my client posted thinly-veiled hostile messages about me on Facebook

A reader writes:

I have recently started working as a freelance translator, and I work for a person who I met at the translation training program. Last week, he contacted me to do some work. After I saw it, I took the deal because it was within my capabilities. I submitted my work before the deadline and he kept praising me and saying that my previous works have always been up to the mark. I thought everything was fine until I sent a follow-up email asking him if there were any changes. He replied that there were mistakes and he would let me know more later.

Meanwhile on Facebook, I saw this status update from him: “I don’t mean to direct this on anyone but you can take it if you wish. Don’t accept work beyond your caliber,” blah blah. I felt he indirectly flamed me because the thing between us was still fresh, but I also was not that sure because he did not mention anyone’s name.

The next day, he emailed me the corrected work. I accepted that the work was not what he expected, so I wrote back saying that I was sorry that he had to correct my work. He wrote back twice instructing me at length about what to do, what should have been done, etc. At the very same moment (I literally mean this), he updated a Facebook status in a boastful tone: “Beware, I can be over the top at times.”

All this might sound weird, but I felt that he was acting unprofessionally towards me. I never said that I was professional and my work was extremely good. I always remain humble because I am still new in the business. It was him who overly praised me because in previous work for him, I charged quite low as I was new. And instead of directly telling me about the problem, he chose to set a status update and waited for me to approach and be under his paws. At the end, he cut my payment by some amount, but I did not mind. What I mind is the attitude he has used in dealing with the problem with me.

He mentioned that he might or might not use my services again, but I do not feel threatened because he always pay me late anyway.

Is he acting unprofessionally? What should I do, because I am afraid that with that attitude, working with him in the future will be kind of difficult.

Well, my biggest piece of advice here is not to do business with asses. And this guy is indeed an ass. Normal professional people do not post thinly veiled aggressive messages like this on Facebook, knowing that the person the messages refer to might see it. (Normal professional people also don’t reduce agreed-upon payments after the work has already been done. He’s welcome not to use your services again, but he does need to pay you the agreed-upon rate.)

So, in answer to your question, nope, not professional. This is what 14-year-olds do, and this is a sign that you’re dealing with an extraordinarily immature person. If you decide to work with him in the future, you should do so with full knowledge that he may engage in all kinds of adolescent behavior — thinly veiled posts about you on Facebook, as well as mumbling about you under his breath, screaming at you that he hates you, raiding your liquor, and toilet-papering your house. (At least that’s what I recall from my own adolescence.)

And I don’t know what “under his paws” means, but I think I like the expression.

{ 80 comments… read them below }

  1. Apollo Warbucks*

    The guy sounds like a complete tool, if your work wasn’t what he expected surely he could let you know what he expected in a direct and mature way.

  2. some1*

    Even if the FB posts weren’t about you, they were obviously about someone he works with. And it’s unprofessional to take grievances like that to social media.

    1. Elizabeth*

      Especially in a vague, drama-monarch-y way! I have sometimes used social media to complain, but a) as a customer, b) to a large company, not a single individual, c) only after I’ve tried regular channels without success, and d) directly and professionally. For example, a few months ago I tweeted something like, “@MyBigInsuranceCompany, I’m frustrated that you keep emailing me promotional material I don’t want even though I’ve contacted Customer Service twice.” (They’d been emailing me exercise tips and diet advice monthly, with no “unsubscribe” option!) My emails had only resulted in an automatic “Thank you for your feedback” response; that tweet got me a reply within MINUTES and off the mailing list by the end of the week.

      Sadly sometimes you have to be the squeaky wheel to get the grease.

      This guy, however, just sounds passive-aggressive.

  3. Elizabeth*

    Passive aggressive vaguebookers are just the worst. Sorry you had to deal with that, OP. No real advice other than not to deal with him (professionally or personally) in the future.

    1. CTO*

      This guy also sounds like a really boring Facebook friend to have. Who likes a news feed full of their friends’ daily vague, boring, work-related bellyaching?

  4. Bryan*

    I’d block him on facebook regardless. Or at least hide his posts.

    Remember, “What other people think of me is none of my business*.”

    *There are exceptions to this but I think it’s applicable here.

    1. Del*

      Hm, personally that may be true, but I think in professional terms (especially for freelancers) reputation can be enormously important.

      1. Bryan*

        I think professionally is the one time what other people think of DOES matter. If my boss didn’t think highly of me it would be bad.

