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Colleague failing on you
Thread poster: Ligia Dias Costa

Ligia Dias Costa  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:20
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Sep 22, 2010

Here's the situation:

You have been receiving too much work. You are fully booked till the end of the month on a big project and last Friday you received a project from a client of yours - 6.000 words - to whom you do not want to say "no".

You asked for help of a colleague that said she could deliver the job yesterday. Fine, you agreed as to payment terms and price as well as the delivery date for yesterday, Tuesday.

Yesterday, you receive an email message from her saying her child is sick and that she would send the job only during the night. Ok, you said, you hope her child gets better soon and the work during the night.

This morning you take a look at your email... nothing from her. You call her at home and get no answer. You write to her, two messages: the fist one asking for info on the job completion. The second one, saying that you need an answer till 12H00 otherwise you will have to deal with the matter another way.

NOTHING.

Any thoughts/ideas?

Ligia


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Rifraf
Local time: 14:20
hope for the best Sep 22, 2010

Nothing much you can do right now, I'm afraid.

I think there's a great possibility that your colleague took on a too big a project for herself (6000 words over the weekend with delivery yesterday).

There is even a possibility that she did not even started on the translation, but I hope for you that she's just running late sending you the translation. Perhaps that's the reason why you haven't heard from her yet; maybe she's still franticly working on it.

Needless to say, I would never work with her again, cause you cannot rely on her!


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Angelica Kjellström  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 14:20
German to Swedish
+ ...
Get in touch with your client Sep 22, 2010

Dear Ligia,

I read your post below and I really sympathize with you. If I were you I would explain the situation for your client and offer him/her to take care of the project yourself as soon as possible (propose a deadline).

Make it very clear that you had no possibility to influence the situation. Offer them a small discount for the delay as well.

AND: Do not outsource any more jobs to the person in question, he/she appears to be not trustworthy.

If you cannot handle the project yourself in a foreseable future, contact a colleague that you know and trust.

I sincerely hope that everything will turn out for the best and that you will not lose your client. I cross my fingers for you!

Kind regards,

Angelica Kjellström


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Sebastian Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:20
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
If someone is unable to stick to a given deadline, they are to advise the outsourcer about it Sep 22, 2010

if possible in advance of the deadline they will miss, if not, the next possible point in time after that.

Other than that, I cannot say I am happy with the tone (and content) of what you say. There is neither any kind of understanding for the fact that we are just humans and that human beings make mistakes (plus who knows, maybe for example the deadline was too tight given the complexity of the job or the rate agreed was too low to motivate her enough to physically do all that work) nor, like I said, do I appreciate the general tone used in that post of yours, Ligia.

I like to speak out overtly at times, and I do it.


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Rifraf
Local time: 14:20
bad advice IMHO Sep 22, 2010

Angelica Kjellström wrote:
If I were you I would explain the situation for your client and offer him/her to take care of the project yourself as soon as possible (propose a deadline).

Make it very clear that you had no possibility to influence the situation. Offer them a small discount for the delay as well.



I pressume that the client expected Ligia to be making the translation; so I think it would come across as very unprofessional if you now have to admit that somebody else was supposed to make the translation, but didn't, hence the troublesome state of affairs.

"you had no possibility to influence the situation"????

Ligia was already fully booked and could have told her client "no", or that the short deadline wasn't achievable. Now, she took on the job, outsourced it to a colleague and finds herself in a tricky situation.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:20
Italian to English
+ ...
Write to your client, by all means Sep 22, 2010

But also write to your colleague offering a bit of solidarity - the most likely explanation is that the poor woman is still at the hospital with a seriously ill child.

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Emilia Prekate-Kyminas
Greece
Local time: 15:20
English to Greek
+ ...
Try to take time to do the job yourself Sep 22, 2010

Ligia, I realise that my advice does not give you any help with the situation in question, but I believe that it is always preferable to tell the client that you are very busy and that you need a bigger deadline in order to accept the job. Differently, if you still wish to outsource the job, always ask from the translator to deliver the job to you one or two days earlier (without him/her knowing); in this case, you are -usually- on the safe side and you have time to check the translation yourself. In any case, I strongly believe that the first option is the best: clients who wish to receive quality translations and trust your work, will always try to make things work for you.

