The Case of the Odd Client

Case #1 – Danny (real name, as far as I know)
Shame I didn't save the actual email, but the gist of it was, that there's some guy out there called Danny (maybe), who needs something translated. Plus a mobile phone number, which I wouldn't dream of calling without a bit more information. What's his surname? Where did he find or get my name and email address, what is it all about – looks like it didn't occur to him all these are details worth mentioning.

My initial reaction in such cases are to educate the guy; send him an email explaining that in order to help him I need more information. And that it's common courtesy to at least sign with your full name. But he got to me on a day when I was busy and tired. I just deleted the message. I hope that whoever ended up helping him also took the trouble to enlighten the guy about better ways of approaching a service provider, or any other person, for that matter.

Case #2 -- Ms. Biostory (obviously a name I made up, but the story is real)
Ms. Biostory was referred to me by a colleague. Her line of business is writing people's autobiographies. I don't think it's ghostwriting – I think people either give her their written or recorded memoirs, or else tell her their life stories, which she then transforms into a book. She wanted a price quote for translating one such manuscript from Hebrew into English. Since the manuscript was 60 units (15000 words) long, I estimated that in English it would come to at least 80 units, and gave a price quote for 85 units tops, to be on the safe side.

The email I received in response was one of the shortest and rudest I ever got, something along the lines of "You must be crazy! I got far lower quotes." My daughter said I could either ignore her email, or just shrug it off with a "take it or leave it" reply. Instead, I told her I found her reply impolite, and proceeded to explain my calculation, the main point being: if the other – far lower – quotes were a result of lower per-unit rates, that's fine with me; every translator is free to charge whatever he/she sees fit. But if the lower quotes were based on the Hebrew word-count, then the client will be in for a nasty surprise when the final word count of the English translator ends up being 20,000 or more. I find it hard to believe that any serious translator would choose to ignore the expansion of the translated text; it would be more honest to take the expansion into account, then charge a low per-word or per-unit fee in an attempt to beat the competition.
Be that as it may, I hope the end-client, i.e. the subject of the autobiography, is getting her money's worth.

On that happy note: Shana Tova to all!


Patricia said...

I'm aghast. What kind of person responds to a quote in this way? IMO, if she deigns to climb down from the tree and accepts your price, you should tell her you'd translate her stuff when pigs fly.

That reminds me of a joke. Something about spacemen....

Nina R. Davis said...

To be fair, she didn't call me crazy. She just said "zo hatza'at mechir metorephet legamrei", i.e. my price quote is totally insane.

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