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Withdrawing job offers unfairly
Thread poster: Dijana Evans

Dijana Evans
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:32
Member (2009)
English to Croatian
+ ...
Oct 20, 2010

Hi everyone!

Perhaps this is all sour grapes, but in my mind, a business offer is a business offer, and it is binding for atleast a few hours unless something goes horribly wrong. In our case, we just 'shook hands' on a translation project for 16,000 words when the outsourcer withdrew their offer. The reason? They had copied the same 'job offer' email to other translators, even though it was addressed to me personally. You've guessed it, one of the other translators replied sooner. You wouldn't have known all this from reading the email, and I don't mind you reading their words as follows:

Dear Lloyd,

Thank you for replying to me.

You can find attached the confidentiality agreement and the document.

Please do send back asap the agreement as it is a pre-requisite to work with us.

The deadline is Monday morning.

I will call you within an hour to know your thoughts.

Best regards,... I won't reveal the name on here, as that would be 'unprofessional'!

I know that you're thinking - if you received this sort of email, you would have no doubts that the project belonged to you.

I pointed out to the project manager that she gave no clue in her email that I needed to respond to her email immediately to confirm that the deadline was ok, because the deadline formed part of the job that was replied to on Proz.com. Rather, the emphasis in the email is on returning the confidentiality agreement printed and signed, and I was hurriedly trying to print and sign the agreement when she phoned and told me I didn't have the job after all because another translator had replied sooner (presumably without forwarding their confidentiality agreement, which I 'stupidly' assumed was the priority when I saw the letters "ASAP").

The outsourcer has even admitted that she sent the same email to multiple translators in a bid to speed up the project. Is it just me or is this extremely unprofessional conduct by a Proz outsourcer?

As such, I should really be allowed to say atleast something on their Blue Board, but guess what! I'm not allowed to say anything because I haven't worked for them yet!

I really hope none of my professional translation colleagues on Proz have any similar experiences, because I can't tell you how frustrating it is when it happens to you.

Your colleague,


Lloyd Evans - JLE Services Ltd


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 14:32
French to Dutch
+ ...
Of course not Oct 20, 2010

Lloyd & Dijana Evans wrote:

I know that you're thinking - if you received this sort of email, you would have no doubts that the project belonged to you.



In this e-mail they ask you to send back a document. It is not a purchase order neither a confirmation or go ahead.

You can only be sure that the project is yours when it is on your table - with a PO.


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Dijana Evans
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:32
Member (2009)
English to Croatian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
When is it 'in the bag'?? Oct 20, 2010

NMR wrote:

Lloyd & Dijana Evans wrote:

I know that you're thinking - if you received this sort of email, you would have no doubts that the project belonged to you.



In this e-mail they ask you to send back a document. It is not a purchase order neither a confirmation or go ahead.

You can only be sure that the project is yours when it is on your table - with a PO.



Surely as a translator you can read between the lines and know exactly what I meant by 'the project belonging to you'. I meant in the gentleman's agreement sense, not in the legally binding sense. When a project 'belongs to you' you can breath a sigh of relief because your offer has been provisionally accepted, giving you atleast a few seconds to sort out any additional admin required, such as POs etc.

Am I completely on my own in thinking that was some form of job offer?

Lloyd


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Annamaria Amik  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:32
Romanian to English
+ ...
No job without a firm PO Oct 20, 2010

Lloyd & Dijana Evans wrote:

Surely as a translator you can read between the lines and know exactly what I meant by 'the project belonging to you'. I meant in the gentleman's agreement sense, not in the legally binding sense. When a project 'belongs to you' you can breath a sigh of relief because your offer has been provisionally accepted, giving you at least a few seconds to sort out any additional admin required, such as POs etc.

Am I completely on my own in thinking that was some form of job offer?

Lloyd


I'm afraid I must agree with NMR. While I too would be disappointed if I were you, they did not actually confirm the job, and you probably should refrain from "reading between the lines". I have been in your shoe, and I don't find it unprofessional for a big agency to send job offers to several translators, and assign it on a first come, first served basis.

Unless they actually told you to start working, "enjoy the job" or something alike, and ideally, sent you a PO stating your name, it is not really yours. They only stated their business terms and the deadline.

