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Ridiculous and unacceptable contract clauses!!
Thread poster: Mats Wiman

Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:24
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

Jan 9, 2003

I posted this on the German Forum and this is my translation:

Dear colleagues,

I have made a few translations for a (German) agency and the office girl X sent an enquiry in English about an English text (into Swedish), directed to a Swedish colleague of mine (Dear Mr. Not-MatsWiman), but she told me on the phone that they wanted ”me to do the translation)\".

Afterwards the PO arrived: From GERMAN into Swedish with a volume of \"308 in AT\" (!??)


the following contract clauses:

\"We expect a high quality end product, well adapted to the type of text and the foreseen use – as to the specific terminology, language level, style, punctuation, correctness, completeness, accuracy, format etc. – without our having to do any follow-up work with the exception of checking that the text is complete.\"

My reply:

To expect something can everyone do. The checking, however, cannot and should not be done by the translator, as well as quality control should not be performed by someone who has produced what is to be controlled. This is basics in commerce and industry and in a financial department and almost embarrassing to have to be pointed out.


\"We explicitly point out that if we are forced to proof-read and correct your, at the agreed point in time, delivered end product from a professional or style point of view or if this delivery occurs after the agreed point in time, this contract will be regarded as not fulfilled whereupon any claim on your part will lapse. Details can be found in our Terms Of Contract.\"

My reply:

First: A contract where one party can unilaterally and completely revoke the rights of the other party, cannot be regarded as serious. Nowhere in the sound business world will such clauses be accepted, as every sound business deal is built on mutual interest and profit.

Second: Your Terms Of Contract are unknown to us and should, with clauses like the ones above, have been attached.

Miss X has made a nice and friendly suggestion: I shouldn’t \"take it so seriously\". (Why then the above text?)

The above clauses could in the translation industry serve as examples of ridiculous and absurd contract clauses (Rest assured: I will not divulge the author).

I would be prepared to take on this translation if:

1. You plainly and irrevocably strike the above clauses.

2. You pay immediately 50% of my calculated fee.”


Some may think that I reacted unnecessarily harshly, but I think one must at some time and place take action visavi such agencies and try to force them to refrain from the use of such clauses (and business practices).

To me, this a one of the most important goals for a translator community like

When this agency – to add to it – handled the whole thing so unprofessionally I could not abstain from action.

We should not act as obedient slaves.”


The following two answers has been posted so far

William Stein


Bravo Mats!

Its nice to see that somebody has the courage to defend our professional interests instead of trying to bend over backwards lower than everyone else in the great economic limbo competition.




Neatly dissected!

This example is so extraordinarily clear, that ProZ should use it as a basis for a guideline ALSO for outsourcers.

Like with Terms Of Contract new outsourcers should accept with a confirming mouse-click before they could proceed ________________________________________________________________________________

Thanks to both of you for the support. I’ll try to honour it by making suggestions.


What\'s your view?


Mats J C Woman

Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe Deu>swe moderator


Träsk 201

SE-872 97 Skog

Tel : +46-612-54112

Fax : +46-612-54181

Mobile: +46-70-5769797

[ This Message was edited by:on2003-01-09 16:42]

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Karin Adamczyk  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:24
French to English
Too much! Jan 9, 2003

Hi Mats,

This is really incredible! The agency wants to perform the function of a mail forwarding service.

I suggest that you tell them to simply create a filter in their e-mail program to send all work in your language combination to you and to direct your returned translations directly to the customer.

That way, they won\'t have to deal with the documents at all. Heck, they won\'t have to deal with you or the customer either. Life will be so simple. To make things even easier for them, just bill the client directly. All they will need is one secretary in the office to call a support number in case the server goes down.

They can cut the overhead down to practically nothing.

If agencies continue this way, that\'s how it will be soon anyway -- nice to have them push it along for us

Take care,

Karin Adamczyk

[ This Message was edited by:on2003-01-09 16:53]

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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:24
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

Incredible it is! Jan 9, 2003

Dear Karin,

Thanks for your support!

I want to make this a crusade, because there are too many uninformed and unexperienced executives on the agency side of this business. We must put down our foot and tell them: \"No way\".

I have had three cases. In all three they were prepared to have me strike \"what I did not like\" but not to change their wording because it was \"a standard contract\" (that they had copied somewhere - my guess).

They fulfill a purpose though: They stand as pillar examples of impossible clauses.

So far no answer from the agency.

Take care!


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Antonella Andreella  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:24
German to Italian
+ ...
Thank you Jan 9, 2003

for your precious crusade, really!


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Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
English to Polish
+ ...
Agree Jan 10, 2003

1) \"quality control should not be performed by someone who has produced what is to be controlled\" -- unless that someone is commissioned to do so, in which case, being a conscientious translator, they may arrange for a suitable checker to do the job for a separate fee;

2) a translation agency should not be a mail forwarding service, unless that is what it says in the contract.

[ This Message was edited by:on2003-01-10 08:59]

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George Hopkins
Local time: 22:24
Swedish to English
Ignore them! Jan 10, 2003

Keep up the good work Mats.

Some translation agencies, like translators and car mechanics, etc, are good and some are not so good.

The best thing to do is keep in touch with the good ones and ignore the others.

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María del Carmen Cerda
Local time: 15:24
English to Spanish
About abusive agencies Jan 11, 2003

I think professional translators like you all should a much more agressive attitude in cases such as this and start charging for every little thing you do, for example, I think what a translator rightly charges is for the translation which is something ephemral and ethereal and that this translation should be delivered through whatever means, spoken, written, recorded, whatever the translator chooses. If the agency want the translation delivered in a certain medium a certain way then it should pay for every dot on every just as they are so punctilious with the work they receive. Translators should charge for translating, that\'s what they were born to do. They are not typists or computer experts or whatever. Also, I believe the generation of glossaries is a valuable side product that should be the property of the person who generated it: The translator. The agency paid for a translation they received but that translation is still the rightful property of the author which is the translator. It\'s like when you buy a book, you are paying for the book but the author owns the story itself and he will be paid if anyone wants to use it for some purpose. Glosssaries are the property of translators, they are not public property. If somebody else wants to translate something, let them. To each his own. Just as anyone can write a book. I think translators are being very complacent and agencies are being very abusive, as usual.

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