Mobile menu

Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Payment for cancelled project
Thread poster: skyblue

skyblue  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:40
Member (2006)
English to Korean
+ ...
Jan 21, 2007

Hi,

Last November I applied for a job and after a month's procedure of choosing one translator, the client chose me. The hours I had to spend to do the sample translation was about five or six hours. He told me my quality was way over the others and asked me to help making his book a best-seller and would like to pay me whatever I think fair.

The original material was interesting, but very poorly written and often ambiguous, any translator's nightmare. But because he was willing to pay me almost indefinitely ($100 per page, totalling $25000) and I felt genuinely interested in the job, I accepted the job. He told me a verbal "go-ahead" over the phone by saying, "Please help me and start working on it now!". So I started working on it. But I had other projects going on at that time and I already told my situation to the client's secretary. I told the secretary that I would be busy for about two weeks finishing up other pending projects. So I was busy doing his translation and finishing up with other projects. But a week after, I found out that they were considering cancelling me because I was too slow. I found out this only when I called them. They didn't tell me their intention of cancelling. When I called them, they asked me to send the part I have done so far. So I did and send an invoice for the part of work I did and asked to pay me if they don't want to continue with me. After two weeks, they sent me a brief email informing that they decided to go with another translator and there was no mention about paying me.

The issues that have been bothering me so much are two things: whether I asked too much and whether my quality was not good enough. The reason they were cancelling on me, they told, is because of my speed. I think this happened due to the communication problem that the secretary did not listen to me when I said I had other projects going on at that time. But I feel they cancelled because they found somebody cheaper. Since the original was not clearly written, it took about three times longer than other similar materials and I requested the rate accordingly and the client accepted my asked rate without any hesitation. I told myself that I would put all my efforts more than he would ever expected and I really did. I still think no one in this world would be able to put more efforts. But because of my overly ambitious try and other projects to take care of, I was slow. I naturally wants to know more than anything else whether such of my work is appreciated by him or he doesn't think my translation this time was not as good as my sample work and that contributed his decision to cancel me. I asked his feedback in my email. Of course, he would not answer.

I am sorry for this long, boring post. So my questions are
1. Is it right for me to ask him to pay me for the work I did after he told me to "go-ahead"? We did not sign any written agreement. The client just told me that if I just start working, he would come out and meet in a few days and sign on a contract. I just started working as a full-time translator so didn't have much experience, but the client was somebody so successful and proud of himself that he feel he has to publish his own biography.
2. How can I find out what he really think about my translation and what the real reasons of this cancellation are? Was it really just a speed, do you think?

I am just too emotional right now and am not able to summarize clearly, but would like to hear what other colleagues are thinking...

[Edited at 2007-01-21 04:36]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Carmen Hernaiz
Spain
Local time: 11:40
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hi Jan 21, 2007

I do translate books and usually are directly for editorials that I already know. No problem with them.
But when I have a book coming directly from the writer or from some new client, a "go ahead" over the phone is not enough.
I need a signed agreement with everything very clear. Payments, dates, copyright, etc.

You made a mistake accepting over the phone, but you did some work and you should be paid.

Call them, write them, email them. Bother them until they pay you for whatever amount of their book you translated.
Do not stop. They probably don't work for free. Neither you.

Carmen


Direct link Reply with quote
 

skyblue  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:40
Member (2006)
English to Korean
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Is it possible for him to think it is MORALLY ok not to pay me? Jan 21, 2007

Yes, I can do that. But what is really bothering me is how a person so rich and so proud of himself could do such a thing on a poor freelance translator who lives on her daily earning? So my question is that "Is it possible for a person to think it is morally ok not to pay me?"

