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Prospective client requires list of current clients
Thread poster: Darmali

Darmali  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 19:31
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Feb 7, 2015

I am bidding for a government-related translation project, which involves foreign agencies, and one of the documents required is a list of my clients. This has never happened before, although I work with international and local clients (direct clients and agencies). I have never disclosed my clients specifically, although I describe the businesses (multinational FMCG company, PR company etc.). I do not have a NDA agreement with my current clients, although confidentiality is a must for me. I know this client wants to ensure that they are hiring translators with the relevant experience and knowledge, but is it common to request clients' names? Should I notify my current clients before including their names in the list? Thanks in advance and have a nice weekend.

Angela


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:31
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
I would reject that out of hand Feb 7, 2015

Darmali wrote:
I do not have a NDA agreement with my current clients, although confidentiality is a must for me.

Unless a client were to specifically grant permission I would not disclose their name.

Play around with role reversal here. If you were to ask this agency whether it were acceptable to use the names of this agency's clients to get work from other agencies - i.e. the agency's competitors - I'm 99% sure they would say no.

So why is this agency insisting that you disclose this information? It hints at questionable ethics and a bullying attitude. What assurances do you have that they will not simply contact your clients to offer services? Red flag?

There are other ways of ascertaining your experience and ability. Those all require hard work and the willingness to take the risk of forming an opinion about potential suppliers. All businesses must do this to some extent. The agency is unwilling to do the work. Red flag?

Regards
Dan


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:31
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No way, José! Feb 7, 2015

You definitely have a privacy duty towards your customers. No sensible potential customer will ask you for such a list... especially because they would not want to be in such a list in another bidding process.

Personally I would reject that requirement.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:31
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
No Feb 7, 2015

Darmali wrote:
One of the documents required is a list of my clients.


There is no good reason why they might want to know who your other clients are.

(Except, perhaps, if they are required by their own local laws not to cooperate with people who cooperated with certain other people, e.g. if their country (USA, can't think of any other nation that does that sort of thing) has boikot laws against some countries (some Middle East countries).)

There is, however, a very good reason for you to know who *their* clients are, namely that little clause in the NDA stating that you won't work directly for any of their existing clients. But no client is going to send you a list of their clients.

That said, it may be that they want to know who your *end-clients* are (e.g. you may have worked for agency X in the UK, whose end-client is Coca-Cola), and that would be okay, IMO, if those end-clients are large, well-known, multi-national companies.

[Edited at 2015-02-07 09:45 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:31
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The old trick Feb 7, 2015

I didn't get an accurate idea on whether you are dealing with a translation agency or a government agency.

Even if you have not signed a NDA with (most of) your current clients, you may have your own non-disclosure policy, like mine.

If it's a government agency, you can tell them that they may have it from your national tax authority, if local laws entitle them to it. If your local laws fail to grant that agency access to such information, you are not required to give it.

If it's a translation agency, that's an old trick. Chances are that they have NO government (or any other) project at all. They just want to poach clients from you.

Once I ran a test. One agency, self-claiming ISO-whatever, said that they'd lose their certification if they hired me without having confirmed three references of mine. I got in cahoots with three of my most loyal clients, and provided their details as references. Less than half an hour later, all three called/wrote me back to say that they had received from that agency: a) an arm-length questionnaire on me; and b) a message to the tune of "Whatever this jerk does for you, we can do it faster, better, and cheaper!"

Watch out!


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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 09:31
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No way Feb 7, 2015

A list of my current clients?
NO. Definitively no. Not at all. No further comments needed.


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Jitka Komarkova (Mgr.)  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 14:31
Member (2013)
English to Czech
+ ...
No. No. NO! Feb 7, 2015

Walter Landesman wrote:

NO. Definitively no. Not at all. No further coments needed.


I absolutely agree.
Angela, do not give it out.


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Darmali  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 19:31
English to Indonesian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Clarification of my previous post Feb 7, 2015

Thank you all for your helpful comments. I think my initial post was not very clear, the prospective client is not a translation agency, but an agency established by the government of my country and an independent foreign aid agency to manage a grant received from this agency for certain projects, so this is a direct client. I am bidding for provision of translation services for one of these projects. However, I do not really want to disclose the names of my clients, and you all agree that I should not do this . Do you think it would be a good idea to call them (their office is in Jakarta) and ask them what the purpose of this request is? Maybe they are just using copies of existing bidding documents, without considering the details.

Angela


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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 09:31
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It does not matter what their purpose is. Feb 7, 2015

Darmali wrote:
Do you think it would be a good idea to call them (their office is in Jakarta) and ask them what the purpose of this request is? Maybe they are just using copies of existing bidding documents, without considering the details.


No.

It doesn't matther what the purpose of this request is. You don't care, you don't want to disclose your list of clients whatever their purpose might be.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:31
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Direct them to your tax authority Feb 7, 2015

An excellent suggestion from José Henrique. If a government agency has a real need to know, I imagine they'll have the right to access those records.

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Darmali  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 19:31
English to Indonesian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Tax anthorities never ask Feb 7, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:

An excellent suggestion from José Henrique. If a government agency has a real need to know, I imagine they'll have the right to access those records.


Sheila,

Even the tax authorities don't ask about clients. Because we (translators) are self-employed, we fill in our own annual income tax submission according to a list provided by the tax office, but they are only interested in the amount and what business line.
I think that I will just submit the completed documents, which includes a lengthy sample test, except the client list, without mentioning anything about it. I don't want to risk my relationship with my current clients for a job that is still uncertain.

Angela


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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:31
English to French
+ ...
another comment (different) Feb 8, 2015

If you are filling a government agency form for a call of tender, it is understandable that they want a list of references; usually they ask for 3 or so, not a whole list.

So your prospective client is not a translation agency, and I suppose that you are not bidding through an agency.
In such circumstances I would provide the name of 2 or 3 translation agencies I worked for, preferably big names, well established ones. I mean the names of the agencies, not the names of the final clients who had their document translated.
Or if you have a big international direct client - like Miscrosoft or Shell or Coca Cola - or another governement organisation you can also provide the name.



[Edited at 2015-02-08 12:46 GMT]


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Improper request, and yes, it should be a polite "No" Feb 8, 2015

They do not need it; they are not going to engage with your clients in any way, shape or form.

You should not upset your clients with similar requests (asking for their permission). Existing clients are "treasure". Prospective clients are "thin air". Even though you have to strive to engage with the latter, it should never be done at the expense of the former.

I would suggest you get your priorities right.

In fact, even though I have the "right" knowledge and experience to participate in EU tenders, I never do, for if I did, I would have to provide extensive information on my clients, which I always refuse.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:31
Member (2008)
Italian to English
A no, not necessarily polite Feb 8, 2015

who your other clients are is nobody else's business - and you should never reveal who they are unless you want to lose them all !

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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:31
German to English
asking for references not uncommon among direct clients Feb 9, 2015

It is not uncommon (or strange) for direct clients to ask you for a formal offer including a list of relevant projects. My bids are rarely that lengthy, but sometimes they are, and in such cases I include three or four descriptions of projects with the name of the client, the date of the project and a three to four line description of the nature of the work as it relates to the project being bid on (similarities in terms of topic, text type, context, well-known clients or clients they are likely to know, etc.). There is nothing strange or sinister about that.

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