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On never slamming the door
Thread poster: Andrew Morris

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
Apr 18

For many years I worked for a major provincial museum. At some point, when several museums were brought under one organisation, the translations were cut off because suddenly everything had to pass through bids for tender.

Bids for tender bore me to tears, and I bowed out.

Subsequently, each time they asked for a quote, I wrote back, quite politely but firmly, that I wasn't interested in bidding on price.

So they disappeared from my map. But yesterday, a m
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For many years I worked for a major provincial museum. At some point, when several museums were brought under one organisation, the translations were cut off because suddenly everything had to pass through bids for tender.

Bids for tender bore me to tears, and I bowed out.

Subsequently, each time they asked for a quote, I wrote back, quite politely but firmly, that I wasn't interested in bidding on price.

So they disappeared from my map. But yesterday, a museum I'd never heard of in the same region got in touch, asking for a quote.

Slightly wary, I wrote back to ask if this was a tender again, or based on a personal recommendation?

Well it turned out to be a personal recommendation, from the man who was once director of the provincial museum.

All's well that ends well.

Just goes to show you can close the door gently, but never slam it shut...

Question: is it ever right to lose your temper with a client (assuming they have not been completely exploitative or done something unethical/illegal)?
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Kuochoe Nikoi
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 05:25
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
On never slamming the door Apr 18

Over the years, my "strategy" has been to stay calm, cool, collected and firm whatever the circumstances. Life is too short to be angry, rudeness gets you nowhere and, on the contrary, politeness does pay...

Andrew Morris
Ester Vidal
Thayenga
Sabrina Bruna
ahartje
Helia & Jordan
Oleksandr Ivanov
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Couldn't agree more Apr 18

@Teresa, absolutely. And yet we hear so many stories of "telling the client what's what" that I begin to wonder if your (our) attitude is so widespread...

 

Vera Schoen  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 06:25
Member (2008)
German to Swedish
+ ...
On being rude Apr 18

I don’t believe translators losing their temper with their clients/outsourcers are that common at all.
If one wants to have a viable business one has to treat one’s partners with respect. Those who aren’t mincing their words or are rude will not last for very long, I think. It’s the same with clients/outsourcers: if they are known to be unpleasant, successful translators will avoid them like the plague.


[Edited at 2019-04-18 11:47 GMT]


Kaspars Melkis
ahartje
Morano El-Kholy
Diana Coada
Tradupro17
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Joanna Posylek
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 05:25
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Attitudes Apr 18

Andrew Morris wrote:

@Teresa, absolutely. And yet we hear so many stories of "telling the client what's what" that I begin to wonder if your (our) attitude is so widespread...


I’m always astonished by stories I hear here on Proz and, most of all, about the things that were said by translators to agencies and vice-versa.


Andrew Morris
Sheila Wilson
ahartje
Dan Lucas
Diana Coada
Josephine Cassar
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
A tale of two translators Apr 18

@vera, I've seen many many examples. I'm not saying "all" or even "most" translators. I wouldn't presume.

But yes, I've seen some examples of incredible rudeness, in which a colleague not only blasts a client, but then parades the example on social media, to the general approbation of their followers. So it's definitely a "thing" and one that's worth raising...


Teresa Borges
Valérie Ourset
 

Vera Schoen  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 06:25
Member (2008)
German to Swedish
+ ...
Yes, but ... Apr 18

… how long do they last?
Why would anyone want to have anything to do with people "who are telling it as it is"?
Yes, I too have read shocking stories, but these people seem to vanish into thin air after a while.


Edited for misspelled word.


[Edited at 2019-04-18 12:14 GMT]


 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Well, then... Apr 18

We're in total agreement. ProZ.com's mission is to help people achieve their business objectives and fulfil their potential... *in the long term.*

My argument today (and it's one I'll come back to in future posts) is that we need to focus more attention on the human factor. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own prowess as wordsmiths that we lose sight of the fact that this business (all business?) is about people as much as it's about words.


Vera Schoen
Teresa Borges
Thayenga
 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:25
German to English
On the other hand ... Apr 18

I tend to maintain long-term relationships with my clients. In some cases, the relationships are quite formal, in others, we interact a much more friendly manner (first names, holiday greetings, etc.). Disagreements are rare, and in the case of agencies, end-customer issues are easily resolved. In short, I am a low-drama business person.

However, around the turn of this century, I worked for 2 years with an agency whose owner was (and is) famous for his lawsuits (although he usually
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I tend to maintain long-term relationships with my clients. In some cases, the relationships are quite formal, in others, we interact a much more friendly manner (first names, holiday greetings, etc.). Disagreements are rare, and in the case of agencies, end-customer issues are easily resolved. In short, I am a low-drama business person.

However, around the turn of this century, I worked for 2 years with an agency whose owner was (and is) famous for his lawsuits (although he usually paid on time, and the jobs were interesting). I was sent a project on office procedures for a transportation company. The procedures manual was a mess, written in a variety of styles and generally incoherently formulated. I submitted the job on time and was paid about 6 weeks later. Two weeks after that (that is, two months after delivery), I got a nasty e-mail from the agency owner relaying various complaints by the end customer. The client claimed – among other things – that I hadn't used company terminology (not supplied), used a consistent (i.e. "unfriendly") style throughout the translation and that I was obviously not a native speaker of English. In conclusion the agency owner stated that my "reckless" translation was endangering people's lives (remember, this was about office procedures such as writing letters, file name conventions, etc.).

