Potential manipulation - Sound advice sought
Thread poster: Linguisticano

Linguisticano  Identity Verified
Member (2015)
Danish to English
+ ...
Dec 13, 2016

Hi everyone

I've found myself in a bit of a pickle with a fellow translator who asked me to do an "emergency" translation, which entailed 2 full weeks of intensive hard slog. I would really appreciate it if someone could guide me on a sound approach on how to deal with the situation.

Due to circumstances I initially lost about a week's time to focus on the project, so asked for an extension, which was granted, for EOD this past Sunday. On the day of submission the power went out for ca. 4 hours, which was critical time lost, and resulted in me only being able to submit in the early hours of Monday morning.

Subsequent to submitting I was informed of an error on my part (which I had overlooked), in not having applied the correct/requested date format, which I quickly rectified throughout the document and resubmitted. In total I overstepped the deadline by 2 hours.

Yesterday I sent through my invoice and asked whether the translator might be in the position to pay out 50% now and 50% the 30 days later, in order to assist with my cash flow, whereupon I received a couple of responses from the translator stating the following:

"The client was not very happy with the late delivery. ... The client has requested, in total, that I shave off [an equivalent of ca. 42%] per word, and I do not disagree. ... If you send over a revised invoice I will pay immediately out of my own pocket. ... I have truly tried to mitigate the damages with the client, and will be paying somewhat out of pocket for your work. Please be aware as I said that I will pay out of pocket for your work immediately should you accept."

Now here's what I don't understand:
1) I was never informed at any point that there would be any discounts requested.
2) What do I have to do with this client who has been brought into the picture?
3) How does 2 hours overdue, after helping out in an "emergency," = 42% discount?

I know that everything didn't go 100% hunky dory, as initially planned, but I also wasn't born yesterday - and am not of the mind to just throw away a week's work...

If someone's faced something similar before I would really value your help!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:23
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It's a lose-lose situation, I'm afraid Dec 13, 2016

Sorry to hear about this problem, but it doesn't sound like a case of manipulation to me. More a sad affair for you, your client, and the end client. There will be no winners at the end of the day.

The end client clearly isn't happy, and I'm wondering whether there were other quality issues, in addition to the date one that got caught by your client. Of course, an imperfect translation that's delivered early can be remedied in time; and a perfect translation that's delivered a little late can be whizzed out quickly into publication; but less-than-perfect quality (often as a result of rushed or skipped proofreading) AND late delivery is something difficult to tolerate and pay for.

Your client, a fellow translator, has had his reputation tarnished by the client's loss of confidence. He will be wanting to offer the end client a substantial discount, probably over and above your discount, and he certainly won't be making any profit on this one. He's probably lost a client, maybe a regular one.

And you were clearly besieged by problems that were at least in part outside your control, for which you're now being asked to pay. Well, I'm sorry to say that that's business. It's all about producing quality work on or before the deadline. Nothing else is really acceptable. You accepted "2 full weeks of intensive hard slog" for an "emergency" job. The alarm bells should have started ringing on the first day of slippage. You don't say how long the extension was, but anything shorter than a full week to account for the week's slippage would have been most unwise. You also don't say what you were planning to do during those last hours of power outage. If you were still translating, then you were really in trouble. Hopefully, you were using those last few hours to put the finishing touches to the proofreading phase and only neglected a couple of points such as the date format. If you never even had time to run a spell check, then that would be a grave error. What have you been told about the quality? Have either the end client or your client come back with other errors? Have you since reviewed your work and found any? I think a lot depends on the quality of the product that was delivered two hours late.

Now here's what I don't understand:
1) I was never informed at any point that there would be any discounts requested.

I don't suppose your client thought it would be necessary. I've never been informed of a potential discount in my many years, but I have had to offer one (on my own initiative) on a couple of occasions, including one of 100% ).

2) What do I have to do with this client who has been brought into the picture?

