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Urgent translations - do you charge extra?
Thread poster: ~Ania~

~Ania~  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:23
Polish to English
+ ...
Mar 20, 2008

Hello everyone, I have recently been given a translation to do which was needed for the next day (5 am) or same day. In such cases do you charge extra ie do you put a surcharge on top of your standard translation fee? It makes sense to me as I had to work through most of the night to get it done, and as it was for a high profile business meeting, it had to be word perfect.
If you charge a surcharge for urgent (ekspresowe) translations how much extra and how do clients respond - are they reasonable about this or do they try to argue their way out of paying the extra fee? Any advice would be very much appreciated - thank you.

[Edited at 2008-03-20 11:59]


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Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Belize
Member
Dutch to German
+ ...
Yes, yes and again yes Mar 20, 2008

Night work (unless I opt for it myself while I could theoretically get the job done during the day) means 100% surcharge in my case. Which - of course - in some cases means that I do not get the job. Their decision, but I have made my point clear: you wanna ruin my night - you pay for it.

[Edited at 2008-03-20 12:14]


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:23
Italian to English
+ ...
In general, no Mar 20, 2008

But I no longer work into the small hours on a translation. If I haven't got time to do it in "normal" working hours (between 8 am and 7 pm), I won't do it at all.

In your case, I would make it clear before starting the job that a surcharge would be applied. It doesn't sound as if you did that - or am I wrong? It wouldn't be ethical to tell the client that you wanted to apply a surcharge after you'd already agreed to do the job, and especially not if you've already done it.

As to amount, I'd say 150% of your normal rate would be reasonable.

I've only had one case where I applied a surcharge, and it was actually the agency that offered it. While I was in the middle of a translation, the end client suddenly decided they wanted their document back a day earlier than had originally been agreed (at then end of the next day rather than the day after), and the very apologetic PM begged me to do all I could to get it done in time, saying that of course the rate would be increased - by about 40% in that case.

[Edited at 2008-03-20 12:17]


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Kristina Kolic  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 08:23
Member (2007)
English to Croatian
+ ...
Definitely an extra charge Mar 20, 2008

I fully agree with Wolfgang!

If a client wants and needs a job to be done overnight (night work), than this client must also be ready to pay for it. I also charge 100% more for such night jobs. And I have never seen a client complaining about that (provided that you tell this to your client when negotiating the job and not after the job, of course).


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~Ania~  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:23
Polish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your comments.. Mar 20, 2008

The translation wasn't given to me until mid morning and as it was long (over 3,000 words) and technical (specialist subject) I would say it would have been hard to get it done before 4pm AND get it right. As to working through the night, I don't mind that so much as I often work at night (peace and quiet, no distractions from anyone etc.) but I just feel that the same rate should not be applicable to translations that are needed within 3-7 days and ones which are required immediately.

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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:23
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
My new system of quoting possible deadlines to clients Mar 20, 2008

Hi Ania,

My new system of quoting deadlines to clients, especially those who want a long translation within 12 to 24 hours, is: "Now let me see, that would be a total of at least 18 hours' work...., so I could do it for you in a minimum of 3 working days. Now, let's see.... today is Thursday, and today I am already fully occupied. I could do 6 hours on Friday, 6 on Monday, and 6 on Tuesday... so that would bring us to 5 p.m. on Tuesday/9 a.m. on Wednesday ..... " until they start to get the message. In practice, I may still do some of it at the weekend, but that is then my business.

For urgent jobs that are still within reason (immediate, in the middle of the day, if I have time at that moment), I charge 20% extra.

Astrid


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:23
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Discourage what you don't want Mar 20, 2008

Definitely discuss surcharges (if you're going to apply them) before you start the job. Some clients, when told they can save considerable sums by delaying things, will choose to do so.

Lots of businesses charge surcharges for things that make it inconvenient for them. For example, FedEx charges a fee if you put the wrong ZIP code on a package.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:23
French to English
I can either do it by the deadline, or I can't... Mar 20, 2008

.... and paying me double (or whatever) is not going to alter that fact.

And that is basically that. I had to explain this to a direct client the other day, as he wanted to pay double to jump to the front of the queue.
I can see WHY other people charge more, if their weekends or evenings are sacrosanct, or if they are prepared to re-negotiate other deadlines to deal with urgent jobs, then fine, ask for extra, good luck to you

But mine aren't and I'm not, so I don't.


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~Ania~  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:23
Polish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
But what is standard practice in the translation industry? Mar 20, 2008

I think that's what I am really getting at. Obviously, the rate you charge and whether you charge extra or not is your own business if you are a freelancer. I know of some translation companies in Poland which charge more for urgent work, but I am not sure what the standard is in the UK.

I actually did another urgent (next day) job for this client and quoted the standard rate (no surcharge) - as it was my first job for this client. Then when he gave me more work, which was even more urgent (same day) he expected me to do it at the same rate, so when I quoted him the rate plus surcharge he asked why I can't do it at the rate as before? He has agreed to pay a surcharge if that is the accepted standard - he doesn't get a lot of translations done so he isn't sure himself what the standard is.

