Friday, December 17, 2010

How Long Is Too Long?

After sending out follow-up e-mails, as well as brochures and holiday cards to the vendors I initally contacted at the tekom conference in November, I've now seen some return on that investment in the form of requests for test translations and agency application forms to fill out. After reviewing my translation, these agencies then send agreements for me to sign.

A good portion of these contracts covers fairly standard subject matter and conditions:

  • Keep end client's information confidential
  • Don't contact the end client without approval from the agency
  • Adhere to deadlines
  • Invoice the agency
  • Fix the translation, if the quality is not up to par

None of these conditions are a problem, but the timeframes some agency attach to certain conditions do give me pause.

One agency, for example, wants to prohibit me from ever working with any of their end clients without their approval. I can understand such a prohibition for a year or two after ending work with the agency, but if I could never contact any of the end clients of the agencies with whom I work, I'd spend the rest of my career unable to even attempt to acquire end clients of my own.

Another agency wants me to agree to correct translations up to 2 years after submitting them. I can see an end client needing a month, or even two, to check all translation it receives for a large or complex project, but even my appliances don't have a two-year warranty.

What surprises me most is that apparently few translators object to such terms, otherwise they would likely have been stricken from standard agency contracts by now. Different translators will have different thresholds about what they're willing to sign, but we do need minimum standards below which we won't sign a contract. What's your standard?

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