Outsourcer doesn't reply to e-mails / contract request
Thread poster: TranslateLab

TranslateLab  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 18:06
English to French
+ ...
Aug 25, 2014

Hello everyone,

Last Friday, my application was accepted for a proofreading job (DE>FR). There's a huge amount of work to do.

The outsourcer sent me the first batch and I replied to his e-mail, told him that I was going to start working on the file ASAP and asked for a contract.

He didn't reply, but it was already 20:00 and I guessed that the office was closed. I started proofreading this weekend (didn't want to miss the deadline!) and now it's Monday and I still didn't get a reply from the outsourcer.

I think he intended not to pay me / make a contract, so he got 'scared' by my last e-mail and probably started looking for another poor freelancer.

I thought I could contact the end-client and tell them about the dishonesty of the agency they hired and I could do the job instead (their website address is mentioned in the file I spent 20 hours on this weekend). Considering that I haven't signed any NDA/contract with the outsourcer, I was wondering if this is allowed or not.

I don't want someone else to be 'scammed' and I don't want to get into trouble for this. I don't want to have worked for nothing either (I know I should have waited for the contract before starting to work...)!

Has anybody been in the same situation before? What are your recommendations?

Thanks a lot!


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Christophe Lefrancois  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:06
French
+ ...
Project Order Aug 25, 2014

Hi Nathan,

Before you started the proofreading, did you get a Project Order from your client? Did he confirm that you got the job?

One good advice: never start a job without a Project Order!

Christophe


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TranslateLab  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 18:06
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Asked for Contract + PO Aug 25, 2014

Hi Christophe,

He did confirm that I got the job. I asked him for a contract AND a PO (I have worked with agencies that did contract only and no PO).

Thanks for the reminder and your concern though. What do you think I should do now?


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Christophe Lefrancois  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:06
French
+ ...
Phone call Aug 25, 2014

How about calling directly your client? Does he have an account on Proz or other websites? You could write a comment about his methods.
Contacting the end-client? I don't know if they really want to be contacted by the translator.


Christophe


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TranslateLab  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 18:06
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
End-client Aug 25, 2014

I can try to give him a phone call, but if he doesn't reply to e-mails, I doubt he will pick-up either. I will do that if he hasn't replied tomorrow.

The end-client needs his stuff translated anyway, and I think they'd rather do business with an honest person. Or at least be fair...!

I'm open to other suggestions.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:06
English to Polish
+ ...
... Aug 25, 2014

Sent him a formal notice that you're sorry but you can't proceed with the work due to the absence of a conclusive reply on his part. Due to his abrupt interruption of conversation you are taking it that negotiations have ended inconclusively and no binding acceptance of your offer by him has taken place. Just for the avoidance of doubt, you are deeming your old offer cancelled, so it cannot be invoked and accepted by him any more.

You want to be polite because it's possible dude was away for the weekend and isn't an Internet-savvy person.

[Edited at 2014-08-26 13:48 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:06
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Do you have some reason to be concerned? Aug 25, 2014

I think I've received about three contracts and a dozen or so POs in over 15 years of freelancing. In all that time, and without those bits of paper, I've had two bankruptcies (which nothing would have prevented, at least no bits of paper), one agency owner who stole all the company's assets and is probably still in prison, and one non-paying client who I sued). So, although I'm not saying don't get these bits of paper I am saying that they aren't indispensable, if you thoroughly research your client.

Normally, one doesn't start to think that way until payment is overdue. It's odd at the very least to be so worried so early on. It sounds as though the client would have had about 4-6 office hours before you posted to deal with this, and already you're saying:
- I think he intended not to pay me
- probably started looking for another poor freelancer
- the dishonesty of the agency
- I don't want someone else to be 'scammed'

What is it about the arrangements that makes you so sure the agency is trying to get out of paying you? Does the agency have a very poor payment practice record somewhere? Did you check the company status, contact information etc, or do you have no idea whether the agency really exists?


