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Client requesting discount - need advice
Thread poster: Shannon Summers

Shannon Summers  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:54
Member (2008)
French to English
Feb 11, 2009

A couple weeks ago, I translated a document for a new client (the 2nd project I've done for them) that consisted of handwritten doctor's notes. When I was first contacted by the PM about this job, one of the original requirements was that I would have to follow the same formatting as the source document (which was a PDF scan of a fax), which meant I would have recreate everything in Word (a big pain in the you-know-what). After learning about the required turnaround time (very short!), I told the PM that I could not deliver the file with those requirements within that timeframe if I had to follow the source formatting, but could try to deliver (it was less than 24 hrs later) if all I had to do was translate the handwritten text. She eventually got some extra time (an extra day), but never mentioned anything further about following the source formatting, so I proceeded to translate the handwritten text only.

After the job was completed, I was informed that they had to spend a considerable amount of time re-formatting my translation to match the source. Apparently, the PM sneaked in the source formatting requirement in the PO, which I overlooked. Now, my client is requesting a discount due to the extra costs they had to incur, even though they admit that the PM was wrong in not reminding me of the change in instructions. Regarding the translation itself, it was of high quality (they made only 1 or 2 changes, and it was because the handwritten text was illegible to me), and the rates I charged was for the translation only - they do not pay on top of that for the formatting recreation.

I have now learned my lesson to never accept a job that requires recreation of the source formatting unless I get paid for it, but I still have to deal with the issue of the client requesting the discount. I have not yet responded to them, as I was hoping for some of your people's advice. I really don't feel I should honor the discount, since a) they admitted their PM was wrong, and b) I wouldn't have gotten paid extra if I had done the extra re-creation work anyway.

Thoughts?


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kimjasper  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:54
Member (2006)
English to Danish
+ ...
Main learning Feb 11, 2009

Quite frankly I think the main learning is always to read the PO. The PO constitutes the moment of truth in the order and I am not sure I think the PM snuck it in - with giving you a day extra they may have been in good faith. Bottom line is that you did not deliver against the order so you I think it is fair to give the customer a discount.

Kim


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:54
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Similar situation Feb 11, 2009

I recently had a similar situation as you. A client requested a discount after delivery of the translation "because I hadn't followed the formatting of the source text". In fact, as requested, I had overtyped the source file - which had been very oddly formatted - and the job took me much longer than normal. As far as I was able I did follow the formatting. However, the client made quite a fuss about it. As this was a good client who sends me a lot of work I did reluctantly agree to a modest discount, they accepted it and since then they have sent me plenty more work with no problems. In your case, this is not exactly a well-established client, so it may not be worth offering the discount. Only you can decide. Annoying, isn't it?
Best of luck,
Jenny.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:54
French to German
+ ...
Half and half Feb 12, 2009

As this situation is rather foggy and that you had to keep the formatting of handwritten documents (if I understand your post), I would go for half of the discount your client asks you for - as a maximum!

Laurent K.


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:54
Dutch to English
+ ...
Agree with Jenny Feb 12, 2009

I had a similar situation too and have learnt my lesson. Now I politely refuse these jobs. They can find another mug.

I would just offer them a small discount and move on.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:54
Italian to English
+ ...
Genuine misunderstanding Feb 12, 2009

It sounds like a genuine misunderstanding to me - they probably thought the fact that they'd given you an extra day meant that it was implicit you had to do the formatting, you obviously didn't realise that.
Not sure I understand your point about "I wouldn't have gotten paid extra if I had done the extra re-creation work anyway" - surely if you weren't being paid extra for the formatting, that's more of a reason for them to expect a discount because you didn't do it?

I have to confess that with this type of job (of which I do a lot), I take it as given that I have to reproduce the formatting of the original, which often involves creating a lot of extremely tedious tables - some of the information in there would be meaningless without the formatting (temperature and blood pressure charts, for example).

In any case, whether you agree to apply their discount or try to get them to meet you half way depends on how important you think they'll be to you in the future. I certainly don't think (in this very specific case) that they're being unreasonable in asking for a discount - it sounds like they're acting in good faith.

[Edited at 2009-02-12 08:46 GMT]


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:54
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
translations vs. formatting Feb 12, 2009

Shannon Summers wrote:

Regarding the translation itself, it was of high quality (they made only 1 or 2 changes, and it was because the handwritten text was illegible to me), and the rates I charged was for the translation only - they do not pay on top of that for the formatting recreation.
...
I really don't feel I should honor the discount, since a) they admitted their PM was wrong, and b) I wouldn't have gotten paid extra if I had done the extra re-creation work anyway.

Thoughts?


The few times I've accepted reformatting, which is extremely time-consuming, I've charged extra. So if the rate is X for the translation, it becomes X + X% surcharge for translation plus reformatting. The surcharge can vary, but I think that 20-30% extra is fairly normal (you can check other forums as I'm pretty sure this has been discussed).

On this job you charged only X and not the extra percentage, so they owe you X, plain and simple. I think it's terrible that they expected you to do that for free. I'd be willing to bet that they're charging the end customer for it!
I don't know how important they are to you as a customer, but I would stand my ground on this one.
Catherine


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:54
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some points Feb 12, 2009

Shannon Summers wrote:
1. one of the original requirements was that I would have to follow the same formatting as the source document
2. I told the PM that I could not deliver the file with those requirements within that timeframe if I had to follow the source formatting, but could try to deliver (it was less than 24 hrs later) if all I had to do was translate the handwritten text.
3. She eventually got some extra time (an extra day)...


So, the original request was "translation and formatting", to which you responded "there is not enough time for formatting", which to the PM meant "she can do the formatting if she has more time". The PM then offered you more time, and you accepted the job. It seems pretty clear to me. By now accepting the job with the new extra time, you were implying that the additional time was sufficient to satisfy the original requirement of "not enough time".

Apparently, the PM sneaked in the source formatting requirement in the PO, which I overlooked.


I thought the source formatting requirement had been there all the time.

...even though they admit that the PM was wrong in not reminding me of the change in instructions.


Are they really admitting it, or are they dummy-admitting it? I mean, do they really mean that they've made a mistake, or are they simply trying to come across as apologetic and hence non-confrontational?



[Edited at 2009-02-12 12:45 GMT]


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Shannon Summers  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:54
Member (2008)
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Good points Feb 12, 2009

Thank you all for your comments. I think I will agree to a modest discount and write it off in my learning lesson pile.

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