quite unethical business use
Thread poster: Veerle Gabriels

Veerle Gabriels  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:46
English to Dutch
+ ...
Nov 15, 2005


There we go with another sad story in the world of translation agencies...

Last week, I quoted for a 10,000 word job Flemish-English, I put my rate, they contacted me and they sent me the documents to be translated.... hand-written birth-certificates in Old-Flemish. This was not mentioned in the job-posting, and I had my work deciphering everything. Today, one day before deadline, when I already finished my translation (and proofread), I receive a mail that "the client doesn't want everything to be translated, since he doesn't need everything". I answered them that, in my opinion, they had gone too far... After posting a job of 10000 words, which in the end will only be 2400, (I quoted thinking of 10000 words payment) they tell me less than 24 hours befoe deadline they don't need all of this translation. I received an answer to my mail "thank you for calling us unfair and congratulations that you are so smart", ten minutes later followed by "please disregard the former mail of my office mate, we will pay for 2400 words.
What are your opinions? (I have to decide what to do within 2 hours) A colleague told me I had to put more words in my invoice, since I quoted thinking of 10,000 words instead of 2400, and because they did not mention the format and illegibility of the originals.
Thank you and best regards,



John Walsh  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:46
Member (2004)
Italian to English
. Nov 15, 2005

Make them pay for full amount of what you translated. They know very well that they should. Don't do them any favours unless they're a very good customer.


Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:46
Invoice the number of words you translated for them Nov 15, 2005

That is what they should pay you. If their client cancelled at the last minute, they should fight for full payment from their client, but that is their responsibility, not yours. I know the money will be hard to collect, but you should give it a try. If you got the job through Proz, you might want to enter a record on the Blue Board.

[Edited at 2005-11-15 18:43]


Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:46
Member (2002)
English to German
They have to pay Nov 15, 2005

Of course they have to pay for whatever you have done so far. You did your part of the job and it is not your fault that they changed their instructions.

Now you finish the 2400 words (with proofreading and everything), stop the work on the rest but deliver it as is (so they can verify that you worked on it) and invoice everything you actually translated. I.e. the whole amount if you have done everything or less if you haven't finished it yet.

Good luck



Maria Karra  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:46
Member (2000)
Greek to English
+ ...
original quote Nov 15, 2005

The quote was for 10,000 words. You translated 10,000 words. That's what you should charge for. They may change their mind 10,000 times at the last minute, but that is neither your fault nor your responsibility. The fact that they changed their mind less than 24 hours before the deadline and tried to adjust the quote shows lack of professionalism. They should face the consequences of their failure to communicate with you in advance.

By the way, in my opinion you are already doing them a favor by not charging for the "deciphering" in your invoice. You could very well charge an hourly rate for deciphering this illegible text.



Agua  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
Charge for your work. Nov 15, 2005


Well, as far as I am concerned, one day before the deadline probably you would have most of the project finished and just proofing and editing to do...

They should have arranged and made sure that the client had given them the actual bits to be translated or marked them somehow, otherwise... word translated is word charged. The client should also have given the actual things to be translated or made it clear that s/he did not need the whole (so you would not have started the work until that had been decided).

They don't sound too worthy of keeping or treating extremely nicely, both from their reply and also because those details: handwritten, old-style are not to be expected and should have been notified to you...

Good luck,



Veerle Gabriels  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:46
English to Dutch
+ ...
thank you Nov 15, 2005

John, Rosa Maria, Andy, Maria, Mar,

Thank you for your comments and advice! I finished my work this morning and will charge for every word I translated. I wonder whether they will keep to the payment terms (30 days invoice).... To be continued.

Thank you for your time!



Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:46
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
About quoting Nov 15, 2005

A quote is IMO only an estimate of the price. After seeing the text to be translated, I would confirm the quote or inform the client that the job will more time-consuming and thus more expensive. Deciphering hand-written texts before translating is definitely not included in the price, if it is not stated at the job offer.

Anyway, I think you have the right to get paid for all translated words, whether the client needs them or not.

Good luck!


Konstantinos Karanikas B.Sc. Electr. Eng., MITI
Local time: 00:46
English to Greek
+ ...
... and should things go wrong! Nov 15, 2005

I agree with everybody that you should claim what has been agreed on for the work you have produced so far!

However, in case things don't turn quite the way you expected, and to save yourself a lot of aggravation, turn to the experts for debt-collecting advice.

Bear in mind that under no circumstances should you be rude to the people of the company, keep a full track of all communication between you and the company, keep your composure and make them understand in a firm no-nonsense way that they should honour their part of the agreement, and that you will fight for your right to get paid what is owed to you.

Try the following addresses, these people have their way to collect money on your behalf, that's their specialty:




I do hope that you won't need their services!

I wish you all the luck!

[Edited at 2005-11-15 20:16]

[Edited at 2005-11-15 20:17]


Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:46
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Best of luck! Nov 15, 2005

I wish you the best of luck, Veerle,

And remind the agency of the fact that you had finished the job before they e-mailed you and that they should have expected that you had already translated at least 8,000 words (with 2,000 words left for the last day).

Paying for less than the full 10,000 words would be unfair, paying for less than 8,000 words would be unprofessional.



Federica Masante  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:46
Member (2003)
Italian to English
+ ...
About Debta- see previous posts Nov 15, 2005

Careful with Debta Oct 7

This "too good to be true" collection agency has been dicussed in a previous thread. It may be worth reading:


Good luck and I hope you get your money.



Angus Woo
Local time: 05:46
Chinese to English
+ ...
Be nice and nonetheless determined. Nov 16, 2005

They should pay no matter what. It is their responsiblity which has nothing to do with you. An agreement is an agreement. And once it's agreed, it must then be honored.

But remember to be nice, the law as well as righteousness are already on your side.

Good luck!


Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:46
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Dear Veerle, Nov 16, 2005

I am so sorry to hear about what happened to you. You should definitely be paid for all the work you did. Follow the steps to get paid.

I agree with the others. Your original quote was for a regular translation. You had every right to adjust the quote for the extra work, the deciphering.

You have a contract, correct? You will need that for the debt-collection process. Also keep your email correspondence. I am not sure how legal that is, ie if it holds up in court, but it strenghtens your case.

Another thing. Was this an old client you have worked for before you have established a business relationship with? It is too late now, but for a new client you may wish:

1. Start out with a smaller project for the first couple of times.
2. Get a downpayment (30-40%) before beginning.
3. Of course have the customary contract signed beforehand.

Also, please make sure that you make an entry in the Blue Board if you do not resolve it. I sure hope that you do; this is a chunk of money we are talking about.

Good luck!
Lucinda Hollenberg


Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:46
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Unprofessional customer Nov 16, 2005

Yet another shabby outfit in our industry. The customer should have said, "please stop translating now and send me what you have already done", and then pay for that work. We all know that this is the right thing to do, and so does your shady client.

As far as the "I didn't know" argument goes, that is not your shady client's fault. Whenever you quote you should qualify your price with something like, "subject to confirmation after seeing the text".


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quite unethical business use

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