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Company trying to deduct 25% of the word count AFTER the fact
Thread poster: Taylor Kirk

Taylor Kirk  Identity Verified

Local time: 02:09
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Mar 26, 2009

I just finished translating 16 documents for a very large company, only for the company to announce to all the translators working on this particular project that they would be deducting 25% from the word count because there were placeables in it. (words in the target language, numbers, etc.). I did not include any numbers in my translations unless they had to be manipulated in some way, and there was very little I did not have to translate in the documents I had anyway. When I told them this they then asked how many hours I worked on the project, which I of course did not calculate because I am paid by the word. This is a large company with a good BB rating and I do not understand how they could possibly get away with this. Has anyone had an experience like this? I have NEVER had a client unilaterally inform me that they were deducting anything from the word count.

Extremely frustrated.


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Stéphanie Soudais  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:09
Member (2006)
English to French
PO? Mar 26, 2009

They did not send you a PO stating the number of words and price to be paid? They have to comply with it. Moreover did you translate with a CAT tool or did you have to type all these words - even if they were not to be translated?

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Riens Middelhof  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:09
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
counterproposal Mar 26, 2009

You might suggest in a reply to deduce all periods and commas too. Do not to forget to include an additional bonus discount for words like "no" which are the same in English and Spanish.

/ironic mode off

Anyway, placeables and numbers cost you at least as much time as running text, so I wouldn't accept a discount.



[Edited at 2009-03-26 12:18 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:09
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A PO? Mar 26, 2009

Did you have one?

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Igor Indruch  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 09:09
English to Czech
It is not possible... Mar 26, 2009

All conditions including those regarding repetitions etc. should be agreed before the job is assigne. Company has no right to change conditions after the job is finished. It is entirely their fault if they did not analysed the text before assignements.

However, you might no be able to do nothing against that. In such case just wait for the payment and then stop working for them and make a negative BB entry.

BTW: Is it US agency?

[Edited at 2009-03-26 12:25 GMT]


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 09:09
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Clarification Mar 26, 2009

taylorreigne wrote:

I did not include any numbers in my translations unless they had to be manipulated in some way,


Not sure if I'm reading you right here? Are you saying that you didn't include the numbers in your WORD COUNT for the translation?

It sounds anyway as if this blanket 25% deduction is grossly unfair in your case, even if we agreed that a deduction should be made at all. If you did include unchanged placeables and numbers in your word count, perhaps it would be worth the bother of recounting and giving them a revised word count for bill calculation, saying that you cannot accept the 25% discount since it didn't reach this much in your case. That is, of course, if you haven't got an original PO making no mention of placeables etc, in which case they shouldn't (in an ideal world) have a leg to stand on.

And if you lose this battle, yes, as Igor recommends, wait until they've paid you their pittance, and then file the BB report, NOT before!!


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Andreas Kobell  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
PO already received? Mar 26, 2009

As Stéphanie already mentioned, an agency should send you the PO stating number of words to be translated and rates paid for the task even before or at least in the early stages of a project.

Anyway, have you already told them you do not know how many hours you needed for the job? In case not, just make up a number of hours that closely matches the total amount of money you would have made with this job if all words had been paid for. And forget about having any qualms doing so, it's been the agency showing unethical behaviour in the first place.

If you do not want to proceed this way (and you do not have a PO), and this is an important client you want to keep for what reason ever, try negotiating. Offer a small discount, about 5% and see how they react. Do not sell yourself cheap, if they value your work they might even offer themselves to decrease the deduction of 25%.

Good luck!


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ibz  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:09
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
No charge for blanks, either Mar 26, 2009

This just reminds me of the old discussion about not counting blanks when calculating a rate per line... This is absurd. If they do not want to pay you for placeables, you actually should have sent them a document without these words / numbers.
Note: It would be different, if they had stated this right from the beginning, but deducing 25% afterwards seems unfair, the say the least.

Good luck!


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Spencer Allman
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:09
Finnish to English
Don't work for them again Mar 26, 2009

And give as low as pssible a rating on Blueboard to protect other translators

Cowboys are bad enough at the best of times, but these days translators need to protect themselves against shaprp practice

best

s


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Rui de Carvalho  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 08:09
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Usual method for that company Mar 27, 2009

The name of the company was not mentioned, but many of us are certainly acquainted with the "artists" name, they have been using the trick repeatedly. Their BB rating is good because they are protected my Proz staff who censor the bad entries, like they did with mine.

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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:09
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Stick to your guns Mar 27, 2009

If the "artists" hint Rui gives means it's who I think it is, they tried to get a discount off me two or three years ago on a huge job, the day before final delivery. It was a rolling-delivery agreement, and so at that stage they already had the whole lot delivered except for about a thousand words. The job was ultra-technical, and also their client had insisted on certain terminology. I used all this special vocabulary and also, because I'm a stickler for detail, for three weeks I made enquiries and suggestions about it all, with not one response ever, nothing. You can imagine how stunned I was when after all this they claimed their client had just looked through the job, and was looking for a discount because the proper terminology hadn't been used, which it had (months later my translation appeared on their client's website, 100% word for word).

But I wouldn't accept a discount, and to their credit they paid up every cent at payment date, so I think it's something they try on to see what happens.

Refuse, and bombard them with e-mails, and they'll probably pay you.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:09
Member
English to French
About installing goalposts before playing football Mar 27, 2009

Even if you start translating before an actual PO is raised (whatever reason, tight deadlines, mutual trust, etc., happens to me all the time), you should always state wordcount, rate and deadline date/hour/time zone in an email and have the other party agree on figures. Even more so with unknown customers.

I have seen my share of tricks of any kind to lower the overall fee (for repeats, full matches, numbers, volume, tables, what-have-you), and I know you can't always predict what rabbit "they" will pull out of their hats. But the more experience you get, the better you protect yourself from these practices. This also results in turning down more jobs when terms don't suit you, so that you can let other translators fall into the trap.

A 25% decrease in revenue is a hell of a lot, though.
My sympathy.

Philippe

[Edited at 2009-03-27 10:00 GMT]


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:09
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
That is a very serious accusation Mar 27, 2009

Rui de Carvalho wrote:

The name of the company was not mentioned, but many of us are certainly acquainted with the "artists" name, they have been using the trick repeatedly. Their BB rating is good because they are protected my Proz staff who censor the bad entries, like they did with mine.


Can you let us know exactly what happened?


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:09
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
immediate BB entry Mar 27, 2009

I'd make an immediate BB entry even simply for trying this, and there are other sites we are almost all members off so placing a warning there with your experience is something you can do (as a reply to payment practice inquiry for instance)...

Trying for a reduction after delivery might be OK, business wise, but trying to exploit translators by insisting on them for dubious reasons is quite another...

Ed


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Taylor Kirk  Identity Verified

Local time: 02:09
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
UPDATE Mar 27, 2009

Thank you for your comments and support everyone. I sent the company information showing all the translation that had been done for each document, and they agreed on my original word count. I cannot help but wonder how they dealt with other translators. As suggested by many I rejected the deduction but I am still rattled by the fact that they did it in the first place. I'm going to wait on payment for a BB entry, because other than this unusual experience they were fine to work with.

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