Unresponsive client: should I contact them again?
Thread poster: AlessiaDD
AlessiaDD
Italy
Local time: 13:21
English to Italian
+ ...
Jul 24

Hi everyone, thank you in advance for your time spent in reading my questions.

I am Alessia, from Italy and I am a newbie here on Proz because my job career was a bit "garbled", informally speaking.
I am very active on an other platform, so I am starting to get some important translation job assignments I am filling my samples portfolio with.

However, I am not so experienced yet so I have a lot of things to learn, mainly in approaching and getting in touch with my clients and potential ones: I try to explain my questions and concerns.

I thought it was important for my job not to displease the client using rude manners and of course I did not, but sometimes I fell into very bad way of behaving.

Last week one among my previous clients, a China woman I have already worked with and who gave me 5 stars feedback, posted an other job application and so I wrote her saying I was immediately available for it.
She answered she was not sure I was good enough with IT translation jobs (not having any previous complain by her about the same kind of job, I would like to repeate). I kept calm and I answered I understood, and she suddenly change her mind saying I could have the job if I wanted it.
I was so disappointed, I have to confess.

Pay rate was very low, 5 dollars for a long translation, so I asked if we could fix my contract and arrange it into an hourly one, because she said she has a lot of material to translate.
She didn't answer anymore.

In your opinion, what should I do? Just let her go or try to contact again maybe apologizing?
Is it correct trying to negotiate the fares if we think they are too low?
How do you behave with unresponsive and unpolite clients?
I am afraid they could "signal" me and I am gonna lose every translation work...am I paranoid?

Best,
Alessia


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:21
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
"Just let her go or try to contact again maybe apologizing?" Why on earth would you want them? Jul 25

AlessiaDD wrote:
Last week one among my previous clients, a China woman I have already worked with and who gave me 5 stars feedback, posted an other job application and so I wrote her saying I was immediately available for it.
She answered she was not sure I was good enough with IT translation jobs (not having any previous complain by her about the same kind of job, I would like to repeate). I kept calm and I answered I understood, and she suddenly change her mind saying I could have the job if I wanted it.
I was so disappointed, I have to confess.

Pay rate was very low, 5 dollars for a long translation, so I asked if we could fix my contract and arrange it into an hourly one, because she said she has a lot of material to translate.
She didn't answer anymore.

I'm afraid I don't entirely understand everything in the above as the English is rather poor. But if you're in the habit of accepting any translation at all for USD 5, let alone a long one, then you're well into the realm of bottom-feeding clients. You will only ever be paid peanuts, and those clients are well-known for trying to wriggle out of even paying what they promised at the start. Clearly she isn't going to pay you a sensible hourly rate. Take the minimum net hourly wage in Italy, then add in freelancer social security contributions, plus an allowance for time and money spent on running your business, professional training, sickness and holiday periods, professional memberships, IT and office equipment, insurance, etc., etc. Then there's your entitlement to some ROI for your degree studies - you should earn more than a 16-year-old school leaver. How much would that mean you would have to quote for the time needed for that translation? Would it be USD 5, or nearer USD 50? There's a tool on this site to help you get an idea of what you might need to earn to make a living: http://www.proz.com/translator-rates-calculator/ And there are community rates that give an indication of market rates: http://search.proz.com/?sp=pfe/rates

I suggest you take another, longer and harder, look at your future as a translator. Only offer what you can do spectacularly well, and that will mean only translating into your native language, from source languages that you truly master (and nothing below a C1 level could possibly qualify as that), and in subject areas where you're truly competent. The alternative will be to stick with what you've got - at best.

Sorry to be blunt, but I'm hoping my advice will be useful in the long run.


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AlessiaDD
Italy
Local time: 13:21
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks a lot Jul 25

Sheila, thanks a lot for your reply. First of all let me tell you I am so sorry if you believe my English is poor, I am in possess of a Proficient English certificate, so maybe you should complain with my exam center.

However, I am an Italian Copywriter and Journalist, I just wanted to know if I could think about something more challenging to complete my professional profile and so I asked you how to behave well in this quite unknown world.

So, sorry again not to be as professional as you all (I said I am a newbie and a beginner), but thank you for reading, even if you did not answer to my question at all,I understood what you meant.

Have a nice day,
Alessia

[Modificato alle 2017-07-25 20:01 GMT]


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:21
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Answers Jul 25

AlessiaDD wrote:

... even if you did not answer to my question at all...


Actually, she did, both in the subject and in the rest of her post, where she also gave you some useful advice about setting rates and offering services. I agree with her.

If you have no formal training as a translator and are serious about this, IMO you might also want to consider an internship in a translation agency, to at least learn the ropes.

Also, if you're interested in my replies to your questions:

In your opinion, what should I do? Just let her go or try to contact again maybe apologizing? - Drop them.

Is it correct trying to negotiate the fares if we think they are too low? - Yes it is. You are a freelancer, not an employee (check what Sheila wrote about setting a reasonable rate).

How do you behave with unresponsive and unpolite clients? - Depends on how 'valuable' they are to me, but chances are my relationship with very unresponsive clients would eventually go south sooner or later... and I would probably just drop/not work at all with rude clients.

I am afraid they could "signal" me and I am gonna lose every translation work...am I paranoid? - How do you mean?

