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When you assume… May 18, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.

You all know the saying – and for those of you who don’t… “When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.” I don’t know what is in the air today, but I have had two clients send me files for translation (needed back as soon as possible – of course) assuming I am available. One particular client in the Czech Republic sent me an e-mail at 2:30 in the morning (8:30 a.m. in Europe) and his colleague in China proceeded to send me the files to work on – and the files again because they had been updated and could I please use them. BTW, this was a client I fired last year… The second one just sent a PDF with the text they needed highlighted in a red box. Lots of single words (I think the context is chemistry but I’m not sure. And I don’t do chemistry.) in a QA form with no other context. And it isn’t even noon yet!

I am waiting on a large job that I was booked for two days ago, so I politely thanked both clients and told them that I was unfortunately booked and unavailable.



1. César Melo - May 18, 2011

you are rejecting jobs – disgusting as they may be – and i craving for them.

Jill (@bonnjill) - May 18, 2011

César, I’ve been where you are. I’ve been marketing myself here in the U.S. for 10 years and before that in Germany for 6. It’s a lot of work, but once you have enough customers you too can have the luxury of picking and choosing your jobs. It takes a while, but there is plenty of work out there. Keep marketing yourself to reputable translation agencies and direct clients, and I promise you you too will be an overworked translator.

2. Mago - May 18, 2011

How did you respond? I hope you said “no”! It would make an interesting follow-up post if you described how you did so. Saying “no” is something that many translators say they have difficulty with, even for outrageous requests.

Jill (@bonnjill) - May 18, 2011

My response to these clients is always polite, “Thank you very much for the inquiry, but I am afraid I am booked for the rest of this week.” Sometimes I recommend colleagues who might be a better fit for the job, other times I just assume the client is working their way through their database and will find someone to take it.

3. Highdad - May 18, 2011

A polite “No” is good for some. “Are you kidding?” would be a more appropriate response for those who send instructions such as: “translate only the words highlighted in yellow”… and so on… Geez…

4. Herblay - May 18, 2011

I’m getting such requests from my clients everyday…. I always think, “Do you think I have nothing to do all day long waiting for you to send me jobs?”

5. patenttranslator - May 19, 2011

You can also say no without saying no.

Yesterday a new agency that found my name in the ATA directory asked me to do a small Czech translation, which would be 40 dollars, my flat minimum fee.

But because I was reading a book and did not really feel like working yesterday, I told them that on small jobs like that I require payment in advance through PayPal.

The guy said that it is their company’s policy not to pay in advance. I told him that it is my company’s policy not to waste a lot of time on small jobs for inflexible customers and went back to reading my book.

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