How often do you notice a link between extreme terms & conditions and extreme behaviours?
Thread poster: Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 07:41
English to Polish
+ ...
Sep 4, 2016

This is primarily a question for all those who spend time thinking about agency/client terms & conditions or at the very least notice such things.

So how often do you observe a link between extremes in an agency/client's contract and extremes in that agency/client's behaviour? This includes the experience of your colleagues and their colleagues etc. as long as you're reasonably sure it's real.

Contract extremes: provisions (terms & conditions of a contract or PO) that are one-sided, arbitrary (discretional), unbalanced, draconian, overly detailed or otherwise bad for you, extreme (eyebrow-raising) amounts of penalties or liquidated damages, cumbersome powers for the agency/client (e.g. right of audit, discretionary rejection, ASAP handling of any complaints), provisions that are blatantly invalid (forbidden by the law or known to be invalidated by courts) etc.

Extreme behaviours: non-payment, long delays, stalling, renegotiating the rate after delivery, chaotic communication, rude tone or manner, passive aggression, patronizing speech, raising one's voice without a really good reason, name-calling, incompetent editing, reviewing or grading, unjustifiable rejections or complaints or claims for discounts — and whatever else you can think about that is extreme and unbalanced and can't be fully explained by the circumstances.

Auxiliary questions:

– how often a bad contract is just a bad contract

vs

– how often a bad contract is connected with bad behaviour (and a part of a grander scheme of problems with that client or agency).

Please feel free to include experience from outside the translation industry, too, just make sure you provide some relevant background details (which country and industry, whether a long time ego etc.).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Annamaria Amik  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:41
Romanian to English
+ ...
Almost always associated with impersonal/unprofessional behavior of PMs Sep 4, 2016

In my experience, the thicker the contract, the more unprofessional or impersonal the PM. Agencies with contracts like that usually have impersonal online platforms that make it complicated to get in touch with anyone there.

This is valid especially in the case of what I call the 'spying clause' (i.e. translator must report every attempt of agency's client to contact translator, or even unintentional incidents where the client finds the translator via other channels than the agency). I've yet to see an agency with this clause that doesn't expect the translator to always go the extra mile, give discounts for any creative reason, etc. I don't mind reasonable non-solicitation clauses, though.

Luckily I had very few occasions to observe such behavior, because I never sign contracts with the terms you mentioned. What I noticed is that those specific terms are never just embedded individually in otherwise sensibly short contracts, but most often all of them are in the pack.

But generally I can say that the best contractual relationships are based on simple and rather short contracts and a lot of great behavior/trust/professional attitude on both sides. An acquaintance of mine, a lawyer working for a services provider in the construction industry, also confirmed this: he said most litigations he had involved clients with excessively detailed contracts with 'stupid' terms, and everything goes smoothly with clients with plain and short contracts that were not shows of virtuosity in legalese.

I think the explanation is simple: contract or not, a business activity still involves humans and where cool (no better word, sorry ) humans work together, silly and thick contracts are not necessary. Of course, the situation is quite different in the case of contracts with public authorities, I guess voluminous agreements are unavoidable and not that unreasonable there, since they have to be ready for a much wider palette of counterparty attitudes.

[Edited at 2016-09-04 18:44 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Łukasz Sep 4, 2016

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:
So how often do you observe a link between extremes in an agency/client's contract and extremes in that agency/client's behaviour?


I find no correlation. Agencies with the weirdest terms may end up the nicest clients, and agencies with the most friendly terms and conditions may turn out to be very hard to deal with. The terms aren't drawn up by the PMs (particularly not by those who currently work there) but by some lawyer. There is no link between the meanness of the lawyer and the meanness of the agency.


[Edited at 2016-09-05 09:31 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 07:41
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Sep 4, 2016

Samuel Murray wrote:

I find no correlation. Agencies with the weirdest terms may end up the nicest clients, and agencies with the most friendly terms and conditions may turn out to be very hard to deal with.


They may, but do they, in general?

The terms aren't drawn up by the PMs (particularly not by those who currently work there) but by some lawyer.


Both the lawyer and the PMs tend to be hired and instructed by the same person, though, i.e. the owner or some sort of director/general manager, unless the company is so huge that's not the case.

There is link between the meanness of the lawyer and the meanness of the agency.


Yup, there is one. After all, someone has to approve the contract. Ironically, that's poor lawyering on those lawyers' part, as the goal is not to write down the theoretical max of the legal protection you could possibly devise for your client, the goal is to make a beneficial contract that 1) people will sign (this could be regarded as an externality); and 2) courts will uphold (but this not — it really means poor homework).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Kelly Neudorfer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:41
German to English
Yes, in my experience Sep 5, 2016

I work a lot with direct clients, but in my limited agency experience this has been true. I was going through a very lengthy text process with an agency, and when I was sent their contract I laughed and said thanks but no thanks. Since then I have heard from others who have worked for them saying that the cooperation is horrible. The contract included a non-competition clause that was flat-out invalid (the clause said no working for the agency's clients ever (courts have said 2 years is reasonable, max. 5 years under exceptional circumstances) under penalty of something like 20.000€ / incident (courts have said double the amount of the invoice)). Plus the terms related to how work was to be done were, in my opinion, way too onerous. And throughout this process they refused to tell me the rates I would be working for until I signed this contract, which also included an NDA.

On the other hand, I work with a small, very specialized agency that had a very short, straightforward, and fair contract, and I love working with them. Small problems that have arisen have been solved professionally and quickly.

That's only two examples and very anecdotal, but in my experience your generalized statement has been true.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Łukasz Sep 5, 2016

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
I find no correlation. Agencies with the weirdest terms may end up the nicest clients, and agencies with the most friendly terms and conditions may turn out to be very hard to deal with.

They may, but do they, in general?


No. Like I said, "no correlation".

The terms aren't drawn up by the PMs (particularly not by those who currently work there) but by some lawyer.

Both the lawyer and the PMs tend to be hired and instructed by the same person, though...


Yes, but a shoddy agency CEO will not deliberately seek out a shoddy lawyer. PMs who are mean or poor business people typically don't know that they are mean or poor business people. By the way, the CEO does not "hire" the lawyer (unless the agency has a legal department), and he does not "instruct" him either (rather, the lawyer instructs the CEO).

There is link between the meanness of the lawyer and the meanness of the agency.

Yup, there is one.

Sorry, I meant to say that there is NO link.
After all, someone has to approve the contract.

In the same way that many translators sign contracts without actually understanding all the legal terminology, so too do agency CEOs simply accepts whatever the lawyer puts in front of them. I'm sure the lawyer would have all kinds of sweet answers to any queries about why such and such phrase is necessary or standard or doesn't mean what it appears to mean, etc.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:41
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Correlation between paperwork and "bad" agencies Sep 5, 2016

I don't know about "extreme" behaviours, but there seems to definitely be a correlation between lots of paperwork (extensive and ridiculously long contracts, NDAs, pages and pages of database information to be provided, etc.) and a bad agency with unprofessional behaviour and a poor attitude towards its suppliers (possibly not extreme but also certainly not desirable).

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:41
Member (2014)
English to German
Not sure Sep 7, 2016

I aim to work with nice professional agencies and don't sign contracts with indemnity clauses or anything where I feel I could potentially sign my livelihood away.

Still, a good number of my clients need one or more reminders to pay, one has consistently silly deadlines, and today I thought I found a very nice niche agency (great attitude to translation and good rates) until they send their contract with hideous terms and a project with a too short deadline.


Direct link Reply with quote
 


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


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

How often do you notice a link between extreme terms & conditions and extreme behaviours?

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