        But this guy sounds a little nuts and I’m not convinced that in the end it really matters nor could you change his mind anyways.

  5. fposte*

    “At the end, he cut my payment by some amount, but I did not mind.”

    You should mind. It’s not up to him what to pay you.

    I can see accepting a cut as the price of freedom for never working with this ass again, but it sounds like you don’t feel you’re in a position to reject projects from him in future. And he will cut pay again, so in future I might require full payment before delivery of the whole work.

    1. fposte*

      Okay, thinking about it I don’t know anybody who can really do freelance that way. But getting the full payment from him in future is going to be a fight.

      1. Rayner*

        Full payment might be hard, but insisting on a contract – perhaps half upfront, and half on completion – and then if the guy deducts pay again, talking to him again and saying, “Hi, I’m sorry to note that your cheque was $X short since the agreed price was $Y- when would be a good time for you to pay the rest?” to make it less confrontational but still point out that the other guy is in the wrong, and they’ve noticed.

      2. sunny-dee*

        If you’ve never used it, is a great site for freelance work. They require that employers put the full amount of a project (or, for things billed hourly, a certain amount) into an escrow account. So, the freelance is guaranteed full-payment in all but a very few cases.

        1. Sascha*

          That sounds awesome. I do freelance editing/proofreading and I’ve had a few bad clients here and there who don’t think they need to honor their contracts. Thanks for the tip!

          P.S. The nice thing about that set-up is, if the client balks at the idea, you’ve saved yourself a headache. Reasonable clients will have no problem with this.

    2. Nanani*

      As a fellow freelance translator, I just want to make sure the OP knows to NEVER let a client cut your rate -after devlivery- like that!
      It sets a horrible precedent with that client and with any other client they talk to, which you do not want.
      It also means uncertainty in that you do not actually know what you will be paid at the end of the work. As you gain experience and take longer projects, some will span several weeks or even months. Would you really be OK with suddenly finding out your budget for all that time needs to be redone because the client messed up your income? (No you would not, and shouldn’t need to be because this shouldn’t happen).

      Insist on your agreed-upon rate and do not take any further work from a client until they pay you in full.

  6. MissD*

    I’ve had my share of the freelancing woes as well, especially when first starting out in graphic design.

    This guy acted terrible and very unprofessional. He knew he was hiring a newbie! If he had issues with your submitted work, he should have addressed it with you privately, and allowed you the chance to rewrite/rework it and re-submit while paying you what was agreed upon. Adding snide comments on Facebook is rude and helps no one, which is a shame as it sounds like this could have been a better learning experience for you.

    Cut your losses and don’t work with him anymore.

  7. Sascha*

    He cuts your pay and always pays late? I think those are reasons alone to not work with him again. I hope that you are able to do that and let this guy go. He sounds like he’s not worth the hassle at all.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      And you’ll learn in time that some clients just aren’t worth it and this guy is one of them.

  8. Christine*

    I’ve never heard “under his paws” either but in context (waited for me to approach and be under his paws) I understand it completely. I have a friend that waits for me to approach first and twists the argument based one small thing I approach with, if that makes any sense. I like the phrase too.

    1. BeenThere*

      +1000 for under his paws.

      I know many people who behave like this so I just don’t engage. I do however keep a paper trail including when I asked for feedback and didn’t receive it. CYA

    2. Anonie*

      I think it is a form of the phrase “Under a person’s thumb” as in she wanted me under her thumb.

      1. CAA*

        I wonder if it’s a translation of an idiom from another language (which could be part of the problem here). It strikes me as similar to phrases used by some coworkers of mine who say things like “fall between the chairs” or “holding our thumbs”, when we’d usually say “fall through the cracks” or “crossing our fingers” in English. Perfectly understandable in context, and rather charming, but still a little bit foreign and not what you want coming from your translator.

        1. amapola*

          I agree that it reads as a calque from another language, but I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions regarding the quality of the work from one phrase – remember that, even if our translator’s native language is not English, he/she may be working from English to his/her native language, as is most common in the industry.

      2. Puddin*

        I was imagining a giant cat, with me under its paws, toying with me, just before he may – or may not – eat me.

    3. Hito*

      It’s like when the other person has already had an evil plan to bash you up but does not do it right away. He rather waits for you to innocently fall into his hands then tear you up to pieces. This is what I meant.

