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Timezone? What's a timezone?
Thread poster: philgoddard
philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Jun 9, 2016

The phone woke me up at 5:30 this morning. My heart sank, because my mother in law is in hospital - it was either bad news about her, or a problem with a job I'd done. I stumbled around for ages looking for the phone, and eventually found it under a pile of clothes. It was a customer in Holland, and I'm in the US.

"Hi, sorry to call so early," she said. "I've got a job here that needs doing in three hours. Can you help?"

I very politely said that while I encourage customers to call any time after 7, because most are six or seven hours ahead of me, this was a little too early. "OK, sorry, thanks anyway," she said, and hung up.

A few weeks ago, the same thing happened. It was four in the morning, and another agency from Europe offering me work. I was so sleep-dazed and polite that I didn't even mention the time, and neither did he. Yet he had to know that it was the dead of night for me, because he'd picked up the phone and dialled a US number.

Ours is an international business, and we have to be flexible. But is it too much to expect eight hours of uninterrupted sleep now and then?


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TB CommuniCAT  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:03
Member (2014)
English to French
Turn off phone or sleep mode? Jun 9, 2016

Hi Phil,

Is it possible to turn off your phone or set it to sleep mode and have your clients leave a message?

Just a suggestion.


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Use a separate number you can turn off Jun 9, 2016

I have a separate business number, and I switch it off outside business hours. My German DSL subscription includes more than one VoIP number, so it's very simple here.

My advice: don't give your private numbers to business connections. Keep your private and business life separate.


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 19:03
English to Russian
+ ...
They may not have meant it Jun 9, 2016

Sometimes the calling person is aware you are several timezones away, but is confused whether it's X hours ahead or X hours behind them.

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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:03
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
[Deleted post] Jun 9, 2016

There was some problem with the site a couple of hours ago, resulting in my post not appearing after I clicked on the "Submit" button. I therefore re-submitted (twice) with the same result. I now find that all three posts are visible, and therefore have deleted the two superfluous posts.

[Edited at 2016-06-09 17:40 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-06-09 17:41 GMT]


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:03
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
[Deleted post] Jun 9, 2016

[See above comment.]

[Edited at 2016-06-09 17:44 GMT]


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:03
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Setting Limits and Taking Control Jun 9, 2016

I agree with what others have said here regarding the need to set limits to one's accessibility (at all times, and especially during off hours).

Barring the evolution of some extraordinary ongoing relationship with a client, I would never accept phone calls in the middle of the night. I do sometimes receive e-mails regarding urgent jobs at "way-off hours" (i.e., between 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. local time). In such instances, if the job interests me and I feel capable of doing it, I make a "take it or leave it" offer and insist on an immediate reply.

In some instances, these kinds of exchanges have resulted in lucrative work, so I am receptive to such offers - via e-mail.

And if the job is no interest, or if I am unavailable, then I simply ignore the e-mail. I feel no obligation to respond to urgent requests received in the middle of the night, whether or not these are personally addressed.

[Edited at 2016-06-09 19:44 GMT]


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Kelly Neudorfer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:03
German to English
Separate numbers Jun 9, 2016

I understand if you didn't turn your phone off because of the situation with your mother-in-law. I think the solution is to have separate business and personal numbers. I have a cell phone with dual SIM cards, so one phone but two numbers. I give my clients and agencies my business number only, and it has a separate ringtone. One client has my home number from before I got the business one, and he has called when I've got a toddler having a tantrum on the floor and a baby screaming on my arm. I was expecting a call from my husband and was so harried I didn't look at caller ID. I was kicking myself for hours (days?) afterward for the lack of professionalism. Although certainly not as extreme as the situation I just described, I'm sure you also don't sound your most professional at 5am.

Anyway, I also suggest you look into getting a separate number for your clients and be adamant in asking them to only use that number. Then you can shut off that ringtone in the middle of the night (or when you're on vacation).


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Kelly Neudorfer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:03
German to English
blip Jun 9, 2016

sorry, post showed up twice.

[Edited at 2016-06-09 18:05 GMT]


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I do appreciate all your suggestions Jun 9, 2016

But these days it's so rare for customers to phone that it's not worth buying technology to separate my personal and business lives.

