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Poll: Which of the following issues do you dislike discussing with clients the most?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 11:19
SITE STAFF
Oct 13, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Which of the following issues do you dislike discussing with clients the most?".

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:19
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
None of the above Oct 13, 2015

If they don't like my terms (i.e., rate and deadline) when we start out, I don't haggle; I just move on. If they accept my terms, there is rarely anything to discuss. If a payment is late, I remind them, but I don't "dislike" having to do so.

What I DO dislike is arguing with clients over issues that clearly show they have no idea what they're talking about - for example, insisting that I translate a street address or a geographic name. That drives me up the wall!! Another one that drives me nuts is when I ask if it's a back translation and they say "it shouldn't matter." I try to explain that a back translation should be literal enough to reveal any mistakes. They don't get it.

[Edited at 2015-10-13 08:30 GMT]


 

Annamaria Amik  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:19
Romanian to English
+ ...
Ethical issues Oct 13, 2015

All the other issues (deadlines, payment, rates) are business matters and can be discussed on objective terms. If there is a misunderstanding, some sort of compromise can be reached with a reasonable client.
But ethical issues are not or shouldn't be subject to negotiation, so I do feel awkward whenever I turn down jobs on ethical grounds.


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:19
French to English
Issue = problem Oct 13, 2015

I'm taking it that the question uses the term "issue" to mean "problem" and not just "matter".
Deadlines, rates, payment etc are all matters which need to be discussed and clearly established before the first word hits the virtual page. If not, you are increasing the risk of any one of them becoming a problem.
The most problematic things to discuss are related to payment. That supposes that rates and deadlines have been set and that the work has been submitted. The translator is therefore waiting to be paid for work done. Issues surrounding payment are bad news, as the translator has nothing to weigh in against the client, except debt collectors and court appearances.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 19:19
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Same here! Oct 13, 2015

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

I'm taking it that the question uses the term "issue" to mean "problem" and not just "matter".
Deadlines, rates, payment etc are all matters which need to be discussed and clearly established before the first word hits the virtual page. If not, you are increasing the risk of any one of them becoming a problem.
The most problematic things to discuss are related to payment. That supposes that rates and deadlines have been set and that the work has been submitted. The translator is therefore waiting to be paid for work done. Issues surrounding payment are bad news, as the translator has nothing to weigh in against the client, except debt collectors and court appearances.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:19
English to Portuguese
+ ...
CAT tool issues Oct 13, 2015

I am "old school", i.e. I deliver the job as close to the client's ultimate goal as it is economically advantageous to the client.

On "economically advantageous", one typical example I keep is a client who told me, Okay, it's a PPT. Just translate the text in there. My secretary is a PPT wizard, she'll fix the layout in no time. No need for you to bother about it. I charge 30% on the translation cost to fix PPT layout issues, and sometimes - considering the time & effort it takes, on account of PowerPoint's shortcomings - it's a bargain!

Whether I use a CAT tool or not, it's MY business. When feasible, I use WFC. As one of my most frequent clients said, It's all right, as long as you leave no trace of it after cleanup.

I've had clients who provided me with Passolo, or a portable MemoQ license to use. No objection to that. The MemoQ-providing one was a special case. I would be part of a team comprising a dozen translators in a series of huge projects; TM on the cloud in real time, NO discount for fuzzies/repetitions, so a lower rate was a really fair deal.

While I give all repeated segments in jobs involving over 5,000 words for FREE, I don't give any fuzzy match discounts, ever!


So what do I dislike discussing?

  • Client says that I MUST have Trados, and won't accept the fact that I've declined the job already, so I won't be buying (and learning to use) it within the next 24 hours.

  • Client insists that I must use their own homemade online CAT tool, which is still under development.

  • Client tries to force a cockeyed TM down my throat.

  • Client is determined to make me accept their fuzzy-match discounts, unwilling to accept the fact that I've declined their job already.


    On the other options presented here, I have my T&C. If they ask me to improve (i.e, lower rates, longer payment term, shorter deadline) them, I tell them that they are always my best possible offer, for the benefit of less assertive clients, who might never dare to ask for such 'improvements'. According to my book, if I could improve these in any way, my initial offer would have been blatantly dishonest!

    I have my m.o. and fortunately, so far, a sufficient number of clients, representing more than a sufficient workload for me, seems to like it.

     

  • Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
    Local time: 19:19
    French to English
    Whereas.... Oct 13, 2015

    Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

    I'm taking it that the question uses the term "issue" to mean "problem" and not just "matter".


