Am I bound to send a translation back?
Thread poster: Anne R

Anne R
Italy
Local time: 14:00
English to French
+ ...
Jun 20, 2012

Dear all,

A piece of advice would be welcome, since I do not know what to do!

Although based in Italy my clients up until now have not been Italian. Two weeks ago, however, an Italian ONG contacted me and asked for a quote for a translation from Italian into French. I looked at the files, saw that I could do it – I rarely translate from Italian – and prepared a pretty detailed quote on a model that I myself have received in the past as a client here in Italy, and wrote that, should they wish to pursue with the translation, then should return me a signed copy of the quote with their email of confirmation. After a few days I got a mail saying thank you, but we have found someone who can do the translation for free. To which I replied thank you for letting me know, and thought that was it.

Last week they came back to me by email saying that the situation had changed and could I please proceed with the translation and sent the signed quote back – without a legible name not a stamp on it.
I replied that I now had a project going on, could only start at a later date and finish at a later date too and if this suited them, asked for them to let me know and resend the quote signed again but please with company stamp as well, adding that I had forgotten to specify that in the first place (on the signed quote there was only an illegible signature, no name of the person who signed, and I felt that this could not exactly suit as a quote/proof of them ordering the translation since there was not even a stamp. They wrote back to say new deadline is ok, and sent back the same pdf signed with no name and no stamp quote, but after all this email exchange I thought I would not insist.

The day after they called me on the phone to ask me whether I would agree to sign a specific kind of contract with them for this translation (contratto di lavoro autonomo), and since I do not have to do so with non Italian clients, I was a bit surprise and told them I would have to enquire with my financial adviser whether as a freelance translator with a VAT number I can do so and that I would let them know. They assured me that they do this with all their translators.

Monday I sent an email with queries about 1 file, adding that I had not heard back from my financial adviser, but since I always proceed with a simple invoicing I thought it simpler to do so with them as well. No answer to my query on this nor on the file, just an answer to tell not to translate a specific file .

Yesterday, they called again and insisted that this contract is feasible even if I am a freelancer. I had first been told that it was not so I replied that I really wanted to check that with my financial adviser before agreeing to it- have been able to speak with my financial adviser and he confirmed it is – and told them to send me this contract so that I could check it with him, but in any case I would still will have to send them a ‘proper’ invoice - which my financial adviser has confirmed to me as well , and finally, I asked for an answer on my queries on the file,

Since then, absolutely nothing have come my way, silence. I know it was only yesterday, but if they have that kind of contract ready for all their translators, they should be able to send me a copy for me to look at. I frankly am at a loss, I would have thought that they would have sent it by now, since I do need to see it in any case to sign it. I am more than well advanced with the translation although still a few days away from my own deadline. Since email exchange should be binding even in Italy, I am bound to send them the translation by 25th June – my deadline, but I do not feel like I am protected for payment by a signed quote that only has an illegible scribble as a signature and not any kind of name of a responsible nor a stamp. Should I send it, should I not, and if I do not, am I kind of breaching my own ‘word’?

Humm, sorry for the long email, but I am more that wondering what to do about this work.

Thank you for any comment or idea.

Anne


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xxxchristela
I am afraid that they felt your lack of enthusiasm Jun 20, 2012

or lack of trust, and that they found someone less complicated.

Btw, I rarely have signatures and never stamps on my purchase orders, and half of it are simple e-mails.


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Anne R
Italy
Local time: 14:00
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
me neither Jun 20, 2012

christela wrote:


Btw, I rarely have signatures and never stamps on my purchase orders, and half of it are simple e-mails.



hello Christela,

You may be right, but then I do not have to do this with my non italian clients, a simple email exchange is enough, non Italian clients do not ask for me to sign a contract with them, 2 days after having given their go ahead, at the maximum I have confidentiality agreements to sign.

But having had translators here in italy send me quotes to be signed, more than once, and knowing that here everything is a bit more complicated, I thought I'd do the same, and the NGO actually signed it without any problem.

