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Dealing with unexpected termination of contract
Thread poster: carlos cegarra sanmartin

carlos cegarra sanmartin  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 25, 2007

Hi everyone,

Some months ago I did a translation test for a private client for an art book. I won the competition and we agreed that I would carry the whole project, over 95,000 words.

I committed the mistake of not signing a contract but we had agreed in the email correspondence that he would pay 25% upfront (which he did) and the rest 30 days after completion - expected on 1st September -.

Last week I had an appointment with the client and I handed in the first draft of the first ten pages.

I found that the client, non native speaker was judging my linguistic choices without any foundation and being very difficult.

For that reason I wrote him an email stating my qualifications, my superior (he didn't like this) linguistic skills and some terms and conditions that would ensure a fair behavior for both parts.

He seems offended now and wrote back saying that the quality is not up to their expectations and that he expects me to stop translating and give him back the advance.

However I have already translated over 45,000 words and expect him to pay for them.

On the other hand I do not know what legislation says about it and I fear that he can take legal actions against me if I do not give him back the advance. But I claim that he should pay the 45,000 words minus the advance.

I think I should keep the advance no matter what, since I could hand in at least a quarter of the project. But shouldn't I refuse to hand in any translation until he agrees to pay for all the work done?

He seems quite temperamental and do not know very well how to approach the issue if he remains implacable. He's very wealthy - to say the least - and i think he may try to intimidate me.

Please, help!!!

Any suggestion or comment will be very much welcome

P.S yeah, the contract...

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:58
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Send in the part you have done on hard copy Jul 25, 2007

So you have proof of your work and your good will. And offer to continue but listen to his criticism. Private clients can be difficult and you need lots of patience and psychology. The customer is king and always right, keep that in mind.
But do not pay anything back and send in the invoice proper, if he insists you to stop work. It's his choice, so he can afford it. Probably the next guy will do a worse job than you would have done, but that is no use to worry about.


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María Diehn  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
That happened to you and might happen to any of us. Do fight! Jul 25, 2007

I wish I could devote some time to do the needed research and help you out!
Maybe this URL can give you some ideas or take you to the right attorney. It points to the most meaningful resource on International Labor and employment Laws.
A couple of hints:
1. Labor/Employment attorneys work only for employers or for employees, not for both, in order to avoid conflict of interest.
2. Attorneys who would take an individual worker's claim against an employer, would not ask an exorbitant amount of money as down payment, rather would take a good slice of a settlement.
3. There is a bona fide contract between you and your customer, which you have documented electronically. Therefore you have a legal basis to a claim.
4. I have seen some fellow translators in PROZ that have legal formation and maybe you can find a specialized professional who can take care of your claim.
Good luck! Please keep us posted.

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MariusV  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:58
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
I think it is not a fair game Jul 27, 2007

Well, first of all I hope you have not delivered those 45 000 words to the client yet? They are really "smart" - dragged on till you did half of the work and only then they "noticed" that they are not quite satisfied with your test of thoise 10 pages???

What I'd do:

1) I'd stop the translation as requested by the client (and will not even think about the continuation of it under any circumstances), and would inform that I stopped it and that I am not going to work for them any more.

2) I'd ask (or even emand) the client to provide a clear substantiation what was wrong (or supposedly wrong) - what, why, where and so on. Do not accept abstract phrases as claims - demand the substantiation several times.

3) Or offer him/her an independent opinion of a specialist (say, the Institute of Linguists in the UK if they do such things). If you did it really good and if they are just blackmailing you, they will really not want any independent opinions.

4) Let them go to court - what is the problem? If your job is really good, why should you be afraid of that? And tell them that it will be YOU who will go to the court asking for payment for those 45 000 words and compensations.

5) Under NO circumstances give them those 45 000 words - it seems they wanted to put you into a situation - you did those 45 000 words and now you have no other way out... And it appeared that the quality of the test was "poor" (after a month or so) and "well, if you do not want us to go to the court, give us those 45 000 words and we will not demand those 25 %"...

6) Under NO circumstances give them back the advance and tell them clearly about that. You will have at least half of the payment for your job done.

7) If they do not provide competent substantiations for claims (and I think they will not), this is THEIR problem, go not yours that they stopped the work and they DO HAVE to pay for what is done. I think they will calm down very soon.

8) When they calm down, tell them to pay the remaining due amount and only then send those 45 000 words (not vice versa!!!) and tell them "Good bye forever"...

[Edited at 2007-07-27 01:30]

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