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

Anne Pinaglia
Netherlands
Local time: 10:41
Member (2011)
Italian to English
+ ...
Nov 30, 2011

Just curious how other people would feel if they received an offer containing this kind of language in thie "fine print" (this is the best of it):


- if Trados is required and we don't receive the UNCLEAN file back, the job is not going to be paid
- please deliver a zip file containing CLEAN and UNCLEAN files with the corresponding TM
- 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. Where this is the case, the penalty fee will be subtracted from the final amount to be paid to the translator. 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

- translator agrees to undertake modifications as required at NO additional charge - unless new material is added



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.


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JL01  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:41
English to French
+ ...
Let's keep it simple: Nov 30, 2011

If it SOUNDS fishy, it probably is.

Reminder: this is business, not school assignments. No one has to work with a customer they don't like.


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Mailand  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:41
Italian to German
+ ...
I would consider accepting ... Nov 30, 2011

... if a payment being made 12 hours late would result in a 50% higher fee!

No, just joking - this reads like a threat, not a working agreement and I wouldn´t feel like working under these conditions.

And what is

"translator agrees to undertake modifications as required at NO additional charge - unless new material is added"

supposed to mean? If whole passages are changed, but no "new material" added, I have to agree to do the additional work without additional charge?

I probably have a view through "rose-tinted" glasses about cooperation between us, agencies and clients, but that is what it should be: a cooperation. This looks like a trip back in time: Keep your head down, no talking between workers, 10 hours a day (at least) - you name it ....


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:41
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
The other side of the equation? Nov 30, 2011

Do they go into just as much detail about their side of things? If they do, then I suppose it is at least in part valid.
- Do they agree to check everything before you receive it to make sure everything is translatable?
- Do they provide every bit of information they possibly can about the text, to give you added context?
- Do they agree to take up every query with the end client and deliver a complete answer promptly?
- Do they...?

I personally don't like being made to feel as though I'm just part of a production process rather than a human being providing a service. I bet they don't mention adding 10% for "going the extra mile", do they?

Sheila


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
One of my clients Nov 30, 2011

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.


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Anne Pinaglia
Netherlands
Local time: 10:41
Member (2011)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
They don't, Nov 30, 2011

and they even sent me a client's file when I hadn't signed an NDA, then the day later I got a standarized email requesting my information. (I refused the job.)

This agency is under a new name with good reviews, but its old names have terrible, terrible reviews. :-/


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:41
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Exactly Nov 30, 2011

Mailand wrote:
I would consider accepting...
... if a payment being made 12 hours late would result in a 50% higher fee!

Exactly my thoughts.

We are not children in kindergarten. These conditions are unacceptable. Personally I would not work for such an agency.

Edited to add this: My concern about the conditions is not in the conditions themselves, since any professional translator knows how to make sure that everything is delivered on time. What I dislike is the language, and the fact that they do not make themselves responsible for anything and consider the translator the one to blame for anything.

I also think that with this attitude no serious translator will commit to do any jobs for them that: a) are urgent; b) require any research; c) contain any kind of defect or doubtful expression in the source text... i.e. about 80% of all jobs in our business.

[Edited at 2011-11-30 18:21 GMT]


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Anne Pinaglia
Netherlands
Local time: 10:41
Member (2011)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I don't have a problem with the late part Nov 30, 2011

I think that's legit.

I just think that sending a potential translator a note saying "would you like this job?" with terms and conditions in the email that outline how they will not pay you (instead of just having you sign an NDA with the same info...?) is a bit... threatening. Yes, that's the word.

I dont have any concern about my quality of work, but what if they send me a file that is not in correct English? What if it's not what I agreed to? Who decides if my translation is quality enough to justify payment? Surely scams have been run this way before. (Not saying they are scammers.)

I just feel like it's a lot of grey area.


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:41
Swedish to English
+ ...
I like the "more than" Nov 30, 2011

Anne and Paolo wrote:


- 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. Where this is the case, the penalty fee will be subtracted from the final amount to be paid to the translator. In case of late delivery the following discounts will be applied to the agreed rate:

...
more than 12 hours from the deadline - 50% discount




So you could submit 5 weeks late, i.e. more than 12 hours, and still expect to be paid 50% of the originally agreed amount?

Or even a year later?

