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How do you deal with insistent clients?
Thread poster: Sarah McDowell

Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 19:28
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
Aug 7, 2013

It seems that lately whenever I turn down a client's request they write back trying to convince me to do it even though I said "no". They keep sending multiple messages on Skype as well.

I think that they are trying to twist my arm and get me to agree to work which I declined.

So how do you deal with these types of clients without being rude?

Has anyone else experienced this problem?

Thanks,
Sarah


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 17:28
English to Polish
+ ...
Ignore Aug 7, 2013

I ignore them. They can't really know I'm not away from the keyboard, and their clock is ticking. Additionally, after several such failed attempts they should probably catch the hint.

Ignoring people who keep transgressing the limits you set them (e.g. final decisions like the one you mentioned) is a tip coming right from a high business executive that's had to deal with a lot of diplomatic arm twisting (and possibly some physical arm twisting as well).

Incidentally, I'd been following the advice before I heard it, but it's good to know.

In some cases, 'Sorry, but no,' will also work, just as long as they know you're serious about it (which generally means you don't cave in too often or seem close to it).

[Edited at 2013-08-07 22:50 GMT]


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Shai Navé  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 18:28
Member
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Just say No (again) or ignore Aug 8, 2013

From my humble experience those are usually resellers of translation services (i.e. not proper agencies, but just an entity that managed to squeeze itself between the agency and the translators without adding any value) with the sole purpose of making some money of it, no matter what. You saying No is just an obstacle for them and they know perfectly well that being persistent puts pressure on the translator, and that this pressure can play-out to their benefit because people generally don't feel comfortable saying no, let alone several times in a row. They just try to increase the possibility of the translator caving in, thus enabling those unscrupulous resellers to cash in on the translator's work.

There isn't really a 'polite' way to turn them down because they don't play by these rules. You said No, politely and respectfully, once but they seem to ignore it. Therefore one has only two options in my mind: Say no again as politely or rudely as one is comfortable with or ignore them. Personally I always prefer to polite way, but I make sure to make it a bit firmer than the first time; and if they keep going I just ignore them. After-all, harnessing you is kinda rude on their part, so one should not feel too bad about being a bit harsh about it in return.

Recently I experienced something similar. An "agency" (the quotes are because they are not, they are just resellers of the lowest kind) contacted me for something which I declined because it was apparent that we have nothing professional in common. They proceeded to harness me for a couple of hours, until eventually I told them yet again that I'm not interested in their "opportunity" and asked them to stop contacting me, which they did, only to contact me again (via a bulk email and a Skype message) the next day, while presenting their "opportunity" from scratch as if we were not in contact the day before. This time I just ignored them.

[Edited at 2013-08-08 07:06 GMT]


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Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:28
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
My advice Aug 8, 2013

1) Take it as a compliment. They obviously like your work and would really really like you to do the translation.

2) Don't tell them that you can't do it, tell them when/under what circumstances you could. When you initially say "no", provide some parameters. Don't just say "no" but say for example "I couldn't do it for the deadline stated but if the deadline could be moved to Monday and you could pay my weekend rate of X/pay my hourly rate for the formatting/pay me within 30 days, I could".
In this way, if something changes, they don't need to ask you again unless the change fits your parameters. Sometimes it's just a case on the part of the agency of bad communication management. They ask you if you can do something, you say no, then they find out that the deadline could be moved so they ask you whether you could do it for the new deadline, you say no, then they find out they could pay extra, then they ask you again.
You can basically cut all this out if you're open about your parameters in the first place, even if that is "I could only do it if I could start next month and hand it in on the 10th".


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Vasu Valluri
India
Local time: 21:58
Russian to English
+ ...
I agree with Marie-Helene Dubois Aug 8, 2013

I act the same way as suggested by Marie-Helene Dubois if I am not too busy, in which case I keep all my communications off.

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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
I have another solution Aug 8, 2013

When clients want me to work for them really really bad, then they have to pay really really good...

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Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:28
Dutch to English
+ ...
Usually I do what Marie-Hélène has posted Aug 8, 2013

That's clear to them, and maybe we'll still get the job. I usually also tell them clearly why, so they also clearly realise that it's really too much (we don't often reject work, unless it's really really not possible). It seems they appreciate a swift and clear answer. I would appreciate that too. Always do what you would like yourself.

That's why I never give our Skype ID or I never put it on, anyway. We've got a phone, we've got mobile phones and emails. I don't see why I should possibly also be disturbed via Skype.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:28
Russian to English
+ ...
Give them a fair to you rate --one of the top rates you charge, and if you ar busy, Aug 8, 2013

just ask them to wait a month or two. If this is some kind of translation you are not capable of doing -- just tell them you don't specialize in this type of translation -- that's all.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:28
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Nobody takes rejection easily Aug 8, 2013

Think about it... You are a woman, you might have gone through - or seen - this situation.

You are by yourself somewhere, a guy makes a pass at you. You sternly tell him to leave you alone. More often than not, he'll become annoying, even obstreperous. However if you tell him My boyfriend/fiancé/husband is parking the car, should be here any minute now, the guy will immediately vanish into a cloud of smoke.

If your client won't take NO for an answer, simply tell them what you can do, e.g. I can do this job for you for $(amount), paid (e.g. in advance, on delivery, etc.) and with delivery by (date). That's the best I can offer you; I have no other option available at this time.