You don't have any direct relationship with him/her. Your client is your fellow translator, and he has to deal with his client. But obviously he doesn't want to accept 100% of the loss involved in having a client who's unhappy with a translation provided by you.

3) How does 2 hours overdue, after helping out in an "emergency," = 42% discount?

You weren't "helping out". You accepted a paid job - no more, no less. This is business, not fixing a car for a mate. You should only accept work that you can do, and failing to do that certainly doesn't help anyone. I don't know if the amount itself is justified. That depends on all sorts of things. But I would say that some form of discount is in order.

Well, two hours could have made no real difference. Or it could have made the translation totally useless. Imagine that it was for a speech the end client was due to make, and it arrived too late for him to deliver it; or the publishing house had given an absolute deadline for submission. A deadline really has to be taken at face value - cross that line and it becomes a dead (i.e. valueless) piece of work. In this case, though, there's a mitigating circumstance: your deadline with your client should have allowed for a period of time before delivery to the end client, during which time your client would have time to check the work thoroughly and return it for any corrections. You say he did return it and that was what made the work late. That implies there wasn't any time scheduled for this - that he had allowed you the same deadline as his own one to his client. That's a very dangerous thing to do, especially with an unknown translator and a relatively large job. He therefore has to accept part of the responsibility (which he says he's willing to do).

BTW, I had the idea that this client of yours was male, but now I don't see any reason for thinking that. Please take all references to "he", "him", "his" as meaning a client of either gender .


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Linguisticano  Identity Verified
Member (2015)
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Quality was assured Dec 13, 2016

Thanks Sheila!

Why I referred to this as potential manipulation is because I have no proof that what the translator is saying is 100% true or not. Of course that's an argument for another day, as it would be near impossible to prove, but whether the translator (my client) is being forthright or not, I still don't feel it's justified in any way to smack the project budget with 42%.

How come was there initially no flexibility wrt a deposit upfront and 30 days post invoice submission was communicated as the only option under the sun - and now, all of a sudden, the translator is more than willing to pay me out in full, after "taking" 42% off the promised amount due.

The final 2 hours (past deadline) were primarily used to fix up the dates. The hours prior to that were just final proofreading. I haven't received any other comments regarding the quality - and I know I made sure.

Is there any way that I can hold this fellow translator primarily accountable and still get paid the bulk of my money - and not fall for the "I'll pay you now, in full, out of my pocket - but only if you agree to a fat discount [which I could put back in my pocket]"?

How do I know that the translator is being truthful and not taking advantage of the situation and trying to take me for a ride?


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:23
Member (2008)
French to English
Delivering on time in a power failure Dec 13, 2016

Linguisticano wrote:

On the day of submission the power went out for ca. 4 hours, which was critical time lost, ...



Unfortunately, that is still the translator's responsibility. For that very reason, I have a battery backup that lasts about 8 hours plus I can use my phone as a mobile hotspot if the internet goes down. It's happened to me several times.


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:23
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Translator's responsibility Dec 13, 2016

John Fossey wrote:
Unfortunately, that is still the translator's responsibility. For that very reason, I have a battery backup that lasts about 8 hours plus I can use my phone as a mobile hotspot if the internet goes down. It's happened to me several times.

I agree with John. It's up to us to take precautionary measures. That's what separates professionals like us from amateurs, right? I have a UPS that will hold up for an hour or so while I switch from desktop to laptop and, if the worst comes to the worst, a small generator!

And because my internet has in the past been fairly unreliable I have not one but three internet connections, one of which is wireless to reduce my dependence on copper phone lines. My logistical problems should not become the client's problems...

Regards
Dan


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:23
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Too late Dec 13, 2016

Linguisticano wrote:
..........

How do I know that the translator is being truthful and not taking advantage of the situation and trying to take me for a ride?



Sorry to be blunt, but shouldn't you have asked these questions before taking on the job?


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philgoddard
United States
German to English
+ ...
I do think Dec 13, 2016

the onus is on the client to prove that the translation was only 58% usable as a result of being late. Some kind of deduction is in order, but surely not 42%.

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