Mobile menu

Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Accident/Sickness and Translation contract
Thread poster: Alexandre Chetrite

Alexandre Chetrite
France
Local time: 08:15
English to French
Feb 28, 2009

Hello,

I don't know if these questions have been asnwered already but here they are :

If you agreed to make a translation for a customer and you become sick or have an accident before handing it back (and having started working a great deal on it), what is the best way to announce it to the customer?

The risk of course is that the customer being unsatisfied does not pay the translator, but should the customer at least pay the partial work that has been done and give the rest to another translator?
What is the common business practice for this matter?

I understand that if you can't deliver the translation then it can be considered as a breach of contract and you won't ge paid + it's bad for your translator carrer.
But one must be prepared in case it happens and must know what to say.



Thank you.

[Edited at 2009-02-28 21:02 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:15
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
You form a little translation team Feb 28, 2009

Yes, such things do happen, and have happened to me in the past. In fact, last year I had actually finished a translation, but had not sent it, and the computer broke - i.e. the hardware broke - permanently, got carted away by a computer guy and never came back. So I had no computer and had to buy a new one.

The best way to prepare for such emergencies seems to be to accept the fact that you are responsible for delivering the translation once you have agreed to do it, and that it is therefore your business to pass on the job to a colleague if you cannot do it. Of course, in the case of a totally broken computer you cannot send the document on to a colleague. However, in case of sickness that should work. The best way to form a team is to get to know colleagues with whom you could form a team at conferences. I think many people may be wary of forming a team, because the person who initiates a team may be viewed by the members of a team as a potential outsourcer. However, if you meet the colleagues in question, you could perhaps discuss operating as a team only to help one another out in emergencies.

You are also supposed to write your own terms and conditions of business (i.e. draft them and have them finalised by a lawyer). Like any other business, you put a clause in them, saying that you cannot help it if "Acts of God" occur, such as any type of natural disaster, fire, flood, theft, sudden total loss of hardware, etc. However, that does not cover illness, so that is where a team comes in. Then you need another clause in your terms and conditions, saying that you reserve the right to pass on the work to an equally competent colleague, who is bound by you to confidentiality, in an emergency. In short, it is up to you to take responsibility for the work you have accepted. Other types of businesses do. It is not your customer's problem, even if your customer is an agency.

Astrid


Direct link Reply with quote
 

RichardDeegan
Local time: 01:15
Spanish to English
The dog ate my translation? Mar 1, 2009

I agree wholeheartedly with Astrid: we are supposed to be professionals and there are just too many things that can wrong go. Not just sickness or worse (personal or family member), but also blackouts, brownouts, strikes, earthquakes, blizzards, wildfires, tsunamis, terrorist attacks, mail server failures, etc. just to mention a few (depending on location). In my case I also have to include surprises like a TCM Errol Flynn Festival.
ALWAYS LEAVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF CUSHION, and take steps to prepare for any contingency (How many of us have translated corporate contingency plans, without given them a second thought?). Having Plans B, C and D, at least, is vital, including several colleagues who might pick up the slack.
Also, in these days of unlimited mail servers and free storage on the Internet, there is no excuse for losing work. There are two kinds of HDs, those that have failed and those that will. he same goes for modems, routers, monitors and antivirus protection.
When I'm working on a large project, I send a backup copy to myself on a jumbo mail server every couple of hours when I take a break. The worst I'll lose is two hours work. This has saved me on numerous occasions, including a major earthquake some 18 months ago, with nary a bump.
Be prepared!!!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:15
English to German
+ ...
Damage control Mar 1, 2009

In case I can't deliver already finished work due to a power outage in my neighborhood (which happens quite often, BTW), I might allow my client to temporarily access my backup files online to retrieve their file by giving them a password over the phone.

I also have an agreement with a trusted friend and translator nearby who will be given my laptop and passwords, should I ever have a stupid accident and end up in hospital. Same goes vice versa.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:15
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Save your work to a CD or floppy as you go along Mar 1, 2009

It's a good idea to save your work to a CD or floppy after every page or so as you go along. Then, if some emergency occurs, such as a power cut, sudden ISP failure, sickness or accident, you haven't lost everything you've done so far. The disk can be taken to someone else's computer and the work sent from there. If you're sick or in hospital, you might be able to get a friend or relative to contact your client, explain what has happened and send them what you've done so far.
I agree that, of course, the translator is responsible for doing what he/she agreed to do and that therefore in the case of non-delivery the client is not obliged to pay the translator. However, a sympathetic client might agree to pay for the part you have done and sent and, in any case, it would be good policy to be as helpful as possible for the sake of future relations with that client.
You're quite right to consider how to handle such emergencies before they arise.
Best wishes,
Jenny


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Fernando Guimaraes  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 07:15
German to Portuguese
+ ...
Have you thought .. Mar 1, 2009

What about the other side??

