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How to calculate damages for loss of income
Thread poster: Laura Gentili

Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:33
Partial member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Feb 20, 2007

Dear colleagues,
A good client of mine commissioned a 10,000 word job. Yesterday I received a job offer from another client, 12,000 words. Since the two jobs had to be done in the same timeframe, I refused the second job offer. Today the first client cancelled the job and offered me to pay what I had done so far. I had not started the translation yet, so I cannot ask compensation for the work done so far. On the other hand, I refused the other project and lost approx. 1,400 US dollars.
What kind of compensation would you ask in such case?
Thank you very much for your help. Someone else recently wrote: a job is a job when it's on your desk. Unfortunately, in this case, a job is not a job even though it's on your desk along with a PO...

Laura

[Edited at 2007-02-20 17:29]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:33
Spanish to English
+ ...
a bit harsh Feb 20, 2007

Laura Gentili wrote:

Dear colleagues,
A good client of mine commissioned a 10,000 word job. Yesterday I received a job offer from another client, 12,000 words. Since the two jobs had to be done in the same timeframe, I refused the second job offer. Today the first client cancelled the job and offered me to pay what I had done so far. I had not started the translation yet, so I cannot ask compensation for the work done so far. On the other hand, I refused the other project and lost approx. 1,400 US dollars.
What kind of compensation would you ask in such case?
Thank you very much for your help. Someone else recently wrote: a job is a job when it's on your desk. Unfortunately, in this case, a job is not a job even though it's on your desk along with a PO...

Laura

[Edited at 2007-02-20 17:29]


I personally wouldn't insist on being compensated if this was the first time it happened with this "good" client, especially if you want to keep them.

I would explain the consequences of their last minute cancellation and point out that IN FUTURE you will feel entitled to charge them the full price for the job if this should happen again. That should make them pull up their socks, and also realise that time is money for a freelancer.

Don't you sometimes get the impression that some clients think you wait around all day, all week...just waiting for THEIR job!


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:33
Spanish to English
+ ...
you have all my sympathy, but no bright ideas here ... Feb 20, 2007

Laura,
That's horrible, and I do know exactly how you feel, but what to do? Only two things come to mind:

1. You had a PO, so let's see what others who use POs regularly say.

2. Given my recent experiences, I've vowed that when a similar thing occurs, I'm going to tell Client #2 that I'm dying to take the job, but can only work on it part time because of previous commitments. If they say fine, end of story; if they can't accept that, I go back to Client #1 and insist that I have assurance (perhaps in writing?) that the project isn't going to fizzle.

People I work with usually are very flexible, and I'm going to have to remember that the next time I find I have multiple offers at the same time. Negotiation may be a key to having success as a freelancer...

Good luck!
Patricia


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William [Bill] Gray  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 18:33
Member (2006)
English
+ ...
Good advice.... Feb 20, 2007

Patricia Rosas wrote:

.....
2. Given my recent experiences, I've vowed that when a similar thing occurs, I'm going to tell Client #2 that I'm dying to take the job, but can only work on it part time because of previous commitments. If they say fine, end of story; if they can't accept that, I go back to Client #1 and insist that I have assurance (perhaps in writing?) that the project isn't going to fizzle.


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Mireille K  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:33
French to English
+ ...
happened to me Feb 20, 2007

Hello Laura,

I am afraid I do not have a solution for you, I guess it is part of being a translator.
Last week, a client asked me to take a small paid test (medical) and told me that if the their client liked it, I could do the translation which is 12,000 words.
She e-mailed me few days later telling me that the client was very happy with my work and would like me to do the work, she also said to set some time aside because she will get the document in few hours. I replied saying ok, and have not heard from her since.
I wrote again asking what is going on, but no reply.
I did refuse one other big job thinking I needed to devote the time for this translation.
If I look at it from the bright side, that gave me 2 days with very little work, which I spent with my family, but what is still bothering me is not so much losing another job or not getting the document promised, it is the lack of ethics and manners, that is all.
Mireille


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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:33
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
SFT Feb 21, 2007

Hi,

Among others, I feel that SFT gives some recommendations about conditions... and the cancellation condition is particularly interesting

So according to this one you have to be paid 100% for the work that you've already done and 50% for what has not yet been done.

At least that should cover up your losses to some extent.

http://www.sft.fr/Dossiers/conditions_vente.htm

ANNULATION
En cas d'annulation d'une commande en cours de réalisation, quelle qu'en soit la cause, signifiée par écrit au Prestataire, le travail déjà effectué sera facturé au Client à 100 % (cent pour cent) et le travail restant à effectuer à 50 % (cinquante pour cent).

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Ritu

p.s.: But I don't know how you'll enforce this on clients.

[Edited at 2007-02-21 04:10]


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Catherine Brix
Local time: 18:33
Swedish to English
+ ...
Frustrating to say the least Feb 21, 2007

Yet another example of how freelance translators are expected to stand hat-in-hand and take it on the chin. Here in Stockholm, if you cancel a hair appointment at the last minute you are still required to pay the full amount. With a haircut running SEK 750 - a bit over USD 100 - that's a pretty stiff fine. Guess hairdressers got tired of customers waisting their time. The same applies to dentists, doctors, opticians, beauticians, etc. Time is money and if you book an appointment, you keep it or they charge you anyway.

Same thing applies to us. An agency or direct customer books our time, we calculate capacity based on current and incoming orders. On the basis of our calculations we either accept or reject other offers. So why shouldn't we be compensated for lost income? "Good customers" should be coddled and pampered to. Why? We are professionals running a business, not a daycare facility. Our customers are most often other business companies. Does anyone seriously believe that a telecom company or pharmaceutical company or building contractor would accept a last-minute-cancellation without extracting compensation for lost income?