[Edited at 2017-07-25 21:26 GMT]


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Álvaro Espantaleón  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:21
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
+ ...
------- Jul 25

[quote]Mirko Mainardi wrote:

AlessiaDD wrote:

I am afraid they could "signal" me and I am gonna lose every translation work...am I paranoid? - How do you mean?


She is talking about a platform called Upwork. Clients rate freelancers there after the work has been delivered. However, the only job in progress that appears in her profile is with someone from Israel. So no Chinese woman and no reason to fear anything. Strange.


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AlessiaDD
Italy
Local time: 13:21
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Dear Alvaro Jul 25

[quote]Álvaro Espantaleón wrote:

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

AlessiaDD wrote:

I am afraid they could "signal" me and I am gonna lose every translation work...am I paranoid? - How do you mean?


She is talking about a platform called Upwork. Clients rate freelancers there after the work has been delivered. However, the only job in progress that appears in her profile is with someone from Israel. So no Chinese woman and no reason to fear anything. Strange.


Thanks Mirko, I read carefully your answer and I am thinking about it, fwmc Mr.Espantaléon I am not sure I was able to get his point.
First of all thanks a lot of mentioning Upwork, but if you insisted a bit in checking my profile you should have seen that this is the open hourly project, I have two other milestone funded ones that are open and not showed.
In my post I told you all about a previous client, so what?

Thanks again Mirko, tomorrow in the morning I am going to read again your answer, but let me say that I feel something like a sort of "pack".
I am not a menace, I don't want to annoy anyone so if you prefer I am not going to write here anymore.

Goodnight to everyone


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Sylvie A. Martlew
Jamaica
Local time: 07:21
German to English
+ ...
Phrasing Jul 26

I feel that if you claim to translate into English, you ought to know that "China woman" is an offensive term.

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AlessiaDD
Italy
Local time: 13:21
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Mistake Jul 26

Sylvie A. Martlew, M.Phil. (Oxon.) wrote:

I feel that if you claim to translate into English, you ought to know that "China woman" is an offensive term.


Yeah, unfortunately I posted with my cell phone and sometimes it makes me mad.
I didn't mean to be rude or offensive, tried to change but I don't know how to, these are my fist forum posts ever.
I apologize.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:21
French to English
Answer: no. Jul 26

Alessia,

You should forget this client, forever. Why? Unreliable, unresponsive and most of all, offering USD5 is not even pocket money. It does not even by a cartridge for your printer. My answer to your question is "No. Never again. Nor anyone like them."

Sheila's advice is good advice, standard advice that has been shown to be true, time and time again. Her advice on determining a rate to apply is very helpful. Anyone that is expecting you to work for USD5 is not respecting you already. Respect your own value by expecting better for yourself! Determine a professional rate for your work and know when you should increase or decrease it a little depending on criteria you should determine for yourself. You will make mistakes, we all do, but you get better at avoiding them as time goes on.
(N.B. the correct term is "rate", not "fare". A "fare" is the amount you pay for a bus or taxi ride).

To get started, you might like to consider contacting agencies. As a rule, an agency will only accept that you translate into your native language which I believe is Italian. It is unlikely you will get jobs from an agency translating from your native language. Professional translator/interpreter organisations consider it to be a golden rule that you should only translate into your native tongue. This rule is respected by most agencies too.

A certificate in Proficient English is not a guarantee of native level language skills. It means you were assessed as being proficient at one particular moment in time, with regard to a set of criteria against which your ability was measured. Remember that you will be competing for jobs against other translators who have relevant qualifications and/or experience of the subject area and who might have no language qualifications, but who are bilingual nonetheless.

When starting out, try to get a reputation for doing quality work in areas where you are sure that you can accomplish that goal. You could accentuate your professional experience as a journalist and other knowledge from areas of personal interest. I would strongly recommend you only accept jobs where the work you are returning to the client is in Italian.
If you intend to translate professionally into English, then I would suggest you have your work proof-read/revised by a native speaker and that you integrate that cost into whatever you invoice your client. You may find that you cannot do so at a competitive price.

Note that one can be capable of writing independently to a near native level without necessarily being able to translate from a source text to that same level. When you are the writer of an original, you determine the level of language used. When translating, you have to match the original in understanding and in production. In my opinion, a native-speaker level is required, C2 would be a minimum. The writing you have produced here is fine for a post on a forum, but it is clear that you are not a native speaker of English which is not sufficient for professional purposes. Not yet anyway.


[Edited at 2017-07-26 07:35 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:21
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Advice Jul 26

AlessiaDD wrote:

In your opinion, what should I do?


1. Remove "Italian to English" from your language pairs. You're not good enough.
2. Diversify your client base as widely as possible so that if one client gives you the runaround, you have plenty of others.


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Natasha Ziada  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 22:21
English to Dutch
+ ...
Upwork Jul 26

Hi Alissia, I have been in your situation at the very beginning of my career, and so have others (in fact, there was a similar post on this forum from someone regarding a similar situation on Upwork not long ago, if I remember correctly).

These type of clients are just out to completely squeeze you dry, and they are often the rudest and most unreliable ones. The problem with the rating system is that it's easy to feel bullied into accepting their behaviour out of fear of receiving a bad rating. These clients know this, and that's how they get away with their actions.

Just forget her and try to find better clients - there are some (not many) on Upwork that will at least give you some experience before moving on to greener pastures. Don't worry about her 'reporting' you; she is too busy finding a new victim for her scams.

Don't let it get to you and try not to take the advice given here as a personal attack - ultimately people are trying to help you make the most of your professional career


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