Do you ever get annoyed with your clients’ manners? I often do, for example when they don’t acknowledge, far less thank me for, a translation I’ve delivered by email. If I were to walk into the client’s office and hand over the translation in paper format, I’m sure they’d say “Thanks”. So what happens to their manners when the translation arrives via their inbox?
As it turns out, dodgy email manners aren’t all on the clients’ side. I’ve contacted fellow translators, several of them ITI members, a couple of times in the last few months to ask for a quote for a project I was coordinating. Over the same period, a non-translator friend of mine, Laura, also contacted a number of translators and agencies/companies for a project involving non-European languages. She shared the results with me.
Our email request
First, here’s an amalgam of the messages we sent:
I’d be grateful if you could send me a quote for a translation from English to Italian of the attached will. The translation is needed by lunchtime, Friday 8 November. I’m not sure right now but I may require a certified translation. Could you let me know if that would involve an additional charge, and if so, how much? By the way, I found your name in the ITI Directory.
I’d appreciate it if you could reply by return and in the meantime I look forward to hearing from you.
Many thanks and best regards,
[followed by email signature with full name, contact info and company details]
Most of the replies were absolutely fine: courteous and providing all of the relevant pricing and timing information. But three took my breath away, and not in a good way. Here they are, exactly as we received them (but with the names/initials changed):
Reply no. 1:
Who are you? What is the name and address of the company?
[followed by email signature with full contact details]
Reply no. 2:
Unfortunately have no availability at the moment. TOD
[TOD = translator's initials. No name or other contact details provided]
Reply no. 3:
Sorry, not possible. Regards. Fred bloggs
Sent from my iPhone
[Fred bloggs wasn't the translator's real name, obviously, but the name was written just like that: lower case surname. No other contact details provided]
What do you think, bearing in mind that these replies are to potential new clients? Potential new directclients, in at least one case? Potential new clients who might be sending you a lot of work in the future? Let us know in the comments.
PS I’ve put the “Q” quality mark to this post, although it’s mainly about poor quality. To my mind, anyway. Maybe I should ask Zoë to design a “Q” with a whopping great “X” through it.
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By Marian Dougan