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Ethical/unethical
Thread poster: Natalya Zelikova

Natalya Zelikova  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 02:40
Member (2003)
English to Russian
+ ...
May 16, 2006

Some time ago I have done a small job for a translation company and since it was urgent and supposed to be done late in the evening I have been asked to deliver it directly to a client. I did.
Few days ago I have received a message directly from a client asking me to do another translation. I have explained the situation (I found him through an agency; there was no written agreement, but I feel this unethical to accept the job, etc.) and asked him to contact the company and if he cares, ask them to send the job to me (BTW, the job was rather small too).

Monday I have received a message from the translation company, worried if I have accepted the job. I forwarded them my message and... got no reply. After I resent the message thinking that they probably didn't receive it, I got their reply:
"Yes, I did, sorry for not responding. Thanks for your ethical approach. We have given this assignment to our standard translator, who is cheaper than you are, and therefore gets our preference if she is available. I hope you will appreciate that."

It is very unpleasant situation for me. Or everything is just simple: I HAD to reject the job, since this is unethical, and they CAN give the job to whom they prefer, since this is just business? Aren't there any other aspects involved?


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 02:40
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Ethical from your side, unethical from the agency's side May 16, 2006

Hi Natalie

I think you did it right, but the agency should appreciate your stance and behave ethical.


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Ana Cuesta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:40
Member
English to Spanish
Sadly simple, I would say May 16, 2006

Natalya Zelikova wrote:


It is very unpleasant situation for me. Or everything is just simple: I HAD to reject the job, since this is unethical, and they CAN give the job to whom they prefer, since this is just business? Aren't there any other aspects involved?


The way I see it, you did what you had to do and they can do as they please, which does not remove from the fact that they were really impolite/unthoughtful by not even answering to your reassurance message and it is clear that money is their top concern (if their client was happy with your first translation, it would have made more sense to keep you working for them, so this way they are risking their relationship with you as a supplier and them as a client in the same move!). At least you know were you stand with them now, and if I were you I would know what to do next time they need a hand in a hurry

What I don't get is their doubt about maybe you having accepted the job in the first place, since they actually had the job to give to someone else...


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Natalya Zelikova  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 02:40
Member (2003)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... May 16, 2006

Ana Cuesta wrote:

What I don't get is their doubt about maybe you having accepted the job in the first place, since they actually had the job to give to someone else...



I have resent my message only today, so I think they have received my first message yesterday and assigned the job to another translator, simply not bothering about answering me.


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:40
Member (2005)
French to German
+ ...
Brush it off May 16, 2006

Natalya Zelikova wrote:
I got their reply: […] “We have given this assignment to our standard translator, who is cheaper than you are, and therefore gets our preference if she is available. I hope you will appreciate that.”


I like the use of the word, “appreciate” in this context.

To my reading this means that you only fit their rate range when the matter is urgent, perhaps because their standard translator charges rush rates and you do not. In any case the difference betweeen their translator's rates and yours will be quite substantial, or they would not have acted the way they did.

This raises the question whether you really want to compete with your unknown collegue when they are that cheap? You evidently seem to operate on different quality levels - this might very well go for the agency as a whole as well - in which case it wouldn't be nice to become their “preferred” translator.

So don't take this hard and simply beef up your efforts to find new clients - being a vendor to this agency probably wouldn't make you happy.

P.

PS. Should there really be a quality difference between your translations and those of your competitor - as is probable - then your agency's client will be in for some shock…


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Now you know why the end client tried to avoid this agency May 16, 2006

You could not help acting like that.

What you can do now is:

- Raise your rate for this agency by 20-50 %, because they will only ask you when they cannot find any other translator for this kind of job.

- Search for companies which are similar to this end client and offer them your services directly, before any agency will offer them your services indirectly.
The customer protection policy does not apply to customers for whom you have already worked directly.

HTH,

Harry


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Imad Almaghary
Local time: 02:40
English to Arabic
+ ...
You are rare on this world May 16, 2006

Good morning Natalya Zelikova

You have done the right thing.
Rarely we find someone like you so I would appreciate if you contact me through my profile giving your Yahoo MSN ID for friendship.