Don't be too disappointed, there will be plenty of other jobs and now you are a bit more experienced in handling them


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Dijana Evans
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:32
Member (2009)
English to Croatian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The way to do business Oct 20, 2010

Wow, the way we do business in our company is clearly different from the way others do business.

I take on board what you both say about it not technically being a job offer unless a PO is received or I am told to commence work, however I firmly believe that if you address an email to a translator by name, they can rightly assume that the offer has been extended to them personally, unless it contained something like "We extend this offer to you and other suitable translators on a first come, first served basis." I don't do 'cloak and dagger' at my company, so I don't expect others to.

Secondly, I don't think I expressed in the initial posting how quickly everything happened. It was literally minutes after getting the email that I got the phone call to say another translator had the job, while I was still getting the confidentiality agreement printed and signed. I think if you make a provisional job offer, you should atleast give your translator the opportunity to meet those provisions in a reasonable period of time.

Hope that clarifies things, or maybe the way I have been educated to do business doesn't translate to the 21st Century!! If nothing else, this whole experience has taught me to consider setting aside my traditional ideas of professionalism in the future, and be more like the other piranhas out there, i.e. responding to the email straight away, even without the signed agreement that they have requested. However, that probably would not have made much difference in this case, because the job was awarded to the translator with the fastest internet connection!!

Lloyd



[Edited at 2010-10-20 13:52 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-10-20 13:54 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-10-20 13:58 GMT]


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Dragomir Kovacevic  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:32
Member
Italian to Serbian
+ ...
yes and no Oct 20, 2010

Lloyd & Dijana Evans wrote:

Am I completely on my own in thinking that was some form of job offer?

Lloyd


Yes and no, Lloyd: you are partially right in your thinking. I would not have considered it a confirmation, since their mail to you, was so much obviously lacking the confirmation part.

And of course it is an incorrect behaviour to continue with mass-mailing to translators, after a round of selection. It means that the selection it was not, they probably counted on this escapism - missing PO in it.

As for me, there is that kind of risk when these jobs here are concerned. Take into account that those were 16.000 words for next Monday: a rush. A job of that size is only possible when there are 15 translators or more, available, to respond and accept it.

Let's take into discussion another point: how many times did we send or attach here or there, our complete CV-s? This kind of document is utmost private, besides being professional, but still we send it upon request, instead of adding it after the job definition.

P.S. I've seen now your usage of "translate" as passing over into a 21-st century, so I take liberty to remind you of a serbo-croat saying: "prevesti nekog žednog preko vode" - to translate someone over the river, without letting him drink. Don't please let you be translated.

D

[Edited at 2010-10-20 13:56 GMT]


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Ana Cuesta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:32
Member
English to Spanish
Calling you after shaking hands? What for? Oct 20, 2010



I will call you within an hour to know your thoughts.



I think this sentence alone gives it away that they didn't see the matter as finalized as you considered it.

I have gone through similar exchanges and, I agree, the first time it was a bit disconcerting to realise they had emailed other translators at the same time even though their email was personally addressed to myself. By now I have learned my lesson and don't consider anything finalized until it has been explicitely said so (it works both ways, by the way, I don't refuse other work that may arrive in the meantime either, and I make it clear to them I won't).


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Dijana Evans
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:32
Member (2009)
English to Croatian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Emailing the files Oct 20, 2010

I should point out, that despite not having yet received a confidentiality agreement, the outsourcer also sent the files for the translation with the so-called "offer", giving the whole thing an added sense of finality. Goodness knows how the end client would feel if they knew their documents had been emailed around the world so indiscriminately.

I know how I would feel! And again, it's not the way I would do business.

Lloyd

[Edited at 2010-10-20 14:14 GMT]


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 15:32
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Alas Oct 20, 2010

Unfortunately, this happens all too often. My advice is: take it with a grain of salt, and move on.

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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:32
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Purchase Order / Unprofessional Behavior Oct 20, 2010

Based on the e-mail, I would have assumed they had assigned me the project. However, I would not have started working on it until I received the purchase order.

Nevertheless, you are probably better off because the agency has already shown itself to be somewhat unprofessional in several ways. They contacted several unknown (to them) and untested translators to perform a large project; they assigned the job not based on qualifications, but based on the first person to reply and the project manger seems to be quite disorganized and the company too quick to accept a project before they have the required resources in place.


