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Poll: Have you ever had to give a silly excuse for an unexpected late delivery?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 21:04
SITE STAFF
Jan 2, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever had to give a silly excuse for an unexpected late delivery?".

This poll was originally submitted by Mario Chavez. View the poll results »



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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 05:04
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No Jan 2, 2016

I’m a good time manager and I'm known to deliver ahead of time, but very occasionally I have had to negotiate/renegotiate a new deadline and I explained exactly why. I tend to reject jobs if I feel the deadline is too tight.

Happy 2016 with lots of translations and no late deliveries!


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Jan 2, 2016

I always aim to deliver on time or sooner. I don't recall the last time I had to deliver something late, but I'm sure that if it ever did occur, it would be due to circumstances beyond my control. It would also be for a concrete reason, and "silly excuses" would be the furthest thing from my mind...

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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:04
Member (2006)
German to English
No Jan 2, 2016

because if situations happen, it is always better to be honest about it.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
There's no call for 'silly excuses' Jan 2, 2016

Michael Harris wrote:
if situations happen, it is always better to be honest about it.

Clients deserve the truth; we aren't in the school playground now.

I have had a couple of very embarrassing moments lately, caused by receiving multiple small jobs from the same client on the same day, each with a different deadline. I used to be able to cope but I can get flustered nowadays. Luckily we've managed together to ensure that the end client hasn't been aware of the problem, and I'm now busy tightening my procedures.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:04
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
"Silly excuses"? Jan 2, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Michael Harris wrote:
if situations happen, it is always better to be honest about it.

Clients deserve the truth; we aren't in the school playground now.

I have had a couple of very embarrassing moments lately, caused by receiving multiple small jobs from the same client on the same day, each with a different deadline. I used to be able to cope but I can get flustered nowadays. Luckily we've managed together to ensure that the end client hasn't been aware of the problem, and I'm now busy tightening my procedures.

***

I agree.

On the rare occasions that I've not delivered a project on time, the reason has almost always been that the deadline in question was not reasonable even under the assumption of a highly efficient translator working constantly with a minimum of breaks (in other words, there aren't a lot of translators out there who could have effectively completed the project by the agreed deadline that I've missed). Luckily, the agencies I've worked for don't typically work with "drop-dead deadlines," but rather build in a certain buffer into their project-completion timelines in order to account for such eventualities. Thus, my typical response under such circumstances is, "I will finish the project as soon as I can"--which I always do.

Then there are those situations where "real emergencies" occur, which by definition cannot be planned for, and which should never be the cause for guilt or blame.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Excuses, excuses Jan 2, 2016

Why am I not surprised to read very serious replies with no sense of humor? Oh, yes, because this is a professional site, sir!

I suggested this poll because, let's get real, we all have given a silly excuse, said a white lie, at least once. We are not robots, not assembly line workers. Well, some of us behave like one.

I don't. While honesty is the best policy, a silly excuse or a white lie is sometimes the only sensible thing to do in order to maintain a business relationship. Or any relationship for that matter!

Example: A few weeks ago, I accepted a minimum charge job for a longtime client. The delivery date passed, I was working on a parallel project. The next day, I got a nice email from the PM for the minimum charge job, asking if I was going to deliver it in the next couple of hours.

That set me into motion. Since it was a small job, I was able to deliver it within the hour (without rushing the writing, mind you). I didn't have to give an excuse, just an apology, and I did it for free as a compensation.

Other times, I've said I'm under the weather when all I had was a pounding headache as a secondary effect from a medication. That bought me some time and a great deal of understanding.

What are you going to do? Explain your life story, your medical history or some other private matter that got in the way of an otherwise flawless job and delivery to a stranger?

At least, let's be honest with ourselves.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, there is Jan 2, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Michael Harris wrote:
if situations happen, it is always better to be honest about it.

Clients deserve the truth; we aren't in the school playground now.

I have had a couple of very embarrassing moments lately, caused by receiving multiple small jobs from the same client on the same day, each with a different deadline. I used to be able to cope but I can get flustered nowadays. Luckily we've managed together to ensure that the end client hasn't been aware of the problem, and I'm now busy tightening my procedures.


Efficiency by its own sake is a dangerous game. Excuses and white lies are one of the lubricants of human relationships.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:04
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
No Jan 2, 2016

I don't give excuses. I only state reasons. And none of them are silly or...made up.

[Edited at 2016-01-02 16:26 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
??? Jan 2, 2016

Mario Chavez wrote:
Efficiency by its own sake is a dangerous game. Excuses and white lies are one of the lubricants of human relationships.

I think maybe we live in completely different worlds, Mario.

I believe that friendly exchanges with clients are an essential part of a lasting relationship. If my clients can't get past the stage of being dry and starchy in their exchanges with me then I rarely find that the relationship lasts. I like to have the occasional natter along with receiving and delivering jobs, when I have the time and something to say. 'How do they celebrate the end of the year in Bulgaria?' 'What are accountants like in Moscow?' 'Your kid's coming up to her first birthday, isn't she?' etc. I just have to steer clear of the weather now that I live in a place where it's great all year long, as I wouldn't like to crow about the sun when they're up to their ears in mud.

But I don't find anything at all 'lubricating' about lying. Although we do talk disparagingly of "slippery customers" so maybe there's a connection there. I never lie and I wouldn't expect my clients to, either. I've dumped a few very quickly as I suspected them of it.

What are you going to do? Explain your life story, your medical history or some other private matter that got in the way of an otherwise flawless job and delivery to a stranger?

Is it that or lie? I don't find I have to do either.

Why am I not surprised to read very serious replies with no sense of humor? Oh, yes, because this is a professional site, sir!