The problem, if ever, arised 2 days later when then called me to ask if I can sign a contract. That's where I think it get's complicated for nothing.

I surely have a lesson to learn here, I agree, in terms of trust, but they also could have written to me straight away that they wanted me to do the translation but would have to sign a contract, as they do with others..

humm

[Edited at 2012-06-20 14:46 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-06-20 14:47 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-06-20 14:48 GMT]


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:00
Chinese to English
It sounds like you don't want to do the job... Jun 20, 2012

So don't do it. Tell them, apologise, but no-one's going to sue you if you back out of a job early - i.e. now, not right before the deadline.

Looking at this other thread: http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/227381-what_can_we_do_when_an_outsourcer_refuses_to_pay.html
makes me think that if you can't get your communication clear with an outsourcer, you're better off not working with them.


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Anne R
Italy
Local time: 14:00
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
this is not so easy Jun 21, 2012

Phil Hand wrote: So don't do it. Tell them, apologise, but no-one's going to sue you if you back out of a job early - i.e. now, not right before the deadline.


hi Phil,

I thought about what you wrote yesterday and decided it was a good idea. I wrote back to them this morning, said that not having received any contract to look at - since this is what they ask me to sign - I had decided not to pursue.

They called straight away, saying they had sent me the contract on Tuesday per email, which I did not get, so I said that I had not received anything and cold they please resend it for me to have a look and get back to them.


What they sent me if a contract EXAMPLE, more adapted to an external consultant in the development sector that is being sent in Africa on a mission but not to this specific job, so I have written that this contract looks ok but that I need to get a version adapted to this specific translation order in order for me to sign and return it. I guess this is the only thing I can do and that the contract should at least list the files to be translated, my fees, my indicated total etc..


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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:00
Member (2009)
English to Russian
+ ...
Could it be scam? Jun 21, 2012

Looks very suspicious to me. Do they want you to provide your passport details and your signature? Have you tried to check this company online?

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Anne R
Italy
Local time: 14:00
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
suspicion..? Jun 21, 2012

Natalia Mackevich wrote: Looks very suspicious to me. Do they want you to provide your passport details and your signature? Have you tried to check this company online?


Hi Natalia, this is a pretty big Italian ONG, so I do not think suspicion applies, but indeed they did ask me to provide a whole file with my details, bank details, passport number and signature, after which a contract would be prepared for me - contract which I still have not seen, since the model sent this morning, as written below, is a very general one that does not even apply to a translation job.

As regards your comment, I have actually written that I would send both together, the signed contract and that file once I would have had a chance to get it (the 'proper' contract). It may well be that work relations in this country are different from what I have been used to in other countries, and that is a cultural misunderstanding, but all the same I find the whole thing baffling...

I guess when and if I get that famous customised contract, it should already contain their signature and stamp, to which to add mine, or am I being too suspicious again as another translator seems to think?

[Edited at 2012-06-21 13:43 GMT]


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xxxchristela
Never heard something like this Jun 21, 2012

Why do you need a "contract"? You are not going to Africa, and won't be working in their offices. Why can't they just sign your quote - containing the names of the files, the number of words and the price? Or issue a purchase order? Even NGO have to buy things from time to time, such as offices supplies, photocopies or a website. This all takes sooo long, I would have said: sorry, but I stop here, I cannot work in this way. It just doesn't seem professional. And sending passport numbers and other personal details for just translating something? Do you ask your garagist or photocopy shop to supply their passport?

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Anne R
Italy
Local time: 14:00
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I so agree with you! Jun 21, 2012

christela wrote: Why do you need a "contract"? You are not going to Africa, and won't be working in their offices. Why can't they just sign your quote - containing the names of the files, the number of words and the price? Or issue a purchase order? Even NGO have to buy things from time to time, such as offices supplies, photocopies or a website. This all takes sooo long, I would have said: sorry, but I stop here, I cannot work in this way. It just doesn't seem professional. And sending passport numbers and other personal details for just translating something? Do you ask your garagist or photocopy shop to supply their passport?