"The risk of course is that the customer being unsatisfied does not pay the translator, but should the customer at least pay the partial work that has been done and give the rest to another translator?"


Have you thought that being a business like any other, your customer may ask for an indemnity due the contract break??


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:15
English to German
Interesting aspect Mar 1, 2009

I must admit nothing of the like has ever happened to me. However, this thread posting made me thinking about it. It is true that anything can happen at any time, may it be a break down of one's computer, an accident or sudden illness happening to oneself or a family member - one never knows.

The easiest thing to take measures beforehand is the case of any computer problems, I think. One could make sure any kind of back-up (a friend's help as in Nicole's case for example or a second computer or the server solution).

But what to do in case of an accident/sudden illness? I never thought of that before. Some kind of "emergency agreement" with a colleague would be a good thing. Wouldn't that be something what could be taken on as a feature on ProZ.com? What do you think? Or would you prefer to arrange for that privately? I, for example, don't know any translators personally in my language pair and field and, unfortunately, never had the possibility until now to work as part of a team.

Another thing I would find interesting is the Terms and Conditions every translator should have ready for business. I must once more admit that I don't. Does anyone know if there is some "already prepared" form available on the internet or on ProZ.com somewhere?

Any suggestions are appreciated!

Have a nice (spring) Sunday!

Annett


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Alexandre Chetrite
France
Local time: 08:15
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your posts... Mar 1, 2009

Hello,

Thanks for your posts...Now this confirms what I thought: always have an emergency plan (backup you work)...But the hypothesis is that you do know somebody who can take up the work you haven't had time to finish.If you don't know anybody, then you're really vulnerable I guess.
Now the question is: does this person have time to do take up your work and finish in time?
As you see there are so many parameters to control, but its our job as translators to adapt.

And legally I can't see how a customer would force a sick/accidented translator to pay an indemnity for non-completed work. If there's no sickness clause mentioned in your Terms agreement, then I believe there would be little chance for the customer to recover any indemnity...
But the translator would also lose a lot, so that's an even process (the translator loses his customer: the customer risks missing the deadline)
Anyway we are not into a conflict type of relationship: its more about cooperation and getting the job done, but I know that in some business sectors people get very agressvie towards each other when deadline is not respected...(that's life too.) and go into litigation if there's even a small hint that there's going to be a glitch..Anyway, I didn't have such types of problems so far and I hope it won't happen any soon..No, correction: it WILL happen one day, but when that is the question .

It would be foolish to think that someone will never have problems..It happens every day..(so it's almost a miracle every time one completes a translation from the Web and gets paid on the Web, no?)

Good day.


[Edited at 2009-03-01 10:16 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Susan van den Ende  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:15
English to Dutch
+ ...
Outsourcer's side Mar 1, 2009

As an outsourcer, I see this happening relatively often: for whatever reason, a translator is suddenly unable to deliver the full job, or is unable to deliver at all.

I can only give the agency perspective here, most of this won't work with direct end clients. But here's my two cents on the sickness / ill relative scenario. Whose problem is this?

I think I actually prefer it if the translator gets in touch, explains the situation, and then we work out a solution together.

Several options there:

Simplest one: if there's stretch in the deadline, and extra time will solve the problem, then that's settled and there's no need to get in a colleague.

Otherwise, it'll take a colleague to finish the job. So, the translator sends the work 'as is', either uncleaned or with a TM export. We get a colleague in, make sure that the client gets the translation in time, and ask the first translator to get back in touch when things are solved on his or her side.

Why would I prefer this extra work over the "team solution"?

As a PM, I consider myself as part of the translation team. And then it doesn't make sense to have you calling around for an hour to find a colleague who's available on short notice, if it only takes me 10 minutes. Getting in touch with the agency gives that agency a choice. Many end clients have more than one regular translator. Preferably I'll work with someone who already knows the end client's style and terminology from earlier translations. And of course, I also prefer delivering a translation by someone I already know. The chance that your team-mate is already familiar with your end-client's material is smaller than the chance that the agency might know someone who is. And of course, if the agency doesn't know anyone, you can still suggest your colleague. It just gives you more options.

Of course you agreed on a job, and you agreed to deliver to the agency. But in the end, keep in mind that you should be working WITH the agency, FOR an end client. So if there's problems of whatever kind, involve your agency in them. If they tell you to solve it yourself because that's what you agreed on, sure, plan B kicks in. If they offer to solve the problem, ask them what kind of help they still expect from you (a TM, terminology, a list of website links that your research brought up? Or maybe the reason why you rejected a term that at first seemed like a good idea? Anything that helps your colleague and avoids double work).

