Question about translation service delivery date - French biz laws
Thread poster: veratek

veratek
Brazil
Local time: 05:58
French to English
+ ...
Apr 26, 2013

Hi,

I have a question about what can be considered the legal delivery date and perhaps the answer depends on French biz laws. I am based in France, in any case.

I have a translation client (My Client) and I did a translation for one of their clients (Final Client), so I was subcontracted.
When I sent My Client the translated file, I sent along a couple of translation questions for the Final Client to answer and said that I would incorporate their answers, if anything needed to be changed, after the Final Client reviewed the translation and sent us their answers.

Now, in my "devis," I had specified:
6. OBLIGATIONS DU CLIENT
6.1.Le Client s'engage à mettre à la disposition de la Prestataire l'intégralité des textes à traduire et toute information technique nécessaire à la compréhension du texte et, le cas échéant, la terminologie spécifique exigée. En cas de manquement du Client à son obligation d'informer la Prestataire, celui-ci ne pourra être tenu responsable des éventuelles non-conformités ou d'un dépassement des délais.

6.2.Le Client dispose d'un délai de 10 jours ouvrés à compter de la réception de ses documents traduits ou relus pour manifester par écrit un éventuel désaccord concernant la qualité de la prestation. Passé ce délai, la prestation sera considérée comme ayant été dûment exécutée et aucune contestation ne pourra être admise. À cet effet, le client admet de considérer comme preuve de la livraison tout accusé de réception par voie postale, fax ou courrier électronique.

9. CORRECTIONS ET RELECTURES
En cas de désaccord sur certains points de la prestation, la Prestataire se réserve le droit de corriger celle-ci en coopération avec le Client, sans frais additionnels, sauf si la réclamation porte sur des questions de style.
======================

I told My Client that the invoicing "delivery date" was the date I sent the translated file with the questions, and that any changes requested afterwards by the Final Client would not change the delivery date. These change requests would be considered post-delivery corrections/changes (point 9 of terms above). (BTW, I don't foresee a problem with any of their potential requests for changes or corrections, which I haven't yet received).

My Client then said to me: the delivery date for the invoice is going to be the date after the Final Client answers you and you send back the translation with the requested changes.

Who is right? Do you normally wait as long as it takes for a client to answer your translation questions and then consider that your invoicing delivery date? Who determines the delivery date?

(Note: Point 6.2 talks about the overall quality of the service, not incorporating answers from the Final Client, so I don't see any application of a 10-day rule here.)


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I've no idea about the legal position Apr 26, 2013

veratek wrote:
When I sent My Client the translated file, I sent along a couple of translation questions for the Final Client to answer and said that I would incorporate their answers, if anything needed to be changed, after the Final Client reviewed the translation and sent us their answers.

I told My Client that the invoicing "delivery date" was the date I sent the translated file with the questions, and that any changes requested afterwards by the Final Client would not change the delivery date.

My Client then said to me: the delivery date for the invoice is going to be the date after the Final Client answers you and you send back the translation with the requested changes.

Who is right? Do you normally wait as long as it takes for a client to answer your translation questions and then consider that your invoicing delivery date? Who determines the delivery date?

If I've got it right, your actual situation seems to be that the translation was delivered complete - no blanks, no series of question marks, no track-changes remarks. It's just that you gave the end client an explanation of the way that a similar target term, also a perfectly valid translation of the source term, could fit better in certain circumstances, which might or might not fit their particular context. And there were just a couple of these terms, not a couple of dozen. Is that about what we have here? Correct me if I'm wrong.

Well, I don't know what the legal profession think, in France or elsewhere, but I did that often when I was in France, and have done it since leaving France. All clients but one have accepted it with no problem; the other client was an Indian agency who asked for monolingual proofreading, but actually wanted a complete rewrite, from very poor English to polished marketing-speak (for about 1 cent per word???). They claimed I invoiced them before the job was completed; I claimed they paid way after the due payment date. It didn't go to court, so I'm none the wiser about the legal position. I was just pleased to finally see my money and the back of them.

On the other hand, if there are source terms I really don't understand, e.g. acronyms, then I'll query them before the deadline and I won't deliver the final translation until I have their answer. If the client is slow answering, that may mean that final delivery, and hence my payment date, gets put back a bit.

If it's worth anything to you, I can say that the one time I did test the legality of a contract was when I'd stupidly signed a client's contract which said I wouldn't be paid for a teaching assignment until the end of the course. Well, the student backed out, through no fault of mine. That DID go to court, and the judge decided in 10 seconds flat that the clause was abusive and I should be paid in full for my work (not for the full course, naturally - I wasn't asking for that). That was a French court and it did a lot to improve my personal view of the legal system in France and in general. It appears that judges are quite prepared to go by what's "normal and fair" rather than by what's in the contract.

It sounds to me that you're acting in a normal and fair way. I suppose the agency may have to postpone their own payment from the end client, but I think that's unlikely, or at least insignificant. Let's face it, most agencies get their hands on their client's money long before they graciously condescend to paying our invoices.


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veratek
Brazil
Local time: 05:58
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
more info Apr 27, 2013

Hi Sheila,

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Who is right? Do you normally wait as long as it takes for a client to answer your translation questions and then consider that your invoicing delivery date? Who determines the delivery date?

