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Off topic: The rudest thing I ever wrote back to a potential client was...
Thread poster: Juliana Starkman

Juliana Starkman  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 06:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 12, 2007

probably the mail I just send to a wildly self-acclaimed author, who some colleagues may recall from my last thread a week or so ago. I was actually quite restrained in my response when she informed me that we will not, after all, be buddies in creation, as she thought I was overzealous in my proofreading (i.e I invented mistakes?), and not appreciative enough of her creativity.
I suggested if money were an issue perhaps she could approach a linguistics department where a student would be more willing to take less money...and that a linguistics student would not mind the UTTER LACK OF COHERENCE in the text, and might find it a challenge. I know- very unprofessional. Luckily my real clients seem to like me (and my overzealous proofreading!).
So come on, out with it - what's the worst you've done?

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2007-06-12 09:44]


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megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
I never was really rude to a potential customer Jun 12, 2007

... because you never know when and where you will find him/her once again.

... and I know that you WILL find him/her again. This has happened to me a few times, enough to have learned that. In fact, the worse they look like, the higher the probability that you do.

But I have never lost the opportunity to express what I think about a project, to either customers, potential customers or just parasites trying to make me work for free.

Ruth @ MW


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Deschant
Local time: 10:20
Not really rude Jun 12, 2007

Some time ago I sent my CV to an agency and they included me into a distribution list in which projects in my pairs would be posted and translators could apply directly to them. I received a couple of mails from this list... 0.03 €/word... 0.02€... (it is worth noting that the agency was in a "first world" country). When I received an offer of 0.01€ pro word, I politely wrote to the list owner a message such as "Please remove me from your distribution list. The price you are offering are far below the standard rates for this pair. Thanks" or something like that, not really rude in my opinion. I also Cc'ed the other colleagues in the distribution list: the e-mail addresses of some of them belonged to countries in which a price of 0.01€ pro word might have been acceptable in the local market, but I wanted to give them a hint about international/European rates (which I'm sure this agency applies to its end customers). Other colleagues in the list reacted in the same way. The list owner was not happy at all, but what surprised me the most were a couple of reactions from colleagues which more or less told me to mind my own business and let them continue working for 1 eurocent pro word (which of course I let them do).

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Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2002)
Swedish
+ ...
Not being rude, but giving them a clear stand Jun 12, 2007

One of my clients (a translation agency I had been working for for 6-7 years) suddenly needed two more months to settle my invoices.

Having the enjoyable cooperation in the past in my mind (payment on the day 5 weeks after invoicing), I simply asked them what has happened. Due to a new office structure things might go a little bit slowlier at the start, but as soon as they had set up all the new routines, payment would be running smoothly again.

For the next few months I always needed to send them reminders, and one day I was so fed up with running behind my money, so I simply asked them if they were interested in a future cooperation or if we should cease our business relationship. This couldn't be a good ground to build a cooperation on.

Two hours later I got a cordial mail from their managing director in which he explained their payment problems, but also understood that I wasn't interested in their clients' payment behaviour, only in the payment for the work I had carried out. He promised to pay my invoices on time - and has kept this promise ever since.

I think it's important for all translators to be self-confident enough and to have a clear stand concerning payment, for instance. A business relation on the same eye-to-eye level is always the best.


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
All's well that... Jun 12, 2007

Juliana Starkman wrote:

probably the mail I just send to a wildly self-acclaimed author, who some colleagues may recall from my last thread a week or so ago.


I did follow your thread last week. I'm happy for you that you made the decision you did in the end.

As for this thread... I did have one experience where I went personally to the agency to tell them exactly what I thought of them. I left the poor secretary in tears but then felt stupid and guilty for letting the situation get out of control and letting it reach that point.

Well, we all reap what we sow and now I've found myself working for another agency that is exactly the same as the first one. It's a sort of dejá vu experience.

Being older, and thank goodness a little wiser, I've decided not to repeat my earlier mistake. I head off the small situations with them now instead of letting them get out of control and finally exploding in a rude way.

I agree with Ruth@MW, you never know when you'll run into that person again and everything - good and bad - has a way of coming back to us.


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Rodrigo Mencía  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:20
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My story... Jun 12, 2007

I once had an accident with my car and my entire life was going to hell, so I decided to accept a price per word which was far below anything you could try to think of. I was desperate. Well, this “agency” told me I had to proofread some legal documents. And so I did, but the translation was really really bad, so I needed to do it again, a thing that of course I didn’t do for the same proofreading price. I told them that the translation was really bad and that all I could do was "to put some patches here and there" to make it understandable. Once sent, they called me and told me that the client was not satisfied (of course not!) and that I needed to DO IT again, as I was the proofreader. In that moment I told her “This is what you get for that price, and I warned you several times about this fact”, and she said that I wasn't professional, that how could I leave them like that, blah blah, and started threatening me and swearing. I told her "I'm really sorry but this is what you get, I am professional, but after so many warnings I think this is not working. Just keep my proofread version for free and never call me again.”

