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a deadline for late source text
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 19:24
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Nov 27, 2007

I have a "techical situation". A good client ordered a job, sent me the PO with everythig contained in it (incl. the deadline that is rather tough) and asked to wait for the source files till tomorrow as their own client wanted to "finalize" something. I waited for a couple of days and asked when the source files will come because I could not just sit and wait (moreover, I started receiving other requests and I did not know what to write back to those other people). The source files came at last, but they were 4 days late. I asked the client to extent the deadline "pro rata", but they said they cannot do as the end client is really whimsical and I understand the point of the PM of the agency - they "dance upon the music" ordered by that client and they simply do not quite dare to remind them "sorry, guys, but this was you who delayed with the texts". Then I asked for some extra rate, but they said the budget is set for the project... Well, my fault in some sense that I confirmed the order without having the source files, but do you think it is a common practice to squeeze in the source text that was several days late to come into a non-flexible deadline?

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:24
English to French
+ ...
I would decline Nov 27, 2007

I would simply decline this project. It makes no sense - and you are no MT engine. You got a good amount of stress also, and if you accept, you will still get more. Did your proposed rate factor that in?

Yes, the agency is dancing to the music - and because they decided to, now you have to dance to it too. They made the wrong decision by dancing to the music - but you don't have to. It is YOUR decision. The original PO stated that you would get the source files the day after - you got them three days late. I would tell them to either modify the PO or find somebody else who is ready to sacrifice sleep for reasons that cannot be justified.

If you accept the project, guess who they will call next time they have a project with an unrealistic deadline. At that point, don't even try to negotiate an emergency fee - it will be too late.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 19:24
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yes, but Nov 27, 2007

Don't you think it is also my own fault because I confirmed the project just having the PO and having NO source files yet? I could simply say, well, if you need it done, say, in 5 days (when we agreed on the turnaround), so I will do it in 5 days JUST when I get the PO AND the source file(s)?

I have some intent to dance upon their music - they are good clients, and we never had cases like that - all things before were 1:1 as we agreed even on a verbal basis...Now saying "hey guys, you are late with the source files, and I will be late with the translation files" can be too tough...Of course, I cannot just sit and do nothing for several days in turn waiting for their files to come "some time in the nearest future"...But again - maybe I have to be more cautious on the things I confirm...Same mistake - rush confirmation that ends in working overnights...It seems that I have to learn many things too?






[Edited at 2007-11-27 02:14]


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Anne Patteet  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:24
English to French
+ ...
Something similar just happened to me last week Nov 27, 2007

The difference is that they kept adding more and more documents to this project.
And I called, this very morning, two trusted collegues to help me out (please note that it's the first time I ask for help in emergency, but you've gotta do what you've gotta do, and do it well too). I can sleep tonight!

You may want to consider that possibility if you have someone well known to you, and able to handle the type of project you have in your hands. Next time, you know what to say...

Good luck!


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:24
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
You are perfectly free to say no Nov 27, 2007

MariusV wrote:

Don't you think it is also my own fault because I confirmed the project just having the PO and having NO source files yet?



No, because you confirmed it with the implicit understanding that the files would arrive when they said they would.

I don't think you said something like "Sure, I'll do it, and don't worry if the customer is a few days late: I'll still do it by the original deadline and without even applying any rush charge" - if you did, then, yes, you have to deliver, but if not you are free from your commitment, because they have already defaulted on their part of the bargain (even though the fault may ultimately be their customer's).

If you decide to go ahead and to the job just the same, at no extra charge, and by the original deadline, be very sure to make them feel what a big favor you are doing them, and state clearly that next time you'll definitely charge a rush rate - whether or not their customers agrees to pay it to them.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 19:24
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
You acted in good faith Nov 27, 2007

There is no mistake on your part yet, but you'll make one if you now accept an unrealistic deadline. You also promised quality, which you would have to sacrifice now. That's not good for the client either. Tell them you either get more time are you'll start on other jobs right away.
Next time do not wait but take on other jobs while waiting.
cheers
Heinrich


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 19:24
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
another sub-issue Nov 27, 2007

What do you think about "pre-bookings". Say, a client (for whom one did several projects before) writes and informs "Dear... In 5-6 weeks we will have a catalogue for year 2008 translation based on the previous catalogue of year 2007 translation - this will make some 20 000 words in total. Do you think you could be interested to take this job when it comes, moreover, that we and our end client was really happy with the quality of the last job you did?". I understand that such a "pre-booking" is not confirmation of the job (neither from the side of the client, nor from the side of the translator as long as there is no real order, no PO, nor files). But can it be treated like a kind of an obligation (at least a "moral obligation") to the client. In other words, do you think it would be fair to refuse the real work when/if it comes having in mind that the "interest to cooperate on the soon-to-come project" has been already expressed?

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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:24
English to Dutch
+ ...
Tricky... Nov 27, 2007

MariusV wrote:

What do you think about "pre-bookings". Say, a client (for whom one did several projects before) writes and informs "Dear... In 5-6 weeks we will have a catalogue for year 2008 translation based on the previous catalogue of year 2007 translation - this will make some 20 000 words in total. Do you think you could be interested to take this job when it comes, moreover, that we and our end client was really happy with the quality of the last job you did?". I understand that such a "pre-booking" is not confirmation of the job (neither from the side of the client, nor from the side of the translator as long as there is no real order, no PO, nor files). But can it be treated like a kind of an obligation (at least a "moral obligation") to the client. In other words, do you think it would be fair to refuse the real work when/if it comes having in mind that the "interest to cooperate on the soon-to-come project" has been already expressed?



