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Would you sign a badly written contract?
Thread poster: Emily Scott

Emily Scott  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:03
Member (Nov 2018)
French to English
+ ...
Dec 6

I've been sent a contract to sign for a new agency I applied to recently and am a bit unsure if I should sign it. Considering that this agency is based in the UK, the English in the contract doesn't seem as though it was written by a native English speaker and it contains some spelling errors. I asked the agency a question (not relating to the quality of the contract) and they apologised saying that they had sent me an old version of the contract. They sent me the new one but the errors are still there (so someone has reviewed the document and not corrected the glaring errors).

I think I know the answer already, but wanted to know what others have done in the situation as I'm still relatively new to translating full time and am sussing out how to gauge certain areas of this line of work. I tried to check out what others have said about this agency on the Blue Board but they aren't listed...


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Impossible to say without knowing what it says Dec 6

Unclear and unfair clauses are what I'm looking for when checking a contract, not spelling errors. If the whole thing is poorly written, it may be a sign of trouble ahead, though.

Obviously you should also check the company's Blue Board, website, Companies House registration, etc.


Njanja
 

Emily Scott  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:03
Member (Nov 2018)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Content seems fine Dec 6

Hi Thomas,

Unfortunately, for some reason, the company isn't on the Blue Board. I've checked Companies House and nothing seems out of the ordinary.

The content of the contract itself seems fine, nothing unfair or unclear as you say, which is the main reason why I feel like I shouldn't just cast it aside.


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Blue Board Dec 6

If there is no Blue Board, I would be sceptical.

You could Google their address and phone number to try to find out if they have been using a trade name. They may have a Blue Board record under another name.

If they can't demonstrate that they have a good payment record, I would ask for full or partial advance payment, unless perhaps we were only talking about modest amounts.


Pentower
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:03
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Other sources? Dec 6

Emily Scott wrote:
I tried to check out what others have said about this agency on the Blue Board but they aren't listed...

Perhaps try the other usual sources, such as www.paymentpractices.net, the Zahlungspraxis mailing list, and the scammer sites. If they don't appear on any of these, I would be cautious.

Regards,
Dan


Thomas T. Frost
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:03
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Maybe they're relatively new? Dec 6

Emily Scott wrote:
Unfortunately, for some reason, the company isn't on the Blue Board. I've checked Companies House and nothing seems out of the ordinary.

It could be that they only recently set up in business. I imagine the info they gave you matches their official register entry? I suggest you set them up with a BB record based on the info you have. Anyone can do that. Then issue a request for entries from others. Maybe some translators will then provide feedback.

My experience with agencies around Europe is that very few seem to be staffed with born-and-bred locals. I put it down to translators being naturally mobile, and freelancers being by nature entrepreneurial.


Jennifer Forbes
 

Emily Scott  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:03
Member (Nov 2018)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Don't seem to be new Dec 6

Sheila Wilson wrote:
It could be that they only recently set up in business.


Hi Sheila, I checked their records on the government website and they've been a business since 2011 so not too new but it could be that they've only just become a larger business?

Do I need the company's permission to set them up on BB? How do I go about setting them up?


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:03
French to English
Blueboard Dec 6

The Blueboard may have relevance and be a useful tool for those who are familiar with ProZ. There are plenty of unreliable agencies out there who are not listed on the BB and never will be. Not every translator uses ProZ, not every translator posts on the BB.

Content (terms are conditions) are important in a contract. A translation whose contract contains a number of typos and so on would not fill me with confidence. If they can't be bothered (or are unable) to check for errors, your own work may not be proofread with care before being forwarded to the client. This is likely to increase clients not being happy with the work and increase the likelihood that the agency will say "Client not happy, we not pay".

I'd give 'em a miss.


Angie Garbarino
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:03
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
BB Dec 6

Emily Scott wrote:
Hi Sheila, I checked their records on the government website and they've been a business since 2011 so not too new but it could be that they've only just become a larger business?

What Nikki says is valid, but it's also valid to say that they may have been working very happily with translators outside of ProZ.com.

Do I need the company's permission to set them up on BB? How do I go about setting them up?

No, just do it. On the BB screen you'll find "Make an Entry" over on the right-hand side.


Teresa Borges
 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:03
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Why do you want to set them up on BB in the first place? Dec 6

Emily Scott wrote:
Do I need the company's permission to set them up on BB? How do I go about setting them up?


There is currently no BB record for this company, but there may still be no BB record entry even if you set it up on BB.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 05:03
Chinese to English
Sign and live with the consequences Dec 6

I've signed a few stinkers. I know that in theory it's a bad idea, but to my mind, most contracts we sign aren't worth the paper they're not even printed on. I live in a different jurisdiction to most of my clients, so the chances that we would ever successfully use these contracts on each other are very slim.

Remember, signing the contract doesn't do much. There's no obligation to take work. So my strategy is to sign and take a small job to start with, and see how it goes.

It would be great if all of our customers were highly skilled lawyers and accountants and marketers... but many of them are small companies without big legal departments, and they just don't have the skills to get the contract right. It's not a good sign, of course, but it would not be a deal-breaker for me.


Robert Forstag
Emily Scott
Chris S
 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:03
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
You cannot set them up on BB Dec 6

Emily Scott wrote:

Sheila Wilson wrote:
It could be that they only recently set up in business.


Hi Sheila, I checked their records on the government website and they've been a business since 2011 so not too new but it could be that they've only just become a larger business?

Do I need the company's permission to set them up on BB? How do I go about setting them up?


This is because you have not worked with them yet.


Kay Denney
 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Yes you can Dec 6

jyuan_us wrote:

You cannot set them up on BB
This is because you have not worked with them yet.


You are confusing setting up a BB record with leaving BB feedback. Anyone can do the former. To leave feedback, you must have worked for them.

See the BB rules at https://www.proz.com/siterules/blue_board_bb_blueboard/ .


Teresa Borges
 

Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:03
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
I would never sign a badly written contract Dec 6

I would never sign a badly written contract, and I'm forgiving because I'm not a native speaker myself. Poor English is a tell-tale sign you’re not dealing with a serious company.

Cheers,
Gerard


Pentower
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Teresa Borges
 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:03
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Yes, but Dec 6

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

jyuan_us wrote:

You cannot set them up on BB
This is because you have not worked with them yet.


You are confusing setting up a BB record with leaving BB feedback. Anyone can do the former. To leave feedback, you must have worked for them.

See the BB rules at https://www.proz.com/siterules/blue_board_bb_blueboard/ .


What is the point for the OP to set an agency up on BB if she cannot make an entry? It only makes sense to me for the first linguist who wants to and who can leave an BB entry to set an agency up on BB.

[Edited at 2018-12-06 22:04 GMT]


 
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