  9. Adam*

    “…he chose to set a status update and waited for me to approach and be under his paws.”

    Is that the same thing as “making biscuits”?

  10. Michele*

    Definitely, end your work with him if you can. I’ve messed up on assignments for one client but they never treated me in this fashion.

  11. Not Fiona*

    Ugh, I hate vaguebooking enough from my friends, I can’t imagine it from someone who might be digging at me in a professional context.

    “Under my paws” is my new favorite phrase. Let me practice by using it in a sentence… “Jeff was terrible. I hated being under his paws.”

    1. Chrissi*

      I’ve heard “in his claws” and “under his thumb”, but not “under his paws”. I hear “paws” and think of adorable doggie paws, so it’s not as menacing as I think it’s supposed to be.

    2. Tinker*

      Yeah, I love it. Particularly evocative considering my little claw beast’s… expressive… use of the notion.

      (I swear like 50% of my thoughts anymore are either “aww, the kitten is cute” or “hmm, where is the kitten?”)

  12. Positivity Boy*

    While I think this guy is a passive aggressive jerk, I think there’s room to improve the relationship if you decide you can’t afford to drop him and you don’t want to just suck up his abuse moving forward. He is your client and you want to keep him happy, but in a way he’s also your boss/manager. Therefore I see this as essentially the same as your manager screwing you on your performance interview at the end of the year without ever giving you any negative feedback before that. Here’s roughly what I would say to him: “Based on the feedback I had been receiving from you throughout this process and my time working for you, I’ve been under the impression that my work was satisfactory. It’s disappointing to me to discover that my impression wasn’t accurate, but I’m also concerned that you don’t seem to feel comfortable giving me direct feedback – for example, I noticed you seem to have posted some negative comments about my work on Facebook, but none of this was ever said to me personally. I’m always happy to make adjustments and changes to whatever work I’m doing for you because I don’t want to waste your time creating something that’s not up to your standards, but I can’t act on feedback I don’t receive. If you’re going to continue to be my client, I think we’ll both be happier if you can let me know how you’re feeling about my work more regularly, rather than at the end of the project when it’s more inconvenient for both of us to try to fix an unsatisfactory product.”

    That last part is important because you need to remind him of the negative impact to himself of not providing feedback to you – focus it back on how this will help him in the long run (by not spending time and money for a product you ultimately don’t like) so that it doesn’t come off as you just complaining that he hurt your feelings.

    On an unrelated note, “under his paws” gives me quite a different image since my cat has a habit of guarding anything she thinks is distracting me from her – I’ll go to the bathroom and when she comes back she’ll have the TV remote or my cell phone under her paws so I have to pay attention to her before I can get it back!

    1. aebhel*

      The one problem I see with that is that it’s very easy for him to deny that the passive-aggressive Facebook posts were actually about the OP. “I wasn’t talking about you, you’re being paranoid,” etc.

      Never underestimate the depths to which passive-aggressive jerks will sink.

  13. the_scientist*

    When I was young (high school/early university) I was a director at the town’s municipal summer day camps. I had an employee who reported to me, but also to the supervisors of the camp he was placed at, ask for a reference. He was quite a bit older than me…like mid-twenties and in teacher’s college, so not 15 and in his first job, in which case I would have handled the situation differently.

    Anyways, rather than email me, he sent me a facebook message asking for a reference. It was the middle of finals, and I’d left the message a couple of days (maybe 48 hours) as I was busy. When I logged on to respond (with “sure, happy to help”), I noticed that he’d posted a passy-assy facebook status of “can’t believe how people can be so rude as to not respond to reference requests”. Like, come the heck on, dude. Anyway, I responded to his message and said “I saw your facebook status and I’m really disappointed. I’m also kind of hesitant to give you a reference following this because it strikes me as a bit unprofessional.” He was not an outstanding employee but I would have given a good if not exactly glowing reference had this not went down.

    He flipped out. Called me all sorts of vulgar names, insinuated that I was jealous because he dated a girl I was friends with, implied that he had some “dirt” on me for something sneaky and underhanded that I apparently did (news to me…..) and invoked the plausible deniability clause of “but you don’t KNOW that status was about me because I didn’t put your name in it”.

    Okay…..eye rolls forever. Way to prove that you are mature and rationale and understand how that status may have been taken negatively and how your social media presence can affect your job prospects. Or not.

  14. Not So NewReader*

    He is escalating. First he paid late. Now he pays late and passive-agressively slams you on FB.

