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Poll: Have you ever refused to work again for a specific client?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 14:28
SITE STAFF
May 28, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever refused to work again for a specific client?".

This poll was originally submitted by Elodie Bonnafous. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Once or twice May 28, 2016

One for arranging a weekend translation, then not sending it or bothering to inform me. The other for systematic late payment and trying to blame me for their lack of organisation. The latter client came back full of appologies a year later and implored me to do a job for them again, so I relented after they accepted a 25% rate hike (which I'd suggested in the hope it would send them scuttling back under their stone). I assume they eventually paid that bill, although am not sure, I must check...

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 22:28
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes! May 28, 2016

Yes! For a certain accountant who was a very, very late payer, always giving lame excuses and for two translation agencies I had to take to Court and obviously never worked with them again, though one tried…

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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 16:28
German to English
+ ...
the one I remember May 28, 2016

It started with a "representative sample" (after that I always insisted on seeing the entire text). I was told there were some handwritten parts, and was shown the only page where handwritten parts were legible, in a beautiful easy to read handwriting. I was told it was mildly medical, and was given an anecdotal report in the style of "John is doing much better after the accident. He is cheerful, and looking forward to his new career." I accepted on that basis.

When the text came it was highly medical, with hospital reports of a person who had had a serious accident, describing every bone in in the body it seems. There were entries scribbled into a medical chart by umpteen doctors and nurses in illegible handwriting and obscure abbreviations that a medical professional might be able to decipher, but I don't have that background. I would not have accepted the work had I known. These days I would have refused after the fact, but I was relatively new.

The PM / owner was controlling and not that friendly. They had preformatted pages to write on, which had the agency's name on them, required the use of legal size paper, and there was a complex set of checkboxes to fill out by hand. I lost time struggling with their formatting. At the end I got chided that my checkmarks were "backward" (I'm left handed and never conceived of right or wrong checkmarks).

Two of the source pages had some kind of table, and they insisted on formatting that table themselves, forbidding me to do it. But it took several days for that formatted table to be delivered, which made me close to late for my next project for the next client - that and the struggles with the other preformatted pages, plus the fact that the material was not as it had been represented. I had based my timing on what I had been allowed to see.

It was quite an unpleasant experience.


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ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:28
Member
German to English
+ ...
Several times May 28, 2016

Once an agency sent me a PO for an order and I started it. Half a day or a day later, the client cancelled and told me to stop. When I invoiced her for the work, she said I had "unilaterally decided to charge for it." In the end, I didn't invoice her for it, but told her never to contact me again. Being Spanish, she did. When I ignored the email, she contacted me again to say how much liked my work etc. I never worked for her again. I have also stopped working with people due to slow payment or if they have been exceptionally rude.

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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:28
Member
English to French
Of course May 28, 2016

three consecutive late payments, unilateral rate lowering/payment terms extension, new software/working methods I don't want to use/comply with, first project with hidden chores expected for free, rate increase rejected...

It's not me it's them!

Philippe


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:28
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Once May 28, 2016

Author of a novel who had no idea what a translation was. I translated 6000 words of her novel, and she wanted me to do it again, making sure literally every word was translated as she had written it, and retaining the Russian sentence structure. Unusually, she had paid me in advance, but I returned her money as I was tired of arguing with her and just wanted never to have any more to do with her.

[Edited at 2016-05-28 14:48 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:28
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Especially one agency that got too big for its own good... May 28, 2016

It was started by a Dane, so they had quite a lot of work for clients I knew previously. It was based in the UK, and paid accordingly, but the exchange rate on the pound was quite favourable and I went along with it.

They gradually got more demanding - PMs were no longer friendly Danes or others who could read and answer questions about the text, and some could barely speak English. They phoned me if I didn't reply quickly enough to their mails.

Meanwhile the exchange rate for sterling went down. I had been saying I could not do their jobs for some time - deadlines too tight, I don't do technical Swedish, any excuse I could think of! They would not always take no for an answer. Finally they offered me a 100-word job for less than ten pounds, deducting Trados discounts... I simply told them not to bother me again.

