BEFORE YOU THINK ABOUT A
NETA has formed a Business Practices Committee to encourage members
to put their translation activities on a more business-like footing and to assist members
who have followed these steps and nevertheless find that they have a grievance against a
client or agency. However, there are several things that need to become more or less
accepted practice by the membership before a grievance makes sense. The measures below are
primarily defensive; they also have the effect of putting the translator on a more
business-like footing. These are things that we should all think about doing as they will
save us many headaches in the long run.
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
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