    IF you keep going back to him his next stunt will be worse I promise.

    It started when he paid late and you did not make it clear that it was not okay. If another client does this be prepared with something: “I am going to need partial payment as a good faith gesture. I ordinarily do not do this and I will not be able to accept a late payment on the next project.” Whatever fits for you, but have a plan ready.

    This guy has more than one problem going on. I recommend not doing business with him.

    I have had a couple employers that would tell people to take their business elsewhere. They did it nicely, in a civil tone but they had to do it because of what the person was doing.

    1. Editor*

      NSNR makes an excellent point. If the OP doesn’t do any more work for this client, the client can only complain about the previous work (for which he underpaid). Accepting further work would allow him to continue to post snark, and I could see him actively warning potential clients from doing business with this freelancer. I think refusing future work from him is the safest thing to do, because if he continues to complain about your work, anyone who asks about it can be told that he’s a former client, so his comments were based on work “when I was just starting out.”

      The advice here about communicating with clients is good. OP might want to routinely get back to clients with the first 10 percent or 20 percent of a job with a checklist, saying something like, here’s a sample of the translation I am working on. Please get back to me if the format, tone or style of the translation, or other issues you have observed are a problem.

      If you could bill in increments and also specifically request feedback at each increment, I would think your cash flow would be better and your clients would have less cause for complaint because problems could be caught early (or neglectful clients could be reminded they had plenty of opportunities to say something before the job finished). Your agreement letter or contract with a client could state that failure to provide feedback about unsatisfactory work at the first or second increment will result in the client being billed at an hourly rate for changes that were not requested in a timely manner.

      As you freelance more, you get a feel for when a client is going to be a problem. The ones I tended to avoid were people who wanted me to do an editing job, and then kept calling with updates and changes that increased the amount of work. I got so I would point out during the phone call that this change was fine with me, but were they ok with the $x charge that would be added? Then I’d put the followup in writing before I did the work, doing a “pursuant to our discussion today, you want me to do x at an additional cost of $x, which may change the cost of the total project to $3x. Please confirm so I can proceed with the changes you have asked for.”

      Freelancing isn’t a business for people who don’t want to document, document, document. Experienced freelancers working for established clients may have less documentation to do or may be able to complete projects without submitting incrementals, but I would think translation would be one field in which samples of the partial project would be practical.

  15. thenoiseinspace*

    There’s a thing I like to call “The Asshole Threshold.” I’ve mentioned it on here before once or twice. The basic premise is that when you’re just starting doing freelancing, you’re going to run into a huge percentage of crazy jerks who can’t afford to go for the freelancers who have been in the business longer and can afford to tell them to buzz off. I had a client hire me for a freelance writing job, which quickly turned into her demands that I build her extremist animal charity a new website complete with a page about Elvis (again…I’m a writer, not a web designer. Also, Elvis? It wasn’t even based on “Hound Dog.”)

    Don’t sweat it. You’ve got to push past the cloud cover and break through the Asshole Threshold. If you’re good and keep at it, you won’t have to deal with them for much longer.

  16. K*

    The best thing you can do for yourself is to drop this client. He’s not worth the frustration and he’s going to keep getting worse.

    Consider rewriting your contracts to include a clause about late payment fees. If anyone is going to pay you late, well now the price just went up.

  17. Celeste*

    To me the worst part is him cutting your pay. That is separate from quality issues; as others have noted, it’s his job to give you feedback. I don’t know if you want to take work from him again, but I do think you need to stop “not minding” when somebody breaks the contract regarding pay. People like him seek out people who will take more responsibility than they should.

    1. Elizabeth*

      What’s problematic to me is that it sounds like he just unilaterally decided to change the pay. If the work you did was *truly* not up to snuff, it might be reasonable for him to ask to have it discounted – but not just to pay you less because he felt like it.

      Imagine this: You go to a restaurant and your dinner is poorly cooked. You have to have it sent back and re-made, which takes longer and inconveniences you. You do get the meal in the end, though. Ideal: The restaurant recognizes the inconvenience and offers you a discount or a free dessert or something. Reasonable: You calmly speak to the manager and request a discount. Unreasonable: During dinner, you first tell the waiter everything is fine but then complain loudly to your tablemates until the waiter comes back. When the bill comes, you just drop some cash – not the full amount – on the table and walk out.

