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Thread poster: Caroline McLoughlin

Caroline McLoughlin  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 02:01
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Jan 11, 2005



[Edited at 2005-04-07 08:53]


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:01
German to English
+ ...
Invoice from outsourcer for costs incurred - is this a ruse not to pay? Jan 11, 2005

The circumstances depend upon a) the jurisdiction under which the translation was performed (probably Ireland) and b) the provisions of any terms and conditions agreed with the customer beforehand.

Depending upon the jurisdiction, your customer may be justified in not paying your fee, since if timely delivery were essential, delivery effectively did not take place.

I doubt though that you could be expected to meet the customer's costs in most jurisdictions. Get in touch with your professional association - they will be able to provide you with legal advice on precisely such cases. The ITI for instance has a free legal helpline for members which offers proper legal advice, not just speculation like my ramblings.

If you have agreed to terms and conditions which make provision for such compensation, the situation is different of course.

One thing not clear to me: did you inform your customer as soon as possible of your illness and the possible risk of a delay? Your message suggests that you didn't, yet you appear to expect your customer to have contacted you before looking elsewhere.

Marc


[Edited at 2005-01-11 11:40]


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Caroline McLoughlin  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 02:01
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Jan 11, 2005



[Edited at 2005-04-07 08:54]


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:01
German to English
Probably a matter for the courts Jan 11, 2005

Caro,

Ultimately, I think this would have to be ruled on in a court of law. You'll have to look first at the customer's purchasing T&Cs to establish whether they think they can claim for consequential damages. Even if they say they can, that doesn't mean it will be upheld in a court of law, but it might well strengthen their case. You could also ask the customer which legal provision they're basing their claim on (this is likely to be the German BGB).

Secondly, the customer will have to furnish you with documentary evidence of the costs incurred. Charges for "waiting time" and "finding an alternative translator" would be difficult - but not impossible - to substantiate. On the other hand, the fee charged by the other translator is easy to demonstrate (invoice).

As you yourself admit, you're probably not going to be paid for your work because of material breach of contract. You should expect to have to compensate your customer for any demonstrable costs incurred that exceed what you would have billed in the first place. I know that illness is something that can and does happen to all of us, but not notifying your customer is certainly a cardinal sin, even on a Sunday.

The next question is whether your customer suffered some sort of financial penalty (from its own client) for any late delivery due to your failure to deliver. If that's the case, you should expect to compensate your customer for that, too.

I think you can either ignore your customer's invoice, in which case you might face a court action in Germany. If you don't contest it, you may find that a judgement against you is enforceable in Ireland. Or you can write to the customer asking them to provide documentary evidence of the costs they're trying to charge you, and simply take the hit on any justifiable costs they've incurred. That sort of thing happens in business; it's one of the everyday business risks we all face.

Either way, I don't think it's a scam. More likely, an extremely pissed-off customer who never wants you to darken their door again.

Robin


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Caroline McLoughlin  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 02:01
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Jan 11, 2005



[Edited at 2005-04-07 08:55]


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xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 03:01
French to English
+ ...
other end of telescope Jan 11, 2005

Caro, I am sorry you are or have been ill but I think, from the client's perspective, that you let him down and that you were tempting fate by sending in a bill. It would have been better to forget the whole thing and hope that, in time, the client would do the same.
I am speaking here as someone who farms out work quite regularly in different language combinations. I tend to keep to my tried and true translators. When I offer them work, I set a deadline and agree a price. If they cannot meet "my" deadline (often I am doing this on behalf of others), then I have to find someone who can. A rush job is just that: something to be done in a race against the clock. In a hard nosed business world, no-one gives a tinker's cuss about the translator's health or even his/her problems with the computer or what have you! I suspect the text may have been for a different time zone where the working day on Monday starts while Europe is still sleeping on Sunday. If it was a bid of some sort to be in by a fixed deadline, then the client had no choice but to go elsewhere.
You should learn from this lesson. If the client wanted a job on Sunday, there was every reason to assume that he would be reading his mails (maybe even from home or even from another country than his own). I read my mails wherever I am in the world, if something urgent is going on, for example. You really should have sent him a message explaining your illness and asking for more time. That would have given him the chance to explain his (probably inflexible for no fault of his own) position. You would have gained because you would not have done the job for nothing.
I suggest you try to make peace by writing a placatory letter saying you were at fault but in no position to contact him urgently (cobble up some story if you must) and that naturally you withdraw your bill. He will have to pay the other translator anyway. I suspect all the added bits on top were spawned by his violent response to what he considered to be blatant cheek on your part. So try eating humble pie. You may not get any more work from him but his anger may be assuaged and he may agree to let the whole thing drop.
And you will have to chalk it up to experience.
Get well soon
Chris
PS: If I as client had been on the receiving end of your bill, I might just have blown a gasket as he seems to have done but I could be talked round into dropping the whole thing. But not into paying the bill!


