Moral dillema
Thread poster: Burrell

Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:51
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Jan 31, 2006

A couple of days ago I received a job from a client I had done one job for previously. I checked the new file and it turned out, at least to my eye, exactly the same as the previous text. I told this to the client and he replied that yes, the text is basically the same but with some changes. I received a PO for the full word count. Today I finally had time to deal with this job and to my astonishment it turned out the job was basically identical, the only thing I had to do was to manually adjust the segment language.
I am quite sure the client (agency) is charging their client regardless of what I tell or charge them. At the same time it does not feel right to charge for the same text I have already done before. Granted I did spend about half an hour on this job, but it is a lot less than the fee stated in the PO.
Any advice greatly appreciated.

Ines


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Steven Sidore  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:51
Member (2003)
German to English
As long as full disclosure is there.. Jan 31, 2006

I've had a similar situation more than once. In each case, I informed the client; once I negotiated a reduced rate, in the other cases the client (and we're talking about several different agencies here) simply instructed me to bill it as ordered.

As long as the full disclosure is there, I'm not sure where the dilemma is. We all have assignments that are much harder than they looked during quoting; the flip side is that sometimes the money falls into our laps too.


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:51
German to English
+ ...
I would insist on billing less (if at all). Jan 31, 2006

For the sake of argument, let's turn the situation around: If this were the other way around, i.e. a job that turned out to involve significantly *more* work like major formatting or DTP, outrageous amounts of research, 4 rounds of correcting proofs, or similar, I think it's fair to say that... a number of us? a majority of us?... would request extra compensation (like an hourly rate or a surcharge). This is how I have done it in the past and the vast majority of my clients accepts this.

Now don't you think it's fair and honest, if the situation is the way you describe it, that we return the favor? Especially if this is a good customer (i.e. good rate, paid their previous invoice on time, promising future together), I would be seriously inclined to either A) insist on billing them for only 1/2 hour, or 1 hour even, or your standard minimum charge, or B) (gasp) even comp this one, i.e. provide for free. My experience is that the client really appreciates the honesty, you cultivate a relationship of trust, and the good will you generate more than pays off in the future. I usually try to explain this to them in detail - not that they get the idea you are a pushover. But of course it depends quite a bit on the customer - is this a particularly lucrative client you'd like to keep for the future?

[Edited at 2006-01-31 11:26]


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Steven Sidore  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:51
Member (2003)
German to English
It's not the agency that's paying the price... Jan 31, 2006

Michele Johnson wrote:

Especially if this is a good customer (i.e. good rate, paid their previous invoice on time, promising future together)...


It's not the agency that is suffering from this, it is the end client. And in my situations, the end clients were all big corporations where one person had booked a translation some time ago. Now a new person had their position, had a document to translate, but didn't want the trouble or paperwork or whatever of explaining why the job was being done on the cheap. It was easier for them to simply pay for 'new work' and be done with it. Not particularly clever, but so goes it in corporate-land sometimes...

[Edited at 2006-01-31 12:56]


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Daniel Bird  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:51
German to English
The translation gods have smiled on you... Jan 31, 2006

...I think you have done everything necessary to maintain the client's goodwill, including making him look good with his client by giving virtually instant turnaround with zero risk. That's a priceless commodity in its own right so some might say in this case you have delivered more than you did the first time round.
Good on you,
DB


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Eva Blanar  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 22:51
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Don't be "a difficult person": enjoy your Xmas gift... Jan 31, 2006

Basically, this is what CATs are for: to save you work and time.
Your client is the agency and you told them about the situation (you did it well), now, don't pester them with further problems - hats off they do not want to make additional money on that, by the way. If you leave it as it is, everybody will be happy. If you insist, you might create confusion.
My view


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Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:51
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
30% discount and everyone’s happy Jan 31, 2006

Hi Burrell,
When this happens I will ask the agency if it needs translating before starting or when I realise it’s the same. Then if I still get the go-ahead I just tell the agency I’ve applied a 30% discount on delivery. That way they know how much (or little) the job has cost them, and can apply a discount for their client if they want.
Whether they do or not is their business, not mine.

30% is if it’s basically exactly the same, and your not using a CAT (in which case it will be higher than 30%). If it still takes you quite some time to do (copy/pasting or for layout work) you can calculate the time and charge an hourly rate or a percentage on the basis of how much work went into it, 5-30% discount or whatever you decide is right for you. You should decide of course, it’s your money.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:51
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Be honest with the client, but accept his decision Jan 31, 2006

Burrell wrote:
I received a PO for the full word count. Today I finally had time to deal with this job and to my astonishment it turned out the job was basically identical, the only thing I had to do was to manually adjust the segment language.


You brought the fact to the client's attention, and he said "it doesn't matter". Then... it doesn't matter.

I have a job here which I told the client would take several hours to complete, and the client added those hours to the PO. Then I discovered a computerised method of doing all the work in 5 minutes. I told the client that he's welcome to remove the extra hours, but he said that he's getting his money's worth either way, so we'll leave it there.


I am quite sure the client (agency) is charging their client regardless of what I tell or charge them.


Are you sure? Not necessarily. What if the agency has a standard markup based on percentage?


At the same time it does not feel right to charge for the same text I have already done before.


Ultimately two things matter: the client must get a product that is worth what he is paying for, and both the client and the translator must be satisfied with the deal they've struck.


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 13:51
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Similar thing happened to me... Jan 31, 2006

The other day I received some six PDF files with flyers for a product campaign. They were basically the same (a couple didn't have the last sentence, that one that really convinces you from the advertisement point of view), but the heading and introduction were identical.

Well, I've been working with this client for a while, so I didn't think twice and let them know what was going on and only charged them for the unique word count, since I'm using Trados and didn't have to do much after translating that first file... I didn't even go through calculating discounts or anything because this was a very small project (72 words), so I got it out of the way and the client was happy in getting it sonner than expected and even happier when they noticed I was being "fair" -- most of the times, project managers don't even know what's in the file, you know?

Anyway, I'm not sure if you're using a CAT tool, but if you are I'd go with discounts... If you can run a report and learn how many unique words you have there, charge the full price over this amount and sort out a discount for the rest. This will make you look professional, even though the final client will probably be paying the full price and etc...

I always see things this way: you do a good deed and good things get back to you


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:51
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Jan 31, 2006

Thank you everybody! In the end I charged them my minimum fee. I still have not lost any money on this only gained. This must have been the easiest assignment yet appart from a three word project when a client insisted I charge him my minimum fee.

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