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You Too?

Somebody at ASET International had read the book and sent the “new supplier package” last Friday at 5:32 pm Central time – the time suggested to give your employees bad news or to fire them. The “package” was, in the words of one of the targeted suppliers, “over 6,000 words of dense legalese, much of it ranging from the ridiculous through the incomprehensible to the deeply objectionable.” I have to admit that for over a decade, ASET has been one of my favorite translation agencies and I felt a deep sense of disappointment. To quote Gaius Julius Caesar, Kevin: Καὶ σὺ τέκνον?

The vendor relations coordinator who sent out the package, inadvertently left open the mailing list, and when the first recipient hit the Reply button and asked to be taken off the supplier list, everybody on the list received that request. On Saturday, my inbox quickly filled up with messages from all different ASET suppliers, some known to me and some not. The general message: Forget about this contract you sent – or delete us from your database. By the end of Saturday there must have been close to 100 messages.

It was interesting to see a side of the business that normally remains hidden. Through a technical fluke, dozens of freelancers who did not know each other and normally have nothing to do with each other suddenly came together in protest against what they saw as an unfairly imposed contract that shifted the risk and financial burden mostly unto them. By 4:30 pm the Chief Operating Officer addressed the list and announced that the documents would be withdrawn and reworked.

Perhaps not such a bad outcome, but it still leaves me more cynical (and cautious) than before. When an agency after such a long time of cooperation drops such a “package” with such an ultimatum (“…content modifications to the Master Services Agreement and enclosed forms will not be accepted”) into my lap, I cannot but wonder how sincere their following retraction (after a storm of e-mail) is really going to be.


One Response to “You Too?”

  1. Bernie Bierman says:

    It was only yesterday that I obtained a copy of this famous or infamous contract. It happened to come on the heels of another that I inadvertently received from TransPerfect Translation. The latter is anemic compared to the ASET contract, but nonetheless contains its fair share of contractual malignancies. Anyway, the only question I have at this time is when did Kevin Hendzel transform himself from a Mensch into a Schwanz?


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