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:01
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
freelancer's opinion Jan 11, 2005

Hi Caro,
I've never been in the kind of situation you describe. However, whenever I've taken on urgent stuff like that over the weekend, I've always asked for cell phone, home phone, secondary email address and the like, (a) because it's a weekend, and (b) because Murphy's Law is bound to rear its ugly head.
I agree with CMJ that if the customer asked for delivery Sunday night, he was bound to be online at some point, so you should have made every attempt to contact him.
All this is moot, of course, because the damage is done. At this point,though I seriously doubt your rapport with this particular agency can be salvaged, I would certainly withdraw the invoice and say something like "I hope this makes up for any harm...". And chalk this up as a loss, but a very valuable lesson. After all, you have no way of knowing if the agency is now liable for damages. What if it was a tender with a deadline and the end customer has lost out on a multimillion-dollar contract?
FWIW
Catherine


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 03:01
French to English
From a freelancer: I once missed a deadline... Jan 11, 2005

...because I attached the wrong document (similar file names in a multi-file project). The PM receiving the file "checked" it upon receipt and said it was OK, then I immediately left for a 3-week vacation. Well, about 2 hours after I had left home, I got a call on my cell phone from the panicked PM stating that upon closer inspection, the file had I sent was the wrong one.

Knowing that the agency would have to outsource it again to someone else, possibly at a higher rate due to the urgency of the situation I had caused, it never once crosssed my mind to send a bill for the job and I also included a discount of 50% of the value of the job for which I had bungled the delivery on my next invoice to the customer.

Clearly, in your situation it is too late for that, so I have to second Chris' idea of grovelling a bit to smooth things over and get the agency to drop the whole issue.

Chalk it up to experience!

I hope you are feeling better and not too upset about this. We all make mistakes, now you just need to find a way to bring it to a close quickly.

Regards,
Sara

[Edited at 2005-01-11 17:03]


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:01
German to English
From freelancers please??? Jan 11, 2005

Caro McL wrote:

I really just wanted to get feedback from other freelancers who have experienced this type of action themselves and how they handled it.


Schliesslich bin auch ich Freiberufler....

Robin


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Caroline McLoughlin  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 02:01
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to all for your feedback Jan 11, 2005



[Edited at 2005-04-07 08:56]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
aprt from what alkl the others have said Jan 11, 2005

Caro McL wrote:

Thanks for all feedback.


In regard to your immediate worry re the bill, they cannot legally make you pay that bill (in the same way a translator who has rendered a service can legally claim for an invoice), becuase first they would have to PROVE the damages they claim in a court of law before a judge who had heard both sides of the case.


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Caroline McLoughlin  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 02:01
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jan 11, 2005



[Edited at 2005-04-07 08:55]


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Wenke Geddert  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:01
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Irish Translators Association Jan 12, 2005

Caro

I noticed from your profile that you are a member of the above association.

Check out their code of practice (http://www.translatorsassociation.ie/), referring to the "disagreements & disputes" section - although it does clearly state in #6.2 that members of the association should endeavour to recommend suitable colleagues where work offered (...) cannot be completed in the time allowed.

HTH

Wenke


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