Thank you Christela for seeing my point. I am so tired of it all. After me saying ok to a contract and telling them to please send me a final version of it adapted to this order, that I could send back signed together with the file containing all my details , they wrote saying "thank you can you please first send the file with your details and we will prepare the contract."

Crazy, Kafka-like.... I feel this has taken a lot of my energy for nothing, I have also refused a job this week because of this and this is going nowhere. I do not feel I am being unreasonable by wanting to see a contract first and then, in case I agree to it, send my details. Today when they called for the X time again, I actually asked them why they could not at least sed an example of a contract with a translator and not with a consultant, since they say they do contract with translators all the time, and that girl said she could not since it was confidential!!

I guess I will be the one using the phone tomorrow to say that this is not the way I want to proceed and that this is it.


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:00
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Why don't you take control? Jun 21, 2012

I agree that some requests on your NGO client's side are unreasonable, and that all this lead to loss of time and, hence, frustration.

You wrote that you have already spent quite some time on the translation itself - so a focused and efficient attempt to set things straight may be the best way to proceed.

The root of the problem may very easily be simple incompetence in administrative issues. I know some NGOs where interns are regularly employed; if one of them has to manage translations - which would not be unheard-of - then lack of experience can easily explain incompetence.

What I would do is send them my purchase order template, with terms and conditions, and tell them that I would need this to be signed to proceed with work. I would make sure to include a clause that this agreement is in lieu of any other agreement between the parties. I would also explain in a short cover letter why this is the way to proceed (basically, because you are a freelancer), and assure them that I am open to provide, within reasonable limits, any further information they may need (banking data, for example).

I would indicate that if the document is printed, signed and returned by, say, noon, then the file will be delivered by [date]; if you keeping the originally set deadline is feasible then perfect, if you need to slap an extra day or two to it because of the time lost in the past days then you may need to add some justification.

You may wish to use a typical good cop-bad cop here: my accountant explicitly told me that this documentation is necessary.

If you don't have a service agreement yet, it's a great opportunity to create one.

Best,
Attila


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Anne R
Italy
Local time: 14:00
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you but no thank you Jun 21, 2012

Attila Piróth wrote:


What I would do is send them my purchase order template, with terms and conditions, and tell them that I would need this to be signed to proceed with work.
Best,
Attila



thank you Attila, but that is exactly what I did in the beginning with my quote, so now this would mean go to square one and i have lost enough time as is, I feel. I will retain the ide of creating terms and conditions for future clients, however, this is a very good idea.

Kind Regards,
Anne


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xxxchristela
Just say... Jun 22, 2012

"my accountant tells me to do so for tax reasons". Fight bureaucracy with bureaucracy.

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sailingshoes
Local time: 14:00
Spanish to English
Phone them Jun 22, 2012

Get them on the phone and have the whole thing out.

As for finishing the job, I wouldn't start until I was happy with the situation.

On the other hand, if you have plenty of other work and this is making you lose sleep and write long forum posts, why not just ditch it? Translators don't earn that much, so they might as well have a quiet life!


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Anne R
Italy
Local time: 14:00
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
have the whole thing out Jun 22, 2012

sailingshoes wrote: Get them on the phone and have the whole thing out. As for finishing the job, I wouldn't start until I was happy with the situation. On the other hand, if you have plenty of other work and this is making you lose sleep and write long forum posts, why not just ditch it? Translators don't earn that much, so they might as well have a quiet life!


Thank you all for your replies, comments, and support!

I had to find a solution to this in the end, so yes, I did call. I was reminded by a friend that Italians are very bureaucratic, and it seems this really is just what it is. They don't even know why they have to ask first for the details I reckon. So I said ok, I'll sent my details: And I have decided that when I get the contract to sign, if it is really bad and I don't like it, then I won't sign it and it will be the end of it. After all, I live in this country. More of the kind may happen.. So we'll see..

By the way, this makes me reflect on something. So many of you so often write here that emails are binding when it comes to translation order etc. But here in Italy it seems it does not, after this experience... something I'll have to investigate..

TGIF!!

Anne


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