So I guess I just want to get it right for the future

AS to the deadline, it was completely immovable as the business meeting was taking place next day.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:23
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
It is not your responsibility if they forgot to plan ahead Mar 20, 2008

Ania B wrote:

AS to the deadline, it was completely immovable as the business meeting was taking place next day.


I have clients too who sometimes have a business meeting on a Monday, for which they would like a translation, but forget to give it to me before the weekend. Aside from the fact that I don't encourage the bad habit of giving the translator work on a Friday evening to do for Monday morning, if the client then forgets anyway, and gives it to me on Monday morning, but the meeting is also at 10 a.m. on Monday morning, that is just too bad for them, isn't it? Nothing to do with me! Your client should allow a sufficient number of days before the business meeting to get the translation done, or otherwise hand out the translation to all parties at a later date, a few days after the meeting, once it is ready.

To put it another way, they ought not to be able to find a translator if they think about the matter too late.

Astrid


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:23
Member
English to French
50% surcharge Mar 20, 2008

If my workload is already full and a customer wants something anyway, I can handle it (after hours, over the weekend, immediately, whatever) if I feel like it. My free time costs more than my working time because it's more scarce.
I just make it clear that it will cost them 50% more than usual. You then realise that urgent jobs are sometimes not that urgent.

Paul's advice sums up the situation.

Philippe


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:23
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
No Mar 20, 2008

Ania B wrote:
Hello everyone, I have recently been given a translation to do which was needed for the next day (5 am) or same day. In such cases do you charge extra ie do you put a surcharge on top of your standard translation fee?


If you have regular clients, you could impose a rush rate in an attempt to prevent them from commissioning rush jobs.

But rush jobs invariably mean that you do *a lot* more work (well, it feels more because it is compressed) with a lot less sleep. So, a rush job tonight will affect your ability to work tomorrow. Therefore the rush job's money must cover not just the "after hours" rate one would normally expect but also the money lost because you can only do 4000 words the next day instead of your usual 7000. Folks charging 50% extra for rush jobs don't really charge rush rates, because the extra 50% doesn't sufficiently cover the inconvenience.

The prime reason for a rush rate is not to make rush jobs worth your while, but... to prevent them from happening!

So, I don't charge rush rates. If I can do a job, I charge the normal rate. If I can't do the job, then I say so. And I need my sleep, so that is factored into the answer (even though it is never mentioned).

If you do have a rush rate, people will expect it to be less than double your normal rate, because they're used to dealing with large companies with more resources and more flexibility to absorb the real, unmentioned costs of rush jobs.


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 02:23
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
Friday afternoon Mar 20, 2008

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Aside from the fact that I don't encourage the bad habit of giving the translator work on a Friday evening to do for Monday morning
Astrid


Definitely. In my experience, charging more for weekend and rush jobs helps eliminate this problem. I think it helps clients remember to get the translation assigned before the last minute

Nancy


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:23
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Also remember, you are a freelancer... Mar 20, 2008

Ania B wrote:
The translation wasn't given to me until mid morning and as it was long (over 3,000 words) and technical (specialist subject) I would say it would have been hard to get it done before 4pm AND get it right.


...and freelancers have more spare time.

(waiting for the flames)

What I mean is that as a freelancer you can decide that you want to put in 4 hours in the morning, then do urgent shopping for 3 hours and then put in 2 x 2 hours later in the day (afternoon and evening). Or, as in my case, I work 5 hours in the morning, and then I often take the afternoon off because its my turn looking after the children (although they generally keep themselves busy anyway). After dinner I do 2 or 3 hours more. This must be one of the greatest advantages of being a full-time freelancer.

But... if a client gives you a 6-hour piece of work in the morning and expects it to be done by 15:00 in the afternoon, you have to cancel your shopping trip and you have to put up with more stress because there's both the job and the kids, and it would feel a lot better if you got something extra for all this trouble, wouldn't it?

That said, I stick to my first answer -- no rush rates for me.


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 02:23
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
I made the same point last December Mar 20, 2008

Charlie Bavington wrote:
I can either do it by the deadline, or I can't...
.... and paying me double (or whatever) is not going to alter that fact.



I had to point that out to a client who had reserved my services ahead of time for the first two weeks of December, but the project did not materialise until the 18th. Well, my children's school was beginning the Christmas break, my brother-in-law and his wife were coming down from Toronto for the holidays... IOW my whole schedule had changed at this late date. The client wanted to throw money at me - so I could have several thousand words translated for Jan 2. I had to explain that extra money is very nice, but does not change the fact that I remained absolutely unable to take on the project through the holidays. Guess what? In the end, it was in fact possible to extend the deadline... and everybody wins - their budget is unaffected, and I did not work day and night through the holiday season. The manual still got published!!

Nancy


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