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Asked to fly abroad to sign contract: normal?
Thread poster: Paul Cooper, MITI
Paul Cooper, MITI
Taiwan
Local time: 13:12
Chinese to English
Apr 11, 2008

Hi.

I have been negotiating a long-term book translation deal with a company in China. They have accepted all my requirements and fee but insist on me flying (from the UK) to China to sign the contract at their offices. They have said they are not willing to pay for the flight, etc.

In the past all my work has been on a freelance basis, and all negotiations, contracts etc. have been handled via email. This seems to me like a strange (and expensive) requirement.

Does anyone have any advice on whether this is normal, or any possible workarounds I could suggest to them?

Many thanks in advance.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
one possible solution Apr 11, 2008

Paul Cooper, MITI wrote:

Hi.

I have been negotiating a long-term book translation deal with a company in China. They have accepted all my requirements and fee but insist on me flying (from the UK) to China to sign the contract at their offices. They have said they are not willing to pay for the flight, etc.

In the past all my work has been on a freelance basis, and all negotiations, contracts etc. have been handled via email. This seems to me like a strange (and expensive) requirement.

Does anyone have any advice on whether this is normal, or any possible workarounds I could suggest to them?

Many thanks in advance.


It seems unfair of them to ask you to put the money up front in this way. I would propose them paying the costs of the flight and your stay and then discounting some or all of it - as you see fit depending on the terms of your deal - from the job, once you get it.

As another solution, would it be possible to assign a power of attorney to someone in China?


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
I have no idea but... Apr 11, 2008

I have no experience with a deal of this nature, but it sounds crazy to me!

If it were me, I probably wouldn't do it.

But - if you can find a way to verify the authenticity of the deal, the sincerity of the company, if there is guaranteed work upon signing the contract, and you think that long-term profit will pay for the trip, then you might want to consider it - *if* they can show you some kind of proof that everything's on the up-and-up.

Maybe see if they will pay for the hotel, or arrange for something else that you can verify with a neutral third party.

Can they give you references for other transactions they've handled in a similar way?


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MariusJacobsen  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 07:12
English to Norwegian
+ ...
I wouldn't do it Apr 11, 2008

This doesn't sound serious to me. I would assume any serious company would pay for expenses of this nature. You're a translator, not a globe trotter.

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Paul Cooper, MITI
Taiwan
Local time: 13:12
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Apr 11, 2008

Thanks Lia and Janet,

I'm not familiar with this kind of thing, and I'm glad I'm not the only one to think it unreasonable!!

I think one of the main problems is that it is quite a big contract: in one way that is a good thing (stable work) but in another it is bad: do I want to work for a client who seems to be unreasonable even before the contract is discussed?


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:12
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
I would do it Apr 11, 2008

I would agree with those who urge caution, and suggest trying to do some sort of offset deal whereby they pay for the flight and you deduct it from your invoice.

It reminds me of a successful project I worked on a couple of years ago. I persuaded a customer to discuss and agree the terminology at their head office. We spent 3 days discussing the translation and the terminology, and I came back with a detailed glossary that saved me a lot of time and mental anguish. It was also a great opportunity to visit the country and immerse myself in the language.

Unless you have many opportunities to visit China, this seems a golden one. however unfair In purely commercial terms.


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Paul Cooper, MITI
Taiwan
Local time: 13:12
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Sorry, Marius and Peter Apr 11, 2008

Didn't mean to exclude you! You posted as I was replying!





[Edited at 2008-04-11 22:17]


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RaffaellaG  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:12
Chinese to Italian
+ ...
be careful, it looks like phishing Apr 11, 2008

Obviously I am not sure your case is the same, and you should double check if it is real work, but I had a case here in Italy that looks very much like yours: a Chinese company contacting a client of mine for the translation of 7 textile books from Chinese into Italian.
I suggested the Italian translation company to call and acted as over the phone interpreter. The Chinese accepted a very high rate and asked the Italian people to go to China to sign the contract. We asked them to come to Italy to sign, they asked for a pre-payment of 4 flight tickets, amount to be sent via T/T to their bank account. The Italian company declined the "offer" and stopped there.
1 month later an Italian manufacturing company called and ask me if I could get in touch on their behalf with a Chinese client. They had contacts for a big supply over the internet, went to China to sign the contract, did not ask for a down payment (they received normal feedback about this company through official channels), and agreed to receive the full amount right before shipping. They were receiving prompt and efficient replies to e-mails until the time to cash the due amount arrived: no more e-mails or people answering the phone at that point.
Well, it was the same company. The manufacturing people finally told me that when they went to China to sign the contract had to pay a ... courtesy very expensive dinner and were asked to give money for a bribe to help contract being approved by Chinese authorities. They did, produced the goods and are still in trouble trying to place the goods elsewhere.
Good luck with your business.
Raffaella


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Damian Harrison
Germany
Local time: 07:12
German to English
Are you already at the wrong end of the stick? Apr 11, 2008

If you don´t have other reasons for going to China I wouldn´t do it, unless you can verify the authenticity of the people involved. It seems that you are already on the wrong end of the stick. You are the supplier and they want something from you - if this is just about the contract, then there just has to be another solution.

