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When the PO does not reflect/account for the hours spent
Thread poster: Maurice Devroye

Maurice Devroye
United States
Local time: 21:37
English to French
May 24, 2008

What do you do in this situation:

1. A PM asks you to accept a proofing job and you do
2. The PM creates a 4 hour PO for the job
3. It's taking you at least twice longer to complete the tasks assigned?

Would you, after you complete the tasks:

1. Send a 4 hour invoice and say that everything went smoothly or
2. Ask the PM to review the PO (or create a new one) to make it reflect the actual number of hours you spent “on the job”?

Which feedback works best in your experience? Thank you.

In this case, the client, still fairly new to me, is a well known and important agency. They seem to always ask you to commit to a job before putting together the final PO and I refused some jobs because of this practice.





[Edited at 2008-05-24 14:34]


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Boris Sigalov
Local time: 04:37
English to Russian
~ May 24, 2008

Maurice Devroye wrote:

2. The PM creates a 4 hour PO for the job


Maurice:

Why did the PM create a 4 hour PO? Why not 2 or 8? How was that figure determined? What was mentioned in your quote for the job?

I usually do it this way:

- quote my hourly rate for the job
- if the client accepts my terms I do the job tracking the time spent
- multiply the hourly rate by hours spent and send an invoice


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Steven Sidore  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:37
Member (2003)
German to English
This is something that needs to be agreed upon first May 24, 2008

Do you see the documents first or not?

Proper estimation is your responsibility as a freelancer. If you had an opportunity to see the document--and you should ALWAYS ask to see the document--and felt the four hours were fair, you're on the hook for any extra time.

If you didn't have a chance to see the document, i.e. asked and were refused, then you shouldn't have been accepting a contract with a fixed hour count in the first place.

I see only one situation where you can ask for more money: if there was a problem with the document not evident to a reasonable first inspection for estimation purposes. A good example of this would be a document where the border was set incorrectly and so the last letters of all the lines gets chopped off, meaning you have to fix it. That's happened to me before, and then you can complain.

Good luck!


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:37
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Take the long view May 24, 2008

I'd simply explain that it took more time than anticipated and ask to have the PO adjusted or reissued. Guide yourself by the response in determining whether to continue to work with them.

You can also try to get a feel about whether you can expect to get more work of this sort or better work from them.

At the very least, your client should be aware that sending a similar job and expecting it back in 5 hours is unrealistic.


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bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:37
English to French
+ ...
Always warn before you reach the PO May 24, 2008

There is certainly an hypocrisy with pretending that proofreading is charged on an hourly basis, as translation agencies usually cap the number of hours in a surprising way (1,000 words an hour... why 1,000? because it is the translator average or because it's handy for them?).
The actual amount of work is unpredictable when you don't know the translator (and because translator and proofreader are usually chosen together, you have no way to commit on a work that you have evaluated beforehand).
What I usually do :
- I avoid to proofread translators that I don't know.
- I try to negociate with the PM to use all avaialable small jobs to test new translators, hence avoiding big problems on urgent, long jobs, when they search translators in urgency.
- If I run into problems when proofreading, I alert the translation agency as early as possible and before reaching the total mentioned in the PO. If the job is long enough, I stop. Otherwise, I know that I will usually have to share the risk with the agency (like charging at discounted rate). If I do, of course I will decline similar proofreading jobs after that.
In your case, of course you must inform the PM. (Twice the time is a lot of difference! You cannot say that it ran smoothly!) You must inform the PM BEFORE preparing your invoice, and see his/her reaction.
When you have reached an agreement, you can bill. In any case, consider this as a "lessons learned" about how to deal with this PM regarding proofreadings... You are lucky that it was a relatively small job.


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Maurice Devroye
United States
Local time: 21:37
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Other details and contextual info May 24, 2008

Thanks, all, for the quick replies.

It's not a 4 hour deadline: I have 3 days to finish the assignment.

The job offer says it's some 9200 words long, feasible in 4 hours, I guess (provided the translation is not sub-standard, which is the case). But there are 179 files, some manipulations of clean and unclean files (nothing unusual), then this added wish: "If there's time, please perform an LQI during proofing. It can be a quick LQI (just noting the numbers and kind of errors)." I asked the PM what LQI stands for and am still wondering. Does anybody know?

I try to stay away from proofing jobs in general, with mixed results. And, on one occasion before, I did get the PM (not from the same agency) to rectify the PO. When do agencies decide to use an hourly rather than a per word rate , I wonder.


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xxx1279
Local time: 21:37
Language Quality Inspection May 24, 2008

Maurice Devroye wrote:

I asked the PM what LQI stands for and am still wondering. Does anybody know?





I'd never heard of LQI before this thread either, but it's listed on a website I use fairly frequently to check acronyms. See link.

http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/LQI


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bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:37
English to French
+ ...
4 hours to proofread 9,200 words scattered in 179 files? May 24, 2008

Personnally, I am NOT able to proofread 9,200 words scattered in 179 files in 4 hours. But if you did accept, probably others will, and it may become the norm for POs very quickly.