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Carmen Hernaiz
Spain
Local time: 11:40
English to Spanish
+ ...
Don't care about morality Jan 21, 2007

I don't know what he thinks about moral. I have no idea what kind of person he is.
The only think I know is that, if I where you, I wouldn't address him giving him the impression I'm a "poor freelance translator who lives on her daily earning"
I don't care if he is rich and powerfull. That doesn't matter here.
You tell him you did a job for him, that you had a verbal agreement, maybe would be a good idea to let him know you tape all your business calls...
Don't ask for your money as if they are doing an act of charity if they pay you. This is about business. You deserve to be paid.
Be strong. Be firm. Be proud of your work.

That's all I can advise you. I think it's what I would do if your situation were mine.

And whatever happens after this case, never accept an over the phone agreement unless is from someone you know very well.

Good luck
Carmen


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 21:40
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
A hard lesson but stay positive Jan 21, 2007

Hi,
Sorry to hear about this situation, which is obviously really upsetting you. Carmen's right, any high volume project needs the terms mutually agreed upon and a signed contract.

For jobs like these, a delivery and payment schedule, including an advance, is usually agreed upon by both parties and is incorporated into the contract. They can't tell you, you were too slow if they didn't specifically agree with you exactly how many chapters to deliver by a certain date.

Unfortunately morals and business don't go hand in hand. Of course you should be paid for the work you've done and he knows damn well that that would be the morally right thing to do. However, with only a phone call and no hard copy confirmation from the client, chances are, he won't.

Let's think positive and hope he does the right thing. If not, just put it down to a hard lesson learned and console yourself with the fact that you won't get stung like this again.

Best wishes,
Mark


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Terry Richards
France
Local time: 11:40
French to English
+ ...
Not such a good idea after all... Jan 21, 2007

Carmen Hernaiz wrote:

...maybe would be a good idea to let him know you tape all your business calls...



Skyblue is in the USA where it is illegal to tape calls unless you either inform the the other party first or there is an audible tone on the line.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive” - Sir Walter Scott

T.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 04:40
English to Russian
+ ...
Sorry but I can't say you are a 100% right Jan 21, 2007

Maybe I'm calling a lot of blame upon myself but...

Colleagues are correct - this is business and if I were willing to pay $100 per page I would not want to hear about "other projects" either. For the whole 2 weeks. Why was he supposed to believe that you'll be devoted to his assignment in the future? That was your first deal with the person. You got yourself some account. I believe that after what looks like a serious preparation and selection process they would have approached you with price discussions before dismissing you altogether, if price was the reason. I understand he planned to meet with you in a few days to execute the deal but you didn't produce anything substantial in those few days, right? I'm afraid you simply made a poor business choice.

We are entitled to our pride and there are situations when a job paid at $200/page is worth being thrown in an outsourcer's face, but in this case you'd clearly miscalculated the power of the client and the market situation. Maybe it was the time to work 20 hours a day or pass your pending projects to another colleague.

I'm sorry to sound so cynical but a poor transator living on daily earnings should take better care of clients paying $100/page. It would be nice of him to pay you something but I 'm inclined to give him a benefit of a doubt.

Rich business people are all about cosmic speed and devotion when it comes to their interests. That's why they are rich. When they are slow, they are out to lick their wounds, no one pays them any "comforting fees" and this is how they treat any business relationship. It's a jungle out there:-(

Good luck in the future!
Irene


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Martina Silpoch  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:40
English to Czech
+ ...
Business is business Jan 21, 2007

As unpleasant as it sounds, I tend to agree with IreneN. This is the big bad America and you were taken advantage off. But only because of your own "stupidity" and because you were not businesslike enough for this client. For this size of a project and kind of money, nobody would ever consider a phone call legally binding. Maybe if this was a long going relationship, you both knew each other for years and did many projects together. But a new client, promising a fortune to a new translator without a written contract - there's your clue right infront of your face. Something is NOT right. The client clearly saw you had no idea how to approach the deal and used it against you. You have no way of knowing what he did, how many translators he asked to provide him with a "test" translation. There is even a farfetched possibility, by the time he received all the 6 hour "tests" back, he had his whole book translated. If I were you, I would take this as a very hard and eye opening lesson. but you have no recourse, really no way to get any money, no proof he owes you anything. Sorry. Just make sure you put him on the Blue board and concentrate on your other clients. The ones you know, the ones that have a good track record, the ones that send you a binding contract and the ones that pay for your work. Btw., 100 dollars per page of a book sounds real good, only one problem with it; it also sounds slightly unreal and suspicious.
Live and learn.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jesús Marín Mateos  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:40
English to Spanish
+ ...
You hurt him/her.... Jan 21, 2007

