Working with US clients - what should I bear in mind?
Thread poster: Emma Gledhill
Emma Gledhill
Switzerland
Local time: 12:14
German to English
+ ...
May 18, 2004

Many apologies in advance to those of you in the US, no aspersions intended at all...

Having spent the last 10 years studiously avoiding working with US clients because I understand European markets and legislation, I have today been offered a job by a US company that is specific to my location. I am considering accepting the job, but would like to know from those (based in Europe) with experience of working with US clients whether there are any pitfalls I should watch out for i.e. in what ways should I cover my back bearing in mind that the US has the reputation of being more litigational than Europe? Are there any standard practices in the US that wouldn't obviously occur to a Europe-based supplier? Any and all advice would be very welcome!
Thanks in advance


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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 12:14
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
If clients are thrustworthy: nothing special May 18, 2004

Emma Gledhill wrote:

Many apologies in advance to those of you in the US, no aspersions intended at all...

Having spent the last 10 years studiously avoiding working with US clients because I understand European markets and legislation, I have today been offered a job by a US company that is specific to my location. I am considering accepting the job, but would like to know from those (based in Europe) with experience of working with US clients whether there are any pitfalls I should watch out for i.e. in what ways should I cover my back bearing in mind that the US has the reputation of being more litigational than Europe? Are there any standard practices in the US that wouldn't obviously occur to a Europe-based supplier? Any and all advice would be very welcome!
Thanks in advance


I work(ed) with many US based clients and most of the times it's a real pleasure.
Occasionally some payments are late, but I don't remember I ever ran into a real problem.
Just make sure you have a PO and, if possible, do a background check or check the Blue Board (and - if needed - request a rating).

Good luck!

[Edited at 2004-05-18 21:49]


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Terry Gilman  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:14
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Exchange work samples May 18, 2004

If they have selected you based on samples of your work, you are ahead of the game. I would still take the precaution of asking for samples/models of related material from the company and submitting preliminary translations or editing to clarify style and terminology with the authors before you get too far along in the work. Then you have at least a small paper trail of agreements on the work itself. This isn't really specific to the U.S., but I have the impression that creating a paper trail may be "more normal" where I come from (Massachusetts) than elsewhere.

Your contacts may also need some education about timing.

I hope you have a good experience.
Terry


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:14
German to English
Different concept of deadlines May 18, 2004

I work for both American and European clients, and I've found that Europeans tend to have a better idea of what's a reasonable deadline and understand what's involved in the translation process.

I use TM tools, and almost invariably the European client can supply the original electronic document or if the piece appeared in print, a PDF of the article. This is less frequently the case in the US, and from time to time (too often to my taste) I have to work with a 3rd generation fax of a copy of a fax.

In terms of payment, many US clients, particularly agencies, increasingly tend to pay 45-60 days after receipt of invoice.
Kevin


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 13:14
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
My experience ... May 19, 2004

...in working for both European and US clients shows that the process is more streamlined with the latter. Shorter net, electronic documents are generally accepted, easy handling of invoices. There might be some paymentprelated issues - exchange, bank wire fees or the like - but the formal process is basically the same or even a bit easier than with EU clents.

Cheers,
Oleg


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davidgreen
German to English
educate them May 19, 2004

agree with Oleg Rudavin and Evert DELOOF-SYS above

US clients have less or no experience with wire transfers and in general I often had to "educate them" as to cultural/lanuage/translation issues. Payments are often 30 days after end of month you invoiced them and you may need to make reminder calls (not quite as extreme as Spain however, where you always need to make reminder calls). Payment is often much better in the States but with the exchange rate the way it is now, maybe not. In general I never charged less than $.10/word and technical paid $.12-.15 and (working for an agency) and for direct clients as high as $.20-.30 per word! (haven't seen many offers like that in Europe).


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Anjo Sterringa  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:14
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Not everybody has the same experiences.... May 20, 2004

David Green wrote:

Payments are often 30 days after end of month you invoiced them and you may need to make reminder calls (not quite as extreme as Spain however, where you always need to make reminder calls


Mmmm, a Spanish agency with a less than enthousiastic Blue Board rating paid without ANY reminder BEFORE the time the payment was due (and there are several like that), while my first, Blue Board "5"-rated US-client is dragging his feet....

It just depends, payment wise. About liability and contracts you have to sign as a translator I am not too worried.

Ways of payment - I am still not convinced what is the best way. Paypal is easy, but expensive. I have always heard wire transfers between US and Europe are a bit of a pain, I always used credit cards instead. But as I am a mere individual free-lancer now, I do not have that facility anymore.
What are the experiences with bank transfers made to Europe from the US?


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vixen  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 13:14
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Bank transfer from US May 21, 2004

I recently translated a large manual for a (new) direct client in the US. Before accepting the job I had indicated that I wanted to be paid in Euro by bank transfer and they accepted without a problem. I needed to send one reminder e-mail to my contact 2 weeks after payment was due, after which they paid me at once. I was paid by bank transfer, as agreed, without extra costs on my part.

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Anjo Sterringa  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:14
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Good idea, banktransfer May 22, 2004

Good to hear you had good experiences with a banktransfer- I think I will throw Paypal out of the window (except for very small amounts) and revert back to the good old banktransfer!
By the way, how long did it take for the transfer to come through (time difference between them transferring the amount and you actually getting it)??


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vixen  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 13:14
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Speed of bank transfer May 24, 2004

Actually, the bank transfer was very fast. The amount was credited to my account 6 days after my reminder e-mail. Apparently, the payment cycle was started on the Monday following my e-mail message and I received payment on Thursday.

I use PayPal only for small amounts.


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