    ... I took it to mean matter, subject, aspect, thing, area of business life.

    And the bit I like least is always telling them the price (I try hard not to think in terms of rates these days, I price stuff more by project, with direct clients at least). By nature, I'm very much of the indirect school "I say old chap, one hates to mention the subject, but well, I've a certain number of financial commitments myself don't y'know so I feel obliged to charge something, I do so hope you won't think it's a dreadful imposition...." etc. It takes effort to just say "that will cost €nnnn".

    I certainly don't mind telling people I won't touch their filthy projects dealing with murky projects for appalling regimes. Turned down about 3 jobs for French firms selling in Saudi Arabia last month and made it very clear what I thought.


     

    Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
    Japan
    Local time: 03:19
    Member (2011)
    Japanese to English
    Not exactly sure how to answer Oct 13, 2015

    Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

    I'm taking it that the question uses the term "issue" to mean "problem" and not just "matter".
    Deadlines, rates, payment etc are all matters which need to be discussed and clearly established before the first word hits the virtual page. If not, you are increasing the risk of any one of them becoming a problem.


    On the ball comment, Nikki.

    As Nikki and everyone else quite rightly point out, business-related matters should be discussed up front, resolved and squared away before you start out on a relationship with a new customer/client. After all, more often than not, it is the other party who will initiate the discussion i.e negotiation process by presenting you with a document such as a Basic Vendor Agreement that outlines policies, deadlines, rates, payment, etc. and other matters they feel important in dealings with their vendors. So, it's not a matter of like/dislike; it's regular business practice.

    Other than sitting in the same office as a PM who just ate a ton of garlic for lunch or who hasn't had a bath in a couple of weeks and you are squeamish about pointing this out to him or her, I really have no idea of what this question is actually referring to.

    If there is ethical or moral conflict with me in what a customer is asking me to do, I just tell them I'm busy. Quite simple. But, then, as a technical translator, I hardly ever get asked to do 'murky' stuff like assault rifle manuals or Waterboarding for Dummies written in Japanese.


     

    Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
    Local time: 19:19
    French to English
    murky... Oct 13, 2015

    Julian Holmes wrote:

    But, then, as a technical translator, I hardly ever get asked to do 'murky' stuff like assault rifle manuals or Waterboarding for Dummies written in Japanese.


    .... is just as much a matter (or issue!) of who as it is what. The subjects in question were mundane. Trams was one, I think. I just prefer not to (even indirectly) take the money of people who think it's OK to behead minors, stone an adult to death for sleeping with another consenting adult, or indeed are buying influence with our "government" (I suspect they see themselves more as "rulers", mind you), to merely mention some of the aspects of concern in the last month or so.

    I'm getting too old to hide under an inoffensive mask of "I'm busy". If I think a proposed project goes against what I hold to be decent and ethical standards, I'll say so.


     

    Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
    Japan
    Local time: 03:19
    Member (2011)
    Japanese to English
    With you Oct 13, 2015

    on the following, Charlie

    Charlie Bavington wrote:
    I just prefer not to (even indirectly) take the money of people who think it's OK to behead minors, stone an adult to death for sleeping with another consenting adult

    ...

    I'm getting too old to hide under an inoffensive mask of "I'm busy". If I think a proposed project goes against what I hold to be decent and ethical standards, I'll say so.


    I have a low threshold with pushy, persistent clients. If they don't accept my initial brush-off and try to make me reconsider, for example, by extending the deadline or dangling a carrot in the form of a higher rate in front of me, I'd give them the proverbial blunt 'short sharp shock' which'll make them regret having asked me in the first place.

    Fortunately for me, I don't think I've ever been asked to do work for specific governments or countries such as North Korea or further away repressive 'murky and malky' regimes that I 'have an issue' with. And, pushy, persistent clients do not last long with me. Maybe I'm fussy but I prefer it that way. icon_smile.gif

    P.S.
    Trams, Charlie. Such sexy racy stuff! icon_biggrin.gif


     

    Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
    Local time: 19:19
    French to English
    Also true Oct 13, 2015

    Julian Holmes wrote:

    If they don't accept my initial brush-off and try to make me reconsider, for example, by extending the deadline or dangling a carrot in the form of a higher rate in front of me....,


    There is that too. If you say you're busy, deadlines do sometimes lengthen. It can save time all round just to say you wouldn't do it for a quid a word and a deadline of next Christmas. Actually, I don't care about wasting their time, but I do care about mineicon_smile.gif


     

    Victoria Britten  Identity Verified
    France
    Local time: 20:19
    Member (2012)
    French to English
    + ...
    Rates Oct 13, 2015

    Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

    I'm taking it that the question uses the term "issue" to mean "problem" and not just "matter".



