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Feeling like an agency's "fine print" is fishy...
Thread poster: Anne Pinaglia

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:50
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
Negotiate Nov 30, 2011

These terms and conditions may often be written by outside lawyers who have little idea of how the business actually works. Don't take it personally, but rather submit your own Terms & Conditions. If a reasonable agency wants your work sufficiently - in other words, they can live with your price and they are convinced about your quality and ability to meet their deadline - in a fair proportion of cases they will find a way around overly stringent terms.

I have had quite a few agen
... See more
These terms and conditions may often be written by outside lawyers who have little idea of how the business actually works. Don't take it personally, but rather submit your own Terms & Conditions. If a reasonable agency wants your work sufficiently - in other words, they can live with your price and they are convinced about your quality and ability to meet their deadline - in a fair proportion of cases they will find a way around overly stringent terms.

I have had quite a few agencies who, when I disagreed with some condition, agreed to my change.
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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:50
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
"Gimme tha' or I kill you!" Nov 30, 2011

Peter Linton wrote:
Many translators get upset by the harsh realities of commercial life and the brutal wording in contracts. They want to be treated gently and politely, even respectfully. Understandable, but not businesslike.

Sorry Peter, but so far I have never signed any contract containing "brutal wording", and I have signed my share already. What I want is clear wording from professional people, not threats from bullies.


 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 14:50
English to Czech
+ ...
A few comments Nov 30, 2011

Here are a few technical thoughts on this:


- if Trados is required and we don't receive the UNCLEAN file back, the job is not going to be paid

If technical issues arise that prevent you from cleaning up the file (e.g. you are translating an INX file and the agency and you both have a different file filter version), what are you supposed to do?

- please deliver a zip file containing CLEAN and UNCLEAN files with the corresponding TM

Fully legitimate, unless issues arise as mentioned above.

- AGENCY will be entitled to charge the translator a penalty fee where it has been proven that the completed job does not meet quality requirements.

What quality requirements? Have you received an exhaustive list of items that will be checked?

In case of late delivery the following discounts will be applied to the agreed rate:

within 3 hours after the deadline - 10% discount
within 6 hours after the deadline - 20% discount
within 12 hours after the deadline - 30% discount
more than 12 hours from the deadline - 50% discount

I agree with what others have said, that a serious professional will always do his/her best to deliver his/her work on time. However, there might be technical issues, Act of God etc. that you can have little or no influence on. What is going to happen in that case?

If the answers to the above questions are stipulated in the contract, I would just forget about the agency and move on.

[Upraveno: 2011-11-30 20:54 GMT]


 

Rosa Grau (X)
Spain
Local time: 14:50
English to Catalan
+ ...
More than 1 day of delay: 100% to be deducted from the invoice. Dec 1, 2011

This is what I was recently asked to sign by an agency. Of course, I will not sign it.

 

Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
Member
French to English
+ ...
The devil's in the detail Dec 1, 2011

Having to abide by certain requirements is fine per se, but the problem is that whatever they may be, translation is such a highly complex and subjective business that they may be vague or leave room for different interpretations. If the amount paid to you didn't depend on how they are interpreted and applied, then at least you could rest assured that you will receive your full rate, but in this case the final arbiter will be an agency that has a poor track record, albeit under multiple aliases,... See more
Having to abide by certain requirements is fine per se, but the problem is that whatever they may be, translation is such a highly complex and subjective business that they may be vague or leave room for different interpretations. If the amount paid to you didn't depend on how they are interpreted and applied, then at least you could rest assured that you will receive your full rate, but in this case the final arbiter will be an agency that has a poor track record, albeit under multiple aliases, and a very strong financial incentive to interpret those requirements to its own advantage. Accepting their terms effectively means that you are taking a leap of faith with a company that sounds less than trustworthy, so on balance, I would steer clear of it.

[Edited at 2011-12-01 11:25 GMT]
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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 14:50
English to Russian
+ ...
These terms are theoretically legitimate, but... Dec 1, 2011

...they should remember the old adage: "Fast, good, cheap - pick any two". If they are serious about enforcing these terms, they should be prepared to pay serious rates. In other words, if I agree to sign a contract on such terms, I will factor my risk of being late for whatever reason into the rate I charge them.

 

3ADE shadab
Local time: 18:20
Hindi to English
+ ...
This cannot be the way of business Dec 1, 2011

Well in business these kinds of threats (I would love to call these as threats only because there are no other appropriate words can be used here) can cost the company a lot. Being a businessman I don’t think such kind of clause can really work as a mean of rule because only a fresher who wants work like anything can carve for assignments like this but no experienced translator will agree to go into such terms. May be according to their concern they are having an extremely strict regulation bu... See more
Well in business these kinds of threats (I would love to call these as threats only because there are no other appropriate words can be used here) can cost the company a lot. Being a businessman I don’t think such kind of clause can really work as a mean of rule because only a fresher who wants work like anything can carve for assignments like this but no experienced translator will agree to go into such terms. May be according to their concern they are having an extremely strict regulation but this can never take them to any positive path.Collapse


 

S_Marta
Russian Federation
Local time: 15:50
English to Russian
+ ...
--- Dec 2, 2011

Similar penalty clauses have been discussed many times here. One of the (numerous) reasons not to sign such a contract is that it doesn't specify what should be done in case you and the agency differ in assessment of you work. What if the editor's/reviewer's comments don't seem fair to you? And my rough guess is that the contract provides for fines only for translators, but not for the customer, right? In short, I never sign similar "bully's threats", as someone has aptly put it.

