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Accepting a task by phone / email
Thread poster: Anne Koth

Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:37
German to English
Jul 4, 2005

I've been working part-time and taking on new tasks by email and phone, very informally, but now I've qualified as a translator, I'm starting to get new, bigger clients that I don't know so well.

Now it's happened to me that a client has said "oh actually, we made a mistake and didn't really want that translated" - there is a question mark hanging over a €1000 payment! - and all I have are the emails we exchanged, where they don't specifically ask for a translation, as they did on the phone. I have no head for business whatsoever but even I can see that I need a bit more proof than that in future. I was wondering how other people accept new tasks - do you make a contract each time you need a translation, even with the same company; what's on the contract, is it enough to send it by email or does it need to be on paper? Do you check up on the company to make sure the person who phoned/emailed you actually works for them? (Or is that paranoid?) To what extent is this failsafe? Is there always a risk?


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avsie  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:37
English to French
+ ...
When I get a phone call... Jul 4, 2005

When I accept a job by phone (not that often, actually!), I ask them to send me an e-mail or a fax to confirm what we have just discussed. If the content of the fax/e-mail is different than what we have discussed, I ask them if what is written is correct since I thought we agreed on this and this and bla bla.

Basically, I don't give my final "yes" until I have something written, be it on paper or in an e-mail.


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 13:37
Ouch! Jul 4, 2005

ALWAYS wait for written confirmation from the client before starting a translation, whether it is by fax, e-mail, instant messenger or delivered by a carrier pigeon.
Such correspondance usually tells you what the rate and/or deadline will be - they are the key things you need to know before doing any translation work.
I would not start a translation on the basis of a phone call, I always ask for a mail to confirm what was agreed in the conversation - nobody should have a problem with that.

Viel Glueck!

Orla

[Edited at 2005-07-04 13:25]


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Omar Ali  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:37
Member (2006)
English to Arabic
+ ...
PO Jul 4, 2005

Hi Anne,

I think getting a PO (Purchase Order) is another good means of confirming the job. I always ask my clients for a PO with all the details of the job, at least with the first assignment! Emails, faxes.., etc are also a proof.

Anne Koth wrote:

I've been working part-time and taking on new tasks by email and phone, very informally, but now I've qualified as a translator, I'm starting to get new, bigger clients that I don't know so well.

Now it's happened to me that a client has said "oh actually, we made a mistake and didn't really want that translated" - there is a question mark hanging over a €1000 payment! - and all I have are the emails we exchanged, where they don't specifically ask for a translation, as they did on the phone. I have no head for business whatsoever but even I can see that I need a bit more proof than that in future. I was wondering how other people accept new tasks - do you make a contract each time you need a translation, even with the same company; what's on the contract, is it enough to send it by email or does it need to be on paper? Do you check up on the company to make sure the person who phoned/emailed you actually works for them? (Or is that paranoid?) To what extent is this failsafe? Is there always a risk?


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 08:37
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
So do I Jul 4, 2005

like Marie Claude, I ask for a written confirmation, even when it's for interpreting. I don't work without a P.O. for clients I don't know and I hate discussing by phone this kind of agreements. Usually, when I'm contacted by e-mail I ask to see the original first, but it has happened to me more than once that by phone my reflects don't work in the same way and I forget to mention that. I just ask for a written confirmation of the deadline or payment terms and forget to see whether it's in PDF or not. So now, systematically, I'm "too busy" to talk about that right now by phone, please send me an e-mail.

Claudia


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:37
Italian to English
+ ...
poor you! Jul 4, 2005

I don't think you need go so far as drawing up a contract, but yes, definitely get a written confirmation (email is fine) before starting work in future, especially with newish clients.

If you work with agencies, you'll get a feel for how they operate with experience - I've got one I'd happily start a translation for even before confirmation, because I know that my acceptance is their confirmation (unless they specifically tell me they're quoting for a job, of course, in which case I'll wait). But in general, it's best to wait for written confirmation before starting any job.


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Rebekka Groß  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:37
English to German
actually... Jul 4, 2005

Anne Koth wrote:

Now it's happened to me that a client has said "oh actually, we made a mistake and didn't really want that translated"


Hi Anne,

I agree with what's been said before, get written confirmation and/or a PO in future. Some of the localisation companies I work for always send the files for translation and PO together as a matter of course or send the PO on the same day. With others, I have to wait but when it's companies I've worked for for a long time, that's no course for concern though sometimes I have to chase up the PO...

I personally think you have a good case to get paid in the above mentioned case as the client has admitted to making a mistake. Have you got that in writing? If so, that's all the proof you need to show that they asked you to do this translation. I hope they did not only admit their mistake on the phone. No matter what, I'd try and talk to them and if they refuse to pay perhaps they would agree to meet you half way. Which makes me wonder - have you actually delivered the translation yet?

Let us know how you get on and good luck!

Rebekka


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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:37
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
My mistake, too! Jul 4, 2005

Rebekka Gross wrote:
I personally think you have a good case to get paid in the above mentioned case as the client has admitted to making a mistake. Have you got that in writing?


Of course not! but actually, now I did find a part on one email they sent me which says when the "deadline for translation" was, so if I do need proof, hopefully it will be enough. It did sound as if they are honest and had really made a mistake - a message getting garbled between the manager, the assistant manager and the secretary - so I might still be in luck, but really, if they do try to get out of paying, it's my own fault for not being better organised!


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xxxTekkie
English to German
+ ...
Fraudulent clients are even trickier than that Jul 4, 2005

Once, I received a written P.O. from a very large translation agency through airmail to localize a software package. After I sent them the localized files together with my invoice via e-mail, someone of that translation agency called me and claimed that they had called me on the phone, asking me to not localize that stuff because their client wouldn't need it anymore, and that they would not pay me the fee of USD 20,000 agreed upon.

I don't think this happens very often but there are definitely crooks out there who intentionally defraud translators.

A faxed or snail-mailed P.O. doesn't mean anything if you have to deal with criminals.

[Edited at 2005-07-04 22:04]


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craigs
Local time: 08:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
See what they say after you talk to a lawyer Jul 5, 2005

I'm sure they wouldn't want news like that to go public. How on earth could they NOT want it translated if they gave it to you?


Anne Koth wrote:

Rebekka Gross wrote:
I personally think you have a good case to get paid in the above mentioned case as the client has admitted to making a mistake. Have you got that in writing?


Of course not! but actually, now I did find a part on one email they sent me which says when the "deadline for translation" was, so if I do need proof, hopefully it will be enough. It did sound as if they are honest and had really made a mistake - a message getting garbled between the manager, the assistant manager and the secretary - so I might still be in luck, but really, if they do try to get out of paying, it's my own fault for not being better organised!


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