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Asking for advice: Had to back out of an agreed project
Thread poster: izy

izy  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:06
English to German
+ ...
Jan 4, 2008

Hi there,

I was wondering if any of you has been in a similar situation in the past and what you did ...

I had accepted a translation job, however, only hours later I received very bad family news and had to travel home.
As the project had quite a tight deadline, I informed the agency immediately that I would be unable to do the job (as it was only a few hours since we agreed on the deal, I hadn't even got to start).

I have not heard anything back from the agency, which to a point I can understand, but now I am a bit concerned, since I agreed to do the translation, can they insist on me completing the work? I know as a self-employed freelancer I do not have the same sickness/grief protection as an employee, but surely, translation clients can understand that I am human and this are exceptional circumstances for me?

What are your thoughts and experiences in these issues?

Many thanks for your help!

Izy


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:06
English to German
+ ...
Have you called them? Jan 4, 2008

Dear Izy,
I'm sad to hear about these bad news.

As the project had quite a tight deadline, I informed the agency immediately that I would be unable to do the job (as it was only a few hours since we agreed on the deal, I hadn't even got to start).

How did you inform them?

Unless you have done so already, I would suggest to pick up the phone and explain the situation to them.

Best regards,
Ralf


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izy  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:06
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
By email Jan 4, 2008

Hi Ralf,

Many thanks for your quick response, I have informed them by email, all the communication with this agency (it was the first time they contacted me, I know, really bad timing) had happened by email, I do not even have a phone number for them.

Is there anything else I can do?


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Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:06
English to Russian
+ ...
business is business, life is life Jan 4, 2008

In my opinion you should perform irrespective of your personal problems, and in your case you have the only choice - to find a substitute.
Perhaps some of your colleagues will make this translation for you and you will deliver the translation.

The main point - you are committed up to that moment when your client confirms you are not committed and the translation assignment is given to another translator.

[Edited at 2008-01-04 09:46]

[Edited at 2008-01-04 09:54]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:06
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Network! Jan 4, 2008

I keep in contact with colleagues I know that I could refer my clients to, depending on the specialty required, both in terms of subject/area and type of job (e.g. involving OCR, DTP, video subs or dub, sworn, and so on).

This is useful not only in case of an emergency, but also for work outside my expertise, or if I get overloaded. I often help them when they are overloaded too.


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Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:06
English to Russian
+ ...
phone directory Jan 4, 2008

You can find the phone numbers of your client in the directory.
Or via blueboard if they are members of proz.


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:06
English to Arabic
+ ...
We're not machines!! Jan 4, 2008

Sergei Tumanov wrote:

In my opinion you should perform irrespective of your personal problems, and in your case you have the only choice - to find a substitute.


I do agree that the best thing would be to find a substitute (if possible!), but I had to comment on the first part of your sentence: "you should perform irrespective of your personal problems"!!
If the neighbour's cat has died, then yes, you should perform regardless, but - I'm sorry - have you tried to put yourself in the situation where you just have to LEAVE THIS INSTANT, and where the client should be grateful you had the time to sit down and write them an apology?
We are human, and if for example a very close family member passed away, I can well imagine myself in such a state that I would leave everything behind and not EVEN inform the client that I'm not working, let alone wait around until my colleague replies to tell me whether he/she will take on the job!
If Izy's client doesn't understand the situation she's been in (and she has found the time to inform them of the situation), then she shouldn't worry about not working for them again. That's my humble opinion.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 16:06
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Agree with Nesrin Jan 4, 2008

This can happen in every business. If this causes additional expenditures for the client, I would agree to pay.
How often does it happen, that you order some service and they promise to deliver within a week, but after a month they inform you: Oh yes, we had a technical problem, sorry for the delay!
The bigger the service provider, the sloppier the service. So in this case I would hopefully not spend any more thoughts.

