Shipping of a document by an agency - who is responsible?
Thread poster: Oxomense

Oxomense
United States
Local time: 00:42
English to Spanish
Sep 28, 2010

Dear translators,

This is my story. I payed an agency for a translation which was supposed to get to me in 5 business days. Although they sent me a PDF version of the document, I needed the original certified translation for an urgent matter. Two weeks later, the document appears to be lost in the mail. When I asked the agency to fedex it to me, since they were quite late at meeting THEIR deadline, I was told that the agency has no control over US mail and that I had to pay the extra shipping expenses. My questions are:

Can a translation agency charge a client for over night shipping if the translated document does not get to him/her in the time agreed upon payment?

Shouldn't they make sure that they send translations (confidential information and often time-sensitive) through a more reliable mail service? (certified mail, fedex, UPS...) I think that it's good business practice to do so.

Isn't it their responsibility to make sure that I have the document on time? Blaming it on the US Postal Service seems like an easy way to evade their irresponsibility.

What do you think?

Thanks for your input.



[Edited at 2010-10-01 15:18 GMT]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2010-10-01 16:11 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:42
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I entirely agree Sep 28, 2010

Oxomense wrote:
Shouldn't they make sure that they send translations (confidential information and often time-sensitive) through a more reliable mail service? (certified mail, fedex, UPS...) I think that it's good business practice to do so.
Isn't it their responsibility to make sure that I have the document on time? Blaming it on the US Postal Service seems like an easy way to evade their irresponsibility.

I agree. They should have made sure the translation arrived on the agreed day.

I increasingly find it difficult to believe that some item "gets lost in the mail"... and sounds more like they forgot to send it in the first place.

PS: I must remind you that it is against Proz.com's rules to mention outsourcer names in the fora. You might want to edit your text so that it does not mention the company name, or your whole forum will very probably be deleted or hidden by moderators.


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:42
Swedish to English
+ ...
Let me play devil's advocate... Sep 28, 2010

...no one can 100% ensure a delivery deadline.

Even if the person promises to personally deliver the document, he or she might possible fall in to a man-hole or get run over by a bus.

Oxomense wrote:

Can a translation agency charge a client for over night shipping if the translated document does not get to him/her in the time agreed upon payment?

Shouldn't they make sure that they send translations (confidential information and often time-sensitive) through a more reliable mail service? (certified mail, fedex, UPS...) I think that it's good business practice to do so.

What did their T&Cs say? What method did they use? Did they charge extra for a specific type of delivery service and then not use it? If so, they should have used the specified service and if they didn't you might have a case against them. However, even the methods you mention can fail.


Isn't it their responsibility to make sure that I have the document on time? Blaming it on the US Postal Service seems like an easy way to evade their irresponsibility.


Unless they used the delivery service I mentioned first (personal delivering) and didn't fall into a man-hole/get run over by a bus, there is no way they can personally 100% guarantee delivery.

However, I guess their T&Cs will be sensible enough to ensure their liability is limited to the extra amount you might have paid for the specified delivery method and/or the full invoice and/or re-delivery.

Who should pay for a second, possibly more secure, delivery is determined by the agreement you made with them when ordering the translation.


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Oxomense
United States
Local time: 00:42
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Many Thanks Oct 1, 2010

Dear Tomas and Madeleine,

Thank you very much for your input. I did delete the agency's name from the post. Also, I will be more careful to agree the mailing conditions in my future work with translation agencies. At any rate, I still think that if the agreement is that I get the product in 5 business days and it gets lost in the mail, they should take responsibility, since I did not specify the deadline. I'm a professor and we order many textbooks from publishers. If we don't get them on time, they cover the extra shipping costs.

At any rate, I don't think that I would have a case in court, but I will not work with this agency again or recommend it to anybody, quite the opposite. They lost a client, probably more, to save 30 dollars. Not good business practice at all

Thank you again.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:42
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some comments Oct 1, 2010

Oxomense wrote:
I payed an agency for a translation which was supposed to get to me in 5 business days. Although they sent me a PDF version of the document, I needed the original certified translation for an urgent matter.


I think it is the agency's responsibility to use a delivery method that can reasonably be expected to have the document delivered on time. If you have to get a document from the US to Spain in five days, ordinary mail won't do it -- it would have to be couriered, and the courier costs should be included in the quotation (and invoice), unless otherwise agreed with the client.

I was told that the agency has no control over US mail...


True, but who on earth sends an urgent document by ordinary mail?

...and that I had to pay the extra shipping expenses.


To be honest, I don't think it is unreasonable for the client to pay for his own product's delivery (that is normal in any business), although the agency should have given you an indication of what that cost is likely to be.

Can a translation agency charge a client for over night shipping if the translated document does not get to him/her in the time agreed upon payment?


Let's compare this with a person buying any product from abroad, e.g. a book. If the product does not arrive, then the customer can get his money back. If the seller wants to ensure that the sale goes through, he has to resend the product, at no extra cost (though presumably the cost is borne by the customer in some way or another). Also, it is (usually) the sender who takes out insurance on the package.


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