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Compensation for EU tender document preparation?
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:39
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Dec 30, 2006

Hi colleagues,

Hope no one think that I am kinda absent-minded, always unhappy about everything, permanently cheated and/or underpaid vulnerable “trampslator” just because I like this forum (Money Matters) and make a lot of posts to here, and used super advice from other people whose help was simply invaluable.

So, here is a delicate situation again where I need to share the thoughts with you. The situation is like this:

1) I received an email from a translation agency (and a reputable – their BB rating here is 4.8) which offered me to participate in one big EU translation tender (said at least 500-800 pages per year for my language combination and 3 years in turn). I got interested (of course). Discussed in a more detail what they offer, what area it is, what it is all about. Sent them my CV upon their request, other relevant info on translation experience, etc., they said that they are interested in my expertise and that I might be one of the best candidates. Then we had a preliminary discussion on the orientation rates for that and other technical issues. All seemed fine. Both sides happy.

2) After that they have asked me to help them preparing documents for that EU tender. I think those who prepared the EU translation tender docs know what pile of papers it is and how many officialdom (references, information, certifications, NDAs, proofs of expertise, etc.) one has to fill in and prepare. IT ALSO turned out (when we started a talk about technical issues related to the documents) that a very professional proofreader was additionally requested by the EU as the translation will be highly technical. OK, I even managed to convince one person having a Dr. degree in that area and knowing the English (source) language almost in a fluent level to cooperate with me and help me preparing the docs (from his side as a proofreader).

3) Both (me and my proofreader – a reputable person with a “Dr.”) put our works aside, were running around for almost 3 working days collecting all necessary papers, filling “red-tape” EU forms, etc., prepared that bunch of papers just as agreed and sent to the agency. Received a kind email with a lot of thanks for our effort and work, and they said they will inform about the tender results (even about negative feedback) in some 2-3 months. I took it as a natural thing as these bureaucracies take a lot of time.

4) 4 months passed and it was natural that I got interested “how was it”. Wrote an email to the person of the agency in charge. No reply. A week later wrote another email – no reply. Third – no reply. OK, thought the people are busy, not available at the moment, etc. Decided to wait a little.

5) HERE THE INTERESTING PART BEGINS. After 1 more month I got an automatic notification (from another translators site – not proz) about a job post for my language combinations. Looked into it – the same agency “looking for free-lance translators to cooperate in the (same) project” (same tender), but not like a potential project or intent to participate in the tender, but provide translations already. I think you understand my reaction. I wrote another email (already a strict one) asking about my situation. Got a reply that the previous person in charge left the company a couple of weeks ago, they apologized for not providing any feedback to me AND OFFERED to cooperate with them “if I am still interested”, BUT for the rate that was by 40 per cent SMALLER that the rate we agreed with the agency before upon a “take it or leave it basis”, like my rate appeared to them too big (yes, it was not small as it involved a very professional proofreader and my own rates are not really smallest ones).

Question 1 – how would you evaluate such an approach of that agency? Well, now it is only my hypothesis, but I think they made it in a very simple way – used my (our) documents to win the tender (I am sure these gave them 95 per cent of success), then the rate “appeared” too high for them and they simply found other vendors to do the job for 40 per cent cheaper.

Question 2 – do you have any ideas how to confirm or reject my hypothesis related to Question 1, i.e. how to check at the EU who is the actual tender winner and which documents (and of which persons) the agency used for the tender?

Question 3 – do you think it would be fair from my side to demand a compensation from that agency (if needed - I will go the legal way via a court of law - they are UK-based and I have a lawyer who can help me) and if you think a compensation can be demanded (not for the money, but for the principle itself for such an approach of the agency), what amount of the compensation could be, how realistic it would be to get it, and what consequences the agency might have if I manage to prove the issues defined under Question 1 and 2? Of course, I have to prove, or, at least, to check that things under 1 or 2 are really so.

Thanks in advance for your help and attention.

Best regards to you all.


P.S. Sorry, Ralf, if this topic upon your decision might not be treated as directly related to "money matters" issues. Please inform me if it shall/will be reposted in another Proz forum.

[Edited at 2006-12-30 00:30]

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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:39
English to German
+ ...
What was your agreement? Dec 30, 2006

If you had an agreement regarding this project with a certain price than I would insist and even get legal with them.

In this case it does not matter, that the person you made the agreement with, has left the company since it was an agreement with the company and not with this person. It will still be binding.

If you have no such agreement, then it will be hard to get something. But I would at least try to get a compensation and I would ask EU officials about the tender and tell them that they are likely not to receive the quality they bargained for. If the tender contained your personal data then maybe the agency has to work with you. If you do not know where to start, just call one of their offices and ask who is in charge regarding this matter.

Still, it is also possible this agency has won the tender but the EU officials urged them to lower their price and so they can no longer afford your work. This way EU officials will not care for the quality as long as it is good enough and cheap enough and your information will not change anything.

For the future: Do not put such a lot of work into something without having agreed on some kind of compensation in case of success.

And: Don't let them spoil your Happy New Year!

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MariusV  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:39
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Dear Claudia Dec 30, 2006

Thanks for your considerations.

As for agreement (for preparation of these papers) - we did not have a formal agreement nor any other formal agreement. I agreed to prepare these papers for them just on a friendly basis with a possible perspective of a mutually beneficial cooperation. Or, in formal legal terminology, we do not have any written agreement about anything (as a written evidence) and there is nothing in writing or even in verbal form that (at the initial stage) they are under obligation to pay compensations or whatever. And I did not even think about it till they have not started to play a foul game (at least in my opinion). So, here is the case where all the matter is. I would not even bother if they replied "sorry, we did not win anything with your papers" or if they replied later "you rate is too big, can we consider negotiationg and if we do not lower it, we will not get the chance for the project". All these things are natural and no one can guarantee success, ecp. in the EU tenders. I know that EU sometimes takes the vendors that are the cheapest (and then they have a corresponding quality even to absurd situations).

BUT again - they replied to me that the my rate is "too big" only when I wrote them an email after noticing their job posts for the same tender - only THEN the issue about rates appeared. And due to that I think they are not playing a fair game. There are things like business ethics, or, at least, elementary human decency.

Any idea how to get information on EU tender winners from the internet? I guess this information should be public? before taking any further actions I need to be sure how the situation really is.


[Edited at 2006-12-30 01:20]

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:39
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
That seems to be the usual procedure, alas Dec 30, 2006

Dear Marius,
welcome to the crowd!
We had a discussion about this tender business this August.

You should perhaps consider informing the EU translation directorate.
Mr. Lönnroth is the leader of the CEC.

I had some correspondence with this Gentleman and also the Finnish translator's union was active in the matter.


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