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client/customer

English translation: goods and services distinction

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12:13 Aug 11, 2002
Spanish to English translations [PRO]
Law/Patents / contracts+linguistics
Spanish term or phrase: client/customer
Good Sunday morning, dear col-leagues.
Though I still have a question open [(“largo grupo nominal”) I need more time to decide], now I have a synonym-doubt for your wisdom:
Until today, I had preferred to use “customer” (WEUDEL: 1. “a person who purchases goods or services from another; buyer; patron”) when referring to someone who buys goods, and “client” (WEUDEL: 1.a. “a person or group that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, etc.”) when referring to someone who purchases ser-vices.
This seemingly well-grounded confidence ended today:
In the agreement I am translating, “El Cliente” essentially purchases services, but it also has to pay for a number of equipment attached to said services.
I still prefer to use “customer” instead of “client”, but I’m not sure at all.
Are CLIENT/CUSTOMER truly interchangeable in this case?
Are my doubts and/or preferences well founded, or am I “buscándole cinco patas al gato” (don’t remember how to say this in English)?
Muchas gracias por sus sugerencias.
Manuel
info@cedenocarpio.com
Caracas, Venezuela
Manuel Cedeño Berrueta
Local time: 22:07
English translation:goods and services distinction
Explanation:
The English language often has two words to translate one 'Romance' word becuase of its origins, what you could call the Germanic and the Latin influences, which probably explainsd the existence of customer and client.

However I have always applied the distinction described broadly in your definition, that clients tend to buy services and customers goods.

Anything that is strictly speaking intangible is sold to a client. Anything tangible is sold to a customer. But for a service contract consisting of both it would probably be preferable (meaning that this is what I would do) to use customer, especially if its the industrial area.

I think you are 'splitting hairs' and really, all you need to do is apply the definition you provided yourself, but using your discretion.

As for the origins in 'custom', the fact is that usage eventually renders origins as a souce of guidance meaningless. See what happened to the word 'gay' for example.
Selected response from:

xxxLia Fail
Spain
Local time: 04:07
Grading comment
Siulach,

[BTW, I like this name of yours, but why did you change your previous one?],

I AM sorry —this is part of my nature— I “split hairs” even when thanking: We Venezuelan say both “buscarle cinco patas al gato” (very colloquial) and “hilar muy fino” (not formal, but less colloquial); do you have any similar distinction in English?

On the other hand, what can/may/should/(have) I (to) do for SPLITTING POINTS?

GRACIAS de nuevo a TODOS ustedes/vosotros/you/Sie/[vous?: Sorry: illiterate in French, Russian and many other languages, leider] colegas de profesión y de trabajo en domingo.

Manuel
info@cedenocarpio.com
Caracas, Venezuela
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
5 +3cliente
Maria Luisa Duarte
4 +3goods and services distinctionxxxLia Fail
5 +1this might help
Parrot
5customer/clientTail
4Contractor of the serviceHerman Vilella
4This intrigues me.Paul Slocomb
4client/cutomerkostan
3customer
Richard Flight


Discussion entries: 1





  

Answers


12 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +3
cliente


Explanation:
customer/client = cliente:
persona física o jurídica a la que una administración proporciona un servicio/medio de telecomunicaciones internacional y que responde del pago de las tasas y alquileres debidos a esta administración

client: engages the professional advice or services of another

customer: one that purchases some commodity or service

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-11 12:55:35 (GMT)
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--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-11 12:57:52 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

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Maria Luisa Duarte
Spain
Local time: 04:07
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in PortuguesePortuguese
PRO pts in pair: 3168

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Сергей Лузан
20 mins
  -> thank you !

agree  Herman Vilella: very good
1 day5 hrs

agree  MikeGarcia
1 day8 hrs
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15 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
customer


Explanation:
My guess is that "customer" is derived from "custom" - somehow implying that there is an ongoing buying habit - say, Nescafé could speak of its customers as people who always buy Nescafé, and you an I can talk of customers to refer to agencies/firms whom we work with (i.e. buy our services) regularly.

Stretching that to your context, I would say "customers" fits because the signator is apparently entering a mid/long-term agreement to buy both products and services from the vendor.

HTH.

And a good working-Sunday to you too

Richard Flight
France
Local time: 04:07
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 33

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  jsavage: So would it not be "client" in this case? Don't you think that all customers are clients but not all clients are customers? By the way, what exactly is this new word "signator"? At least it's new to me...
11 mins
  -> oops! I meant "signatory" - and I was just suggesting "customer" because I gathered this contract was outlining the terms of an ongoing relationship

agree  Herman Vilella: good
1 day5 hrs
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31 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
client/cutomer


Explanation:
after 30 years in sales and marketing, I am still as confused as you are. I personally prefer "customer", and this seems to be the general case in sales/marketing. Only when dealing with legal and similar matters, "client" seems more appropriate.

kostan
Austria
Local time: 04:07
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 123
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49 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
this might help


Explanation:
Etymology:

"customer: Etymology: Middle English custumer, from custume
Date: 15th century
1: one that purchases a commodity or service
2: an individual usually having some specified distinctive trait <a real tough customer>"

www.corp.aventis.com/future/fut0101/ function/glossary.htm

"cli·ent ('klI-&nt) noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French client, from Latin client-, cliens; perhaps akin to Latin clinare to lean

a person who engages the professional advice or services of another <a lawyer's clients>"

www.jyvesoftware.com/pages/client.html

Although the Oxford Thesaurus uses both terms indiscriminately, this corroborates the distinction that Valerie specifies.