  18. LeighTX*

    I’d also unfriend him on FB, or at least hide him so you don’t have to see his immature status updates anymore.

    1. HR lady*

      I agree, LeighTX! I find it hard to do business with someone I’m Facebook friends with.

      1. HR lady*

        It’s possible unfriending him now will set him off (if he notices – some people do – I’ve noticed, for example, when I happen to search for someone I thought I was friends with and realize they’ve unfriended me). So I’d at least hide him for now so you can’t see his status updates. Also make sure he can’t see any of yours that you wouldn’t want him to see.

  19. Mena*

    A passive-aggressive Facebook poster – do you really want to work for this person again? Oh, and he pays late.

    Please try to broaden your network so that you can move beyond this person.

    And yes, he should have contacted your with feedback on your work before jumping to Facebook. Another reason to avoid FB, especially in a professional sense.

  20. Andrea*

    -Why are you FB friends with him? Blurring boundaries between friends and clients is a red flag for me on your part.
    -Also, why would you accept a lowered payment from someone and 1) not address it with him and 2) accept more work from him? Again, more red flags. You need to act professionally as a professional.

    1. Elizabeth*

      It sounds like they met initially at a training program, and only later did the relationship become client/translator. But I think the OP should un-friend this person now.

    2. Hito*

      As a matter of fact, he was the instructor at the training program. It was meant to train people to translate and in disguise finding good translators for their own contact. After the program he added me but it was a teacher-student relationship. Later on he started subcontracting the work. I also never add people at work in FB but this was an exception. I accepted that payment only because I needed to gain more experience and contact. I did not expect him to be too suppressive and difficult to work with.

  21. The RO-Cat*

    Op, you say you just recently started freelancing, so I suppose you are in the early stages of building your client / prospects network. If this is true, then this is a stage where the probability to meet jerks is the highest. Also, your power to refuse or fire jerk clients is at its lowest. And, from what you write, this one client sends my jerk-o-meter in the RED zone.

    Still, when I was at the same stage (and had to deal with similar crap), I decided to see the nasty things as a price to pay for getting to later stages in the freelancing career. Yes, I had clients who paid late, less or not at all. In each case I proceeded to put in the balance what I lost (money, time, self-esteem) and what I gained (exposure, a growing list of customers, experience).

    It is up to you to measure, for each client, if it worth the hassle or not. If you decide to go ahead, take whatever precautions you can and be aware of what is probable to happen. You’ll arrive some day (hopefully for you sooner that later) at the happy moment when you’ll be able to say “Sorry, but I have to pass your order” (I got myself drunk that day, celebrating freedom). Until then, all these moments are just bricks you put into your own stairway to freelancer heaven.

  22. Anonsie*

    If that’s what he says about you where you can see it, imagine what he says about you to other people when he thinks you’ll never hear. Probably unwise to have a recurring client that will badmouth you to other potential clients.

  23. Amy*

    OP!!! I work in the translation industry as a Project Manager. Unless this guy is FLUENT in both the SOURCE and TARGET languages, then he has no business correcting your work. I outsource work ALL.DAY.LONG to translators. It’s fun! My best advice to you, being new to the industry – is to welcome the feedback. Language is an art, and it is subjective. If the client did not provide you with a glossary or terminology guide, then that’s his problemo. :-D
    PS – also, if this guy continues to grate on your nerves – depending on what your language pair is – there is A TON of work in this industry. A TON. I could probably help you out a bit too landing some work and also let you know of good resources as places to start.
    :-) Bonne chance!

    1. Amy*

      Now I’m getting mad for you…!!! Part of the formal translation cycle is TRANSLATION, EDITING AND/OR PROOFING. The whole point of a translation is to then have it edited by someone else, and then proofed by someone else. Then, (typically when you do work for big companies) the work goes to the client for a “client review” phase – this is where the client can suggest changes to the initial T/E (translation/editing). When the client is done making changes, the work then goes back to the translator, where the translator implements the suggested changes. This is all built in to the price (your rate).
      Whenever their is feedback – both positive and negative, we always pass it on to the translator. They like it because it helps them learn if they are translating text beyond their means, and also as a learning process.

      1. Translator!*

        OP, I just want to reiterate and extend on what Amy has said. I am also a freelance translator and have previously worked as a project manager, and it seems to me that this client of yours is fully taking advantage of the fact that you are new and inexperienced. Just because he has introduced changes does not mean that they are correct; you must remember that in this relationship you are the expert; he has deferred to you for your professional services.

