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Poll: Have you ever accepted an assignment that you later regretted?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Local time: 22:28
SITE STAFF
Jan 31, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever accepted an assignment that you later regretted?".

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, a few times Jan 31, 2014

A friend/colleague I used to collaborate with in a team on some projects accepted a job at a similar price to a previous similar job done for the same client, which turned out to be much longer and more complicated than we had expected. However, as the price had already been agreed, we went ahead and ended up working for about a third of our usual rate.

Sometimes I find it difficult to say no, especially to my most favoured clients, and when a few of them all appear at the same time with urgent demands... let's just say I have occasionally ended up biting off more than I could chew and regretting it, although I always manage to deliver on time. It happens less and less nowadays as I've become better at refusing work and juggling deadlines.

PS: I've also had a few nasty experiences with PDFs and PowerPoint files, and even Excel.

[Edited at 2014-01-31 09:18 GMT]


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Marta Cervera Areny
Spain
Local time: 07:28
Catalan to Spanish
+ ...
Working on one of those right now Jan 31, 2014

New PM in a good old client.

He's making a mess with the schedule and assuming I'm available to work on weekends without even asking... Well, I'm not, not this weekend anyway, and not when it's him sending in the files 24 hours late and assuming I'll be still keeping the agreed deadline... It's MY decision whether I work on the weekend or not, not his. So, next Monday should be interesting


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:28
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Somewhere between once or twice and many times... Jan 31, 2014

Depending on how much I regret it!

May last year went a job too far.
Two or three good clients booked time for slightly larger jobs than usual, and I worked out a schedule. One was cancelled, so I took on the usual run of small jobs, and went on when the remaining larger ones were delayed.

A completely new job came in, and I said I was not sure... and asked about the others. They were all confirmed and rescheduled. In the end most of the big jobs I finally did went off well, but the one that was supposed to be cancelled turned up after all... as a rushed job of course.

It was slightly technical, and I knew I should have said no.
The client liked my earlier work for them and did not have time to find another translator who knew the background, so they pressed me. If I had had time to check and read up on the terminology, not just rely on dictionaries without context, I might have done a reasonable translation.

As it was, I was already tired after the other jobs, and sat up till all hours working on buckets of coffee... and sent in instalments. The client did not comment... until a month later, when they were disappointed with the style, there were confusions in the terminology, and they kept sending corrections afor a month.

I lost a good client.

It is rarely that bad, but if your gut tells you this is a job too far, then your gut is probably right!


[Edited at 2014-01-31 10:43 GMT]


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 14:28
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Can't remember Jan 31, 2014

I've been translating 30 or so year. For the life of me, I just can't remember.
Human nature is such that it eradicates bad memories, so let's just say 'too many too remember.'
Like monster customers, monster jobs are the ones you want to forget.

Added last line

[Edited at 2014-02-01 01:54 GMT]


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 07:28
German to English
+ ...
Occasionally Jan 31, 2014

Whenever I'm offered a translation, agree and then the text arrives as an Excel file. Really p****s me off!

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:28
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Many times Jan 31, 2014

I have to confess, this happens fairly often. Examples are illegible PDFs, Excel files, certain PowerPoint files, alphabet soups, CVs and academic transcripts, and most often, very poorly written text that drives me up the wall.

I've reached the point in my career where I no longer rationalize that "it's all in a day's work." I want my work to be fun, and, thank goodness, it's fun more often than otherwise.


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DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:28
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Yes Jan 31, 2014

Once upon a time I accepted a job with a new client that I knew next to nothing about and without any mention in advance, on starting the project I found they expected partial deliveries and for me to be available 24/7 on Skype and to be able to answer their every whim. I explained that I don't like to be disturbed when I am working, ignored the Skype messages and stupidly persevered with the project. To finally top it all off nicely at the end of the project they wanted to apply Trados discount on the target words, [source files were medical in content, mostly handwritten and pdf format]. Never again!

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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:28
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
yes occasionally Jan 31, 2014

Sometimes, it'll be something that's a bit more technical than I'd expected. But the last such assignment was from a old client who I hadn't worked for in a while. It was a proofreading job that was a hassle from the get go. The translator backed out so he had to get another one who not only was on the other side of the world, but had limited internet access and, as it turned out, was inexperienced and got most of the terminology wrong. Editing his dreadful translation was even more of an ordeal and the client was dissatisfied, meaning more edits and back and forth between three time zones...etc. I've only had the occasional job from this client but I think this is the last time.
There was another one like that, similar situation, plagued with problems from the beginning: back end client who was disorganized, agency was the same, it was a new client, and I had to work with three other translators. One backed out at the last minute and we had to find a new one. It was a stressful, disorganized mess but somehow it got done. But I refused all further work from this client because although I thought this was an exception, it was not. She contacted me a while later for another job and it was obvious that she was disorganized, hyperactive and had a lot of bum clients.

Nothing to me is worse than being disorganized.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 06:28
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes! Jan 31, 2014

Just like Muriel I have regretted accepting an assignment every time I have to handle poorly written source texts and just like Julian I can very easily forget these bad memories and... start all over again!

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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Jan 31, 2014

I answered Other because it's really somewhere between "once or twice" and "many times".

The regret was rooted in most of the same reasons Muriel and others mention.


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Hin und Wieder  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:28
Member (2012)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Yes once or twice Jan 31, 2014

I accepted a proof reading job and forgot to agree on a price. I ended up re-translating about 70,000 words for $10 per hour...and got e-mails every hour If I was ready....

And my one and only French translation. I did a test..and they accepted it. I told the PM I never ever had translated from French to Dutch except on holidays. I did a terrible job but still got my money. Never again! (I was asked to do it, not my own idea)


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Rebecca Garber  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:28
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Between "once or twice" and "several" times Jan 31, 2014

A few projects were early on, as I was learning what I could and could not do, or could not stand to do, like SAP and contracts.

I learned to explain to the PMs that I don't like business translations, even if (especially if) the technical terms are "easy". The technical is fine. It's the layers/terms for business that I don't know and don't care about (COO? CFO? like I care?). Give me some pump specs and I'll be fine.

I've also learned to be very careful when the PM says something is "patent related". Patents are fine. Nullification/infringement briefs are also fine (lawyers can be so wonderfully, politely catty). Payment contracts related to patents are not fine. They just masquerade like the others for the first 2 pages and then become awful until they end.


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Pundora  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 10:58
English to Hindi
+ ...
Many times in the past, of course Jan 31, 2014

I should have answered “yes, many times” instead of “yes, once or twice.”

However, I have learned a lot from those regrets and now ask in detail beforehand about the projects. For example, whenever not mentioned, I’d ask now about the topic, format, CAT tool if required, and what I detest most (without commensurate rates), if they would require any detailed feedback form/questionnaire/table to be filled in later after translation or proofreading which have columns like “What has been corrected”, “Corrected text”, “Reason (Comments in English)”, “Translator Comments (If you are not accepting, give your Comments in English)”, etc.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 07:28
English to Polish
+ ...
A coupla times Jan 31, 2014

Generally something to do with poorly written or poorly scanned sources or too tight deadlines or an obscene volume discount.

I've learnt that assignments which you need to underprice heavily to receive tend to have some other problem to them.

As for deadlines, with age comes slowness and speed goes away. It probably does so with experience too. And a reputation to protect.

Poorly written sources. Well. Can't help those. Just gotta check more carefully before accepting and avoid bulk orders or jobs involving text you haven't seen.


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