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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:06
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
No payment? Aug 25, 2014

I agree with Sheila. It looks more likely that you saw the vast amount of work that you would need to do, so you started it as you had the confirmation in the email but then the agency probably chose another proofreader without telling. I think this is more likely what happened. When you get no reply, do not ever start work, then negotiate timings as you would do the work for nothing except practice maybe. good luck and shoddy behaviour from the agency as they first confirmed, then did not reply-a warning sign that they were not to be trusted

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Ana Cuesta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:06
Member
English to Spanish
Bank Holiday in the UK today Aug 25, 2014

Nathan Vander Heyden wrote:

Hello everyone,

Last Friday, my application was accepted for a proofreading job (DE>FR). There's a huge amount of work to do.

The outsourcer sent me the first batch and I replied to his e-mail, told him that I was going to start working on the file ASAP and asked for a contract.

He didn't reply, but it was already 20:00 and I guessed that the office was closed. I started proofreading this weekend (didn't want to miss the deadline!) and now it's Monday and I still didn't get a reply from the outsourcer.

....
Has anybody been in the same situation before? What are your recommendations?

Thanks a lot!



I suppose your client won't be UK-based by any chance? Today is a Bank Holiday there so they wouldn't be working...


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Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:06
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Phone him tomorrow Aug 25, 2014

I would give your customer a ring first thing tomorrow morning and chase up the PO. It could well be that you are panicking unnecessarily and jumping to conclusions. Maybe your emails are going into his spam folder or something silly like that. And, as Ana says, it is a bank holiday in the UK today so there could be nobody in the office.

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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:06
Dutch to English
+ ...
If a UK agency Aug 25, 2014

Ana Cuesta wrote:

I suppose your client won't be UK-based by any chance? Today is a Bank Holiday there so they wouldn't be working...


This was my thought too. If the agency confirmed you had the job and sent you files, they deserve the benefit of the doubt...

Good luck,
Marijke


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:06
French to German
+ ...
Phone Aug 25, 2014

I'd give them a phone call as well.

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Audra deFalco
United States
Local time: 12:06
Italian to English
+ ...
My two cents Aug 25, 2014

I would stop work for now (it strikes me as a bit odd that he would not answer all weekend--all of the PMs I work with have remote access to their e-mails and at least would give me a head's up when I ask for a contract of some sort) and wait for a response for tomorrow at the latest. If he doesn't answer, call him up and leave a message.

If that fails, I would directly contact the client, especially as no NDA was signed. You might be able to win this client for future work directly, cutting out the agency entirely. It's worth a shot.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:06
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Totally unprofessional behaviour Aug 25, 2014

Audra de Falco wrote:
I would directly contact the client, especially as no NDA was signed. You might be able to win this client for future work directly, cutting out the agency entirely. It's worth a shot.

It doesn't matter if you (using "you" in a generalised way here) haven't signed an NDA; it doesn't matter whether or not you have a signed contract of any sort. If you, as a freelance translator, have had an exchange of emails, or even phone calls, with a client who's offered money in return for a translation, and you've accepted to do that work, you have a contractual relationship with that client.

In the current circumstances being discussed here, the client hasn't been proven to have done anything at all wrong, bar failing to answer an email. That isn't good business practice, but it can't be considered a breach of that contract.

OTOH, if you approach the end client directly then you are most definitely in breach of contract. You could be sued for damages (the loss of a client who could have represented thousands of euros per year to the agency). In addition, should it become common knowledge (e.g. if the agency spreads the word) you'd be blacked by every agency out there. And rightly so, IMHO.


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:06
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It is a frustrating client Aug 26, 2014

So your client enters into negotiations for a time-dependent project, you get close to a deal, then he disappears for the weekend. These types make me want to pull my hair out.

Wait till he decides to turn his phone back on then renegotiate the conditions, since the circumstances have now changed.

I do hope you haven't done much work yet. Based on your client's behavior this deal is likely to fall through.

Good luck.





[Edited at 2014-08-26 04:13 GMT]


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