Late payers. Anyone out there ever been late paying their phone bill? Know what happens? The phone company slaps you with a delay charge plus an admin charge. They don't care if your child is dying of cancer or your customers haven't paid you so you don't have financial squiggle room. This right extends to all businesses. Granted, you need to write it on your invoices so customers are aware that you are aware of your rights, but it is your right.

So many entries to Proz.com deal with these types of business issues - agencies squeezing the last drop of blood out of the translators on which they depend, customers that don't pay on time, and last-minute cancellations. I believe that if we enforce our legal rights as businesses, since we are after all expected to comply with our legal obligations in the form of taxes, social benefits, insurance, etc., we will gain the respect afforded to other professions. As long as we stand hat-in-hand and play nice while others play dirty, we come off as wishywashy wimps who are just "playing" at being professionals.

So yes Laura, I feel you are entitled to compensation. Why not just check out what laws apply in your country and then enforce them. One business to another. Feelings don't come into play and if the tables were reversed, say you didn't deliver on time,or you cancelled at the last minute, you can bet they'd be enforcing their rights.

Good luck
Catherine

[Edited at 2007-02-21 11:26]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:33
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Cancellation policy Feb 21, 2007

We all should have a cancellation fee and make sure we communicate this to our clients.

On a lighter note - what would I have done:

say to the client you have already translated 50% of the document. Stick it in a MT program and deliver to client, who doesn't know Italian anyway... he is in America, and he doesn't need the translation, so he won't bother cheking...

G


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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:33
Partial member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Update Feb 21, 2007

Thank you so much for your opinions.

I am still exchanging emails with the PM (I think I will have to escalate this issue to someone who is knowledgeable in the company) and here's her last comment:

Things like that happen and sometimes we can not avoid them. I completely understand your point of view but in the same respect, I am not sure what to suggest compensate you for this.

Laura


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Catherine Brix
Local time: 18:33
Swedish to English
+ ...
Tell her she can increase your rates Feb 21, 2007

Hi Laura,

You say this is a good client. There are many definitions of a "good client" one of which is one that provides you with a steady flow of work. If this is this case, propose a 15% increase in rates over xx number of assignments. This gives them a chance to provide potential customers with a quote that would cover their "loss" and allows you to recoup your loss. Note that we're presuming here that they do not have a cancellation policy that they enforce on the end customer.
Do you know for a fact that they don't?

All the best
Catherine


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Hikmat Faraj  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:33
English to Arabic
+ ...
Time to organize Feb 21, 2007

Hello Laura and all the contributors in this thread.

Although the majority of my clients have been most supportive and a pleasure to do business with, I have had two instances similar to what is being described--the only difference being that neither of them was a regular client. The volume was painfully sizeable (20,000 and 4,000 words).

Perhaps this is a sign for us to band together in some sort of organized body. I don't mean something like ATA or such organization, as they include all types of entities involved in the translation field one way or the other. I am talking about something only for freelance translators.

What happened to Laura will continue to happen to others. Of those who are exposed to this kind of treatment, only a few, like Laura, talk about it.

Any ideas?

Hikmat


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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:33
French to English
That's life... Feb 21, 2007

This has happened to all of us at some point, and while it is frustrating, I'm not sure I would ask for compensation in your position, given that you hadn't started translating the text.

Chalk it up to experience and perhaps establish a cancellation policy for the future.

Who knows, you might get another offer for a big text in the coming days!


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Yolande Haneder  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:33
German to French
+ ...
Compensation one way, compensation the other Feb 21, 2007

From an agency and from as a translator point of view I understand it is quite problematic but you have to ask you how much is this client important for you and how much you depend on this client.

If you ask the agency to cover all the cost, it will probably not be able to forward all the costs without loosing the client because of a one time problem (and for the agency loosing the client, it may be worse than for the translator if it is working on several languages and risk loosing a big client and regular work).
You may be paid but it may be the last time.

Again if one start shouting too much for compensation for every problem that may happen in relationships between humans, the translators may not wonder if someday when they do not deliver the translation because of a sickness in the family/ death in the family / computer virus or crash and that the agency then delivers late because of having to look for another translator and asks for compensation for the time it is having with the client being late (or getting a bad name because of the late delivery).

You may take a job in the meantime so it may not be that bad in the end (what I hope for you).


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Alexa Dubreuil  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:33
Member (2004)
English to French
+ ...
Updated link May 5, 2010

Among others, I feel that SFT gives some recommendations about conditions... and the cancellation condition is particularly interesting

So according to this one you have to be paid 100% for the work that you've already done and 50% for what has not yet been done.

http://www.sft.fr/Dossiers/conditions_vente.htm

ANNULATION
En cas d'annulation d'une commande en cours de réalisation, quelle qu'en soit la cause, signifiée par écrit au Prestataire, le travail déjà effectué sera facturé au Client à 100 % (cent pour cent) et le travail restant à effectuer à 50 % (cinquante pour cent).


Thank you very much for this link.

Updated link: http://www.sft.fr/page361.html
In English: http://www.sft.fr/clients/sft/telechargements/file_front/4b50d11ac6881.pdf

CANCELLATION
If work that is commissioned is subsequently cancelled after work has commenced, for whatever reason and notified in writing by the Client to the Service Provider, the Client shall pay the Service Provider the full contract sum for the work completed and half (fifty percent) for the uncompleted work.


I am just finding myself in a similar situation so I am going to apply the T&C recommended by the SFT. However, I am going to modify this term slightly and remove "after the work has commenced".


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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:33
English to Polish
+ ...
how about May 5, 2010

Asking the client for another job? Tell the client to give you priority because you lost a 12,000 work project on account of their hesitation. Then wait and see if anything comes in instead of the cancelled project.

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