Do serious replies to a question mean you have (i.e. 'one has') no sense of humour? Or just that you find 'funnies' rather misplaced sometimes, particularly in a forum where clients who may not have a very good grasp of the language are potentially readers.

[Edited at 2016-01-02 16:58 GMT]


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R-i-c-h-a-r-d  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:04
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
No Jan 2, 2016

And that's not just a smart personal marketing statement. No, because I never have to. It's one of the basic rules of being a freelance translator - get the job delivered on time, or you should never have accepted the work in the first place.

I don't claim to be the best, fastest, cheapest, etc... but I don't mess around with deadlines.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
The black-and-white worldview of lying Jan 2, 2016

Thanks to Sheila Wilson for getting me to think deeper about what I wrote.

First, I don't believe clients come and read quick polls. Even if they did, where is the proof of a good or bad outcome? There is none, so the assumption is insufficient to lead anywhere.

Second, one thing is to lie with the intent to deceive, misguide, harm or otherwise protect yourself from the consequences of your actions, like telling your boss the same excuse after you came in late for work 3 times. Another thing is to lie to protect someone's feelings, for example, or to avoid going into long, unnecessary and unwarranted explanations.

We all lie. Let's say you're going through a divorce, or facing a dreadful week due to family problems. Your next-door neighbor, with whom you don't have any particular inclination to talk, asks you how you are doing today. Do you go and recite your painful experience? No, you say I'm doing fine, thanks.

Or if you go to a new church, all apprehensive about how they will receive you after years of not going, and you are a private person, are you going to say exactly what's on your mind at the first Hello, and welcome to our church! How are you doing, sister/brother?

One of the best examples of white lies is when a parent gives his small child a simplified explanation of something that may be traumatic for the child to hear:
5-year-old kid: Mom, why are you going to the hospital?
Mom: They're going to run some tests, dear. Nothing, really. [Reality: oncologist needs to confirm there is a malignant tumor on your brain.]
Kid: Are you going to die, mom?
Mom: No, sweetie!
Kid: Are you coming back, mom?
Mom: Of course!


There have been psychology studies on the causes and effects on lying, how men and women do it differently, etc. Check them out before you retreat into your black-and-white take on lying.

[Edited at 2016-01-02 20:11 GMT]


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Anna Katikhina  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:04
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
No; why would you even want to give an excuse? Jan 2, 2016

Do customers really need excuses? They need the job done, so a simple "due to personal circumstances" is enough in most cases. Unless, I guess, something really serious happened and you can't complete the job at all--that's when an explanation is needed if you want to save your face.

Having been on the customer's side for quite a few years, I know that I didn't really care why a translator couldn't return the translation on time--it's when they were going to return it that mattered. On that note, I got a bunch of really sad stories, some of them tragic (and I felt for them, of course), but at the end of the day all I needed to know was when I would get the translation and whether I needed to resort to a contingency plan. So, as a translator, when something like that happens (and it hasn't in a long time!) I don't really bother going into details, I just let the customer know the time when the job will be returned and assure them that I'm in control of the situation.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Warmer, warmer Jan 2, 2016

Anna Katikhina wrote:

Do customers really need excuses? They need the job done, so a simple "due to personal circumstances" is enough in most cases. Unless, I guess, something really serious happened and you can't complete the job at all--that's when an explanation is needed if you want to save your face.

Having been on the customer's side for quite a few years, I know that I didn't really care why a translator couldn't return the translation on time--it's when they were going to return it that mattered. On that note, I got a bunch of really sad stories, some of them tragic (and I felt for them, of course), but at the end of the day all I needed to know was when I would get the translation and whether I needed to resort to a contingency plan. So, as a translator, when something like that happens (and it hasn't in a long time!) I don't really bother going into details, I just let the customer know the time when the job will be returned and assure them that I'm in control of the situation.


Seriously, we need to drop the seriousness and stop pretending customers choose us on Proz because of something we said on a quick poll.

True, what a customer cares for is whether the translator is in charge of the situation, all variables thrown in. I think the word excuse gets a bad rap sometimes.

More often than not, on a couple of times I had forgotten all about the job (let alone the delivery date), I would tell my client “Sorry, I completely forgot!”

We all have our strategies to deal with unexpected late deliveries. If you never, I mean never turned in a job late in your life, you must be a robot. Or a Martian. Or one of Amazon's mechanic turks.


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:04
Danish to English
+ ...
Not a Martian... women are from Venus Jan 3, 2016

Mario Chavez wrote:

We all have our strategies to deal with unexpected late deliveries. If you never, I mean never turned in a job late in your life, you must be a robot. Or a Martian. Or one of Amazon's mechanic turks.


I am puzzled as to why you are so adamant that we all lie. I agree with Sheila here, we obviously live in very different worlds. Or maybe it's different cultures.

I don't lie to people I care about at a personal level, and I don't lie to clients. I see no need to. If I run into a problem that will prevent me from meeting an agreed deadline, I will let my client know as soon as I become aware of the problem. I may or may not explain what the problem is, depending on whether this is of any relevance to the client.

Like Anna, I have also been at the other end of the bargain, i.e. the client waiting for a translator to deliver. And I agree, all you care about is quality and delivery on time. I once had one translator failing to deliver on time, not letting us know ahead of time, which caused us serious trouble as the translation had to accompany the machinery my company was selling, and not delivering on time meant paying a fine to our customer. The translator's excuse: "I tripped over my cat and broke my arm". Really?

Your admission, Mario, that at times you 'forget' about a job or an agreed deadline and therefore find it OK to make up a silly excuse to a client smacks of very unprofessional behaviour to me. Call me a boring old Scandinavian, but really, that just doesn't fly in my book.


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