Client cancels project
Thread poster: Clément Defontaine

Clément Defontaine  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:17
English to French
+ ...
Feb 2, 2010


Last week I started work on a project with a new client (a marketing department in a big company), after my quote had been approved by email.

From what I understood after a phone brief in English by a Spanish woman with a strong accent, I was meant to produce a creative translation with marketing purposes, which is what I did.
I even delivered the translation 17 hours before the deadline in case modifications needed to be made.

After that, I didn't hear anything back until the next morning when suddenly my client calls me to give some feedback.

Negative feedback, to be precise. I therefore agreed to rework my translation according to the client's comments. An hour later I sent the file back and didn't hear anything back so I assumed that no news was good news (that was Friday).

Towards the end of the afternoon, I received a brief by email for the second part of the project (because I had emphasized their importance to avoid bad surprises) and so over the weekend, I carried on with the work. At midday on Monday, since I still hadn't received any email, I tried to ring the client but no one answered. A couple hours later, I received the following email:

listened to your message, I'm in a meeting all day so can't call you. Can you please send me the concepts that you already traslate?
Regarding the other concepts had a negative feedback from the local team last Friday regarding the sentence translation, reason why will send the remaining ones to another agency.
Lets talk end of the day.

Note: spelling mistakes genuine.
Note 2: in the email the "concepts" refer to the second part of the project.

No need to tell you that I wasn't too happy when I received this email so I took a few hours to let it sink in.

In the end, I decided to send the second part of the project (to make sure I didn't miss the deadline) asking my client to reconsider his decision of going to another agency, stating my position and offering to rework the translation at no extra cost.

As of now, nearly 24 hours after having sent the email, I still haven't received any reply and I don't feel like giving them a call.

So my question is: how can I make sure the client will pay for the full amount quoted even though they decided to cancel the project and didn't send me the last files?

The reason why I want to be paid for the full amount is because I dispute their decision of cancelling (they didn't give me any valid explanation) and I set some time aside for this project.

What are your thoughts on that? Is there any legal text I could send along with my invoice?
Should I send the invoice by snail-mail signed for?

Basically, what can I do?

I'm determined to not overlook this and just forget about it because I think it's very disrespectful and dishonest and as far as I know, they might be using my translations!

Any advice, tip, past experience would be really useful.

Thanks in advance,

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Shelagh Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:17
Member (2007)
+ ...
Some thoughts Feb 2, 2010

Hello Clément,

So the client didn't get back to you, as she said in her email?

It sounds as though they have every intention of paying you for the first two parts i.e. everything that you have translated. If you never received and/or worked on the other parts, I don't think you can demand payment for them. I don't think you have any legal claim to that money. All you can really demand is payment for the translated parts - in full if possible, although you may have to be prepared to negotiate if they can prove shortcomings.

But it sounds as though it's early days to worry about non-payment. Hopefully you'll have no problem getting paid. Personally, I always send an electronic invoice, but I send a paper one with a reminder if necessary as sometimes it's the email address that's causing communications problems (or at least that's a common excuse for delays!).

Best of luck,


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Carole Paquis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:17
Member (2007)
English to French
Terms & Conditions? Feb 3, 2010

Some thoughts and comments:

The client is obviously showing disrespect to you by thinking you are disposable because you are a small business and they are a big company. You therefore need to be very formal and very professional, in order to show that you are not to be pushed about. Nice, respectful, but firm.

The negative feedback is the root of the problem.

Demand to see the edited file from the "local team" to try and understand what the problem is. You cannot (and must not) take any business decision regarding this without knowing what the exact nature of the problem. If needed, write a formal letter if you think the client will not respond to emails. More than a money issue, it is your reputation that is at stake.

However, legally:

What do your T&C say, and did you forward them to the client at the time of the order?

Unless the client was made aware that any cancellation after the order would mean a full payment, it will be difficult to justify sending the invoice for something you haven't translated.

If the client wasn't aware of that, it will be hard to argue, so it is better to invoice for what you did and just get out.

In such circumstances, I have always thought a bit of "panache" was best. ( I have obviously read Cyrano de Bergerac a bit too much!).


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