working with the UK from France
Thread poster: Emmanuelle Burgunder
Emmanuelle Burgunder
France
Local time: 00:57
English to French
+ ...
Feb 5, 2016

Hello!

I registered as a freelance translator in France in 2015 and finally managed to figure (almost) everything out.

However, I also would like to work with the UK and I absolutely have no idea how to proceed. When I work with a direct client in France, I have to send a quote/ an estimate which includes a few clauses and is considered as a contract when agreed by the client. After the work is finished, I have to send an invoice that includes the conditions and the payment terms. When I work with a French translation agency, I only have to send an invoice.

How does it work in the UK? I couldn’t find any helpful information on the internet about this. Is a British quote similar to a French one?
I found Terms and Conditions online, but it’s a bit too long to add them to a quote…

Another question: how should I begin an email to a translation agency when I don’t know the name of the person I’m writing to? Beginning with a simple “hello” is not too informal?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Emmanuelle


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Quotes Feb 5, 2016

The only cases in France where I'm aware a quote is required are if you sell to a consumer, and the amount is above a certain size. I've never come across any regulation requiring B2B quotes.

As long as it is in writing, it should be enough. An e-mail giving the price, and a reply by e-mail accepting the price should do.

If you sell to consumers, there are further consumer regulations to be aware of, not least the right of withdrawal and the obligation to inform the user correctly about their rights.

"Hello" at a moderate level of formality, "Dear Sir or Madam" to be formal, to be signed "Yours faithfully" instead of "Yours sincerely" when you don't know the name. Both can be used, but most UK agencies tend to veer in the direction of the less formal. If you know it's an agency operating in a certain class, you may want the more formal version, though. You can also start out with the more formal version in all cases, and if they prefer less formality, they'll reply at their preferred level. But it's also a question of how you want to present yourself. Things tend to be more formal in France than in the UK, so being too formal could discourage a few people, just like not being formal enough could discourage others.

It is impossible to please everybody at the same time


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:57
French to German
+ ...
Your profile Feb 5, 2016

I'd say the first thing is to complete your profile, to get points and WWAs.

Besides answering on offers on the job board, I have never contacted any agency. They contact me and I also got direct customers via Proz.

There are free webinars on this site to show you how to get an attractive profile for outsourcers.

Of course I do not only rely on Proz to get customers, I do a lot of networking (online and otherwise) to get customers.

I do get a lot of CVs of translators though. Most of them end up in the bin. For me it's not a good idea to flood agencies with mails. (It might be one for others.)


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:57
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Very few rules at all Feb 5, 2016

Thomas has already answered your points. I'd just like to add that doing business with every other country (i.e. other than your own) isn't complicated, which is fortunate as I send invoices to about 20 different countries every year, using three currencies. Of course, there are aspects to be careful about, as in CAN the client actually pay you (due to sanctions, currency laws etc) and what would you do if the client fails to pay (debt recovery issues).

Your T&C can be as long or as short as you like. Personally, I don't have a separate document written in legalese. I just set them out in the first email and remind clients of specific details later on if necessary (e.g. when they suddenly get it into their heads that my rate should be lower than it is). My T&C only cover:
- rate per word (where appropriate) and per hour, with a statement that surcharges/discounts may apply;
- minimum per invoice and per line on the invoice (i.e. each job) for clients that I invoice monthly;
- tax info, which in my case (in the Canary Islands) is simply a statement that no taxes are payable;
- payment methods available, with a statement that some may incur charges;
- payment credit terms i.e. 30 days month end in my case.
I only add statements about cancellation, complaints etc if I deem it necessary, and not for smallish jobs. Maybe that's unwise but I haven't been bitten in nearly 20 years (touching wood). I take heart from the fact that I stupidly signed a nasty contract once in France and the judge ruled that it was abusive and ordered the client to pay anyway. S/he went on the basis of what's "accepted practice" in business, regardless of T&C. I very rarely send formal quotes as in a French-style "devis" - only if specifically requested.

The few rules that there are mainly relate to the invoice, which must satisfy your own tax authorities. I have a trilingual invoice: my two languages plus the local language, but I think only the local language is actually required. Of course I don't translate everything (I don't speak Spanish very well yet), just terms such as "Invoice date", "Payment due date" etc. The rest is in the language we communicate in, although for my client based in Bulgaria, who is a native French speaker and who prefers to communicate in French but who does speak English and for whom I do monolingual English work, I use English. It just seemed bizarre to do it in French.

It is a shame that there's nothing between the over-formal "Dear Sir/Madam" and the rather informal "Hello" in English if you don't have a name. I personally always prefer the less formal route but maybe it loses me the odd job or two in countries like Germany or Japan. Can't please everyone all of the time.


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Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:57
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Another way of starting an email Feb 5, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

It is a shame that there's nothing between the over-formal "Dear Sir/Madam" and the rather informal "Hello" in English if you don't have a name. I personally always prefer the less formal route but maybe it loses me the odd job or two in countries like Germany or Japan. Can't please everyone all of the time.


I use 'Good morning/afternoon'.


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Emmanuelle Burgunder
France
Local time: 00:57
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your help! Feb 7, 2016

Thank you all for your answers and your help. That is true, we can’t please everybody and France is usually very formal. I’ve heard Anglo-Saxons are more informal but I wasn’t sure so I wanted to check this information.

Andrea Halbritter : I’m surprised to read that you never contacted any agency but they contacted you. How do they know your existence? I’ve always been said that if I don’t contact an agency or a potential client, they can’t be aware of my existence.
I’ve also heard that networking is very helpful but I still don’t really know how to use it… It sounds silly, but we’re not that used to it in France. I have a LinkedIn and a Twitter profile but I don’t really use this latter.

Thank you Sheila Wilson for your clear explanations !I agree with what you said and think it’s better to just write the T&C in the first mail.
I think I’ll give the « hello » a try  « Good morning/afternoon » is a very good idea too! Thanks Helena Chavarria for the advise!


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:57
French to German
+ ...
How I get customers Feb 7, 2016

80 % of my customers are direct customers. I get them through networking, some also via Proz.

The 20 % of agencies I work with contact me via Proz after having found my profile while looking for a specialist in the field they need. That's why it is important to complete your profile and get Kudoz points if not your profile is not really visible nor attractive.

I got some other agencies through the job board after having answered on jobs they proposed and work regularly for them since.

[Modifié le 2016-02-07 17:23 GMT]


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working with the UK from France

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