Pages in topic:   [1 2 3 4] >
Advice on ending a collaboration
Thread poster: Chloe Vaughn

Chloe Vaughn  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:37
German to English
Nov 29, 2015

Dear colleagues and fellow freelancers,

I am in a bit of a sticky situation, and would appreciate any guidance you can offer.

I am relatively new to ProZ and to the world of freelance translation in general. In early September, I was contacted by an outsourcer who asked if I would be willing to start accepting jobs from him. Our conversation was very brief and I was never sent any PO's. He simply began sending me work. Throughout the last three months I have had to cancel on a number of obligations due to the work I have been doing for him, and though I've tried to explain on numerous occasions that I
need time to devote to other things (I am currently in Germany trying to complete research for which I am receiving a grant, and is of no small importance), little has changed, and my obligations have suffered. Since I started, very few days have gone by on which I have not worked (including weekends) and I spend many hours editing translations of mine which I consider to be good quality in the first place. Additionally, he routinely loses his temper on the phone and becomes verbally abusive. It has gotten to the point where I no longer feel it is worth the toll it has been taking on other aspects of my life. During our most recent conversation, I brought up the possibility of reducing the amount of work I took on, and gave him the name of a highly qualified friend of mine who had offered to share some of the responsibility. He told me that he is far too busy at the moment to "train" someone else (although I never received any training myself, I simply began taking on work), and that we could first start discussing the possibility after Christmas at the earliest.

Right now I don't see the situation improving and my attempts to make things more equitable have fallen on deaf ears. I want to discontinue the work as soon as possible, but want to give him some amount of time to find a replacement before I stop accepting jobs from him, so I have considered telling him that I will work until the end of December. I know, however, that he will not eagerly accept these terms. I feel, however, that I have done everything I can to accommodate his needs and have largely neglected my own in the process.

I suppose I am looking, in part, to assuage my conscience. Is a month an appropriate amount of time to give an outsourcer? I know it isn't possible for him to leave me a negative WWA on my profile, but might there be other consequences?

I'd very much appreciate any advice on the matter. Thanks for being such a helpful and supportive professional community!


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
You're not an employee Nov 29, 2015

Dear cvaughn,

You explain the problem as if you were behaving as if you were an employee. That's understandable, as you obviously cannot have had a lot of experience yet, but you need to sit down and go through what it means to be self-employed and thus run a small business.

You're not an employee, so you have no duty of loyalty to any client over and above respecting confidentiality and contracts, providing quality, etc.

Also, you have no general contract with this agency, so it is up to you to accept or decline each job they propose.

As you have no contract, and as you're not an employee, you have no duty to 'give notice' that you will no longer accept future jobs from a given date, you just decline the proposals you don't want to take on, and that's the end of it. There is nothing rude about this, that's how it works.

You have proposed another translator to them, and it is not your problem if they want to 'train' another freelancer, as you're not an employee.

You need to learn to respect yourself and not let agencies drag you around by the nose like this, as if you were a low-ranking employee. You should not accept the type of verbal abuse you described either. They clearly abuse that you are not yet experienced.

Do you think a lawyer, doctor, architect, etc. would accept that their clients ordered them around like this? Obviously not. You're the 'CEO' of your own business, and you set the rules. If an agency's proposals are not acceptable for you, you just decline.

"No" is such a simple word, yet it's so difficult for some of us to use it.


 

Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Did he pay yet? Nov 29, 2015

Hello,

I completely agree with the colleague's comment and am also wondering whether you ever got paid by this client.

My best advice is: Send him your final invoice and stop talking to him altogether.

Giusi


 

Kristina Cosumano  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:37
Member (2015)
German to English
He's just too busy to "train" someone else??! Nov 29, 2015

You want to be generous by giving this client until the end of December, but in my experience giving difficult people more breathing room often backfires in that they need to exert even more control of the situation (he could turn around and "fire" you, although I suppose that wouldn't be so bad in this case.)

It sounds as if you want to be nice, and you don't want him to be angry at you, even for something you are freely entitled to do. If I found myself in this situation, I'd probably tell him that this current project will be my last (and do not apologize), and then when that day arrived, tell him goodbye, it's been lovely, all the best, etc.