I know that they are still working and that they still have the same rates. But the good thing is that on that day I learnt that you can be desperate or whatever, but even so, you can’t do things for “almost free” rates, because then, apart from having a problem, you will feel bad with yourself and it would be another problem to cope with.

But I also agree with Ruth... never say never. If it’s strictly necessary to tell them something, do it, in a polite way. And well, if you say something stupid, at least you will have something to tell your grandchildren.


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LesBrets  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:20
English to French
You were right Jun 12, 2007

You told her what you really thought and a clear mutual understanding is always better from my point of view - what's more, you can do without her money. Great!
I guess she will probably consider your work in a new light.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:20
Italian to English
+ ...
Not rude, but... Jun 12, 2007

Very direct and to the point.

After being approached by an agency with a very poor BB record, I sent the following email:

"Thank you for your email. I regret to inform you that my enquiries have revealed that your payment practices are somewhat less than perfect. Unfortunately in such a situation I am unable to work with you."


And this was their lovely reply:
"Unfortunately working with over 1000 translators a year, mistakes sometimes happen. In contrast with the translators, however, we don't have the time to discredit their professionalism when there are translation incidents"

You can read the full story here, if you're interested:
http://www.proz.com/topic/67648


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Juliana Starkman  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 06:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I managed to rein in what I really wanted to say... Jun 12, 2007

because I know, as some of you have pointed out, that it always comes back to bite you...No doubt the author will become world famous, and turn into a model for generations to come, but I will still be happy I didn't get stuck explaining every extra comma for minimum wage...

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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 11:20
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Politely and kindly... Jun 12, 2007

I am with Erik on this one...

In fact, the stronger stand I take, the more polite I get. Like in: "Here are my details, but I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the proposed rates are less than a quarter of my regular rates, therefore we might have some problems with achieving a satisfactory agreement."

I hope that facts bite enough, that is they will be able to appreciate discernible contrast between the form and the message (or maybe even, God forbid, infer some sarcasm in it!). On the other hand, for some of them you have to drive the message with the hammer, so probably my subtleties might as well be wasted. Oh, well... at least I'm having my fun writing it!


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lexical  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:20
Portuguese to English
rude no, blunt yes Jun 12, 2007

The nearest I've come to being blunt with a client was to reluctantly accept a job from a client who owed me money dating back 3 months or more, and then cancel my acceptance of the job an hour later when a more reliable client sent me a job with a competing deadline. When the first client asked the reason, I told them exactly why in blunt terms, not sparing their blushes - and amazingly, their payment practices improved a lot after that.

There's a helpful saying about rudeness that I was taught a long time ago: "Don't kick people on your way up, because you may need their help on the way down".


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:20
Portuguese to English
+ ...
I swear I would never act like that again, but... Jun 12, 2007

When I was trying to get established here in Rio I worked for a company whose boss was less than honest. I sensed it from the jump, but was kind of desperate to get myself going with the translating, so I kept working for him for outrageously low prices and impossible deadlines.

Then he didn't pay me for a large job I had done. I called him on it, and he became verbally abusive, so....

I told him I was going to plaster his foul name all over the internet, particularly the translation sites! Yikes, I thought he was gonna slug me!

Honestly, I would never do anything like that again, but then again, I'm a different person now!

Amy


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Estefanía González  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:20
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never... Jun 12, 2007

Manners in business are essential, like some colleagues have pointed out, the world is really small, and you never know if you are going to come across the same person twice, not to forget that the word-of-mouth about your polite/impolite behaviour would certainly spread.

One different thing, and very necessary in our profession, is to be clear and draw the line: this is necessary in rates negotiations and in many more scenarios.

Manners and soft-skills belong to our trade and you might be amazed that clients value a correct and amicable relationship as much as the quality of the delivered product.


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Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2002)
Swedish
+ ...
Price arguments Jun 12, 2007

Jabberwock wrote:

In fact, the stronger stand I take, the more polite I get. Like in: "Here are my details, but I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the proposed rates are less than a quarter of my regular rates, therefore we might have some problems with achieving a satisfactory agreement."



Reminds me of an enquiry I got some months ago from a translation agency in Asia. They had a rush job to be taken care of from Friday until Monday (as often..), but also added this information about the rates: "Please inform us if you can accept our proposed rates, considering the fact that we are not able to pay you very much as we live in xxx".

I simply replied: "Please take in mind that I am not able to work for a fee which is simply a quarter of my minimum rate. I live in Germany where the costs of living are far higher than in xxx".

Never heard of them again.


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Juliana Starkman  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 06:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I think that perhaps some of you Jun 12, 2007

didn't realize that the person in question was not actually a client of mine-I think they would all (I hope!) agree that I am highly professional and as polite as can be, even under stress. My curiousity is more in the cases of people who approach you with requests and then get their back up when your (FREE) work sample puts their work under a larger microscope than they find comfortable.

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