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Poll: In the course of your career, how many serious disputes have you had with clients?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 02:25
SITE STAFF
Jan 14, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "In the course of your career, how many serious disputes have you had with clients?".

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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Do scammers count as clients? Jan 14, 2013

Because I've had a few of those. Good communication is key for real clients, if you want to avoid issues.

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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:25
Member (2006)
German to English
Serious disputes? Jan 14, 2013

I am not quite sure what you mean by that, but I have only really had disputes with payments where I have had to get the courts involved. All other "disputes" are things that you can talk about, or just dont work with the customer again..

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:25
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Actually only 1 Jan 14, 2013

Serious and still on-going, only one.

There were a few "misconceptions" along the way, but most of them we managed to solve with a little patience.


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DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:25
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
1 - 5 Jan 14, 2013

Extremely late or non-payment. 2 cases - solved though I never recovered the full amount in either case.

1 case unsolved - I consider it serious as I am still furious about the unfairness of it.
A client once tried to change the terms when a project was underway and had been agreed on different terms. The new terms were not acceptable to me and I stopped that project. The client then refused to pay me for other previous projects, I had done, even sending me an invoice trying to charge me some amount to cover 'the expenses MY non-professionalism' had caused them. In the absence of my agreement to any such charge, etc. - clearly totally out of order. However since they are in the US and the amount was a couple of hundred dollars I have not pursued it and they have gotten away with it.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 19:25
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Agree here Jan 14, 2013

With Michael

Michael Harris wrote:
All other "disputes" are things that you can talk about, or just dont work with the customer again..


You either get along with a customer or not. If you don't, finish the project in-hand and/or try a few more projects to test them out. If we can't see eye to eye, then it isn't a love match and the relationship will die a natural death and I will spend more time with other customers or cultivating new ones.
Thinning out and weeding, if absolutely necessary, is a natural part of doing business. All pain, no gain!

As far as real fisticuffs is concerned, in my 30 years of translating, I have taken a few customers to the Japan Fair Trade Commission because they were obviously breaking the law even though they insisted they wen't, which resulted in me being put in a distinctly unfair position.
I won and got them reprimanded in all three cases. This was very David vs Goliath and very satisfying because I knew I was in the right even though money was not involved.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 10:25
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Likewise Jan 14, 2013

Michael Harris wrote:

I am not quite sure what you mean by that, but I have only really had disputes with payments where I have had to get the courts involved. All other "disputes" are things that you can talk about, or just dont work with the customer again..


I had to get the courts involved some years ago (10 maybe) for 2 non-payment issues: I recovered the whole amount in both cases and the late payment interests covered most of the lawyer fees!


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't know Jan 14, 2013

None really, as I don't usually have "disputes" as such, although I have told a couple of clients to er... "take a hike" after what I perceived as messing me about or not respecting arrangements.

Au contraire, today one happy customer thanked me so nicely I've added it to my profile

[Edited at 2013-01-14 23:29 GMT]


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Gudrun Wolfrath  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:25
English to German
+ ...
2 Jan 14, 2013

Needed the help of my lawyer to get paid in the end.
Gudrun


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Bit of a flawed poll Jan 14, 2013

How many people are going to admit to being sued for incompetence?!

We've had a couple of problems with nonpayment, that's all.


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 11:25
German to English
+ ...
One Jan 14, 2013

When I had translated a "coffee-table book" about Carinthia I discovered when I was sent my free copy that they had used someone else to translate the illustration captions and they were abysmal. My name was the only one entered as translator. The publisher was less than helpful (in fact told me that I would never translate for them again!), but the name of the translator of the captions name was added when the next edition was published. I suppose I could have sued but I'm not quite sure what for.

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:25
French to English
In 21 years... Jan 14, 2013

One incident with an agency who did not open the file I had sent before forwarding to his client on Friday evening. The end client opened the file on Monday morning to discover that it was not the correct one. I had in fact made the mistake in sending the wrong file to the agency. I realized my mistake within minutes and contacted the agency by telephone and sent the correct file by e-mail within 4 minutes if I remember rightly. However, the agent had already left for the weekend. Although the agent was furious, I had respected the deadline on this urgent piece to within an hour or two and the agent had been completely negligent in forwarding a file he had not even opened and in then trying to put the blame on me. I suspect he learnt a lesson but it was horrible to have the agent barking down the phone. I did not have the time and the energy to argue for months, and, stupidly, accepted a reduced payment. I would never do that now!

Two other serious disputes, although in fact less wasteful of energy, with two clients who failed to pay up, whom I pursued, against whom I won, but who had no money to settle what was due. In order to recover the amounts owed, I would have had to take further legal proceedings for recovery, and probably simply end up with my name on a list miles down the page after the tax man, health and retirement contributions etc, so no chance of recovering my money. Horrible experiences which have made me extremely wary of any arrangement where there is a middle man in the particular sector concerned. Direct contacts only, no agents, no intermediaries.

[Edited at 2013-01-14 17:02 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-01-14 17:03 GMT]


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 12:25
Turkish to English
+ ...
1 - 5 Jan 14, 2013

Non-payment issues.

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:25
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jan 14, 2013

I had one major non-payment issue: it took me over a year to collect $9,000 from a well-known international organization, but I don't consider this a dispute because they were embarrassed, not upset with me. They had allowed an incompetent employee to mess up payments for all the translators and there were many of us involved. It took the auditors months to unscramble what actually happened.

I've had 3 clients (PMs in translation agencies) complain about words untranslated when I didn't think they should be (e.g., street address, name of a ship, name of a company), but, as others have pointed out, that's not really a dispute.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:25
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Disputes? Or rather, "adverse events"? Jan 14, 2013

"Disputes" seems to be limited to payment issues, which tend to be the most salient problems for freelancers (and instances in which we are invariably cast in the role of victim).

To my mind, the sensible category of reference here is not "disputes" as such but rather "adverse events," which can encompass payment delays, significant client dissatisfaction, miscommunication, reneging on commitments, failure to meet a deadline, etc. Any of these issues can be the fault of either party, or of both parties.

In my case, I'd say I've had about eight such experiences during the course of ten years.

For present purposes, I would define an "adverse event" as any situation which results in either the termination of a business relationship or the jeopardizing of said relationship.


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