said yes. I was then asked my rates etc. which was fine with him. However then the bloke became ever more imposing and asked me all sorts of things how I do this, how I do that (translation related things) and that he thinks things should rather be done this way and that way. So far so good, but he became quite schoolmasterly which made me feel more and more uneasy. I then also felt that if I ever did anything not quite the way he thinks, I will be told off like a little child. So I thought, I don't need that and I am not that desperate for a new client, so I pretended to be very busy when he called again with a job. But he continued to call and now starts not to believe that I am that busy that I can't fit this or that in. So I feel now that I cannot continue to find excuses but also that it would not be very professional either to say bluntly that I don't want to work with him. What would you do in my situation?


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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:50
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Does it really matter what he is thinking? Aug 7, 2008

It's just business - sometimes agencies refuse translators and sometimes translators refuse agencies or direct customers.

It is up to him to believe you or not?


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Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:50
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Doesn't sound good Aug 7, 2008

satranslations wrote:

What would you do in my situation?


Good clients just ask you to translate because they trust in you. Why would someone want to start this kind of working relationship?


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:50
English to Spanish
+ ...
Professional Aug 7, 2008

The professional thing to do is just tell him the truth, that you don't wish to work with him. If he asks why, you owe him nothing, just tell him you are too busy or something like that.

Life is to short to agonize over such things.


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Cristiana Coblis  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 23:50
Member (2004)
English to Romanian
+ ...
two choices Aug 7, 2008

I agree with Henry. You should simply tell him the truth.
Either that or keep inventing excuses. It's a lot of work and wasted energy, simpler to just tell him "no" politely...
Good luck!


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:50
English to French
+ ...
Stalker Aug 7, 2008

From your description of the situation, you are dealing with a stalker. I wouldn't want to be in your shoes. This man is already invading your privacy, trying to dictate your processes (why doesn't he just do the job himself if he's so smart?) and calls you a liar to top it off.

Just tell him straight up. You don't need to be mean or unpolite. Something along the lines of "Unfortunately, I have realized that your business practices are incompatible with my business practices. I am sorry, but I have to let you go." should be fine.

I would not put up with someone like that a minute more. Never mind that he may well just be a control freak without actually meaning any harm...

[Edited at 2008-08-07 20:06]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:50
French to English
Holiday? Aug 7, 2008

It's the time of year people go on holiday.
Sometimes for as long as a month

Tell him you're going on holiday.

If he continues to send requests after you "get back" (:-)), tell him that over your "holiday", you re-assessed your career options, and he doesn't fit in.

I say this only because you seem reluctant to enter a business relationship.

Personally, I would try a small job, and see how it goes in practice. Your fears may be unfounded, in which case - hurrah, new customer for you. Or you may be right, but with luck, the feeling will be mutual, and he won't want to work with you again anyway.


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 22:50
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
"The professional thing to do is just tell him the truth" Aug 7, 2008

like admitting you dont like his tie (or his TM - but dont get too personal). Or that your cat ate your keyboard (British enough?)

I know, it is not easy. On the other hand, you are in the envious position of refusing additional business. Should feel great.

regards

Vito


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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:50
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Victoria has chosen a fine solution Aug 7, 2008

The truth is always the best.
I once tried to explain (I wanted to be polite) that I would not be "the right person for the job". Without any success, emails went from and to the agency....

Just to say the truth that you both won't be compatible is an elegant solution.


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Stuart Dowell  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 22:50
Member (2007)
Polish to English
+ ...
You don't have to justify yourself Aug 8, 2008

You don't to have to give any reason. Just say you are not available.

It's his fault if he doesn't get the point.

Saying that you are not available to take his orders is telling the truth if you are going to be busy reading a book, making coffee, looking for new clients etc.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 21:50
Dutch to English
+ ...
Why beat about the bush? Aug 8, 2008

Just tell him you don't want to work with him ... period.

No need to sit dreading everytime the phone rings that it might be him and wondering when and if he'll ever get the hint when you keep on saying you're busy.

If he presses you to find out why and you don't feel like telling him ... don't. Just end the conversation politely, saying you see no point discussing it as your mind is already made up, and put the matter to rest once and for all.

To second what Henry said, life's too short ....


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Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:50
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
Arrogant attitude Aug 8, 2008

satranslations wrote:
But he continued to call and now starts not to believe that I am that busy that I can't fit this or that in. So I feel now that I cannot continue to find excuses but also that it would not be very professional either to say bluntly that I don't want to work with him.

His arrogant behaviour and provoking undertone = not professional
Defining boundaries and being clear = professional
This schoolmaster is far too pushy. No more carrots for him just the stick he deserves.
Cheer up!

[Edited at 2008-08-08 09:57]


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N.M. Eklund  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:50
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
and if he still doesn't get the point... Aug 8, 2008

the next time he calls for a quote...
triple your rates!


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:50
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Give yourself an advantage Aug 8, 2008

Here I am assuming you don't know what he looks like, or much about him. They say it helps if you are nervous about speaking in public by imagining all the listeners are naked (mind you, this only helps if the listeners are hard-crusted old bankers, accountants and financiers etc. who you can safely assume don't look great in the altogether with their sagging chests and beer bellies, but doesn't provide many advantages if the room is wall-to-wall with Miss World candidates).

So perhaps you should gain some competitive edge by imagining what he is like, where he is and where he is going.

Sit back and enjoy the moment as you think to yourself that he is a Billy Bunter type five feet tall who got regular kickings at school, who sweats visibly and smellily in the company of women, whom he has always feared, especially since his wife took the money and left, whose only little joy as a kind of pathetic revenge on a lifetime of failure in everything he has ever turned his hand to is ordering translators around from a horrible grubby office on the twentieth floor of a vile grey block two years from demolition in some Godforsaken shopping precinct wilderness in the middle of nowhere, who will eventually end up in a dark little room, with no light, no heating, no food, no family, no friends, and just a scabby farting cat and half a bottle of cheap warm vodka between himself and the most abject misery and despair.

As Viktoria and others have said, there is no need to be rude, but this should help as you inform him casually that any business relationship between the two of you is doomed to failure.

We are all dying for you to tell us that you chewed him up and spat him out on the pavement, satranslations. We are all rooting for you, so go get him. Don't wait for him to ring you, ring him yourself.


Mervyn


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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:50
German to English
Possible explanation Aug 8, 2008

How about something like "Thank your for your recent enquiry. Unfortunately, after serious consideration of your proposed methods of translation, I do not feel that either or us will profit from our continued cooperation. I hope that this does not cause any serious inconvenience."
You could also suggest another translator if you know someone who might not be bothered by the man's manner.


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