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Nebulous business practices abound… March 15, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.
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Do you have any capacity to take on work for Thursday morning?

That was all the e-mail that I received this Tuesday afternoon said. How am I supposed to answer this? “Uhm, yes?” “Sorry, I’m all booked up.”? I ended up going with “It depends.” and asked them how many words they need translated and what kind of a document it is – and, most importantly, what is the field/subject matter of the text itself? Could some clients be more nebulous about what they need? I don’t think this client could include less info if they tried…

Clients need to realize they need to be a little more specific when asking about our availability. 1000 words of an e-mail is not the same as 1000 words of legal or medical text. I can probably squeeze in 1000 words in a field that doesn’t require a lot of research and thought, but 1000 words of dense legal just isn’t going to happen. Especially when I am already working on 2500 words of medical reports recalling stent and bypass procedures. Besides, I had to take the critters to the groomer’s today and am running behind…

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Comments»

1. patenttranslator - March 15, 2011

You got actually a lot of information compared to what I normally have to deal with.

The e-mail that I just got says: “availavle [sic] for japanese patents?

(The guy is typing on a blackberry somewhere, usually at an airport).

My response was: “maybe”.

2. Alexis W - March 15, 2011

My first instinct is always to reply with a lengthy e-mail outlining all the turnaround/quote possibilities. It usually takes me about 1.5 seconds to defer to my sensible reply, which is pretty much what you and patenttranslator indicate: “Perhaps. Tell me more!”

3. Michelle Bradley - March 16, 2011

There are so many many things wrong when this type of request is sent. a. they probably didn’t open the doc to see what they were “managing”, b. they don’t understand the implications of the subject matter, c. they haven’t looked at the specialties of the linguists they query, d. they don’t have the common courtesy to avoid many back and forth emails, e. they have poor language skills, f. they have poor planning skills, g. no sense of the “other” (recipient’s perspective) when they are throwing a trashy email out into cyberspace, h., i…. Knowing the subject matter of their project should be a requirement on some new ethical standards for PMs. I’ve known many who don’t even open the documents they are “trafficking”.

4. Sophia OZOG - March 16, 2011

Lol. I got some of these too. It makes me laugh but I always ask the questions you asked too. Unfortunately, that’s not a very good approach. Who’s so busy that they can’t even say “Hello” and “Thanks”? I noticed many people are forgetting about the netiquette…

5. EP - March 16, 2011

Yup, that’s irritating. There’s a site in Germany called my-hammer (similar to elance, sort of) where I sometimes bid–or would like to bid–on translation jobs. But I’d say about half the jobs proposed never give the number of pages and/or words to be translated. You either have to ask for more details in the public forum section and hope for the proposal to be updated or what until somebody else who wants to bid asks for you.

6. Barbara Dylla - March 16, 2011

First, Jill, I love this post! I forwarded to a bunch of translator friends and may even post it on a listserv. Second, I agree will all of you. Been there too. It’s like when a client says: “It’s only one page.” My usual reply (using a humorous tone of voice) is: “And is there one word or 500 words on that page?”

7. Judy Jenner - March 17, 2011

Very funny, dear Jill. This one definitely does take the price for lowest possible amount of information. In terms of time savings, it would be so much easier to include all the details in one e-mail so you don’t have to go back and forth many times. 🙂

8. Victor Dewsbery - March 18, 2011

Jill, did you know who the mail was from? If so, that is a luxurious level of over-information. 😉

I sometimes get queries from people using a free e-mail account with a nondescript name, so that I have no idea who sent it or where the person is based. And usually, these people have no idea of the translating process – and a price expectation that would make ProZ bottom feeders blush.

9. Anke - March 18, 2011

I’m actually more tempted to just delete it rather than spend (waste?) my time answering. If they cannot take the time to make a complete request…
I guess it also depends on how busy I am and in what mood they catch me. Sometimes I’m very patient, sometimes I just can’t be bothered.
Of course, as was mentioned above, the sender’s info (free account?) and netiquette play a large part, too!


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