        Secondly, as has been said DO NOT accept a change in price after delivery. I’m unaware of the process that you followed to confirm the work with him, but typically what you might want to do is, once having received the work, send him a formal quote, stating what the job is, delivery time, price and payment conditions. Then insist on confirmation of that quote in writing. That way you’ve set the working rules. Commonly, in this quote a translator indicates that post-delivery she allows a period (5 days or a week, for example) during which modifications or queries can be sent to her for review. This is considered part of your price and, therefore, changes do not entail a discount on the final price.

        Lastly, I would discourage you from accepting very low rates, as you are setting up the client to believe your work will be of low quality. You’re a professional once you start charging for your services, so believe in yourself!
        If in doubt, refer to your corresponding professional organisation, but normally has advcie for newbies; I’m UK based so can’t recommend but ProZ is a good international reference.

        Best of luck

    2. Jen in RO*

      If you don’t mind, could you explain a bit about how this can work for someone who doesn’t know both languages? Do you just pay a ton of attention to the references of the people you outsource to? I’m asking this as a former copy editor for translations (English to my native tongue) – some of them were beyond atrocious and sometimes I had to basically retranslate half the book. If you don’t know both languages, how can you protect yourself from such people?

      1. Elizabeth*

        It wouldn’t catch everything, but if you could get a native speaker to read the result you could at least find out whether it was grammatical and made sense. I’m sure you’ve read things in English that were poorly translated (manuals that come with low-end appliances, for example) and even though you don’t speak the original language – or even have the original to look at – you can tell they’ve been poorly translated because the phrasing is weird or the words used seem nonsensical.

      2. Amy*

        Yes – we source translators in all types of language pairs. Source language is the language you translate FROM. This language is your “second” language. Target language is the language you translate “INTO.” This is your native language.
        I review translator resumes, and make sure they have atleast 2 years of experience plus a college degree. Also, they should (or must) have a genre of specialty – legal, medical, technology. If I see a translator that claims that they can translate anything, I throw their resume away.
        Then, once I pre-qualify a translator, they get tested. To review the translation test, I have one of our best translators do the test review.
        If you are “the client” meaning you- as a copy editor, you need to make sure that you are working with a highly reputable translation company. The reason why I say this is because there are so many crap companies out there that think they can run their own show. They can’t. Special linguistic quality measures have to be in place.
        Part of the translation workflow is a “client review” process. This is when the fully translated, edited, and proofed file goes back to the client where they have their own people in specific countries review the translation. For example, and English into German translation would get reviewed by someone in the client’s company in Germany. If the client is too small or is not global, then the agency will (or should..) take extra in-house quality measures to make sure that the translation is accurate.
        Accuracy also can be substantiated by receiving a glossary and/or terminology guide from the client so that specific terms and jargon are not skewed during translation. If the client doesn’t have one, the translation agency can work with the client to create one.
        Translation is essentially a network of freelancers who work for multiple different agencies. Project Managers sit in the actual translation company and outsource all of the work globally, while working with the client. A liaison of sorts. When a project is complete, we will ask the client for feedback. If it’s negative, the work is discussed with the translator. Most agencies have “two strikes you’re out” policy with negative translations.
        (you should see the blacklists.. they are quite extensive!)

    3. Hito*

      He never instructed me what type of work he wanted. As a newbie in this business, I welcome feedback and constructive criticism which would really enhance my skills even further but what he did was a FB status update and waited for me to ask him.

      1. Amy*

        Fair enough. He should have given you specific instructions like this:
        Task: Translation
        Languages: English into Japanese (i’m guessing you are Japanese based off your name)
        Rate: whatever your rate is. If the job is 250 words or less, you give an hourly rate, under the assumption you can translate 250 words in one hour. (that is industry standard). If it is over 250 words, he would type in your per word rate. If you are using TM (translation memory) that would be longer because of fuzzy matches.

        For you, Hito, next time try asking some of the following questions:
        1. Who is the audience?
        2. Will this be published?
        3. What is the purpose of this translation?
        3. Can you provide any terminology guides/reference material?
        It’s ok, you’re a new to the field, you’ll get the hang of it!

  24. Ruffingit*

    Don’t work with this guy again. He sounds unprofessional and immature. Do whatever you can to build up your clientele, but leave this guy in the dust ASAP. It’s not worth the hassle.