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Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:32
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Difference in rates offered? Oct 20, 2010

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

Based on the e-mail, I would have assumed they had assigned me the project.



I quite agree with Jeff. I would have understood that I had got the job. However, hearing the contrary a little later wouldn't have surprised me either.
Jeff Whittaker wrote:

they assigned the job not based on qualifications, but based on the first person to reply




Not sure that I agree here. I suspect that the agency took the lowest rate offered and it was easier for it to attribute the situation to someone replying "sooner" than "at a rock-bottom rate".


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:32
French to English
agreed Oct 20, 2010

Ana Cuesta wrote:



I will call you within an hour to know your thoughts.



I think this sentence alone gives it away that they didn't see the matter as finalized as you considered it.

Exactly. And neither is there anything else that even hints at exclusivity of negotiations, still less an instruction to proceed.

Who knows, perhaps the client has seen all the posters on here getting their knickers in a twist about signing confidentiality agreements in recent times, and decided to take no chances in case they were dealing with someone of that kind. (Which I'm sure the OP is not.)

Oh, and incidentally, do not all upstanding professionals maintain the confidentiality of every document they are sent, regardless of whether we have signed anything or been assigned the work? One assumes the agency recognised the OP as such, hence had no concerns about sending the document for his assessment prior to signing anything. Or does the OP think he is now at liberty to distribute the doc to all and sundry, having signed no agreement nor been given the job?


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:32
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Did you sign the agreement? (You shouldn't have...) Oct 20, 2010

Lloyd & Dijana Evans wrote:
I know that you're thinking - if you received this sort of email, you would have no doubts that the project belonged to you.

Unfortunately in today's world you can be sure that you have the job if A) this came from a regular customer or B) a new customer sent you a PO.

I think the customer did not expressely say that they expected the translation from you. They only expected you to return the signed agreement.

Next time you might want to make sure you have a firm PO before signing any agreement. Now it is very possible that you are bound to this company by an agreement... for no job in exchange.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Lloyd Oct 20, 2010

Lloyd & Dijana Evans wrote:
I pointed out to the project manager that she gave no clue in her email that I needed to respond to her email immediately ... Rather, the emphasis in the email is on returning the confidentiality agreement printed and signed...


I believe that the client did nothing wrong, but I also believe that it is good manners to give a translator a clue about whether he is the only translator being negotiated with and what type of response from him would be regarded as most urgent. In this case, I think the client should have told you that you are in a race against other translators.

I have a few clients who regularly send work to all and sundry, and if you don't respond soon enough, then the job is awarded to someone else and you (or me) get to have the editing portion of the job, if we want it. No matter how complex the instructions or how difficult the files, some translators seem to be able to answer "I'll take it" in a record-making time. I prefer to look at the job details (at least) before I answer in the affirmative.

One thing you can do to ensure that you are closer to the front of the queue is to reply immediately with a confirmation that you had received the file and that the client can expect a reply from you with the final answer within X minutes. If you are the client's preferred translator, he may wait for your second message, even if a competitor has faster replying skills.

...and I was hurriedly trying to print and sign the agreement when she phoned and told me I didn't have the job after all because another translator had replied sooner...


Well, at least she had the good manners to tell you as soon as the job was awarded. Many clients would simply wait until they hear from you again before replying that the job is already taken.

Is it just me or is this extremely unprofessional conduct by a Proz outsourcer?


There is nothing unprofessional about it, although it would be kinder of the client to be clearer about the fact that speed in replying anything was more important than speed in sending the signed document. Anyone can break off negotiations at any time, and there is nothing unprofessional about it unless the client had been wasting your time deliberately.


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Dijana Evans
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:32
Member (2009)
English to Croatian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Confidentiality Oct 20, 2010

Hi Charlie

In my view, professionalism in the modern age involves assuming nothing, so just because I'm on the internet as a professional translator doesn't necessarily make me trustworthy. Therefore it IS unprofessional to email potentially sensitive documents to 'all and sundry' if there is no established professional relationship with those to whom you are emailing the documents.

Goodness knows what your company's definition of confidentiality is, but I'm pretty sure it's not the same as mine!

By the way Charlie, the name's Lloyd, not OP!

Lloyd

[Edited at 2010-10-20 14:35 GMT]


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