They had got a really bad name, and their PMs seemed to leave as fast as the agency could recruit them. (They are based in London and have an orange logo.)

Sad really, because they started out well.

I have dropped agencies because I dislike working with their CAT tools, and they insist. These agencies pay at the lower end of my scale or below it...

I have dropped a couple because I can't break in to their portals - they demand a new password every time. One has a user name, a password AND a so-called nickname, and it takes me half an hour to log in. I have to create an invoice in THEIR system a month after delivering the job, and then they pay a low rate 30 days after the end of the invoicing month... Never again!

Meanwhile, there seem to be quite a lot of medium to small agencies who are a delight to work with and pay quite reasonably, at least in my languages. I happily go the extra mile, because they appreciate it.

I can strongly recommend sending feedback - the best agencies listen and are happy to help if they can. They can't improve if they don't know what the problem is.

Life is just too short to waste on agencies who drive you mad. Spend your time looking for better clients!


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:28
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes May 28, 2016

'Refused' is a bit harsh. But I have occasionally suggested that my skills might not be suited to the project and the customer would do better to seek assistance elsewhere.

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:28
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Once or twice May 28, 2016

because of persistent late payment a couple of times and because of an absurdly user-hostile on-line invoicing system in another case.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:28
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Many times May 28, 2016

I've had bad experiences with a few clients, most of these being bad payers.

This did not prevent them from liking my work, and trying for years - often insistently - to convince me to take jobs from them again. Some admitted that they were bad payers but nice people, which I had to counter with my holistic approach to clients.

I keep the door open to my blacklisted clients in case they are willing to pay up-front, however this would definitely thwart their intent.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:28
English to Polish
+ ...
Not many times but more than once or twice May 28, 2016

As far as I can recall it has always been in connection with toxic QA.

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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:28
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Low prices and late payments, but also May 28, 2016

work methods inacceptable to me, such as compulsory online CAT tools - I tried it and refused to do it again, despite good price and timely payment.

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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:28
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Several times May 28, 2016

Many times you'll do all the search about a new client, and figure it's worth a trial. They may have a good score in the Blue Board, a nice site, send you a regular commercial e-mail, and not be on any balck list.
Then you start working for them, and you find out that:

1) They'll try to renegotiate (lower) your rates as of the second job.
2) They'll only pay you after at least two reminders, and at least 10 days late.
3) Their reviser is not a qualified professional and makes dozens of undue changes in your translation.
4) They look for small mistakes in your translation, and complain about them as if they were very serious.
5) They start sending you scanned image PDFs and other stuff only, and no regular editable text, as they will do those themselves, or use another translator. So, you realize you are the "second" choice, only for the bad jobs.
6) They decide to use an online translation platform, and stop sending you editable documents, or start sending xdliff or similar files, forcing you to use their CAT or their TM.
7) They regularly make changes in the documents after the job has started, or request changes after the translation is finished, that were not in the original document.

All these have happened to me, and many times that was enough for me to quit those clients.

Note of the day: Envy is not only a sin. It's a disease, and there is no cure for it.

[Edited at 2016-05-28 17:50 GMT]


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
Who hasn't? May 28, 2016

Even Leonardo Da Vinci refused to work for certain clients or abandoned a commission at times. Okay, the latter was bad.

Seriously, finding and losing clients for a variety of reasons is part and parcel of what Americans call running a business. I'm assuming even good dentists lose patients. There's no stigma in refusing to work with a particular client on reasonable grounds, some of which have been already mentioned.

Although I wouldn't use the words “incompetent bastard” as they show a pretty poor self control and betray a mercurial attitude.

Speaking of PMs, I remember telling an otherwise friendly one that I refuse to work with him again and I gave him my reasons: You are a PM, not a translator, yet you keep second-guessing my translations.


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