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Poll: A customer takes it for granted that you will answer questions from the end client for free. You...
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 14:39
SITE STAFF
Feb 4, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "A customer takes it for granted that you will answer questions from the end client for free. You...".

This poll was originally submitted by Julian Holmes. View the poll results »



 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Feb 4, 2014

It would depend on the case but normally I have no qualms about talking to my clients. On the other hand, who wants to be taken for granted? I am usually only too happy to discuss questions related with the texts I translate. I suppose if they were pestering me every 5 min on Skype it would be a different story, but that has never happened, nor is it likely to, as I don't give out my Skype details to all and sundry.

 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:39
Member (2006)
German to English
Other Feb 4, 2014

Same here, it depends, but usually I never have to answer any questions as everything is pretty clear from the beginning, but if not, yes, no problems, is all part of the game.

You did it again Julian


 

DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:39
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Other ... Feb 4, 2014

I would answer reasonable questions related to a finished and submitted translation, but I don't like to bothered while translating. No calls, no Skype, huge DO NOT DISTURB
sign around my neck ....

But if any queries do come my way they usually come by email, so I can study them and answer by email at my own convenience.


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:39
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Accept Feb 4, 2014

Unfortunately, that's part of the job--at least in my opinion. I don't like to be bothered, but I feel it's my duty. That said, I can get impatient rather quickly if the questions are unreasonable.

I recall one case in which a client insisted on engaging in a debate over whether the words in a mailing address should be translated. I lost my cool.


 

Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:39
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Accept Feb 4, 2014

It's part of the job. Most of my clients are pretty good at shielding their translators from unreasonable questions though; I have had very few questions from end clients so far and they were either very quick or reasonable, and usually both.

 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 22:39
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Feb 4, 2014

It would depend on the case. In more than 30 years, it only happened once some 15 years ago and on that occasion I was more than happy to discuss the question and explain my point: the "problem" was solved quite quickly! Otherwise, me too, I DO NOT like to be disturbed while working...

 

dasein_wm  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:39
Italian to English
+ ...
Other Feb 4, 2014

If the work comes through an agency then the questions from the client usually do too. It is very rare (never happened) for me to be contacted by an end client that was not my own to begin with.
I don't see any agencies handing out a translator's details to an end client unless they are really stupid. How long would it take the client to decide to cut the agency out of future dealings?


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Go ballistic Feb 4, 2014

How dare anyone challenge my omniscience?





(And then I answer the questions for free, within reason)


 

Carmen Grabs
Germany
Local time: 23:39
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
Service Feb 4, 2014

As we are service providers, I think it is part of the job to do some things for free, especially if for regular clients.

I expect the same for example from a garage where I bring my car for repairs. If it's only a matter of a small light bulb and I had some large repairs or regular checks done in the past, why not get something for free or for less this time? As they say in Germany: Kleine Geschenke erhalten die Freundschaft (Little presents keep a friendship/relationship alive)


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:39
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Other Feb 4, 2014

After many proofreading jobs I assume that the tracked changes file is self-explanatory, or I add notes about anything I think needs further comment. It is sometimes useful to explain the underlying logic behind my changes.
I then add in the mail that the client is welcome to ask if anything is not clear, and that keeps most of them happy.

If I run into problems myself that I think the client is the best person to solve, then I ask them, so it goes both ways.
So far, so good.

However, if there is going to be a long wrangle and we don't agree, I would ask to be paid for my time, and have done so in the past. I have never had to back down after a long discussion, but I suppose if I did, I would waive the charge!


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 06:39
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Refuse Feb 4, 2014

Thank you all for your valuable comments so far! icon_smile.gif

This poll is one of my Monster Customer Series of quick polls. However, from the results so far (Accept 57.7%), it seems that the majority of you are quite tolerant. From bitter experience, I'm not, unfortunately. My take is this ...

Also, please bear in mind the difference between 'customer' and 'client (end client).'

You deliver your translation -- read your 'product' -- to the customer (LSP, agency, etc.) and they review it. If they have any questions or queries, they get back to you and ask you to review or explain parts of the translation. This part of the translation process I can live with. I will do this for 'end clients', too. The customer/client contracted me to do the translation and my response to their inquiries is 'part of the package.'
Once they consider my translation 'fit for delivery' or 'deliverable' -- based upon their judgment -- they deliver it to the end client. They will not say 'This is Julian Holmes' work.' They'll, of course, deliver it as their own 'product' not mine. That's where the buck stops in my opinion, and, I don't have to do any more for the customer regarding that translation from then on unless there is a prior agreement to do so and/or this extra work is factored into the rate.

So, if a customer asks me to field questions from the end client once it's left my customer's hands, then this is not acceptable simply because it's no longer my work or 'product' - it's no longer my responsibility. The contract is between me and the customer not between me and the end client.

The beef I had with my monster customer over here is that all these piddly little inquires would come back from the end client to yours truly. It was obvious that the customer was sending my work to the end client without it undergoing any in-house review whatsoever. This is where, as Muriel quite rightly puts it, I 'lost my cool.' (More like blew a gasket!) The customer was basically asking me to do the work that should be done by their in-house reviewer for free. They were quite adamant about this and criticized me for my 'lack of cooperation.' And, I started blowing a few more gaskets!

But that's all a thing of the past right now since I shedded this monster customer last summer. A happy end to a miserable story. Good riddance!

I must add that none of my other customers over here ask me to field questions from the end client.

I'm interested. Where do you all draw the line?


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 00:39
Turkish to English
+ ...
Accept Feb 4, 2014

I usually add a note in the covering e-mail saying something like:

"I will be only too happy to address any queries you may have about the translation,"

although I am very rarely taken up on this offer, and, if am (and I have no way of knowing if the query has come from the end client or from the agency), I can usually answer the question off the top of my head. I specialise in legal translation, so issues to do with the workings of an unfamiliar jurisdiction as well as purely linguistic questions may arise, and I see it as being my duty as a translator to ensure that the end user of the translation fully understands everything.


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 06:39
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Me, too Feb 4, 2014

Tim Drayton wrote:

I usually add a note in the covering e-mail saying something like:

"I will be only too happy to address any queries you may have about the translation,"

...



I add something to that effect, too. For customers only not the end client.
I also add that they try to ask all questions/queries in a single batch instead of spread over several e-mails.


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 00:39
Turkish to English
+ ...
The Japanese way? Feb 4, 2014

Julian Holmes wrote:

Tim Drayton wrote:

I usually add a note in the covering e-mail saying something like:

"I will be only too happy to address any queries you may have about the translation,"

...



I add something to that effect, too. For customers only not the end client.
I also add that they try to ask all questions/queries in a single batch instead of spread over several e-mails.


Things may work differently in Japan. I remember many years ago coordinating a team working on the English to Turkish translation of a user manual where the end client was a well-known Japanese manufacturer, and ended up answering question after question from the end client for days on end. I have never had this kind of experience with customers in Europe or North America.


 
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