Note, also, that some agencies state that they outsource the work to you personally. If your PO or your agreement with the agency specifies that you are NOT to outsource work to colleagues, then think twice about doing so. When working with agencies rather than direct clients, it is definitely not always a good idea "to accept the fact that you are responsible for delivering the translation once you have agreed to do it, and that it is therefore your business to pass on the job to a colleague if you cannot do it."

(@Astrid: I appreciate the fact that you work more with end clients and indeed you take on a different kind of responsibility in that case. I'm only trying to provide the agency perspective here, and I think this is one of those instances where it can make a huge difference.)

Financially, then: when the agency offers to solve the problem, ask them how you'll settle payment for the work you did already. Be reasonable here: in my experience, the translator often hands back a job quite late, when there's really no other option anymore. In a worst-case scenario, that does mean that your colleague will have a very tight deadline and a rush rate might be appropriate, especially if time zone differences are working against you.

In general we pay for the work that the translator delivered. Usually that's simply "word rate * amount of words translated". In one case we agreed on a slightly lower rate because the delivery was a draft version, and the translator hadn't gotten to the terminology research yet.

In all cases though, we maintained the working relationship with the translator.

Please note: all of the above only reflects my own personal experiences when it comes to the sickness / family member emergencies within our team of translators. If possible, I prefer it if the translator gets in touch when something's the matter, but I am very much in favour of the teammate solution to provide for those cases when that's not possible for whatever reason.

[edited for typo]



[Edited at 2009-03-01 10:52 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Alexandre Chetrite
France
Local time: 08:15
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
About Communication glitches and accidents and Reputation Mar 1, 2009

Hello Susan,

Can the agency publicize about your performance to other business parties or is it considered as private information? What I mean: reputation and credibility is of utmost performance for a translator I believe (more than money I think). If you get sick or have an accident, can the agency communicate about these points to partners/future clients?


Sincerely,



[Edited at 2009-03-01 11:20 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-03-01 11:21 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:15
English to Dutch
+ ...
Insurance Mar 1, 2009

Sure, there are insurances for when you cannot work due to illness or accident. I actually got an (unsollicited) offer in the mail the other day...
Whether such an insurance is affordable and worth it, is another matter, which I have not researched (yet).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Per Magnus  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:15
English to Norwegian
The outsourcer's view Mar 1, 2009

Susan van den Ende wrote:
As an outsourcer, I see this happening relatively often: Whose problem is this?

I think I actually prefer it if the translator gets in touch, explains the situation, and then we work out a solution together.


I was just about to write my opinion when Susan said it all.

As an outsourcer I would not like the translator to try to hustle up a new freelancer from his/her sickbed. Please everybody read what Susan has to say and follow her advice.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:15
French to English
+ ...
It can happen... Mar 1, 2009

This has only happenened to me once in 20 years of freelancing, when my first baby arrived a week early and I was rushed into hospital to give birth! I was working on a translation for a direct client at the time and they were very understanding. My then husband returned what I'd done, which they duly paid for, and I assume they asked someone else to finish the job.

I think the outsourcers' view given by Susan and others makes a lot of sense. If I was in this situation again, I think I would make a brief check amongst close colleagues in that particular field to see if they were available and then contact the client or agency with a recommendation if applicable. That way I would feel I had at least tried to mitigate the situation, without in any way taking away the client's right to select the translator/terms.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:15
English to German
+ ...
I absolutely agree with Claire in regard to giving recommendations Mar 1, 2009

It might be true that the PM will be able to find any translator faster, due to the agency's larger pool of contacts.

To find the RIGHT person to finish a job however is a different story. There is more to translation than the end client's style (which was established by the regular translator after all, right?) and proper terminology. Among all the colleagues I have worked with, there are only two who could continue my job in terms of writing style without a noticeable break. And vice versa. No text deserves to sound like it was obviously written by two persons.

Note: Only very few of all my clients actually speak my target language. In fact, only one of my regulars does.

When you are sick, you are sick. Recommendations are the right way to go, in the best interest of the client.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Silvia Barra  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:15
English to Italian
+ ...
What about your emergency plan Mar 1, 2009

Thank you Alexandre for this post. Sincerely, I'm in the same situation as Annette. But now that I "found out" the problem, I'd like to build up an effective emergency plan.
TIA for sharing your solutions and experiences.
Silvia


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Accident/Sickness and Translation contract

Advanced search


Translation news





PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »
LSP.expert
You’re a freelance translator? LSP.expert helps you manage your daily translation jobs. It’s easy, fast and secure.

How about you start tracking translation jobs and sending invoices in minutes? You can also manage your clients and generate reports about your business activities. So you always keep a clear view on your planning, AND you get a free 30 day trial period!

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs