Bereavement and deadlines
Thread poster: Anne Key

Anne Key
Local time: 03:42
Dutch to English
+ ...
Aug 7, 2007

Hello all,

I'm a relative newcomer to discussion groups, so hope I've posted in the right forum.

I have a question concerning deadlines, and how crucial it is to stick to them.

I have been translating full-time for 10 years, and have always tried to meet my deadlines (maximum delay of 1-2 days).

I recently accepted a big translation (70,000 words), and was given less than a month to complete it.

I have managed to get over half of it done by working weekends / evenings (the subject matter is quite complicated).

Unfortunately I suffered a bereavement a few days ago (of a close relative), and since then have been unable to concentrate fully on my work.

At the moment, I would like to put my family / myself first. Furthermore, I would love to renegotiate the original deadline, but am extremely worried that I may lose future business if I do so or, worse still, be sued (after all, "business is business").

I have not signed a contract, but the client and I did agree on a deadline in writing (email).

To make matters worse, my client is currently on holiday and isn't responding to emails / phone calls.

I am tentatively thinking of emailing my client the work I have done so far, and then renogiating a new deadline for the work outstanding.

Do any of you have any experience of doing this, or do you have any thoughts / suggestions / comments?

Any help / advice you can give would be warmly appreciated.

Many thanks,

Anne (not firing on all four cylinders)

[Edited at 2007-08-07 07:04]

[Edited at 2007-08-07 07:07]


Chinmayi Sripada
Local time: 08:12
English to German
+ ...
Reply to: Anne Key Aug 7, 2007

Ms Key,

First off my condolences to your family.

I have worked with translators who have faced such problems. I have always been willing to renegotiate the deadlines, of course, after talking to the client as well.

In my case, all of my clients have been sympathetic and have given us more time to get the work done. I do not think you should lose any more business.

I am sure (sincerely hoping as well) that your client will understand. Is there no one else from his Office that you can contact?

Wishing you happier times


Ioanna Karamitsa  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:42
Member (2005)
English to Greek
+ ...
Bereavement and deadlines Aug 7, 2007

Dear Anne,

I have not had such an experience but I believe I can understand what you are going through. The truth is that if it is a new client it is a difficult situation. Have you tried calling them? He/she may be on vacation but there may be someone else in the office that might help.
I believe that when you are sincere people try to help out and sympathize and, in this case, I believe that the client will renegotiate the work. An alternative is for you to find someone you trust to complete the work and let the client know that you are willing to share the remaining part with a friend (do not do that without letting the client know).
I know business is business but bottom line is that you have to work with people that understand you and if the client is to willing to renegotiate the deadline then it might be better for you not to work with them again. I have "sacrificed" weekends and holidays for good clients and have worked extreme hours so that they give a good impression to the end client - so I believe I have the right to expect them to understand me in case something like that comes up.

All the best,


Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:42
Dutch to English
+ ...
Bereavement Aug 7, 2007

Hi Anne,

I symphasise.

My father died last year (suddenly) and I had to travel to the Netherlands at short notice. I informed my customers by e-mail and all of them either cancelled the pending jobs or accepted delivery as is (ongoing projects). They were ALL very symphathetic and I have not lost a single customer. I always go the extra mile for my regular customers and it paid off!

Good luck,


Anne Key
Local time: 03:42
Dutch to English
+ ...
Thank you Aug 7, 2007

Dear Marijke, Ioanna and Chinmayi,

Thank you all for your kind words and advice, and I hope you're keeping well.

I have tried to contact my client, but unfortunately the entire office is closed until Monday.

It would unfortunately be difficult to use a colleague, as we negotiated a "special price" (discount) for the entire project, and I cannot afford to pay someone else to do the work on my behalf.

This is a good client of mine (I've been working for them for almost 4 years), so I'm hoping they'll be sympathetic.

To date, I have always delivered translations on time for them and have gone "the extra mile" (working weekends etc), so I'll try to deliver the translation (10 files in total) piecemeal.

Thank you once again for all your replies.


[Edited at 2007-08-07 11:19]


Kootvela (X)
Local time: 05:42
Lithuanian to English
+ ...
Force major Aug 7, 2007


I'm sorry to hear about your loss. Hopefully, things will settle down.

There's a thing called 'force major' (spelling?). It means that you can be relieved from all consequences after not fulfilling your duty if at the moment of accepting that duty you could not foresee certain things that prevent you from carrying it out, e.g. loss in the family.

Check with the laws in your country.



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