20 Oct



Ted Wozniak manages an online database of “payment practices of translation agencies and other consumers of translation services” His site screens out potential untrustworthy clients through a subscription based forum. Don’t balk at the fee. Take advantage of a wee discount for ATA members He presented with calm and ease before a dozen or so NOTA members recently  What follows is how to research before accepting a translation assignment. The nature of his webadventure encourages participation from fellow linguists. Ted’s strategies easily adapt to interpreter negotiations.


Before accepting a project, he warns to protect your interests and secure the client’s full contact data. Look up the physical address first and archive for your records. A post office box serves no purpose. A person cannot serve legal papers to a post office box but can with a verified address to XXX person. Assess the potential client outright with “I need full contact information to add to my client list.” Pause. Does she waffle? If so, kindly give thanks and end the call.

When a client appears reluctant follow up with a WHOIS look up to find out that owns the domain name. The WHOIS database is a searchable list of every single domain currently registered in the world A word of caution: if emails arrive from Yahoo email, explore the source first. Agencies use Gmail as an initial contact. If there is no other information available outside of Gmail, there is no way to contact the potential client.


No need to bow to pressure from a project manager. Many times the manager wants a “yes” even before the file arrives. Take caution if Madame Project manager offers “it’s easy stuff, just general text and you’ll have no problem.” After agreeing to translate and the 6,000 words appear, you face an obscure manufacturing process laden with arcane technical terms. Ted suggests waiting to see file first to assure delivery.  Find out who agency is with “I need to know now and can not accept a job until I see source files. Get references and here comes in. There you’ll find 7,000 agencies in a searchable database and over 3,000 comments on prompt payments. Paid members of the Go Translators site provides a world translation directory in thirty languages Translators Café rates agencies who pay promptly Send URLs to Ted with your experiences and language payment lists.


During negotiations and before one keystroke occurs, agree on acceptable and standard terms. Is your practice net 30? The US standard runs at 45 whereas other industries commonly project 60 or 90 days.  Another option is 2/10, n/30 when if paid within 10 days of the invoice date, the buyer may deduct 2% from the net amount. For example a $725.40 job minus $14.50/2% equals $710.90 When the negotiations include “We’ll pay you when our client pays us” you have an out. End the conversation courteously and delete the agency from your file. The translator relationship is between you and the agency.

I’ll post more Tedsuggestions in the future. In the meantime visit to download the presentation. What methods do you use to assure payment? Let Mr. Wozniak know with a blogcommentpostthingie. Don’t the Germans cluster words in this fashion?


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