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Service Agreements - Any Experiences???
Thread poster: Dr. Jason Faulkner

Dr. Jason Faulkner  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:58
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
Sep 27, 2006

Greetings Earth!

Here's a newbie question, but one that keeps nagging me.

What type of service agreement do you use when you accept a job?

Up until now my clients have all been collegues in my area and we did everything on a handshake. Considering the global reach of the internet, something more formal is warranted. I want to give some sort of written guarantee, money-back if it's reasonable, etc.

What sort of experiences have you had? What are reasonable circumstances to refund all or part of payment?



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Patricia Fierro, M. Sc.  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:58
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
POs Sep 27, 2006


Usually clients send you a PO (a purchase order), which has details such as the delivery date, the amount of words to be translated, and the rate. A PO can be interpreted as an agreement.

Sometimes they might ask you to sign an NDA (a Non-Disclosure Agreement).

Translators should try to deliver the best possible translation.

You should never be asked to refund a client for a payment that the client has already made. Maybe even if there are parts of the translation that could have been phrased differently or some word that was used incorrectly, I would not give a refund to a client.

I am not sure if this is what you mean.



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Arturo Delgado  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:58
English to Spanish
A contract letter Sep 27, 2006

If you need something more formal than a handshake, how about a contract letter. It could read something like this:
Dear xxx:
I have received and reviewed the #-page document you would like me to translate from (language) to (language).

For this particular project, I would charge xx cents per word (that I type). I would reproduce text and format (margins, tabs, tables, etc.) so that the document in (language) presents the same layout as your original. I would send the translated version back to you via hard copy/fax/e-mail no later than month/day/year. Payment should be made within fifteen/thirty days after the completion and delivery of your translation project.

If I may have your agreement on these terms, would you kindly sign at the end of this letter, retain the copy, and mail/fax the original to me?

I look forward to hearing a favorable reply from you soon.

Sincerely yours,

Your name

Accepted by:


I hope this helps you. Good luck.

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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:58
German to English
+ ...
Quick and Dirty (or Short and Sweet) Sep 28, 2006

Dear Dr. Faulkner,

Your question is a good one, and it has been asked—in various forms—many times in the past. Many jobs are, however, completed long before a printed contract would get anywhere, which leaves the fax (or e-mail).

Most of my agreements are made via e-mail (which is somewhat risky, though—because of the growing acceptance of Internet—it is becoming less so over time). They usually consist of five or fewer sentences, e.g., “I would do the translation by X, and it would cost Y.” You've got an agreement (contract) as soon as the customer sends back an e-mail saying, “Go ahead.”

I think it is good to be generous, but I would avoid going overboard: The law on warranties is usually sufficient in most countries, i.e., you might want to think twice about adding unnecessary exposure by offering ‘extra’ guarantees and the like. It would be bad enough not to get paid. Either way, hopefully you will not encounter a situation, in which you have to refund money; in my experience such situations are generally (and thankfully) rare.

In case you're interested, I have added link to an article I wrote and that seems somewhat related (cf. ).

Best regards,

[Edited at 2006-09-28 17:06]

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Mónica Algazi  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:58
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
ATA Sample Agreement Sep 28, 2006

Hello Jason:

With international clients I normally use an adapted version of the ATA Sample Agreement (

Hope this helps!

Good luck,


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Dr. Jason Faulkner  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:58
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
Thanks everyone. . . Oct 5, 2006

Thanks for all the replies. I got the ATA sample contract, adapted it for my own purposes, and used it yesterday for a client in Amsterdam! My first transatlantic client in this business! And from my living room!

We certainly live in very intersting times.

You folks rule! Thanks for the support.


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