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CristinaPereira  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:20
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Talk to the client Sep 22, 2010

I also think you should write to your client because there will be trouble ahead for sure. You cannot deliver the translation in the agreed deadline. Either your colleague delivers it late, either she doesn’t deliver it at all. Unfortunately, maybe you’ll have to be “creative” in this approach to your client.

Did you already know this colleague? Or was it a first-time outsourced job? I sincerely hope she's in good faith and something happened and she cannot contact you. Unfortunately, I’ve heard of many stories like this and usually the person involved is no-one to be trusted.

Anyway, I’d advise you to prepare to do the translation yourself or outsource it to colleagues you rely on this time.

Wish you luck,

Cristina


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Ligia Dias Costa  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:20
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to all Sep 22, 2010

When I oursource work, I always give a margin for errors, i.e. in this case, I have to deliver the translation tomorrow.

When I wrote to her saying I would need an answer at 12h00 otherwise I would have to deal with the matter another way, as I got no answer I immediately put the work I had in hands aside (to be delivered in the end of the month) and started to work on this one. I WILL deliver the work to the client tomorrow.

@ Rifraf: it was not 6000 over the weekend. It was Friday, Monday and Tuesday.

@Angelika: thanks for the sympathy.

@Marie-Hélene: I am waiting to hear from her to start to even think of what to think about this. If her child is seriously ill in the hospital, couldn't she send me an SMS?

@Cristina: I have worked with her before, ie I did work for her. And I am translating already!

@Emilia, thanks for the advice. I had already done that.

@Sebastian:I could not understand the content of your message. You do not like the tone?? I tried to put it all objectively, stating only facts. No tone at all.

Also, I cannot understand the fact you say that " maybe for example the deadline was too tight given the complexity of the job or the rate agreed was too low to motivate her enough to physically do all that work". So, what you are saying is that after we agree to do a job under certain circumstances we think again about it and just do not do it?? And say nothing to the client? I must say that I am just astonished with this sentence. But, who knows, maybe it's just a cultural thing...

Thanks to you all.

Back to work!

Ligia


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:20
English to German
+ ...
Cough, cough, Ligia. Sep 22, 2010

Ligia Dias Costa wrote:
But, who knows, maybe it's just a cultural thing...


Business etiquette and ethics in our industry are international. If you are doing it right.


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Ivan Rocha, CT
Canada
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The best solution to your problem would be... Sep 22, 2010

... to start outsourcing to another ENG-POR translator.

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Ligia Dias Costa  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:20
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Nicole Sep 22, 2010

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Ligia Dias Costa wrote:
But, who knows, maybe it's just a cultural thing...


Business etiquette and ethics in our industry are international. If you are doing it right.


My thoughts exactly!
Ligia


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:20
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A responsible mother is also a responsible translator Sep 22, 2010

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:
But also write to your colleague offering a bit of solidarity - the most likely explanation is that the poor woman is still at the hospital with a seriously ill child.

Unless the poor child is dying (I sincerely hope this is not the case), I can see no reason why the translator cannot call Ligia at any time after the deadline to describe the situation. A responsible mother is also a responsible translator who will call to report a serious situation.

I am sure that, should the situation be serious, Ligia would use her nights to straighten the situation. I somehow suspect that the situation is not that severe.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:20
French to English
My first question from now on. Sep 22, 2010

Following more than one experience of a similar nature (altho thankfully, nobody who completely disappeared), my first question from now on will be:

Do you have any living relatives?

Only those who answer "no" will get any work from me. The health of translators' parents and children is seemingly so bad that I am surprised no-one has conducted any research into it.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:20
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Are we toxic? Sep 22, 2010

Charlie Bavington wrote:
Do you have any living relatives?
Only those who answer "no" will get any work from me. The health of translators' parents and children is seemingly so bad that I am surprised no-one has conducted any research into it.

Indeed one must wonder whether we are toxic or what!

Indeed the "disappearing translator" is an interesting phenomenon. How long does it take a new translator to learn to A) take only as much work as he/she reasonable can and B) respond to emails, even with bad news?

Does it take hours, days, weeks, months, or years? A good matter for a new topic!


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