The 5 Most Unreasonable Demands Translation Clients Make

March 10, 2015
The 5 Most Unreasonable Demands Translation Clients Make

If you’ve been freelancing for a while now, then you’ll no doubt have run into your fair share of clients with unreasonable demands. If not, then I’m afraid to break it to you, but over the course of your translation career you’re going to meet quite a few!

In this Translators’ Hub post we’ll take a look at five common, unreasonable demands that clients place on translators. Maybe you’ll be able to relate to these demands, but if not then hopefully you’ll be prepared for when clients inevitably present them.

# 1: completing a translation in an unrealistic timeframe

Clients will usually have a deadline in mind when they approach you, and it’s important to be able to negotiate with them realistically.

Unfortunately, most clients will assume that translating is a fairly easy process and shouldn’t take long to complete. Of course, in reality a good translation can take a while to produce, and it’s generally accepted in the translation industry that translators will complete a maximum of 2000 words of a translation each day. Making your client aware of this is paramount to managing their expectations.

# 2: constant availability

You’ll often come across clients who want you to respond to their, often frequent, email enquiries ASAP. Whilst this isn’t unreasonable to expect of a translation company like ours (who assign staff members solely to manage client enquiries) assuming that independent freelancers should maintain this level of availability is unrealistic.

If you have to spend excessive amounts of time communicating with clients then you’re not able to work on their translation. Moreover, even if you’re in different time zones, you might still encounter clients who expect you to answer email when you should be sleeping!

# 3: editing their content

If a client’s source text isn’t well edited then it’s not your fault. But despite this, some clients will expect you to perform editorial duties in addition to translating the text. This is completely unreasonable, and clients who expect you to improve their document during the translation process should have their expectations addressed quickly.

# 4: expecting you to price match other translators

When you return a quotation for a piece of work then it’s likely that some negotiation will be involved. However, if you client cites the rates of other translators to attempt to get you to lower yours then you shouldn’t stand for it.

Different translators may well charge different rates, but they might also deal with simpler languages or niches than you. Be sure to emphasize that you provide good value for your specific niche, and that using other translators as a reference point for price negotiation is inappropriate.

# 5: payment when the translation is deemed worthy

Perhaps one of the worst things a client can demand is that they will only release their funds once you’ve returned the translation and they’ve had it checked by another party.

At Tomedes, we expect all new clients to pay for translations upfront, and it’s not unreasonable for you to have that expectation either. Moreover, if you provide your client with a sample translation  along with your initial quotation, then they will be able to gauge your ability and should have no need to get someone else to check the completed translation before paying you.

Final thoughts

How have you dealt with unreasonable demands in the past? Have you encountered any other unreasonable demands not mentioned here? Feel free to share your opinion and experience below.

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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