Just make sure that you offer something that either you can really do and is worthwhile for you, or that is utterly unacceptable/unviable for them.

Normally, they'll give up. If they don't, then you'll have grounds to say I gave you my best offer, now it's your choice - not mine - to take it or find someone else you consider more suitable.


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Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:28
German to English
Stand your ground Aug 8, 2013

I've had this a couple of times recently. When I say "No" I mean "No". But yes, the fact that they persist shows that they value your quality. Or indeed, that they can't find anyone else! Try putting your rates up, it can't hurt.. smiles.

Steve K.



[Edited at 2013-08-08 16:23 GMT]


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 17:28
English to Polish
+ ...
Good one Aug 8, 2013

Marie-Helene Dubois wrote:

1) Take it as a compliment. They obviously like your work and would really really like you to do the translation.

2) Don't tell them that you can't do it, tell them when/under what circumstances you could. When you initially say "no", provide some parameters. Don't just say "no" but say for example "I couldn't do it for the deadline stated but if the deadline could be moved to Monday and you could pay my weekend rate of X/pay my hourly rate for the formatting/pay me within 30 days, I could".
In this way, if something changes, they don't need to ask you again unless the change fits your parameters. Sometimes it's just a case on the part of the agency of bad communication management. They ask you if you can do something, you say no, then they find out that the deadline could be moved so they ask you whether you could do it for the new deadline, you say no, then they find out they could pay extra, then they ask you again.
You can basically cut all this out if you're open about your parameters in the first place, even if that is "I could only do it if I could start next month and hand it in on the 10th".


Good one, but you probably need to be prepared for arguing if you do that. Many people will see that answer as an invitation to negotiate. You will need to inform them that that's not the case; you are not inviting them to negotiate and meet you midway, you really are telling them how it is. And stick to it.

(Offering reasonable conditions that the other side isn't prepared to meet is a good way to avoid the odium of refusal.)

Also, there is one more thing I wanted to mention: the Socratic-kinda way of asking silly questions that are, in fact, straight to the point.

'Why are you asking me again after I've told you twice that I can't?'
'I've told you it's impossible. Do you think I lied to you or do you expect me to bend the time and space?'
'What makes you think that I could possibly (...)' etc.

A while ago, for example, I asked an agency why they thought I could possibly accept a counteroffer being 20% of the rate I quoted, and that before a +100% emergency surcharge.

What one does here is break the convention that prevents people from being called on such moves in a polite company. I still reply politely (at least not too rudely) but I address the taboo subject of what exactly they are doing and how it's unacceptable.


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
a big bold 'NO' Aug 10, 2013

Actually, a polite yet rather pressing prospect client (a friend of my client's friend's friend) did haunt me lately via phone, even after I had ultimately rejected his offer. So I did enjoy a little holding him online by 'Just a minute, please'--after a sixth or seventh time he did realize I wasn't going to talk it over once again. This trick often saves my time, because people who like to annoy are waiting and get annoyed they cannot annoy other people. Like that.

My younger colleague is more inventive for she never tells anybody off and agrees to any unwanted job but either keeps overnagging with numerous questions or sends a 'google-translate' to ask if that would do. It proves to be more efficient but I have no time for such things.

Unfortunately, there're more and more people who become more and more insolent while there's fewer and fewer people who can firmly said 'NO!'

Stand ready


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 17:28
English to Polish
+ ...
Another good one Aug 10, 2013

Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons) wrote:

When clients want me to work for them really really bad, then they have to pay really really good...


Or if you don't want to refuse an offer that's really bad, you can always make a counteroffer that won't be accepted.


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Inge Luus  Identity Verified
South Africa
Local time: 18:28
German to English
+ ...
..and then they don't pay Aug 12, 2013

@ Lukasz: ... but if they are already the more unprofessional type of agency that doesn't understand the word "no", they might also be a non-paying type of agency that may agree to a higher rate and then not pay.

In my opinion, a translator is either busy or not, and no amount of money should sway one to squeeze even more work in. The logical result has to be a drop in quality. In fact, busy translators are usually busy because they have other work, i.e. are sought after. The agency should keep them in mind for their next job. To me, its a question of timing, rather than a negative turning down of work. Either the timing works for both the translator and the agency, or it doesn't.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 17:28
English to Polish
+ ...
:) Aug 12, 2013

Inge Luus wrote:

@ Lukasz: ... but if they are already the more unprofessional type of agency that doesn't understand the word "no", they might also be a non-paying type of agency that may agree to a higher rate and then not pay.


True, but not always. I've experienced quite a lot of insistency from solid payers.

In my opinion, a translator is either busy or not, and no amount of money should sway one to squeeze even more work in. The logical result has to be a drop in quality. In fact, busy translators are usually busy because they have other work, i.e. are sought after. The agency should keep them in mind for their next job. To me, its a question of timing, rather than a negative turning down of work. Either the timing works for both the translator and the agency, or it doesn't.


In some cases, it's a matter of do I finish work and sit down with a book on my balcony while there's still sun, or do I take on an additional assignment and get depleted. Or do I accept one that's going to make me stay up the night. In the latter case, the drop in quality is a decision I believe the client's entitled to make, as long as it's clear that rush jobs come with reduced liability. I'm okay with delivering worse quality in a rush than otherwise, I'd be worried if the quality ended up bad even for a rush assignment.


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