1. Know your client. Security is inversely related to distance. What this means is that the farther away a potential client is, the more you should know about them. If you are dealing with an agency, query fellow translators in NETA, FLEFO, LANTRA, or other forum. If you are dealing with an individual client, it is not unreasonable to demand 30% in advance before starting the work.
2. Get it in writing. All work above $500-1000 should be done on a contract basis so that all parties have a clear understanding of what is expected. Do keep it simple; however, a contract should include deadlines, rate of pay, due date for payment (30 days max), and specific requirements of the job. If you have received instructions via phone, be sure to write up your understanding of the call and fax it to the agency or client. The client should then sign it and fax it back. If the client faxes you a contract, you are within your rights to cross out sections that you dont like. You may still fax them your standard contract. For small jobs it is still a good idea to fax a short Letter of Understanding (or Agreement) to the client and ask them to sign off on it and fax it back. It should include the terms of the work, deadlines, rate of pay, and estimated word count.
3. Know what you are getting. Ask for representative samples (several pages) of the translation before accepting it. Check it carefully to determine whether the rate of pay is commensurate with the difficulty or special requirements of the work. If the translation is outside your area of expertise or beyond your ability, decline the work.
4. Keep the original and your translation. NETA does not want to get into the business of judging other translators work. Nevertheless, this documentation may become important if an agency or client claims that the quality of a translation was subpar or a legal issue develops.
Business Practices Committee