client doesn't respond: to translate or not?
Thread poster: Patricia Rosas

Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:13
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 22, 2010

Hi, fellow ProZers!

I'm in a situation that I've never encountered before. Yesterday, a student e-mailed, having been referred by one of my direct clients. There were some aspects of our exchange that sent up a red flag, but I decided to explore taking on the project.

Then, without discussing the details with me, she sent the first of a series of documents (saying essentially "get going!"). She gave a due date of "Friday, September 31" (sic) (this was the first indication that the job would be a rush one, and I hadn't calculated that into my quote).

I let the rush-job-rate issue go, but I asked if I could involve a colleague, to ensure meeting the deadline, and I also asked for clarification since next Friday is actually October 1.

I got no reply. This morning I wrote both her g-mail account and her Blackberry, saying (in Spanish), "Not having heard from you, I assume that you've given the job to someone else. Can you please confirm that?"

Again, no response. I wrote a third time approximately 4 hours ago, and nothing.

Do you think that she is writing frantically (which was what she indicated in one of her messages) and has simply turned her Blackberry off? Not likely, right? But why not respond in a brief message?

What would you do if you were in my shoes?

She isn't an agency but a person who needs help, so I worry about letting her down. But the uncertainty is making a mess of my scheduling and has been a distraction all day.



Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:13
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Your direct client will understand Sep 22, 2010

Hi Patricia,

Send the student a closing message to tell her the deal is off because she didn't respond to your messages.

She's young and that will teach her how to treat people she depends on for the rest of her life.



Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:13
English to German
+ ...
Have you called her on the phone? Sep 22, 2010

Other than that, I agree with Gerard.


patyjs  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:13
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree with sending another message Sep 22, 2010

but I'd say I will hold off until she gets back to me. That way you're not turning her down altogether but she'll certainly have to renegotiate the deadline with you (and maybe the price).

And I wouldn't turn anything down in the meantime.

It's probably her first time...icon_wink.gif

Saludos Patricia


Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:13
Spanish to English
+ ...
she wrote! Sep 22, 2010

Dear Nicole and Gerard (and Patty, too!),

Thank you for the advice--and especially mentioning the telephone, Nicole! Too often I overlook it.

The job is "off" because the U.S. government agency didn't have funds for it (even though yesterday she said they did).

The funding part I left out in my original post, but in case it serves as a lesson for others, I'll share it:

The woman writes saying that she needs a 100-page report translated and asking for my rates. Knowing she's a student in Mexico City, I quote my student rate for people in Mexico who are paying out of pocket.

It turned out that she has been contracted by this U.S. government agency, they are paying her to do the report, and yesterday, she said they had money to pay a translator (now it appears that they don't, or they don't have enough to cover what I was going to charge).

If I'd known that from the start (rather than making assumptions), I'd have set the price 25% - 30% higher.

I'll know next time to tell the person inquiring about my availability etc. to "slow down" -- she didn't give me enough details, and she "closed the deal" way too fast.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

[Edited at 2010-09-22 22:56 GMT]


Stephen Franke
United States
Local time: 22:13
English to Arabic
+ ...
Most-unusual engagement of a student by a US Government agency Sep 22, 2010


As a side observation by this linguist with some professional mileage dealing within and on behalf of the US Government [USG], may I comment to the original -- and very dubious -- situation mentioned in this thread:

It is most unusual that, as described, a USG agency would select and engage a student -- especially one residing in a foreign country -- for a report, including its translation, instead of requiring the services of a professional translator or one of the many language services agencies registered as vendors with most organizations of the USG.

Before any translator can undertake such a sponsored/fee-paid production, the USG agency engaging the translator's services must first issue a PO/JO/contract with the signatures of the contracting/purchasing official[s] to insure an established financial and legal paper trail for a number of good reasons.

Also, USG agencies do not operate that rapidly in requiring production and delivery of a translation of a document of that size within that short period.

Hope this helps.


Stephen H. Franke
English-Arabic, Persian,
and Kurdish [Kurmanci only]
San Pedro, California

[Edited at 2010-09-22 23:29 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-09-22 23:32 GMT]


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:13
English to Spanish
+ ...
Next time... Sep 23, 2010

Good for you, now next time you get something like that you'll know how to deal with it!


Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:13
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
You did well Sep 23, 2010

Despite the initial lack of information you were wise not to do anything before confirming. You customer sounds like a rather inexperienced person who needs to be "trained".

If I were you I would be feeling good for making the decisions that led to you avoiding doing unnecessary and unpaid work.


Mr Florida
Local time: 01:13
German to English
+ ...
Variable rates, purchase order Sep 23, 2010

I don't see why you offer different rates, but that's just me. From a practical viewpoint, working without a written purchase order from the client opens a can of worms, so perhaps it's time to think about your own workflow.


hazmatgerman (X)
Local time: 07:13
English to German
Complete Sep 23, 2010

agreement with S. Franke on circumstances. My conclusion would have been "lame excuse".


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client doesn't respond: to translate or not?

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