At that juncture I had my bank return the funds (as an insult) and told the man what he could do with the money.
I took no small pleasure in learning that a few months after this incident that both the end customer and the agency went out of business.
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Kuochoe Nikoi
Oleksandr Ivanov
Morano El-Kholy
Daryo
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Bad apples Apr 18

@Kevin

Oh sure, and some people are off the scale. As I wrote, my first client ever here (a pair of brothers in Paris) tried to rip me off by not paying me, until I withheld the second text I owed them. It wasn't a pretty beginning.

I've had the odd bad payer, the odd exploitative or disorganised agency, and (to turn the tables) the very odd outsourcee now and again. And yes, sometimes it's no-holds-barred stuff.

But in the VAST majority of cases, in my ex
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@Kevin

Oh sure, and some people are off the scale. As I wrote, my first client ever here (a pair of brothers in Paris) tried to rip me off by not paying me, until I withheld the second text I owed them. It wasn't a pretty beginning.

I've had the odd bad payer, the odd exploitative or disorganised agency, and (to turn the tables) the very odd outsourcee now and again. And yes, sometimes it's no-holds-barred stuff.

But in the VAST majority of cases, in my experience, the diplomatic route wins out every time. I like "low-drama", and I'd prefer to be a "low-maintenance" service provider every time...
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Teresa Borges
 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:25
German to English
Rudeness never pays off Apr 18

Andrew Morris wrote:

But in the VAST majority of cases, in my experience, the diplomatic route wins out every time. I like "low-drama", and I'd prefer to be a "low-maintenance" service provider every time...


I agree entirely! This incident stands out because it was the only time I've gotten nasty with a customer. Normally if an agency treats me rudely (which has happened a few times over the past 40+ years), I stop working for them without further comment. Life is too short to get worked up over things like that.


Andrew Morris
 

Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:25
Member (2007)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Sometimes enough is enough and it needs some clear words ... Apr 18

.. to clarify things, when being treated too many times as a "ressource" only and in a dominant manner: A couple of years ago I lost control when a PM (a Dutch agency) wasn´t able to create a TOC in one of my translations I delivered. The query by her was accompanied by a kind of threat and with harsh words, and in return I proposed to teach her in creating TOCs by my normal hourly rate ... Long story short: My invoice wasn´t paid in fully, it took reminders after reminders even for getting pa... See more
.. to clarify things, when being treated too many times as a "ressource" only and in a dominant manner: A couple of years ago I lost control when a PM (a Dutch agency) wasn´t able to create a TOC in one of my translations I delivered. The query by her was accompanied by a kind of threat and with harsh words, and in return I proposed to teach her in creating TOCs by my normal hourly rate ... Long story short: My invoice wasn´t paid in fully, it took reminders after reminders even for getting paid the shortened amount, I failed with a small claims procedure (it wasn´t worth the fee involving it) and the client was lost, for years. Last year they came back to me, asking for collaboration (a different PM). I told her, what happened with her colleague, and I was lucky to hear that they have fired her because of her attitude towards their suppliers and that they were willing to pay for all inconveniences I had. They did and they are one of my regular customers again.
I forgot to mention that they politely asked me to remove the not very charming BlueBoard entry I gave to them, what I did. Thank you, proZ.

[Bearbeitet am 2019-04-18 14:39 GMT]
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Andrew Morris  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:25
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Touching a nerve Apr 18

@Kevin, then it sounds like we are on the same page!

@Matthias, fully agree. Money is a particular nerve. I can take all kinds of inefficiencies in clients, rushed requests, haphazard communication, but try paying me late and I turn green and burst out of my shirt... I've sent the heavies (debt collectors) in on two occasions, so let's be clear, there are times when enough definitely IS enough.

But apart from in the most horrendous cases, these situations can often be r
... See more
@Kevin, then it sounds like we are on the same page!

@Matthias, fully agree. Money is a particular nerve. I can take all kinds of inefficiencies in clients, rushed requests, haphazard communication, but try paying me late and I turn green and burst out of my shirt... I've sent the heavies (debt collectors) in on two occasions, so let's be clear, there are times when enough definitely IS enough.

But apart from in the most horrendous cases, these situations can often be redeemed. And you seem to have done exactly that if the client has come back to you. No doubt, because you left the door slightly open...



[Edited at 2019-04-18 14:39 GMT]
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Teresa Borges
 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Love me tender.... Apr 19

Andrew Morris wrote:

At some point, when several museums were brought under one organisation, the translations were cut off because suddenly everything had to pass through bids for tender.

Bids for tender bore me to tears, and I bowed out.



LOL, when the regional govt here tried to clean up its act by putting translations out to tender, my inside contacts who wanted me to keep doing the jobs for their department just told me what the lowest bids were, and said that I should ask for the same or slightly lower rates. As it happens, they were all asking for more than my original rate anyway, so I increased mine by 20% to come into line with my "competitors".

A similar scenario occurred last year with the universities. I now have to issue a pro forma estimate in advance before being assigned the work, so I raised my rates by 20% again to compensate for the extra admin. As long as I jump through the administrative hoops, they don't seem to mind that they're actually paying more than they would if they had just continued as they did in previous years.


Andrew Morris
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
OT Apr 19

Andrew, could you stop “disappearing” your threads please? Another one went today, and it’s quite frustrating when you’ve been thinking about a response and then it doesn’t have a place to go.👍

Mirko Mainardi
Apolonia Dermit
Matthias Eng
Christel Zipfel
Michele Fauble
Teresa Borges
Germaine
 
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