Creative ways to deal with sudden project cancellation?
Thread poster: Todd Field

Todd Field  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:16
Member (2003)
Portuguese to English
Nov 26, 2003

Dear colleagues,

I have to vent a little...

Today, in working with a direct client, I was given news that a very large project was suddenly cancelled. Apparently they found another person to do the translation at a lower price. All of this happened four days after the confirmation of a written PO and five days prior to the agreed delivery date. I was about halfway through the work when I received the news.

I wrote the client explaining that "translation requires a competent, highly qualified human being to sit and perform extremely specialized analytical tasks in front of a computer screen" and that I had "already invested more than two business days' worth of work in the project, turning down other job opportunities in the process." I gave them three reasonable options: pay about 30% of the project price and receive no translation, receive what I had done (50%) for 50% of the project price, or continue with the original terms of our agreement.

The customer is in Sweden and I am in the U.S., which makes collection and negotiation challenging.

Given this scenario, I would love to hear creative "tricks and techniques" from colleagues who have been in a similar situation and who successfully negotiated their way to a fair and amicable resolution.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts,



Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
In case of cancellation halfway through Nov 26, 2003

It's generally accepted (i.e., no problem) that the job done be paid for, in my experience. The draft is submitted for the estimate, the file is cut there, and a finished product is submitted within a reasonable time shortly after.

Still the best foot forward. And nothing personal. When they get the second part, they can compare.

This is actually a better option for them than covering "lucrum cessans" for nothing.

[Edited at 2003-11-26 23:46]


Kaori Myatt  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:16
Member (2004)
English to Japanese
+ ...
That's not fair! Nov 26, 2003

If I were you, I would send them translation and invoice even if it is not finished but...before that, why don't yo
u negotiate with your client?

If he wants a lower price, you should work out if you can negotiate YOUR price...if the job is half done. Only if you think the price they are asking is appropriate...

Good luck!


Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:16
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Pick up the phone Nov 27, 2003

Best to negotiate in a more direct manner than email. Such practices I would not have believed possible from a Swedish agency.


Pablo Grosschmid  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:16
English to Spanish
+ ...
breach of contract treatment Nov 27, 2003

Immediate registered letter (also sent by fax)
Send work done + invoice for that part, plus a claim for compensation for the part cancelled.
Please post final experience on BB
You probably will not accept new jobs from them !


sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:16
English to French
Breach of contract. Nov 27, 2003

Has it occured to them that this is actually a breach of contract? Such a conduct is not acceptable in any way.

It's too late for you as you already reacted, and it would be bad form to change your mind yourself. You have given your conditions, you will have to accept their choice, providing they decide on one of the three options you offered.

Otherwise, in general, I would call them and try to make them face the fact that they DID order, and that an ORDER is not a quote request. It is legally binding.

If they have a VALID reason (Like, the product for which you translate the manual will not be sold in the target country after all, or something of that order - nothing like finding cheaper or some other crap) I would then agree to cancel the request and be paid for the work done plus 2-3 hours of my hourly rate, to cover for the time spent organizing the project.

[Edited at 2003-11-27 16:07]


Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:16
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Call them Nov 27, 2003

Just about everyone is giving good advice. I definitely would call them. Communicating by email may lead to misunderstandings in this case.
From the sounds of it, they did not cancel it because they found someone else who could do it cheaper. I understand that is only your suspicion. I think your proposed solution send by email is more than reasonable and I would expect them to accept of the options. Good luck.


Terry Thatcher Waltz, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:16
Chinese to English
+ ...
So what if it's an outsourcer?? Nov 29, 2003

What about the same situation, but it's your outsourcer that unilaterally "cancels" your project -- five hours before the delivery deadline -- without cause? In other words, you are the "client" for a change, not the translator?

I cannot believe this shabby treatment from a so-called "agency" which lists on ProZ (and accepted this job through my ProZ bid a week or so ago). I rather imagine that the whole "agency" thing is a glorification and it's a couple of guys who were once classmates or something, and perhaps the one who knew Chinese got sick or something...? But it is still highly annoying and IMHO unethical -- particularly as it is in clear breach of their own contract, which, at five or six pages, was considerably longer than the job that had to be done. icon_frown.gif


Agnieszka Hayward
Local time: 10:16
German to Polish
+ ...
completely with Edward Potter and Tayfun Torunoglu Nov 29, 2003

Do ring them. It's by far the best way of communicating overseas. Well, keep the time difference in mind... ;o)

They should pay for the work you completed plus some (I'm used to 30% over here in Poland)compensation for 'profit promised yet unobtained due to reasons not related to contracting party'.

Go for it and let us know about the outcome.
Keep my fingers crossed for you.
Best of luck.


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