 

Chloe Vaughn  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:37
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Nov 29, 2015

Thank you both for your replies. You've been extremely helpful and offered my conscience the very salve it needed.

To Giusi: I have been paid in part for the month of September. He has asked me to re-do my invoices in Excel so that he does not have to double-check my calculations. Though I think it unlikely, I am worried that I won't receive payment if I simply cut off communication.

Thanks again!

-Chloe


 

nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:37
English to French
+ ...
The freelancer should be free Nov 29, 2015

You don't mention paiement. Is the client a good, regular payer? I don't mean the rate, but the delay for paying after work is done. Have you been paid for all the work done?

There is nothing to explain. Period. You are a FREElancer, you are the master. Do you think he will give you a month notice (or even feel sorry) if one day he just decides to work with another translator (offering lower rates, or working faster, or for whatever reason)? Of course not.

I know it can be sometimes difficult to say no, you just have to think of an excuse, like you MUST fly back home in a hurry, or you are sick. There is no need to discuss or explain, you don't have to ask for his permission to live your life.


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
No excuse Nov 29, 2015

nordiste wrote:

I know it can be sometimes difficult to say no, you just have to think of an excuse, like you MUST fly back home in a hurry, or you are sick. There is no need to discuss or explain, you don't have to ask for his permission to live your life.


Exactly, there is no need to explain, so one should not even think of coming up with 'excuses' just to run a normal business and decline unwanted proposals. Coming up with excuses would just confirm that one feels under their control like a schoolboy.

I think, when they say they don't have time to 'train' someone else, what they mean is they will find it difficult to find someone else accepting such conditions and possibly such a low rate. You haven't mentioned the rate, but the type of agency you describe would typically try to pay well below the market rate.

When one finds a good, regular client, one can be flexible within reason, but that has to be a business decision, i.e. 'I'd rather work a bit longer in a short period than push them into the arms of my competitors', not because one feels obliged.


 

TranslateThis  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
Find an excuse if you want to get paid Nov 29, 2015

I agree that there should be no need for 'excuses' but this does not sound like a normal business relationship.

This person is trying to manipulate you, so I have a feeling that it might require more effort than usual to get paid. Be smart about it: DO find an excuse and then another one until you get paid in full.


 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:37
Member (2012)
French to English
Don't answer the phone when he calls! Nov 29, 2015

I would suggest limiting your communication to emails, so that you have everything in writing and you don't have to tolerate verbal abuse.

 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Agree in such a case Nov 29, 2015

TranslateThis wrote:

I agree that there should be no need for 'excuses' but this does not sound like a normal business relationship.

This person is trying to manipulate you, so I have a feeling that it might require more effort than usual to get paid. Be smart about it: DO find an excuse and then another one until you get paid in full.


Yes, I agree if there is an unusual risk of not getting paid. And this is an unusual business relationship – in fact, it's not really a business relationship but a master-server relationship, and that's why it needs to be ended asap.


 

Chloe Vaughn  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:37
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Not a prompt payer Nov 29, 2015

The outsourcer has not been a prompt payer, but has payed me in part, though I do worry about what would happen if I stopped working immediately (which would be my preferred solution). They don't have a great track record of accepting excuses (illness, etc.) and I am having a hard time thinking of one which would be believable. Would the threat of a bad Blue Book review (as far as I know they don't have a Blue Book entry) be enough to cow them into paying?

They have stated that they risk losing the end client if I stop working on short notice (when it's previously been discussed) which I obviously wouldn't wish on anyone, but I also fear I am being manipulated.

Thanks again to everyone for your encouraging words and helpful advice!


 

Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:37
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Ensuring payment and giving notice Nov 29, 2015

You definitely need to rid yourself of this client, but I agree that it sounds like he will withhold payment -- he'll do it as "revenge" because he will feel "betrayed" if you leave him. So my suggestion is that you straight-up lie to him and say that you've had an emergency, like needing to fly out of the country or some sort of medical emergency and will be in hospital for at least a month and unable to take on extra work -- or basically any lie that would give you a valid reason for not accepting work. Normally I would not suggest lying but in this case I guarantee you that this client is not your friend and would not think twice about screwing you over if it suits him.