  25. Anon30*

    I agree with what others have said here – If you can do without his business, then be rid of him. Even if those posts aren’t about you, they are not professional. And especially if your rates were already lower than average, then he has no business reducing your pay from what was initially agreed upon.

    I understand reducing someone’s pay if they didn’t complete the work or do it in a usable way, but if it was really only a few corrections, then he shouldn’t be reducing the pay or at the least he should have discussed it in a mature and professional manner. Perhaps start using contracts that don’t allow this in the future, especially if you keep him as a client.

  26. Ruffingit*

    Something this brings up as well – do you friend people you work for? I do not and never have on Facebook. There are just way too many landmines there. I’m much more comfortable not doing so. That is one thing that might save you some trouble OP – don’t friend people you work for. I realize there are reasons you might do this, but I try not to mix Facebook and business with the exception of friending co-workers who are actual friends outside of work.

  27. Irish Reader*

    I work in the translation field and this kind of thing happens a lot in the low-end part of the industry unfortunately. Quite often young translators are taken advantage of as they are too scared to push back on the client.

    Amy’s advice is great (Hi fellow Translation PM! :-) ).

    Please do look at creating some standard Terms & Conditions for your business so you can share these with prospective clients. In the case of disputes, you can refer them to this.
    For example, you could have a clause along the lines of “The client has two weeks to revert to Translator if the translation contains any significant errors that impacts the meaning of the text” (i.e. focus on real and actual errors instead of disputing synonyms that are just minor stylistic preferences)

    Don’t work with this person again. The relationship will not get better. As a former freelancer, trust me when I say you don’t want to work with a high-maintenance & low-paying difficult client.

    Don’t give any client reason to doubt the quality of your work, especially as you’re new. I would suggest teaming up with an experienced reviewer so they can check your work before final delivery to the client.

    Make sure your rate is enough to cover your time, the reviewer’s time and yield some profit margin. This ought to filter out of a lot of the cheap jerk clients too and you should hopefully then get a more professional client profile.

  28. Anne*

    I think some people just don’t think they can be held accountable for what they post on social media, for various reasons. They don’t realize just how public it is, they don’t think it’s legal for people to hold it against them, or maybe they just don’t take it very seriously, or think that other people don’t, and if anyone has a problem with what they post they can say “Don’t be so sensitive, it’s just facebook”? I don’t know. People just lose all common sense.

    A year or two ago, my husband and I were at an event at a club with some friends, and someone got really drunk and obnoxious and started yelling abusive crap at two of the people we were with. We laughed it off, I quipped back at her, and she threw a bottle at my face. I had blood from my cheekbone down to my Doc Martens and cheap alcopop in my hair. (Ew. Couldn’t have been a nice beer, I suppose.) Incredibly stupid of her, as everyone at the event was involved in the same scene and everyone in the room could identify her and get her contact details. But she was drunk.

    The topper was, though, that the next day (after we had been to the hospital and given a statement to the police, and presumably she’d had a chance to sober up), she posted a status on a social network: “Shit happened at Event last night, watch out, now you know my bite is worse than my bark!”

    Needless to say, the police were given screenshots. And funnily enough, her profile (and her husband’s) suddenly went private on the day she was arrested for assault.

    Some people just have NO CLUE, is what I’m saying, I guess. I don’t know why that is. Maybe they’re mentally stuck in high school, playing passy-assy drama monarch* games, with no common sense to tell them it can have real repercussions for their relationships, their career, their criminal record? I don’t know. It’s nuts.

    *Can I just say I love the terms the commenters here come up with? :)

    1. PucksMuse*

      I hate the “permission” people give themselves for this type of behavior with stupid sayings like, “My bite is worse than my bark!” or “I’m just a Mama Bear defending my cub!” No, this is the case of a dumbass, behaving like a dumbass.

  29. VictoriaHR*

    I would really recommend not friending your clients on FB. If he was a FB friend who became a client, I can see keeping him as a friend, but maybe hide his status updates so that you don’t become upset. Consider having a business FB page to connect with clients instead.

  30. PucksMuse*

    1) Send him an invoice for any unpaid bills.

    2) Defriend him on Facebook.

    3) Do not accept any more work from him. The price of working for him is too high.

  31. Trillian*

    Consider also that this may be a conscious tactic intended to manipulate you into accepting lowered rates and unacceptable working terms by feigning dissatisfaction. I once worked under a superior who used those tactics.

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