Parrot
Spain
Local time: 04:07
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 7645

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  MikeGarcia
1 day7 hrs
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50 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
goods and services distinction


Explanation:
The English language often has two words to translate one 'Romance' word becuase of its origins, what you could call the Germanic and the Latin influences, which probably explainsd the existence of customer and client.

However I have always applied the distinction described broadly in your definition, that clients tend to buy services and customers goods.

Anything that is strictly speaking intangible is sold to a client. Anything tangible is sold to a customer. But for a service contract consisting of both it would probably be preferable (meaning that this is what I would do) to use customer, especially if its the industrial area.

I think you are 'splitting hairs' and really, all you need to do is apply the definition you provided yourself, but using your discretion.

As for the origins in 'custom', the fact is that usage eventually renders origins as a souce of guidance meaningless. See what happened to the word 'gay' for example.

xxxLia Fail
Spain
Local time: 04:07
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 1368
Grading comment
Siulach,

[BTW, I like this name of yours, but why did you change your previous one?],

I AM sorry —this is part of my nature— I “split hairs” even when thanking: We Venezuelan say both “buscarle cinco patas al gato” (very colloquial) and “hilar muy fino” (not formal, but less colloquial); do you have any similar distinction in English?

On the other hand, what can/may/should/(have) I (to) do for SPLITTING POINTS?

GRACIAS de nuevo a TODOS ustedes/vosotros/you/Sie/[vous?: Sorry: illiterate in French, Russian and many other languages, leider] colegas de profesión y de trabajo en domingo.

Manuel
info@cedenocarpio.com
Caracas, Venezuela

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Robert INGLEDEW: Very good explanation. I agree completely.
59 mins

agree  Lila del Cerro
5 hrs

agree  MikeGarcia: Excellent and very clearly explained.
1 day7 hrs
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7 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
customer/client


Explanation:
client:1. a person or gruoup for whom a lawyer, certified public accountant, architec or other professional person or service acts: The lawyers have a saying that:"the man who pleads his own case has a fool for a client" (George C. Harlan)2= customer: The clients of that fashinable dress shop are very rich. 3. a person who receives assisntance from a social-service agency or similar organization: a welfare client. 4 a person who is under the protection or patronage of another,dependent.
customer: n 1 a person who buys, especially a regular shopper at a particular store; buyer; purchaser.This openhanded buying approach reflected a free-spending public, but every one was also agreed that the customer was getting more ficnicky. Syn. client

Tail
PRO pts in pair: 4
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12 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
This intrigues me.


Explanation:
Answers already given and one chosen, and I have no problem with any of them. But, FWIW, here's my take on it.

One buying goods generally is a customer. One buying services generally is a client. But the match isn't exact and, IMHO, the determining factor isn't what is being purchased, but rather the nature of the relationship with the seller.

McDonald's has customers, not clients. Not because it sells goods (food), but rather because it has no ongoing personal relationship with its buyers. They may come back regularly, but not (except in rare cases) because they have a close personal relationship with any McDonald's employee.

A law firm has clients, not customers. Not because it sells services, but rather because it establishes (or at least wants to establish) an ongoing relationship. It's true clients are those that have been around for many years.

A hairdresser has both customers and clients. The customers come in off the street for a one-time appointment when they're on a trip. The clients come back regularly, 'cause they really like what Jules does for them, and like hearing about his animal farm in Wisconsin. The product is a service, but that doesn't mean that all of the users are clients.

Likewise for a manufacturer of industiral fasteners. The product is a good, but not all purchasers are customers. Surely some are. They make single, or sporadic purchases. But the lifeblood of the business is its clients, who regularly purchase, and are truly interested in the owner's grandchildren.

Paul Slocomb
Local time: 21:07
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in pair: 351
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1 day6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Contractor of the service


Explanation:
The client-customer issue is always there. MacDonald's has a "clientele" of "customers" simply because, at the end of the line, cultures seem to use two methods for comparatively lasting acceptance of words: economy of language and "awkwardness-avoidance". In my youth, we used to talk in English about one-world, one-worldism and then one-worldization and finally worlwide-ization (awkward, isn't it?). Now, Americans have elected (chosen, picked) "globalization", which does not remotely mean "worldwideization", but it's less awkward. Spanish speakers who are real knowledgeable ("savvy" is more economic and less awkward ... in English) still use "mundialización", because in a "vocalic" (vowel-prone) language such as Spanish (English is "consonantic") that is easy to pronounce ... and thoroughly precise. In English and Spanish, globalization or "globalización" used to mean "encompassing", or putting all similarly-identified items into one category basket. It was used that way less than 25 years ago for import quotas and many other category groupings.

Thus, and probably to avoid tongue-twisters, McDonalds and many other concerns have continued calling individual consumers "customers" (correctly so) and steady consumers "clientele" (not "customership").

In Spanish, by the way, a regular customer is a "parroquiano" (tantamount to the English "patron" ---- not to be confused with the Spanish "patrón").

The ecclectic manner (way) in which anglosaxons and Americans in particular use either Germanic or Latin at pleasure is a happy and interesting fact, and perhaps accounts for the ultimate global rise of English more than does the worldwide power of the United States.

I, personally, prefer to use English as contractual language of record and for in-house coordination. It leaves less room for argument ("less chance of cheating", some say).


Herman Vilella
Local time: 04:07
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in SpanishSpanish
PRO pts in pair: 344
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