Then press him to pay the outstanding invoices on the basis that you need the money to cover the extra costs of being in hospital, or being out of the country, or whatever.

Once you have the money, RUN. Be polite, be professional, but make it absolutely clear that you will not be accepting any more work from him ever. Not even a small job. Then block his phone calls, block his email address and enjoy your peace and the extra time to focus on your other commitments like the research you're working on.

And by the way, it's says a lot about you and your professionalism that you wish to give him a month's notice, but in this case I think the relationship is so toxic that you need to cut ties ASAP, no notice period, and personally I would not recommend any other freelancer to him because THAT would be dreadful -- don't give that guy the chance to take advantage of and bully another translator when you leave!


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Blue Board Nov 29, 2015

cvaughn wrote:

TWould the threat of a bad Blue Book review (as far as I know they don't have a Blue Book entry) be enough to cow them into paying?


It is against the rules for the Blue Board to use it like that. But by all means add a Blue Board and an entry for this outsourcer when you're well clear of them, so as to warn others. Just be sure only to write verifiable facts in the comments.

cvaughn wrote:

They have stated that they risk losing the end client if I stop working on short notice (when it's previously been discussed) which I obviously wouldn't wish on anyone, but I also fear I am being manipulated.


There is plenty of supply in the translation market, and in any case, it is not your problem what their relations with their clients are. You have no influence on that, and you have not promised anything. Your only obligation is to complete the jobs you have accepted on time.


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:37
German to English
Don't take abuse Nov 29, 2015

cvaughn wrote:
(snip)
He simply began sending me work. Throughout the last three months I have had to cancel on a number of obligations due to the work I have been doing for him, and though I've tried to explain on numerous occasions that I need time to devote to other things


Since I started, very few days have gone by on which I have not worked (including weekends) and I spend many hours editing translations of mine which I consider to be good quality in the first place.

Additionally, he routinely loses his temper on the phone and becomes verbally abusive. It has gotten to the point where I no longer feel it is worth the toll it has been taking on other aspects of my life.
(snip)
He told me that he is far too busy at the moment to "train" someone else (although I never received any training myself, I simply began taking on work), and that we could first start discussing the possibility after Christmas at the earliest.


This sounds like an abusive relationship. It's in your best interest to cease working for him as soon as you can – as others have mentioned, you don't have an employment contract. To help preserve your (probably slim) chances of getting paid in full, you might notify him in writing that as of December 31, you will no longer accept work from him, and that you expect payment in full no later than January 31. Make sure you've invoiced him for all the work, so if you have to rely on small claims court, you'll have an airtight case.

One thing that occurs to me is the reason he's been sending you so much work might be due to your very low rate. You should be receiving a double-digit rate – or very close to that – in Germany. My experience (and that of others) is that agencies/clients paying very low rates frequently don't respect their translators. He's afraid of losing you because he knows it will be hard to find someone who will accept his low payment rate.

When you're starting out, it's very tempting to go with a low rate/unpleasant working relationship in order to acquire experience. Unfortunately you're gathering the wrong kind of experience – which may be helpful in the long run, but is filling you with anxiety at the moment. One of the difficult life lessons is learning to recognize an abusive relationship and how to terminate it. Your current situation is damaging your self-esteem, interfering with your research, and turning your study abroad experience into a nightmare.


 

Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:37
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
You are being manipulated, I think Nov 29, 2015

cvaughn wrote:

The outsourcer has not been a prompt payer, but has payed me in part, though I do worry about what would happen if I stopped working immediately (which would be my preferred solution).


If that is your preferred solution, keep it at the front of your mind. It might be worth just not worrying about the money and just telling this guy to go away.


They have stated that they risk losing the end client if I stop working on short notice (when it's previously been discussed) which I obviously wouldn't wish on anyone, but I also fear I am being manipulated.


I hate to say this, but you definitely are. If they risk losing the client, they would be seriously stupid not to start looking for a new translator right when you started talking about not accepting any more work. So I think either they are lying or they are stupid. Either way, YOU should not suffer because they are liars or idiots.


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2 3 4] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Advice on ending a collaboration

Advanced search







Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »
TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search