This is a tricky one. Now, if only they kept their end of the 'bargain' in these cases - I mean: if only they would start their announced project at the date they announced they would. But in my experience, I keep the time free from date X for Y weeks, only to find that two days before (or even after!) X the agency informs me that, regrettely, the project has suffered some delay, so it will, in fact, start at X+10 days.
Nowadays, I always tell my clients, yes, I'm probably available, but that I reserve the right to take on other assignments for as long as they don't have confirmed their project definitively.
They grumble a bit, but always accept that, as they can see my perspective too.


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Elena Robles Sanjuan  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:24
English to Spanish
None of that is your fault Nov 27, 2007

MariusV wrote:

Well, my fault in some sense that I confirmed the order without having the source files, but do you think it is a common practice to squeeze in the source text that was several days late to come into a non-flexible deadline?


Marius, as well as delivering quality etc. what you confirmed when they offered you the job was your availability at that moment in time.
If they think that your availability is going to remain the same several days later, then they either think they´re the centre of the Universe or they are taking the mickey.
The agency should have checked whether you still could do the job when the files finally arrived. You´re a business person as well...


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:24
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I agree Nov 27, 2007

Elena Robles Sanjuan wrote:

MariusV wrote:

Well, my fault in some sense that I confirmed the order without having the source files, but do you think it is a common practice to squeeze in the source text that was several days late to come into a non-flexible deadline?


Marius, as well as delivering quality etc. what you confirmed when they offered you the job was your availability at that moment in time.
If they think that your availability is going to remain the same several days later, then they either think they´re the centre of the Universe or they are taking the mickey.
The agency should have checked whether you still could do the job when the files finally arrived. You´re a business person as well...


I agree with Elena. Because I'm known to be a "fast worker", I've quite often been offered rush jobs that don't arrive when promised. This has taught me, when I receive such offers, always to say "I can do it by [deadline date] provided the files arrive by [time, date], but probably not otherwise". That way, you don't get pushed into your present unhappy situation. As Elena and others have said, the situation is not your fault, but the end client's, and is therefore outside your control. You could now decline the job or suggest that the agency divide it among several translators, and suggest some suitable ones if you know any.
Best of luck,
Jenny.


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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:24
German to English
what was on the PO? Nov 27, 2007

Didn't the PO include the date the documents would arrive? If you agreed in writing to do the work without specifying any time by which you had to receive the documents, then legally you might be obliged to do it, even if the agency is acting unprofessionally in sending them so late.

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:24
Italian to English
+ ...
Pre-bookings Nov 27, 2007

MariusV wrote:

What do you think about "pre-bookings". Say, a client (for whom one did several projects before) writes and informs "Dear... In 5-6 weeks we will have a catalogue for year 2008 translation based on the previous catalogue of year 2007 translation - this will make some 20 000 words in total. Do you think you could be interested to take this job when it comes, moreover, that we and our end client was really happy with the quality of the last job you did?". I understand that such a "pre-booking" is not confirmation of the job (neither from the side of the client, nor from the side of the translator as long as there is no real order, no PO, nor files). But can it be treated like a kind of an obligation (at least a "moral obligation") to the client. In other words, do you think it would be fair to refuse the real work when/if it comes having in mind that the "interest to cooperate on the soon-to-come project" has been already expressed?



If you've already expressed interest, it wouldn't be fair to refuse the work when it comes in - provided you can negotiate a deadline which doesn't compromise work you've already accepted.
I have a client who constantly tells me "next week I'll be sending you an article to translate" and the article actually turns up a month later and needs to be translated the next day! I've had to make it very clear to him that when the article finally arrives it will have to wait until I have honoured all my other deadlines - I can't sit around refusing other work and waiting for him.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:24
English to French
+ ...
Simple Nov 27, 2007

MariusV wrote:

Say, a client (for whom one did several projects before) writes and informs "Dear... In 5-6 weeks we will have a catalogue for year 2008 translation based on the previous catalogue of year 2007 translation - this will make some 20 000 words in total.


[...]

...can it be treated like a kind of an obligation (at least a "moral obligation") to the client?[/quote]

To answer your question, this would depend on what you reply to the client. My reply would be "Please, contact me when you have more precise details. The translation project being in the distant future, it is impossible for me to foresee whether I will be busy or how busy I will be then. Once you confirm a date when source files will be available as well as the deadline, as long as I am not yet booked for that time period, I would be happy to work on your project." This confirms that you would like to work on the project, but doesn't mean you are committed. Hence, no legal or moral obligation.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:24
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
What I do... but yours is a special case Nov 28, 2007

MariusV wrote:
The source files came at last, but they were 4 days late. I asked the client to extent the deadline "pro rata"...


Well, my approach when I don't have the source files yet, is to say "I can deliver X days after receiving the source files". Naturally this applies only to trusted clients who send only one type of text ever, otherwise I'd add "...but I can only give you a final answer once I've seen the text".

I believe your case is special, however, because there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. The only thing you can do is to assume a 6 hour workday (and quote your work speed based on that) so that you have an additional 4 to 6 hours per day to spare, in case something happens. But I would only do this if what you describe happens very often... and it usually doesn't, does it?

Here's a little question for you, though. I sometimes tell clients "within 48 hours". If you were a client, would you think I mean 2 days, or 48 working hours (i.e. 48/8 = 6 days)?

Then I asked for some extra rate...


Here's an interesting issue -- what is the purpose of a rush rate?

Surely when you rush things, you are working extra hard, but if your rush rate is, say, +50%, then the rate would not reflect how much harder you're working, IMO, because you're not working just one and a half times as hard... you're working a lot harder.

I think the purpose of a rush rate is to discourage clients from rushing things, but when they do rush things, the rush rate can translate into a loss for the translator.


[Edited at 2007-11-28 06:17]


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