    I took "issue", on the contrary, to mean "matter", and for me the issue of rates is a knotty one. I do of course very much dislike it when there's a problem with payment - i.e., I've done the work and the client isn't paying - but don't dislike standing up for myself because in that case I clearly hold the moral high ground and righteous indignation can be so satisfying! However, I really have to steel myself to get into the conversation when I'm asked what my rate is and I feel there's some room for negotiation. I have a non-negotiable lowest rate, below which I consider I'd actually be making a loss, but at the upper end I'm considerably more flexible...


     

    Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
    Local time: 14:19
    English to Spanish
    + ...
    This reminds me of a former client Oct 13, 2015

    José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

    I am "old school", i.e. I deliver the job as close to the client's ultimate goal as it is economically advantageous to the client.

    On "economically advantageous", one typical example I keep is a client who told me, Okay, it's a PPT. Just translate the text in there. My secretary is a PPT wizard, she'll fix the layout in no time. No need for you to bother about it. I charge 30% on the translation cost to fix PPT layout issues, and sometimes - considering the time & effort it takes, on account of PowerPoint's shortcomings - it's a bargain!

    Whether I use a CAT tool or not, it's MY business. When feasible, I use WFC. As one of my most frequent clients said, It's all right, as long as you leave no trace of it after cleanup.


    A client for whom I did two brochures (translation and InDesign) asked me for a PPT translation job. I gave him a quote in which I consider Power Point translations a typesetting job as well. He tried to argue that it was a matter of putting text in the slides. I declined the job, but he took it personally.

    Misguided negotiations started by some clients usually involve a position of control they don't want to share. The moment the translator asserts himself as a fair negotiator and an equal party to the discussions, this type of clients take offense and play the passive-aggressive game.

    Fortunately for me, they've been in the minuscule minority.


     

    Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
    Local time: 14:19
    English to Spanish
    + ...
    The word “dislike” Oct 13, 2015

    Isn't the nucleus of the poll question an emotional one? I don't think it's a matter of liking or disliking a particular aspect, topic or issue with a client, but whether you have developed the discipline to have a well-reasoned conversation.

    For those who might look at me funny (not funny haha), this is what I consider to be a well-reasoned conversation:

    A show of manners: well-written emails, polite telephone or personal introductions
    A show of facts: purpose of the conversation (a job, availability for a future job, assessing one's qualifications, etc.)
    If it is a job, giving full details or providing them upon request shortly afterwards
    If it is an assessment of one's qualifications (i.e. client is looking for a translator with expertise in Passolo), mutual respect and flexibility
    Total absence of emotional baggage, personal attacks or aspersions
    A cool head willing to discuss differences and facts


     

    David Earl  Identity Verified
    United States
    Local time: 12:19
    Member (2007)
    German to English
    "Reklamation" Oct 13, 2015

    Where I get into trouble is when the customer reviews my work and doesn't ask questions, but goes straight this "refusal of payment" process.

    For me, language is not cut-and-dried, scientific. Several terms and/or expressions can carry the same meaning. That said, each person learns secondary languages in their own way, term by term. For any given term in any given constellation, there may be a dozen correct expressions, including the one I chose and the one the customer expected, learned somewhere and/or prefers.

    Because of this, I'm always willing to answer questions, respond to customer preferences and revise the product. I'm also willing to consult with the customer, when I feel that their expected (or preferred) term would cause problems and offer alternatives. All that I ask for this is that the customer asks and collaborates with me (and the agency, as the case may be). In the end, I want happy customers.

    However, when the customer jumps straight to this legal reclamation process without asking questions, I frankly feel that they're failing to collaborate. It creates an "I'm right; you're wrong" atmosphere, which is ultimately (my opinion) a lose-lose relationship. This is one of those things that has been known to make me uncontrollably angry; a professional failing that I need to work past before I can start responding the customer's criticism and (hopefully) rescue & improve the long-term relationship.

    Yes, a good part of the problem is the feelings that jumping to this process (without a "serious" attempt to collaborate and question) creates, rather than the customer's criticism. Translators are human, right? We've got differences of opinion, sometimes we misunderstand the customer's intended meaning and, sometimes, we even make outright mistakes. Dealing with this reclamation issue is one of the trickiest thing for me and I'm still learning, one individual at a time.icon_smile.gif

    David


     
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