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Is this a strange thing to post in a job advertisement?
Thread poster: JaneD

JaneD  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 23:21
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Feb 17, 2012

I've just received notification of a job that contains the following note:

"Highest quality must be achieved otherwise we'll be asked for money compensation by the client and this will be applied also to you (not exceeding 20% of agreed price)."

While I realise that penalties can be applied to any project should the client be unhappy with the finished product, I am surprised to see this posted in the job description in advance.

What do others think - is this just an agency sensibly warning a potential translator of a particular clause, or is it some kind of threat?

Jane


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:21
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Stay away Feb 17, 2012

JaneD wrote:

I've just received notification of a job that contains the following note:

"Highest quality must be achieved otherwise we'll be asked for money compensation by the client and this will be applied also to you (not exceeding 20% of agreed price)."

While I realise that penalties can be applied to any project should the client be unhappy with the finished product, I am surprised to see this posted in the job description in advance.

What do others think - is this just an agency sensibly warning a potential translator of a particular clause, or is it some kind of threat?

Jane


Stay away.


 

JaneD  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 23:21
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Already done! Feb 17, 2012

Thanks Tom - I should have said that I have no intention of quoting for this one, because I find it rather threatening, (and have indeed reported it to site staff), but I just wondered whether I was being unnecessarily sensitive?

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:21
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
They [probably] had trouble in the past Feb 17, 2012

Sounds like they had big trouble in the past with other translators and they want to scare away those translators who are not really sure that the matter at hand is exactly their specialty. I am not sure I would act the same way, but I can understand why they do this.

In any case, even if you are sure you can excel in the type of materials and deadlines expected, it is always good to have a look at the company's Blueboard to try to ascertain whether they could have unjustly penalised other translators in the past or something.


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:21
French to German
+ ...
One of the consequences of a deregulated market Feb 17, 2012

One of the consequences of a deregulated market is that anybody can offer anything at any price for a relatively long time.

While I understand the potential concerns behind this clause, I would not go for it as it opens the door to abuse.

Writing down a trilateral contract (one of my hobby horses) could be a solution, but currently no-one in this business wants to hear about it while it is a common thing in the financial sector for example.

Translation industry = champion for lack of transparency?


 

JaneD  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 23:21
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good points Feb 17, 2012

That's an interesting point, Tomas - of course it must happen a lot that agencies have translators who take on jobs that they really cannot handle.

And of course you are also right, Laurent. Even the most professional translators seem to make their business agreements in a very unprofessional way that would not be acceptable to either side in many other industries.


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:21
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Right. This is only conceivable reason Feb 17, 2012

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Sounds like they had big trouble in the past with other translators and they want to scare away those translators who are not really sure that the matter at hand is exactly their specialty. I am not sure I would act the same way, but I can understand why they do this.

In any case, even if you are sure you can excel in the type of materials and deadlines expected, it is always good to have a look at the company's Blueboard to try to ascertain whether they could have unjustly penalised other translators in the past or something.


I was often asked by agencies to "fix" the translation done by someone esle. One of the "fix" works is a medical record form on which only the pre-printed words were translated by the original translator and all the handwritten words were indicated as "illegible". In this situation, the agency is too kind if the penalty is only 20% of the agreed fee.

So this agency's behavior is not weired and it is not a threat.


 

Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 04:21
Member (2005)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
I don't think it is strange, but . . . Feb 17, 2012

As Tomas said, they probably had some bad experiences with other translators.
Therefore, they warned potential translators not to repeat the same thing with them.

However, we translators and the agency should define first what 'the highest quality' is and what mechanism that should be used to assess it.

If both parties have a clear definition of it, and the quality assessment procedure is just and fair, the clause is just fine.

Best Regards

Hipyan


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:21
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oh my!! Feb 17, 2012

jyuan_us wrote:
I was often asked by agencies to "fix" the translation done by someone esle. One of the "fix" works is a medical record form on which only the pre-printed words were translated by the original translator and all the handwritten words were indicated as "illegible".

LOL!icon_smile.gif Incredible... but true as it seems! There is some amazing people out there, fellers!


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oddballs Feb 17, 2012

The phrase "money compensation" puts me off right away. If they can't come up with a better adjective than that, they are probably too obsessed by the filthy lucre to be worth entertaining. I'd give them a wide berth.

 

Olav Karlsen
Norway
Local time: 23:21
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Better alternatives Feb 17, 2012

Lucily I am fully employed and do not have to consider jöbs like this at all. I have turned down a few jobs in the past where the terms have been too unfavourable. In fact I could have taken up freelance floor-cleaning in this country and saved myself from frusttrations. Teaching isn't too bad if the alternative is having to work like this

 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:21
French to English
They're Spanish Feb 17, 2012

neilmac wrote:

The phrase "money compensation" puts me off right away. If they can't come up with a better adjective than that, ...


... perhaps it's 'cos English isn't their native language. I'd cut them some slack.
Plus it's only 20%, which strikes me, in contrast, as them leaving themselves open to abuse.
Given where they are, one imagines their rates are perhaps not top whack, and Tomas' hypothesis strikes me as very plausible.


 

JaneD  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 23:21
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Different perspectives are useful Feb 17, 2012

This is why it's useful to be able to ask for other people's viewpoints - I think that Tomas is probably exactly right, and they have maybe even been burnt with this particular client before. And of course it's not necessarily easy to express a possible penalty clause subtly in a language in which you are non-native without it coming across to a potential translator as threatening.

I feel a bit embarrassed for having raised the issue now; still, I would still not have quoted for the job simply because it didn't "feel" right.


 

Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:21
English to Spanish
Embarrased? No, it is very valid Feb 17, 2012

JaneD wrote:

I feel a bit embarrassed for having raised the issue now...


Hi Jane,

You should not feel embarrased at all. It is very valid for you to have done so.

JaneD wrote:

... still, I would still not have quoted for the job simply because it didn't "feel" right.


I am very proud of you, and I bet, many other freelancers are too. You clearly know your first duty is protecting your own interest and protecting yourself from a potentially abusive business deal.

I would have reacted in exactly the same way as you did, and probably the vast majority of freelance translators would too.

Miguel


 

Claudia Brauer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:21
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It will become standard in the future Feb 17, 2012

I have two friends who own reputable agencies and I called and asked them about this, because I had seen the issue come up before, so it was time to hear some feedback from "the other side of the fence". You can trash all you want the agencies, that is a matter for other posts. But the reality is that the agencies are getting a lot of "translators" that are not really good and many times they do not have the resources to test those translators in their native languages. The Agency is just an intermediary between the client and the translator. A decade or so ago things started to go bad in terms of translator's output quality and the agencies then implemented what is now standard, which is a second translator that does the editing, sometimes. But let's be clear about it. Trash translations are being produced. That is a fact of life. Those of us who have worked hard at raising awareness about quality and who feel professional about our job are in one hand competing against others who are really producing garbage. Many times the agencies do not know how to differentiate one from the other (specially in very technical topics or not widely available language pairs). I have heard from both translation agencies that there is a trend to start inserting this types of clauses in more and more contracts with translators. Now then, as with anything else as freelancers, we can take it or leave it. Many professions are "certified" or have "liability insurance" and if you want certain jobs done you require those guarantees. We have not been used to providing such guarantees but it looks like the trend is going the other way. I'm not saying that I agree or like it, but I am saying it is coming.

 
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