Being accused of dishonesty
Thread poster: Cendrine Marrouat

Cendrine Marrouat
Canada
Local time: 13:08
English to French
Oct 26, 2007

Hello all,

I have been translating on a regular basis for a magazine, and usually, things are fine and dandy. The magazine counts translations per pages or so, and give the translators a fixed amount.

They forgot to pay me for the last translation I did for them, but I didn't worry because one reminder is usually enough, and they apologize all the time. They pay right away afterwards.

This time, the person in charge of the magazine had accepted to round up the number of pages (from 24.61 to 25). I have an email stating this.

The finance department sent me the money for the 24.61 pages and not the 25 pages, accusing me of being a dishonest translator and asking me to change my invoice. It's not a big sum of money, but my work ethics is very strict. I would never do something before emailing someone. I am very committed and professional about my work, and honesty is among my top three priorities. I really feel insulted.

I have been trying to email them for the last three days, but no answer so far. Plus, they sent me another translation before trouble started.

My question is: should I stop translating the document I am currently working on? What do you advise me to do?

Thanks a lot for your time.

Cendrine


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:08
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Demand an apology but don't lose the client Oct 26, 2007

I find that financial departments are a beast of their own. Make your project manager aware of this situation and I'm sure he or she will apologize.
Honesty is a crucial part of professionalism. However, losing a client over .39 of a page doesn't seem fair either.


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 21:08
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Phone them! Oct 26, 2007

Call the person in charge and ask him/her to get things straight with the Acc Dept

Just a misunderstanding, that's probably all.

Cheers,
Oleg


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Cendrine Marrouat
Canada
Local time: 13:08
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Being accused of dishonesty Oct 26, 2007

Hi, and thanks for your replies. The problem is that I have been trying to contact the project manager for three days as well. They are not reachable on the phone either.

The weekend is coming, and usually, they never respond.

It's not a question of losing a customer or not, it's about work ethics. I cannot accept being accused of being dishonest. I always try to finish my translations a few days earlier than the due date, and they have praised me continually for my excellent work for them.

So, I just wonder...


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 15:08
Another perspective Oct 26, 2007

I have worked for dfferent organizations and institutions. The problem with big concerns is, people working for a project in different fields do not talk to each other. The person accused you of being dishonest was NOT informed of the agreement you made with the project manager. He was not wrong in doing so from his perspective; but I am sure he will apologize when he knows the truth.

Recently, I did a small interpreting job for a patient in a hospital. I got my order from the chief physician. However, the invoice must be sent to the local court. After receiving my invoice, the woman in charge in the court asked me why I did not charge as much as they were ready to pay? I made my deal with a physician, only to find out he had no say about the price at all! If I had charged more, they might have accused me of trying to rip off!

Take it easy.

Cheers!

[Edited at 2007-10-26 18:25]


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Maria Antonietta Ricagno  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:08
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
You are right... Oct 26, 2007

...to feel insulted.
Of course, I do not know what the right behavior would be in such a case, but I know that my reaction would be not so diplomatic.

I would try to contact them, and if they insist not replying, I would simply forward back their email in which they stated you were entitled to round up the page number, and would not accept any further job.

It is true that the account dept. is separated from the PMs, but before accusing anybody they should check with their colleagues about the reason for a discrepancy in the page number.

I would not excuse them, but I am somehow impulsive:)

Good luck

Antonella


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Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 15:08
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My experience Oct 26, 2007

I used to translate for a very well known mazagine and a main newspaper. When the last page was less than 1/2 page, I did not charge for that. If it was >1/2, I charged a complete page. That was the standard there.

You are not being dishonest. It's simply that you have been confronted to an overzealous accounting department. If I were you, I would contact to the editor and inform him/her the situation. It is that person who shall explain how the payments should be done.

Kind regards

Clarisa


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Ms.Straus  Identity Verified
Slovenia
Local time: 20:08
Member (2007)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Notify project manager, print & send e-mail with invoice Oct 26, 2007

First, DO NOT stop translating the document you're working on. Because you DO have strong work ethics. Your client is counting on your translation and you really shouldn't punish them for an unfortunate case of miscommunication.

True, it's awful you got accused of dishonesty. But you should try to stay calm and continue working on the project you've got. They're gonna need the translation they ordered and the rude person from the accounting department sure didn't give the job to anybody else.

E-mail your project manager and tell what happened. Ask them to sort it out with the accounting people.

Print the e-mail (with header and everything) containing the permission to charge 25 pages. Send it together with the new invoice and a letter explaining the situation. And be polite.

You see, the person in the acc. dept. was simply doing their job catching any potential cheaters. Of course they are not likely to be very diplomatic with somebody they believe was caught with their hand in the jar. I'm not saying that's ok though. Innocent until proven guilty - but people sometimes forget that.

The person who really messed up was the project manager who promised you a bonus and forgot to make sure you got it. Again, s/he's only human. They will probably feel very bad about the whole situation and you shouldn't rub it in if you ask me.

Last but not least, make sure you do get what you were promised. Let the project manager figure out what to do to make things right.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:08
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I understand your anger, but stay cool ... Oct 27, 2007

I agree with other answerers. I well understand your anger at being accused of dishonesty when the payment terms had been agreed, but it's probably a breakdown in communications between the PM and the accounts department - such departments are in a different world and usually adhere rigidly to "le système" which rules everything for them.
Write a polite but firm letter enclosing all the evidence and send it by registered post, seeing that you can't get a reply by email, and perhaps telephone them too. Meanwhile, do the translation you have on hand and point out that you are doing it in spite of your annoyance. As others have said, they are relying on you to do that job and you don't want to lose an otherwise good and regular client.
Best of luck and bon courage.
Jenny.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 19:08
Dutch to English
+ ...
Don't make a mountain out of a molehill Oct 27, 2007

Simply forward the email which confirms the page count would be rounded up to 25, tell the finance department to add the diference to your next payment and suggest an apology is in order.

Copy the project manager involved, confirm you're carrying on with the next translation and suggest tactfully that they teach the left arm to tell the right arm what they're doing in future.

It's what you make of it. The facts are on your side. No need to over-react.

So the over-zealous idiot in finance has to learn some bedside manners - rise above it and act like the professional one in the equation, not like some prima donna. This is the business world, life sucks sometimes.


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Cendrine Marrouat
Canada
Local time: 13:08
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Accused of being dishonest Oct 27, 2007

Hello and thank you all for your replies!

I am not making a mountain out of a molehill. It is just a pain that we always have to be the ones lowering our standards because some people do not understand how things work.

Anyway, I still translate the document but I will email the editor in chief of the magazine to make sure that those things do not happen again.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 19:08
Dutch to English
+ ...
Lowering your standards? Oct 28, 2007

By remaining calm and collected and pointing out somebody's obvious mistake (and lack of manners), rather than overreacting?

I'd call that rising above the situation like a professional - certainly not lowering your standards. Dealing with issues like this is part and parcel of any walk of business, especially where you're self-employed.

FWIW, my comment was not that you ARE making a mountain out of a molehill, it was friendly advice NOT TO fall into that trap under the circumstances.

Best of luck anyhow
Deborah

[Edited at 2007-10-28 18:28]


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Cendrine Marrouat
Canada
Local time: 13:08
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Being accused of dishonesty Oct 28, 2007

I did not overreact about the situation, I was just asking for advice.

I understand what you mean though. This is something I do not deal that often with. I was never accused of being dishonest before. But it will be a good experience for me, anyway.

Thanks for your reply.


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