[Edited at 2011-11-30 18:30 GMT]


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:41
Hebrew to English
Where's the respect? Nov 30, 2011

It seems to me that this agency does not respect its translators. Other posters are right, the tone and overall force of the quoted passage feels like a threat (well several threats).

I fail to see the respect in an agency barking terms at you like this.

Clearly a lot of thought has gone into this - how to pay less wherever possible.

Samuel may have a point, and it may just be a case of sabre-rattling, with little or no intention of invoking these terms. Even so, personally I'm not sure I'd be comfortable doing a job wearing such a tight straitjacket.

And don't get me started on agencies sending sensitive information with no agreement on confidentiality (no NDA). Recently I had one agency who sent me a few indictments for a "potential job" which never materialized. Not even a sample - the whole thing - with no obligation on my part to keep what I had received confidential. Amazing.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:41
French to German
+ ...
The thing that counts... Nov 30, 2011

is that these terms are there... to be invoked.

I never have seen a serious lawyer writing down something for the sake of showing off.

Also... I never managed to get agencies so far that they would finally disclose their "quality standards". Secrecy much?

[Edited at 2011-11-30 18:53 GMT]


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:41
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Harsh but businesslike Nov 30, 2011

Anne and Paolo wrote:
... threatening. Yes, that's the word.

Yes, threatening. But don't take it personally – it's just business. 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.

If you have no concern about the quality of your work, or meeting tight deadlines, then the requirements and penalties described in this contract will not affect you. There may be other reasons for not doing business with this company. But strict contract terms should not be one of them.


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Not a good sign, but... Nov 30, 2011

As others have mentioned, the language (tone) alone would probably be enough to to turn me away.

However, just to give them the benefit of the doubt (and since I don't know any details about this agency), is it possible this is not the original version of their contract - that it is a translation?

For example, it would be highly unlikely that a native speaker of English would state that the company would impose a "discount" - after all, a discount is something you as the "seller" grant your "customer" for some special reason. They may impose a fine, a penalty, perhaps even a reduction... you get my drift.

Perhaps if it is a translation, you could ask to see the original before making up your mind (if it is in a language you or someone you trust can read). As I'm sure every one of us realizes, a poor translation can certainly misrepresent the tone of a document, not to mention the terminology itself. There is a possibility - albeit a slight one - that if there is an original document out there, it is not quite as bad as this one (certainly) looks.

- - - -
Response to Peter:
I would disagree that "it's just business" or even that it is "businesslike". There are right and wrong ways to go about business, and insisting that someone sign ambiguous or detrimental contract clauses is, in my book, the wrong way.

Remember, 1) there is no clause in the contract (that we know of) for how it is "proven that the completed job does not meet quality requirements", 2) there is no definition or explanation of the "modifications" that are expected free of charge, and 3) they just flat out state that the job won't be paid if an "unclean" file and "TM" are not delivered - never mind that the project has been completed and delivered (performance), never mind that the translator may simply have forgotten.

If I am required to deliver a CAT file and I forget, those who do business with me simply remind me - that is businesslike. Instead, this company allows itself the liberty of simply NOT PAYING. I don't call that businesslike at all. I think there is a big difference in those "business" approaches, and I think it is very important not to take contract terms - indicative of the approach - lightly.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:41
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I can't agree Nov 30, 2011

Peter Linton wrote:
They want to be treated gently and politely, even respectfully. Understandable, but not businesslike.


I believe it is totally in line with good business practices to treat your partners with respect and to expect them to reciprocate. Notice the word PARTNERS. Politeness and respect are absolute necessities in a civilised society.

Where some freelancers go wrong is in expecting business partners to be kind and forgiving when things go wrong - perhaps I agree with your 'gentle'. If something goes wrong, even if it's illness involving the freelancer or immediate family, there is still a contract to be fulfilled, a deadline to be met. And if the quality of your work is poor, then you must expect to be treated harshly. It's hard, but that's business.

Sheila


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:41
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
What agency Nov 30, 2011

What agency are you talking about. They are a bunch of kids with pink laptops working from Starbucks.
That's why they treat you as if you are a "computer". They have "terms"... well, la de da.

They' re nobodies. My 9 year old daughter has more money than them. And real estate too.

And even Walmart has easier terms for their vendors.

This industry looks more and more like a tightass, bad-taste and boring version of Disneyland.

Throw the "contract" away, you can download much better ones for free. "Agencies" are a penny a dozen.


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