Agency unexpectedly changes deadline
Thread poster: Vincent Lemma

Vincent Lemma  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:37
Member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
Feb 21, 2012

Hi all,

A funny little business issue that I can't seem to get over, which happens plenty in Italy.
An agency posts a job with a final deadline only to magically chop this down by 3 or 4 days.

They say "send in the text as soon as possible, so can you have it 4 days ahead of schedule?"
Now, I hate working under pressure, and just being honest I probably would pass up a job
when this happens. However, the translation is already pumping and it would waste my time
to go scrap it all, aside from showing lack of seriousness and professional resolve.

So how do you handle these situations if they have ever happened to you?
I often try to speed things up, but that is just a poor solution. You want to jkeep the client and show collaboration, but it really cuts into efforts.

Anyways, am curious to hear your take on things.

Bye ya' all.


 

David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 15:37
German to English
+ ...
"Sorry. I can't" Feb 21, 2012

is my usual answer - and what do you know? - that's fine by them, too. I think it's called "trying it on". I've never lost a customer this way. (though I admit I don't have any customers in Italy!)

 

Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:37
Member
French to English
+ ...
Say no if it's inconvenient Feb 21, 2012

Goodwill is a lovely thing, but it can be abused, so I think you have to draw the line somewhere and try to take a balanced approach. Off hand, I can't think of a time when someone has asked me to deliver early, but if they did and it was inconvenient to me, I'd probably say no unless the circumstances were exceptional and I already had a good relationship with the client. With some clients, if you give them an inch, they'll take a mile! Someone ought to run a webinar for translators called "Standing up for yourself", there's an awful lot of "trying it on" happening these days - especially when it comes to rates!

 

Vincent Lemma  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:37
Member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Don't get me going... Feb 21, 2012

Peter Shortall wrote:

Goodwill is a lovely thing, but it can be abused, so I think you have to draw the line somewhere and try to take a balanced approach. Off hand, I can't think of a time when someone has asked me to deliver early, but if they did and it was inconvenient to me, I'd probably say no unless the circumstances were exceptional and I already had a good relationship with the client. With some clients, if you give them an inch, they'll take a mile! Someone ought to run a webinar for translators called "Standing up for yourself", there's an awful lot of "trying it on" happening these days - especially when it comes to rates!


Rates really are such a BIG issue in Italy. Evryone expects you to be an expert and then shell out pennies for your work.
As for time, agencies have horrible expectations here in the "Paese della Vita Bella".

- 3000 word turnaround per day with revisions (I refuse unless paid extra and job can be done with quality)
- Same day translations with no surcharge
- Complex texts (highly technical) with ridiculous deadlines

...and much more.
This is not so much an outburst so much as putting "it" all on the plate to compare business approaches around the world.


 

Schtroumpf
Local time: 15:37
German to French
+ ...
Highly unprofessional agency Feb 21, 2012

That kind of agency behavior seems highly unprofessional in my eyes. If ever, I could admit that they ask you very politely if an earlier delivery is eventually possible?
And if the answer is "Yes, I must work extra shifts in that case and will charge you an extra 25% for this", a serious agency will consider the offer a good deal.

On the contrary, I would avoid all these people who try to get what we call "both the butter and the money for the butter" in French. If they sell translations the same way other commercial agents sell carpets or potatoes, maybe it is OK for them, but I will never share this kind of approach. It is just one more kind of price dumping among others.


 

gad
United States
Local time: 09:37
Member
French to English
I'd stick to the original deadline Feb 21, 2012

As David posted, I would just say "sorry, I can't" and leave it at that. I don't play games and expect them not to play games with me either. If something like that happens more than once then I am unlikely to work with them again.

 

Vincent Lemma  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:37
Member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Love the discussion and agree with all. Feb 21, 2012

Thanks all for pitching in.
I agree that agencies are always trying to get the most mileage from their translators.
All said and done, I will pose a mind bending question.

Why does this agency have a 5/5 rating on the Blue Board, with about 10 peer comments?

Now, I may have gotten unlucky, but what about the other 10 fellows?
Makes you think, right?

Can't give the name out for obvious reasons, but will post my comment for future reference.


 

Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
"Sorry, not possible" Feb 21, 2012

Vincent Lemma wrote:
Rates really are such a BIG issue in Italy. Everyone expects you to be an expert and then shell out pennies for your work.
As for time, agencies have horrible expectations here in the "Paese della Vita Bella" ...
...and much more.

I agree with the others.

1) Such a request - if made after a project has been accepted at the stated terms and therefore a contract entered into - is unprofessional in more ways than one, and you are under no obligation to acquiesce. Warning bells for future collaboration!

2) Such a request - if made prior to the finalization of the project terms before a contract materializes - is suspect and indicates poor planning and potentially other poor professional skills on the part of the agency. Warning bells - if you have not already accepted, do not accept at that point, or only accept after *detailed* discussion and *crystal clear* confirmation of terms acceptable to you!

3) If you did occasionally offer to "speed up" your process, I would charge them much more than the 25% recommended here - I would be inclined to mention a 50% surcharge.

4) Your language pair must be required somewhere else in Europe on occasion; if these are indeed becoming conditions that are "normal" in Italy, then this is a great big neon glow-in-the-dark sign to you that it might be time to explore (or expand) your collaboration options in other countries. English is the new lingua franca, I would try sending out a few eMails and see what happens!

Best of luck to you!


 

Vincent Lemma  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:37
Member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good advice all. Feb 22, 2012

I agree with Janet's last post, as I do with all other, that if an agency revels its true manner of dealing business, which may be unprofessional, then it is best to avoid any collaborations. I have dumped various clients like this.

What shocks me, and I am not exaggerating, is that several of the customers that fall into this category have 4.5 / 5 ratings on the Blue Board! Furthermore, there are numerous comments with ratings, not just one or two, on the agency.

So my conclusion is either translators are settling for less, or I can't haggle well.

I tend to think that this falls in a sort of mid ground, probably spurred by the fear of not getting a job due to outsourcing or competition.

Anyways, underselling for these fears damages you in the long-run!

Have a good one, all!

Vince


 


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