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Elene P.  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 09:12
Member (2007)
Georgian to English
+ ...
:( Apr 11, 2008

Paul Cooper, MITI wrote:

do I want to work for a client who seems to be unreasonable even before the contract is discussed?



That's a point. If there are problems already from the beginning... Maybe you could negotiate - like them flying to you..
But still I do not understand why it can not be done remotely. If they do not like scanned documents there are a lot of different express mail services and the notary could verify your signature..



And this is not about money, anyway it might be interesting to visit China. BUT, why are they behaving so user-unfriendly....

[Edited at 2008-04-11 20:18]

[Edited at 2008-04-11 20:19]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:12
French to English
What is their actual requirement? Apr 11, 2008

Let's take the whole shebang at face value, assuming there is no conning or bribery & corruption, they're not gonna kidnap you or anything....

Paul Cooper, MITI wrote:

They have accepted all my requirements and fee but insist on me flying (from the UK) to China to sign the contract at their offices.
...
Does anyone have any advice on whether this is normal, or any possible workarounds I could suggest to them?



So, why, exactly, do they need you to be in the same room as them to sign?
For example, if they just want to see you physically sign the document, could you, e.g. hook up with a webcam so they could watch you do it? Could that be acceptable?
Hard to suggest workarounds until we know what is actually needed.... but in this day and age, as you say, it should be possible to avoid travel.


[Edited at 2008-04-11 21:42]


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:12
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
DHL Apr 11, 2008

Sending back and forth the contact by DHL may cost 50 EUR at the most, not 3-4000 EUR, and this is not even considering the cost of your wasted time (unless you want to visit China )

If they need the guarantee that your signature is authentic, you could get it notarized. Another 50 EUR perhaps, and the whole affaire would be solved in less than 5 days.

bye
Gianfranco


[Edited at 2008-04-12 00:59]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:12
English to Spanish
+ ...
What? Apr 12, 2008

Don't even think about it in any way.

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Shirley Lao  Identity Verified
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Try to post your question on the Chinese Forum Apr 12, 2008

I don't know what novel you have been assigned to translate. However, I believe it may be a good idea for you to post your question on the Chinese forum. You may as well take a look at this discussion about the translation of a book on a certain Chinese emperor a year or two ago:

http://www.proz.com/forum/chinese/50878-translation_of_emperor_qianlong_is_this_a_scam.html




Paul Cooper, MITI wrote:

Hi.

I have been negotiating a long-term book translation deal with a company in China. They have accepted all my requirements and fee but insist on me flying (from the UK) to China to sign the contract at their offices. They have said they are not willing to pay for the flight, etc.

In the past all my work has been on a freelance basis, and all negotiations, contracts etc. have been handled via email. This seems to me like a strange (and expensive) requirement.

Does anyone have any advice on whether this is normal, or any possible workarounds I could suggest to them?

Many thanks in advance.


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Michael GREEN  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:12
English to French
Why shouldn't the client expect the supplier to pay his own travelling costs ?! Apr 12, 2008

I don't understand.
You have a potential client who wants to work with you.
He's offering you fees and conditions which, apparently, are acceptable.
But he wants to meet you to sign the contract : why shouldn't he, if it's a big job ?
And why should he, as the customer, pay for the supplier's travelling costs ?

Do you suppose that when (eg) Boeing executives travel to sign a contract with a foreign customer, they expect the customer to pick up the bill for air travel ?
When I was travelling the world as an export manager, I wouldn't have done much business if I had asked my clients to pay for my air tickets.

Have you thought about the bottom line ?
What percentage of your fees will it cost you to go to China and sign the contract ?
If your nett revenues for this job, after deduction of this cost, are still acceptable, you would be ill-advised to walk away from it.
If you think the cost is excessive compared with the fee for the job, tell your customer and explain the problem : in other words, re-negotiate.
If you can't re-negotiate, you still have the option of walking away from it.


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