I just wanted to let off steam about the fact that people who work in an international business, and should know better, seem unaware of the concept of timezones.


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Kelly Neudorfer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:03
German to English
True, but only if it's expensive Jun 9, 2016

philgoddard wrote:

But these days it's so rare for customers to phone that it's not worth buying technology to separate my personal and business lives.

I just wanted to let off steam about the fact that people who work in an international business, and should know better, seem unaware of the concept of timezones.


It's true that it's not worth buying expensive technology, but my second SIM card cost me 20€ and it's prepaid, so I don't have a contract that I pay on monthly. I bought it 2 years ago and have never put more money on it since I only use it to receive calls (and here you don't have to pay when people call you). I'm not familiar enough with US plans to know whether you could find some sort of equivalent, but it *could* be worth looking into if it happens again.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 18:03
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Well, Jun 9, 2016

I had the same experience these last two weeks but on the opposite side of the Atlantic (I live in Lisbon, Portugal). 1st case: an US potential customer called me at 6:30 asking if I could do an urgent translation from English to Portuguese (it turned out to be into Brazilian Portuguese and I translate exclusively into European Portuguese). 2nd case: a Brazilian translator (I believe he’s a Proz member, but I was so confused that I can’t remember his name) called me at 1:30 asking me if I could as a favor revise a translation he had just made…

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inesec  Identity Verified
Latvia
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
My solution of the timezone problem Jun 9, 2016

I live in Latvia. As 3/4 of my clients are USA-based, I have established the following system: none of my clients know my telephone number and we are communicating only via e-mail. As I have several clients from EU, too, I have introduced an e-mail signature with my availabiliy expressed in MGT, EDT, PDT and KST (for my 2 Korean clients). This system works just fine for me.

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Sandra& Kenneth  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 20:03
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Phone on silent at night, with defined exceptions Jun 10, 2016

It's a very useful function, and can be used in different scenarios.
My phone turns itself into silent mode between 9:00 pm and 7:00 am, except for immediate family (calls and messages - emails can wait).
Most phones should have this capability. Sounds pretty basic.

HTH,
Sandra


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:03
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Some lessons learned Jun 10, 2016

I first became aware of time zones many, many years ago, when people here in Brazil would make sure to wear formal clothes, perhaps a necktie, upon making an international phone call.

My father had a brother who lived in Australia (I'm in Brazil), and his wife was to undergo surgery. As my parents spoke half a dozen languages each, however English was not among them, they had me call Australia at a specific time to wish her good luck, knowing that there was "a 14-hour difference". They thought that some EN-speaking phone operator or perhaps household servant might answer, so they had me do it.

My aunt answered the phone herself, so I asked, "Hey, auntie, are you having your surgery tomorrow?", to which she answered, "No! I was operated yesterday, it went well, and I'm home already!"

This taught me that Australia, in spite of being just as "down under" as Brazil, is 14 hours AHEAD. Nowadays, on New Year's eve, it is normal to see on TV the Aussie fireworks that it's already the new year there, while we'll still have to wait for a few hours. It's sort of comforting to know in advance that there WILL be a new year.


My local clients know my landline number. Long-distance clients know that it's much more cost-effective to call me on Skype, where they can see whether I'm standing by. If I'm not, they can always leave me a text message saying "Call me ASAP". Just to be safe, I leave my mobile phone in my office at home for the night. My family knows that if they have to reach me in case of an emergency during the ungodly hours before daybreak, they should call my landline.

There is another point in using timezones to your benefit. My usual reviewer was located on the US West Coast, so she'd be 4-6 hours behind me. I could start translating long before she woke up in the morning, and she'd have plenty of additional time to review my work after I'd gone to bed at night. This allowed us - as a team - to offer shorter turnaround to clients with large translation jobs.

Once she went to France (3-5 hours ahead of me), and stayed there for a month. Foolishly, we didn't reverse our roles (she'd translate and I'd review), and it was a complete mess.

Though we all have a general idea on time zones, DST - Daylight Saving Time - in either location may shift them by +1 or -1 hour during certain parts of the year. So I've grown a habit of first googling "time (place) now" before calling anyone overseas.


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