Regards
Heinrich


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Ana Cuesta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:06
Member
English to Spanish
Carrying on would not be in the interest of the client either Jan 4, 2008

As others have pointed, we are humans as opposed to machines. Not only does that entitle us to certain "human" rights (one would expect) but it also makes us more prone to errors and mistakes when not in the right state of mind. So I don't think it would be a good idea to carry on with the work agreed no matter what. If the client doesn't appreciate the personal aspect of the situation, maybe it could be a good idea to point out that one is too upset to think straight and so unable to provide the usual and required quality, and that finding someone else for the job would be in the best interest of all parties involved.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 15:06
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Any agency worth working for will understand Jan 4, 2008

First, my sympathy and condolences if those are appropriate.

You have to remember that work is how you earn your living - but life is what you live for. Sometimes life hurts, and then you simply have to take time off to recover.

I have sometimes been on the receiving end and taken over jobs for people who have had to drop out. There is sure to be someone who can take your job too. Maybe the agency can stretch the deadline a little. That is their problem at a time like this, not yours.

Get back to them when you feel able to do so, and not before. Any good agency will back you up.

Take care of yourself and best wishes!
Christine


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Partial member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
I strongly disagree Jan 4, 2008

Sergei Tumanov wrote:

In my opinion you should perform irrespective of your personal problems, and in your case you have the only choice - to find a substitute.
Perhaps some of your colleagues will make this translation for you and you will deliver the translation.



As already others have pointed out, of course it would be perfect if some colleague can help out and do the translation.

But in case of emergency - I found myself in exactly the same situation some years ago - you don't simply have the time to look around for someone to replace you, but, if you are lucky, eventually you can just inform the customer and that's it. In my case, the agency was completely sympathetic, and I would not have expected anything else.

We are self-employed, we run our business alone normally, and we are humans, not machines! I would expect every customer/agency to understand this without many explanations.

Health and life is much more important than any translation, and I think one does not need to experience such a situation to feel simpathetic.

Anyway, I hope sincerely everything turned out well for you and your family, and my best wishes!

[Bearbeitet am 2008-01-05 19:12]


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sazo  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 15:06
Member
German to Croatian
+ ...
I totally and utterly disagree with... Jan 4, 2008

Sergei Tumanov wrote:

The main point - you are committed up to that moment when your client confirms you are not committed and the translation assignment is given to another translator.


We are not talking here about a trip to Island because izy, as a spontaneous person, thought it would be a great idea to do it right now. We are talking about the lives or health of our dearest.

I am a sort of person who tries to deliver the translation at least 2 days before the deadline. But, when my father passed away, do you think that the translation I had started was the first thought that crossed my mind? Your wrong. My first thought was my father, my memories of him and the thought that I hadn't been able to see him before he died, that I hadn't had the chance to say goodbye, etc. This may sound pathetic, but I can't help myself. I didn't care about losing a client or finding a substitute. Death is something you're never prepared for.

I agree one has to be professional, but in some cases it is simply impossible.


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izy  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:06
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you All! Jan 26, 2008

Thank you allvery much for your kind words and advice.

Thankfully the client did nothing more than never get back to me, which I can understand.

Sergei, many thanks for your opinion too, but I beg to differ. There is nothing more important in this life than the things that we consider worth living for. For some of us, that might be a fullfilling career, for others it is the love and support of and for a family and loved ones and being near them, especially in times that are difficult. I have made my choice and I sincerely wish you enjoy yours.

Many thanks again to all, it is very good to know to have colleagues like you, and I will improve my networking skills by trying to spend more time on these sites, as I think Proz is just great!

Best regards

Iz


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Milton Guo  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 22:06
English to Chinese
+ ...
family counts Jan 27, 2008

Yes, nothing is more important than family, the people of that agency should be able to understand this, if not, they are machines, not humans..

Once I got a deaf ear and hospitalised, one of the agencies kept contacting me, so I told the boss that I needed more time for rehab, and I am not living for money.....


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