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Translator started working without PO
Thread poster: Gabriela Rivera

Gabriela Rivera  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:39
Member (2012)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 17, 2014

Hello all,

Here's the situation: My agency posted a job for a project we were working on and a couple of people sent their CVs. I then proceeded to contact these people to show them the file because it had very specific characteristics. The email I sent explained the characteristics of the project, the money we were offering and the deadline, and I also asked if they were available and I attached the file to translate because this wasn't your regular Word document and I sent it as a sample, but it didn't say they should start working on it. I mean, it was an email to see if they could do the job, but not a request. Just as I thought, many of them said they couldn't do it and many didn't even reply back. I finally found a translator. We exchanged a couple of emails to figure out a plan to work on the project, I sent her the PO, and now the text is completed. No problem there.

The problem is that today I got an email from one of the people I sent the email when I first posted the project but that I never heard from again, and I'm surprised to see that he actually completed the project! I didn't send him a PO, nor had further communication with him, since I never saw his first email. Apparently he replied but it went straight to my Junk folder, which deletes messages after two days, so I never saw it.

What should I do? You can tell he did a good job, but I never actually asked him to go ahead and do the project and I never sent him a PO, which in my experience is necessary when working with agencies and new clients. Even my regular clients send me a PO after a project. I feel bad about this whole situation because I know the amount of time and effort it takes to work on a project like this. At the same time, I'm afraid he might try giving me a bad rating because of this. Any suggestions?

Thanks!


 

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:39
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Not your fault Feb 17, 2014

Dear Gabriela,

I do think that some kind of purchase order is necessary, although this can be quite short and informal within a long-standing relationship between a translator and an agency.

In the case you describe, you certainly don't owe the translator anything (with the possible exception of an explanation why it's his/her fault), and you don't need to feel bad about it. He or she should put it down as a lesson learned.

HTH,
Erik



[Bearbeitet am 2014-02-17 16:36 GMT]


 

Gabriela Rivera  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:39
Member (2012)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That's how I see it, too... Feb 17, 2014

I have explained the situation to him and I hope he understands what happened, but he hasn't gotten back to me yet.

Thanks!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:39
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Unfortunate Feb 17, 2014

A translator (or any other service provider) should never start work before the final go-ahead has been given. I don't often receive POs (I suppose there must be a lot of outsourcers who don't work with them), but that doesn't mean I just start in and translate something after the first email. I'm afraid this translator has learned this lesson the hard way.

On the other hand, you say he did a good job. So it might be appreciated if you sent him more work in the near future. It could be the start of a good relationship that recovered from a first hiccup.


 

Andrea Garfield-Barkworth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:39
Member (2015)
German to English
This has happened to me too Feb 17, 2014

In my early and zealous days with a deskload of work and tight schedules I hadn't read an email properly. It was sent to me by a tried and trusted agency, again with a very tight deadline and I hadn't read the entire email just the bit I could see in the preview window with the result that I spent a good 2-3 hours doing a translation that was only really a query.

Obviously, I didn't get paid but nor did I expect to as it was my own stupid fault but we both learnt a valuable lesson as they then made sure all queries were obviously seen as such from the very start of the email - the subject heading helps - and the query is marked in red as opposed to regular black.

I learned my lesson very quickly from that one.

I agree with Sheila that it would be a good idea to give a job to that translator, particularly as he had done a good job, so that although he may be inwardly fuming over wasted time he may see the advantages of having already persuaded you of his credentials.

Just be firm but gentle.


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:39
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Warning is never too much Feb 17, 2014

I'd say, always warn the candidates on your very first e-mail, in boldface, that a translator and a job are only approved upon issuance of the standard PO sent by e-mail. It may sound obvious, but it won't hurt you to be cautious. Redundancy does no harm as compared to omission.

[Edited at 2014-02-17 20:29 GMT]


 

Gabriela Rivera  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:39
Member (2012)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Feb 17, 2014

I agree with you. I sent him an email saying I did take a look at his job and it was very good. I also told him that I will contact him if there is a project in the same language pair.

I really appreciate your suggestions!


 

Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:39
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Agree Feb 17, 2014

Mario Freitas wrote:

I'd say, always warn the candidates on your very first e-mail, in boldface, that a translator and a job are only approved upon issuance of the standard PO sent by e-mail. It may sound obvious, but it won't hurt you to be cautious. Redundancy does no harm as compared to omission.

[Edited at 2014-02-17 20:29 GMT]


Put some stock language in your e-mail signature stating to never go ahead with a job without a PO. That way you'll be (hopefully) covered just in case anyone ever tried to take you to court.


 

Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 23:39
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Translator email? Feb 17, 2014

Gabriela Rivera wrote:

Hello all,

Here's the situation:
(....). Apparently he replied but it went straight to my Junk folder, which deletes messages after two days, so I never saw it.



Everyone here seems very eager to blame the translator, I think.

When did he reply?
What did he say?

If it was to the effect that, unless otherwise notified, he'd start straight away on this "special" job and you failed to notice his email (for 2 days!), I hardly think he's 100% to blame.

Who knows? He was very busy perhaps, replied accepting the job, you failed to respond so he assumed he had the OK.


 

Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:39
English to Spanish
It all depends... Feb 17, 2014

It can be a gray area.

You say you did not see his email because it got deleted. Whose fault is it? Certainly not the translator's.

You say you did not tell the translator to start, but you did not tell him to not start either.

Probably it is the way you worded your emails to him/them.

A lot of times the question "Are you available?" implies a "go-ahead".

I have been in this kind of situation a few times. When I ask the owner or project manager, they say, "yes, please go ahead", like it was understood.

A clear way for project managers to avoid inadvertently creating these kinds of confusing situations is clearly saying, "please do not start until you get the go-ahead from me", or something similar in order to state everything clearly and unmistakably.


 

Gabriela Rivera  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:39
Member (2012)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
He re-sent me the email I never saw... Feb 18, 2014

and he was not accepting the project. He was just informing me he was available and he was also asking if I could pay him in euros, which seems like a clear sign that we had not come to an agreement yet.

I don't think it's my fault the email went to my Junk folder. He has gotten back to me and he understands the situation. He agrees it was a misunderstanding and I have to say he was very professional about it. I would definitely like to work with him in the future, if we have the chance.


 

Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:39
English to Spanish
Feb 18, 2014



[Edited at 2014-02-18 00:20 GMT]


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:39
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
If it were me... Feb 18, 2014

and I were working with you for the first time (in other words, if I didn't know you), I would probably want to see a copy of the other translation just to prove you are not trying to get the job done for free (even if you never confirmed it). I don't think there would be any breach of confidentiality since the translator has already seen and translated the document anyway. I would just make sure to remove the other translator's name from the file statistics.

However, I would not do this unless he/she continues to pursue payment.

Another thing would be to offer to leave him some positive feedback on his ProZ profile (since he did do a good job).


[Edited at 2014-02-18 01:40 GMT]


 

Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:39
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
always need a PO or equivalent Feb 18, 2014

I would never start a job without getting a PO or an email clearly instructing me to proceed.

Someone suggested leaving positive feedback for the translator. You might also consider giving the translator a link to this discussion. ProZ is a good place to get up to speed on those "getting started" issues.

icon_smile.gif


 

PatrickMoreschi
United States
Local time: 15:39
Depends Feb 18, 2014

I think to make a better connection between a translator and an agency, need to communicate in any ways as email, phone, chat... As you have trust on them, then you can start translate.

 
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