Drafting terms of service - guidance needed
Thread poster: Marie Jackson

Marie Jackson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:55
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
Apr 1, 2013

Dear all,

It's been a long time coming (too long), but I'm finally in the middle of drafting my terms of service in English! However, I am painfully aware that I probably need these in German and French, too, for my monolingual clients. In your opinion, what's the best way to go about getting foreign language versions? Should I try to find examples on translation association websites and attempt the translation myself (with external proofing), or should I find and pay a colleague to do this for me? I'm aware that these terms of service are there to protect both myself and my clients, and so I want to make sure I get this right.

Do you have multiple language versions of your terms of service and if so, how did you go about drafting these?

Possibly stupid questions to ask on a professional translation forum, but I'm interested in your thoughts nonetheless!

Thank you in advance for your input.

Marie


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:55
Danish to English
+ ...
Keep it as simple as possible Apr 1, 2013

Personally, I try to avoid as much paperwork as possible. What you can see on my ProZ profile (and my website) are all the terms of service I have ever considered putting into writing. I abhor pages of terms of service that take ages to read and understand, and - maybe naïvely - I prefer to keep things on a level of trust and faith in good business relations with my clients. So far, I have not had any trouble with this whatsoever.

[Edited at 2013-04-01 15:20 GMT]


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Marie Jackson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:55
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Simplicity is good Apr 1, 2013

Thank you for your input, Gitte! I, too, very much dislike unnecessary legalese and bureaucracy, however, I feel rather unprotected as things stand. I have a very good client who is truly perfect except for late payment, and I'd like to make sure that I am in some way covered for this with future clients. As things stand, I've been freelancing for about nine months and sort of feel like I have no way of fighting my corner if I need to, which means that clients can take advantage. I'm keen to keep things as simple as possible, though. I will definitely be giving your comments some serious thought...

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Francesca Bernardis  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:55
Member (2010)
Portuguese to Italian
+ ...
Not a big help, but... Apr 1, 2013

Marie,

I've been thinking about the same thing lately. I cannot really answer your questions because I share the same doubts.

There is one idea I've been toying with: I could have the terms in one main official version, and then create a bilingual file for my monolingual clients to sign, stating that the original is the only binding version. (I don't know how to explain it better... Say my terms are in IT, I would make a two-column doc with the EN and IT versions for a client who only speaks English.) This, and keeping things simple as Gitte said, would make me more confident to do the translation myself, with external proofreading.

On the other hand, I have no idea how clients would react to such a thing...

I'm curious to hear what other people have to say on the whole subject -- thanks for bringing it up!


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 01:55
English to Polish
+ ...
How I do it Apr 5, 2013

Marie, I'd never let any translator association write my ToS. In fact, I don't really want any artsy types touching my legal stuff, no offence. (I know just about 2 exceptions.) My ToS is guided by my legal sense and by my supreme legal writing imbued with my homebrew marketing sense. When changing the language, it has to be the same stuff I want but I redraft to sound natural in the other legal system. I don't hesitate to include things translator associations here or there might not like or fail to include things some of them consider obligatory, though I stick with the ethical guidelines that actually bind me. This said, standard ToSes and ethical guidelines issued by various organisations are probably a good place to look for inspiration or even corroboration if you neet a footnote to back your disclaimers with. Those bodies are likely to be conscious of typical problems that have arisen in translators' practice and may even have already responded to some of them, while they might not be the most competent legal drafters or ethicists around.

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Soizic CiFuentes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:55
Member (2003)
English to French
ATA examples Apr 10, 2013

You can find some examples here:

http://www.atanet.org/careers/translation_agreements.php


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 01:55
English to Polish
+ ...
Well... Apr 10, 2013

Soizic CiFuentes wrote:

You can find some examples here:

http://www.atanet.org/careers/translation_agreements.php


Looks neat but the example is afflicted with the standard ailment of this industry, i.e. seeing the client as an expert on language, translation and the speciality field, and all-in-all ultimate expert on the job, which is crazy (unless the "client" is an agency), even though everybody in the translation industry does seem to see it that way nowadays, and so do the awful ISO norms, which make every First-Certificate-in-English-holding client your qualified proofreader.

My own ToS specifies what counts as an error and which errors are subject only to correction and which can give rise to financial claims. I also use some language to protect me from unprofessional proofreading or proofreader malpractice, rather than accepting those things as valid reviews of my work. This required me to write something about the introduction of client-requested changes that are simply client-requested changes without being proper corrections. The downside is that my ToS is 18K characters long and growing.


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Marie Jackson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:55
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Apr 13, 2013

Thank you everyone for your comments; you've given me a lot to think about!

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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 01:55
English to Polish
+ ...
Here's another idea Apr 15, 2013

Here's another idea: A ToS is essentially an agreement to be entered by placing an order, an adhesion contract. Contracts sometimes have plenty of various appendices, annexes or exhibits, not all of them legalese, although they're usually some kind of normative text. Why not write a guide to your services in normal language and include it by reference into your ToS. "Such and such shall form an integral part hereof," et voilà, your ToS now includes your own practice guidelines or best practices issued by your association or your merry-flowing, down-to-earth How I Work section. (A ToS need not limited to notwithstandings and whereupons grouped in subsections.)

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