My gut feeling is that you hurt him/her by not leaving everything aside and start working on his project full time.
You are entitled to the money s/he owes you of course but my experience is that people/agencies/everyone want to hear you are 100% devoted to them even if it is not true.
I was honest at the begining but now I always say I mainly translate for whoever I am talking to/communicating with.
It is a bit hypocritical but I have felt that by saying I have got other projects going on and they'll have to wait doesn't fit in their minds.....so these are what we call pious lies.

My two cents....


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxfinntranslat  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 12:40
English to Finnish
+ ...
Bad thing. Jan 21, 2007

...but id with Irene. If someone is willing to pay you 100 $ per page, you take the job, and devote 110% of your time to him/her. Thats how it goes in the business.

But still. They owe you the money on the job you allready finished, so just keep sending those emails, and make a few phonecalls, and insist that they must pay you for the job well done. =)


Direct link Reply with quote
 

skyblue  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:40
Member (2006)
English to Korean
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Trying one more time? Jan 21, 2007

Thank you for all your comments and advice! It really helps.

$100 per page is unrealistic and I know that. But he really wanted a certain quality and was willing to invest. I was so upset and was angry at him, but it is true that I upset him as much too, by failing him even with such a generous rate.

My problem is that I am having hard time to let this go because:
1. I want to become a book translator and such an opportunity is once a life time one.
2. He is in my generation and we share lots of things such as 1970's seould and living in America as a foreigner, etc. I grew a special attachment to this translation job while I was doing it.
3. This is the least important, still the money was good.

He informed me that he found another translator last Thursday. I am planning to write him one more time, saying what I am feeling about this project and offer him a condition that I will not get paid the full amount if I fail to finish the book within the time frame he wants.

I know this is very embarrassing, but I just cannot let this go. I have to try all I can do even now when it may be already too late. What do you think?

[Edited at 2007-01-21 22:59]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Carmen Hernaiz
Spain
Local time: 11:40
English to Spanish
+ ...
... Jan 21, 2007

I really think you'll make a mistake if you do what you are planning to do.
If you offer not to be paid if you fail on something to someone that is refusing to pay you for the part you already did, I'll be surprised if he doesn't find failure from your part in the future.

If he decided to give the book to someone else, let it go. You don't have to implore.

This is not your only chance to translate literature. It's not easy to get into this field, but is not impossible.

But I have the impression you already decided and nothing will change your mind.

My advise: Ask for your money until you are paid and move on. There are so many books out there to translate. Your CV has to travel to many places. Meanwhile, you can translate smaller projects.

Carmen


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:40
English to Russian
+ ...
I am sorry to say this Jan 22, 2007

skyblue wrote:
... how a person so rich and so proud of himself ...


but that is why he/she/they are usually very rich...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

skyblue  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:40
Member (2006)
English to Korean
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jan 22, 2007

Carmen,
Thank you for your advice. I wrote him one more time just because I had to get this thing out of my mind. But I began my email emphasizing that he has to pay me for what I have done for him. Then I added my feeling toward this project briefly.

I knew that in the first place, everything is to be blamed on me and my stupidity. Still, I was feeling very troubled and was having hard time organizing or digesting my thoughts and feelings on this incident. You guys comments and advice greatly helped me and I really feel better now. Thank you!

And to Sergei,
It shouldn't be that way, should it? In that kind of world, who will be able to feel really happy from their bottom of heart?



[Edited at 2007-01-22 16:01]


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 »

Payment for cancelled project

Advanced search


Translation news





CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »
memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »



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