 

B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:50
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Beware Dec 20, 2011

Samuel Murray wrote:

Anne and Paolo wrote:
In case of late delivery the following discounts will be applied to the agreed rate:
within 3 hours after the deadline - 10% discount
within 6 hours after the deadline - 20% discount
within 12 hours after the deadline - 30% discount
more than 12 hours from the deadline - 50% discount


One of my clients have terms that are very, very similar to all those you mention. They pay reasonable rates and they always pay on time, and I've never had them deduct anything.


I suggest that Samuel should add the word "yet" to the end of his comment. Unfair terms of contract can be used as a fall-back, to be implemented only in the event that the agency has financial problems. That way, they can get a good reputation through paying promptly and not making the above deductions. However, at the first sign of a cash-flow problem they can use these discounts as a piggy-bank. So, you could find that, after several years of working with them with no problems, suddenly they find an excuse to avoid paying you in full.


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
French to English
No issue Dec 20, 2011

Anne and Paolo wrote:

Just curious how other people would feel if they received an offer containing this kind of language

- if Trados is required and we don't receive the UNCLEAN file back, the job is not going to be paid

My intuition is telling me that if right off the bat they're finding ways NOT to pay you - or even charge you! - it's not a good sign.


In response to the question of my feelings on the "kind of language", I have none. Use of "don't" in a contract in that way strikes me as odd, but no sentiment is aroused in me. It's a contracxt, it's supposed to be stern. Now some non-contractual email exchanges with customers can leave me needing to go for a lie down in a dark room for a while, but I refuse to get all excited about contract clauses.

And having read the utterly pathetic whining of people (in other threads, I hasten to add) who fail to understand the concept of a deadline and seem to confuse it with guideline, I can completely understand the need to clamp down on abuse. Next time I outsource (I do so only rarely), I'll be hitting late delivery like a hammer wielded by an angry god. The active forum contributors are no doubt all exemplary in this respect, but even my limited experience tells me that too many people are very casual about the whole idea.

In terms of deliverables, it might be nice to see an addition for reminders in the event of oversight by the translator, of course. I suspect the clause is there to stop people taking on jobs where they can't deliver what is required, but it should be more explicit if that is the case, and make an allowance for forgetfulness or clicking send before doing the attachment otherwise.

But in general, as so often in thread of this type, I'm in a minority who see no overall issue, just the odd tweak needed. But then I translate a fair number of contracts, and you should see the stuff "partners" (ha!) in other industries are asked to sign. We get off pretty lightly, IMHO.


 

Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:50
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Not a serious approach Dec 20, 2011

Anne and Paolo wrote:
- translator agrees to undertake modifications as required at NO additional charge - unless new material is added

I would interpret this as follows: "Unless new material is added, whenever necessary, whatever I (we) decide to change you must always react and incorporate such changes at... NO additional charge".
= That's the spirit =


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
French to English
Not wrong about "changes" Dec 20, 2011

Good point, overlooked that one. Would also need a tweak or two. My assumption is that the clause is intended to cover e.g. terminology preferences that were overlooked, or forgetting to generate the TOC or to translate a footnote or two.

You know, the kind of thing people make threads about, because they've had €100 deducted for using "turnover" instead of "revenue" and they think that these are the sort of changes, that, er... the client should ask the translator to make free o
... See more
Good point, overlooked that one. Would also need a tweak or two. My assumption is that the clause is intended to cover e.g. terminology preferences that were overlooked, or forgetting to generate the TOC or to translate a footnote or two.

You know, the kind of thing people make threads about, because they've had €100 deducted for using "turnover" instead of "revenue" and they think that these are the sort of changes, that, er... the client should ask the translator to make free of charge after delivery.

But yes, it is open to abuse as written, and assumptions should always be clarified
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Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:50
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Avoiding pitfalls Dec 20, 2011

Charlie Bavington wrote:
should ask the translator to make free of charge after delivery.

Sure, this is the normal case needing no special "clause". But there must be reasonable limits.


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
French to English
Once you start putting things in writing... Dec 20, 2011

Radian Yazynin wrote:

Charlie Bavington wrote:
should ask the translator to make free of charge after delivery.

Sure, this is the normal case needing no special "clause". But there must be reasonable limits.

... it's hard to stop

I agree that under normal circumstance we all have a feeling about what is "normal", fair, reasonable, etc. But we see enough people having difficulty with these kind of issues that, if there is going to be a fairly comprehensive agreement in place, as appears to be the case here, you may as well get it all said, in writing. Especially if the clause proposed is ambiguous. After all, it could indeed be that the agency would use it to get the OP to do major discretionary rework of a kind one might usually expect to get paid extra for doing.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
The point Dec 20, 2011

B D Finch wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
Anne and Paolo wrote:
In case of late delivery the following discounts will be applied to the agreed rate...

One of my clients have terms that are very, very similar to all those you mention. They pay reasonable rates and they always pay on time, and I've never had them deduct anything.

I suggest that Samuel should add the word "yet" to the end of his comment.


The point of my reply was that you should not assume that the presence of such a clause is a sure sign that an agency intends to use it as a backdoor for when the going gets tough. Now your reply to my reply says exactly that, namely that we should assume that this clause means that sooner or later the agency will make use of it for a purpose that it was not intended for.

Your point also seems to be that the fact that the agency charges fees for late delivery is proof that the agency will also pay late (or have a tendency to pay late). Those two things have nothing to do with each other and the one does not lead to the other.

Besides, if the agency is sufficiently dishonest to abuse such a clause, then they would not need such a clause in order to be dishonest in the first place.


 
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