Yours
Mr. Imad
English Arabic translator


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 01:40
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
After all that, it's the customer who counts May 16, 2006

... and the agency seems not to be doing the best it could, otherwise the client would not try to cut it out of the food chain.

You may get another call from the end customer - get ready for it...


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:40
French to English
+ ...
not good for anyone May 16, 2006

If the agency are not intelligent enough to realise that the client wanted *you* to do the translation, and if the cheaper translator is not as good as you, then everyone will suffer because of their behaviour.

In the long term you're probably better off without them. Other agencies will appreciate your professional approach, even if they don't.


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Natalya Zelikova  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 02:40
Member (2003)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
quality May 16, 2006

I am not sure that the client wanted exactly me to do the translation, most likely they just wanted to cut the costs.
And as for the another translator's quality - I have had many chances to make sure that cheaper doesn't always mean worse (at least for our language pairs).
So I am taking a sober view about the quality in this situation.
And initially my point was only about their behaviour.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:40
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Ethics isn't always financially rewarding May 16, 2006

Natalya Zelikova wrote:
It is very unpleasant situation for me. Or everything is just simple: I HAD to reject the job, since this is unethical, and they CAN give the job to whom they prefer, since this is just business? Aren't there any other aspects involved?


It would have been unethical for you to accept the job. It would not have been unethical for them to use their standard translator. You did not do them any favours by acting in an honest manner. Ethics and honesty doesn't *have* to result in financial gain. In fact, it often doesn't, and the only reward you get is a good reputation and a fuzzy feeling that you've done the right thing. Live with it.


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Natalya Zelikova  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 02:40
Member (2003)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... May 16, 2006

Samuel Murray wrote:
the only reward you get is a good reputation and a fuzzy feeling that you've done the right thing. Live with it.


Yes. I understand this.
And as for financial reward I stressed that both jobs were not financially rewarding at all.
But something is wrong, and that's how I feel.

Samuel Murray wrote:It would not have been unethical for them...

I feel like it is.

And I want to say again that the fact that I have posted the message doesn't prove that I don't understand thier position (Indeed, they do not owe me neither a job, nor a "thanks"). I understand, I just don't feel comfortable with it.


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Gianni Pastore  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:40
Member (2007)
English to Italian
Why "unethical?" May 16, 2006

Perhaps I am missing the point, but why should it be unethical to accept the job? The client has chosen to bypass the agency for whatever reason, so who am I to argue with that?

Please note: I don't work with agencies.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:40
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
There are agencies and agencies... May 16, 2006

I work with two who make a point of matching the translator to the client. Sometimes when I have a problem they give me the client's phone number - it is always easiest to sort it out directly. They send repeat jobs to me (and if I don't like the job I tell them I think one of their other translators would do it better).

Several times I have, like you, referred clients back to the agency when they approached me directly, or for instance if I can't take on the job myself. (Too busy, wrong language pair or other reasons.)

Some agencies I have worked for have not been nearly so considerate, or there have been no problems, but they have not come back.

There are ethical agencies, and it's worth being loyal to them. You did the right thing. At least it was not a big job, so your direct loss was not great. Keep looking for one of the good agencies, and best of luck!



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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:40
Member (2005)
French to German
+ ...
Intuition May 16, 2006

Natalya Zelikova wrote:
But something is wrong, and that's how I feel.
feel like it is [unethical on the part of the agency].
[/quote]

And this is the main point of the whole incident in a nutshell IMO. Since it is you that keeps your supplier/vendor relationships, you are the party that defines what behaviour you are comfortable with - or not comfortable with.

Well: you intuitively feel that “something is wrong” concerning the circumstances of this agency and their behaviour. This message is worth listening to, don't you think?

Not being able to do a comparatively tiny job might a cheap price to pay for timely warning.

P.

[Bearbeitet um 2006-05-16 12:51]


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