If I've got it right, your actual situation seems to be that the translation was delivered complete - no blanks, no series of question marks, no track-changes remarks. It's just that you gave the end client an explanation of the way that a similar target term, also a perfectly valid translation of the source term, could fit better in certain circumstances, which might or might not fit their particular context. And there were just a couple of these terms, not a couple of dozen. Is that about what we have here? Correct me if I'm wrong.


Yes, that's right. Everything complete plus a few translation notes (an explanation of why I chose a particular term). Then I also had a few questions for the Final Client to confirm - not acronyms, but particular terms - like you mention below.

Sheila wrote: "On the other hand, if there are source terms I really don't understand, e.g. acronyms, then I'll query them before the deadline and I won't deliver the final translation until I have their answer. If the client is slow answering, that may mean that final delivery, and hence my payment date, gets put back a bit."

OK. The payment was already scheduled for 70 days with my delivery now in April (60 jours fin de mois le 10). Now if they don't answer before the end of the month, but answer in the beginning of May, the payment will be pushed back to 100 days. That's what I'm not too happy about.


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Texte Style
Local time: 08:58
French to English
10 days Apr 27, 2013

"6.2 Le Client dispose d'un délai de 10 jours ouvrés à compter de la réception de ses documents traduits"

S'il y a réception, c'est qu'il y a eu livraison, non?

Mind you, I wouldn't really make a fuss over 10 days provided they pay promptly once the 10 days are up...


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I see your problem Apr 28, 2013

veratek wrote:
OK. The payment was already scheduled for 70 days with my delivery now in April (60 jours fin de mois le 10). Now if they don't answer before the end of the month, but answer in the beginning of May, the payment will be pushed back to 100 days. That's what I'm not too happy about.

In that case, it sounds to me as though the agency is one who will look for every little loophole in your terms to find something to their advantage. They probably know more about contract law than they know about translating!

Do your lengthy T&C not include your payment terms? Surely it isn't you suggesting such a long payment period? If their own T&C have overridden yours in such an important area, is it not likely that they have replaced yours entirely? In which case, you should be looking at theirs, which no doubt specify that you can't claim final delivery until every T is crossed and every I dotted, with the client's consent received.

I suppose I'd probably tell the agency that I'm willing to wait until Tuesday for the client's reply, but I'll be invoicing THIS month, not next. I'd point out the already overlong payment period and tell them enough is enough. Once I got their money (probably late), I'd say goodbye. 30 days end of month is perfectly long enough, IMO. That's pretty much the only T&C I have and I very, very rarely let clients override it.


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veratek
Brazil
Local time: 05:58
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
good news Apr 29, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I suppose I'd probably tell the agency that I'm willing to wait until Tuesday for the client's reply, but I'll be invoicing THIS month, not next. I'd point out the already overlong payment period and tell them enough is enough.


I thought this was good advice, so I followed it this morning. I added in the email that My Client (who is not a translation agency) should not worry about any requests for minor corrections from the Final Client, because that's normal and would be done, but that the delivery date still was the date I had sent them the fully translated documents (even if there were actually a few questions remaining). I did not receive any reply (including complaints) about it this morning.

So, Final Client just contacted My Client saying they were very pleased with the translation quality. They didn't ask for any corrections. My Client is happy. I'm happy with the news.

Now hopefully they will pay after 70 long days (I don't have a reason to worry though).


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Good news indeed! Apr 29, 2013

veratek wrote:
So, Final Client just contacted My Client saying they were very pleased with the translation quality. They didn't ask for any corrections. My Client is happy. I'm happy with the news.

Now hopefully they will pay after 70 long days


Keeping my fingers crossed for you for 10th July or thereabouts!


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:58
Member (2008)
French to English
An idea about asking questions of the client Apr 29, 2013

A government buyer (where contracts tend to be iron clad) once advised me that when putting a question to the end user, always include an assumed answer and a deadline for response. For example, if querying the meaning of something, say that if a response isn't received within 7 days, the answer to the question will be deemed to be "...". This avoids leaving a query open ended or leaving any question about dates, etc. From the buyer's perspective it made his life easier, because he's caught in the middle between the service provider and the end user. It also puts reasonable pressure on the end user to answer, otherwise there's no hurry from their point of view.

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Texte Style
Local time: 08:58
French to English
Thank you John! Apr 30, 2013

John Fossey wrote:

A government buyer (where contracts tend to be iron clad) once advised me that when putting a question to the end user, always include an assumed answer and a deadline for response. For example, if querying the meaning of something, say that if a response isn't received within 7 days, the answer to the question will be deemed to be "...". This avoids leaving a query open ended or leaving any question about dates, etc. From the buyer's perspective it made his life easier, because he's caught in the middle between the service provider and the end user. It also puts reasonable pressure on the end user to answer, otherwise there's no hurry from their point of view.


Now that is sound advice indeed!

If I have a minor dilemma I sometimes simply put what I think is probably right, highlight it in yellow and provide an explanation of the dilemma and my solution in the delivery e-mail. If appropriate, I also provide an alternative, and make it clear that the alternative term in quotation marks (and highlighted if possible) simply needs to replace the part highlighted in the delivered translation.

Previously asking a question with a deadline is a wonderful solution for less minor dilemmas and totally eliminates the need to provide an alternative too. I'm looking forward to doing this when I next have a query!


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