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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:37
English to Dutch
+ ...
Me neither May 24, 2008

bohy wrote:

Personnally, I am NOT able to proofread 9,200 words scattered in 179 files in 4 hours. But if you did accept, probably others will, and it may become the norm for POs very quickly.


I couldn't do that either, and I'm a very fast reader....

Calculation:
if it takes you half a minute to switch from one file to the next, that alone would cost you 1.5 hours (90 minutes - 179:2)

Than that would leave you with 2.5 hours for 9200 words; that's nearly 3700 words per hour. Sounds like a lot to me....

By the way, IMHO this is a good example of why jobs like these should be calculated by the hour, rather than per word. The amount of time spent on handling the files makes a big difference here.

I'd ask the PM to adjust the PO.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:37
French to English
In my experience... May 24, 2008

... since you asked!

Maurice Devroye wrote:
Which feedback works best in your experience? Thank you.

If a client tells me they have X hours budget for proofreading a given project (which is effectively what appears to have happened here), and if it is clear that X hours is not enough, I always write immediately saying "You have a choice. I can do X hours, and stop. Or I can do it all, which will take Y hours. Please advise." (Y hours, of course, is my estimate.)
They usually go with Y.

But I try to avoid that kind of situation these days.
In fact, I try to avoid proof/review/revision completely, but if I do it, I prefer to see the file first, and then give an estimate of how long.
I got caught out a couple of times, in your sort of situation, so when it comes to proof reading, I do NOT accept someone else's estimation any more!


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Me neither either May 25, 2008

Margreet Logmans wrote:

bohy wrote:

Personnally, I am NOT able to proofread 9,200 words scattered in 179 files in 4 hours....


I couldn't do that either, and I'm a very fast reader....

Calculation:
if it takes you half a minute to switch from one file to the next, that alone would cost you 1.5 hours (90 minutes - 179:2)...


Just for the record, in my language pair, the fastest proofreading rate I was ever "given" by an agency was 1800 target words/hour - and in some cases the translation was so bad, it did take me at least twice the projected time to finish.

As some have said, if I accept a proofreading based on pre-stipulated hours, I will only do so with the caveat that I will communicate with the PM as soon as there is any indication that the quality of the text will necessitate more proofreading time; I will either make sure that I am either given more billable hours, or that they know the project will not be finished.

I'm not sure what to tell you if you've already finished a job without talking to the client/agency. You can always try to bill more hours, but if you didn't stipulate in advance that the hours may change, and especially if they claim to have a "fixed budget", your demand may fall on deaf ears.

Good luck!!!


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There is no reason to be happy in unhappy proposal May 25, 2008

Probably the agency you are referring is same as where my experience is derived, because this is only agency who tells how many hours to take for proofreading.
There are several scenarios in my encounter with them, or otherwise similar situation.

1) I ask the file, which they usually provide for my perusal.
2) If proposed amount is reasonable, I accept with reasonablly good faith gesture (i.e. with a bit of sacrifice in my side).
3) When the proposed hour estimation is clearly unreasonable, I give my estimation.
On this, they a) give in, or b) leave me alone.
The ratio? 50-50
4) However, when the quality of translation is poor, I definitely turn down the job offer. Reason? Needless to say. It takes too much time, and cost account doesn't justify.


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Boris Sigalov
Local time: 04:37
English to Russian
ABSOLUTELY UNREALISTIC! May 25, 2008

Maurice Devroye wrote:

I asked the PM what LQI stands for and am still wondering. Does anybody know?


LQI = Language Quality Inspection


Maurice Devroye wrote:

The job offer says it's some 9200 words long, feasible in 4 hours, I guess (provided the translation is not sub-standard, which is the case). But there are 179 files


9200 words in 179 files in 4 hours? ABSOLUTELY UNREALISTIC! At least for me... I wouldn't be able even to read that much in 4 hours nothing to say about the attempt to PROOFread... I would never accept such an offer.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
You accepted the PO... May 25, 2008

Maurice Devroye wrote:
1. A PM asks you to accept a proofing job and you do
2. The PM creates a 4 hour PO for the job
3. It's taking you at least twice longer to complete the tasks assigned?


The client prefers to know in advance how much the job will cost him. He estimates that it will take you four hours. By accepting the PO, you are accepting his estimate.

1. Send a 4 hour invoice and say that everything went smoothly or
2. Ask the PM to review the PO (or create a new one) to make it reflect the actual number of hours you spent “on the job”?


Inform the client that it took you eight hours, but tell him that you will honour the original PO, and invoice him for four hours. An agreement is an agreement.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
More numbers... May 25, 2008

Maurice Devroye wrote:
The job offer says it's some 9200 words long...


And since this is proofreading, it means you have to read the text in two languages, so multiply the word count by two. Can you read 18400 words in four hours?


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