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Surcharge for atrocious source language quality?
Thread poster: Klaus Herrmann

Klaus Herrmann  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:31
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Jul 5, 2006

Most of us will have encountered sub-standard source text, often translated into English by non-native speakers, My question to the community, assuming that the mistakes from the source are not supposed to be repeated in the target:

Are you charging a surcharge, and if so, by time or as a pecentage on top of the word rate?

One of the (easy) gems in my current text: anti-microbiocidal that's germophil, I guess, it's now antibakteriell in German. (If the whole text was a good as this; I wouldn't even ask because it's really a no-brainer...)


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:31
English to French
+ ...
I establish the rate accordingly Jul 5, 2006

Hi Klaus,

I don't have a fixed rate for my language pairs. I prefer to see the document I will be required to work on and then I quote a per word rate based on the quality of the source document, as well as some other factors (for example, the rate will be higher if I have to work with a PDF as a source document).

Of course, I take into consideration poor quality source text, and when proofing/editing, I take into account the quality of the translation. In my case, it's not a surcharge, it's rather the rate itself that's higher. I tell the client that, considering the quality of the material, I will charge such and such rate.

If you already quoted a rate and need to adjust after the job was assigned to you, here is what I recommend you do. Calculate the number of hours it would normally take you to complete the same assignment if it was of good quality. Then, keep track of the time it actually takes you to complete work. Once you're done, subtract the number of hours it normally would have taken to do the job from the number of hours you actually worked on it. Charge your regular hourly rate for the resulting number of hours. Of course, it's best to advise your client of this before you go any further to avoid an invoice dispute.

It all comes down to charging the agreed per word rate as usual, plus the hourly rate for the number of hours more taken to finish the job. For example, if you have agreed on let's say 100$ for the job which under normal circumstances should have taken you 10 hours, but it actually takes you 15 hours (with an hourly rate of $25), then take the initial $100 and add to it 5 hours @ $25. Comes down to:
$100 + (5 * $25)
$100 + $125
$225

I think this would do as it's not overly complicated and the client can appreciate the fact that it takes you more time to work on this, as you charge an hourly rate for the part of the job that is unreasonable.

Best of luck!


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:31
German to English
+ ...
Any surcharge manifests itself in higher turnover Jul 6, 2006

Klaus Herrmann wrote:

Most of us will have encountered sub-standard source text, often translated into English by non-native speakers


My hyper-polite standard adage is "Die zu bearbeitenden Texte müssen mir vor Auftragsannahme zur Ansicht vorliegen.", rendered slightly differently in EN as: "These rates are subject to sight of material".

If the source is junk, I won't touch it with a barge pole. Life's too short and my poor little mouse is too tender to be hurled against the wall in violent frustration.

I find that any 'surcharge' for pointing out the occasional typo and obvious error in the source text is paid by my getting more work from the customer.

The only surcharge I apply is the one that you so kindly recommended to me while 'powing the wow' in Berlin (PDFs) and boy, does it make life easier.

Cheers
Chris



[Edited at 2006-07-06 09:38]


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tectranslate ITS GmbH
Local time: 12:31
German
+ ...
Some clients deserve it Jul 6, 2006

Klaus Herrmann wrote:

Are you charging a surcharge, and if so, by time or as a pecentage on top of the word rate?


Yes, absolutely. As a percentage.

We just had a text full of absurdities like "manwhole" and "manly cleaning of the pipes" (excuse me? this text was supposed to be about a spray-painting booth...)

Charged 20 % on top of the regular price - most of the Denglisch in the document was somewhat intelligible, but there were quite a few bummers like those above in the text, so we decided that this customer deserved to pay us a little extra as "pain relief".

We communicated quite clearly to them that their "English" manuals were hilarious at best and confusing at worst, but they didn't seem to care - just laughed it off (and probably continue to write the English manuals in-house). Oh well. As long as they pay extra...

B


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Rather as a percentage Jul 6, 2006

When it is not yet too late, I would quote a "protective" rate, which should
- help me to avoid such a project,
- communicate my perception of the source text,
- work as a "pane relief" in case I would still get the job.


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Andrée Goreux  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:31
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
Every surcharge must be included! Jul 7, 2006

Textklick wrote:

Klaus Herrmann wrote:

Most of us will have encountered sub-standard source text, often translated into English by non-native speakers


My hyper-polite standard adage is "Die zu bearbeitenden Texte müssen mir vor Auftragsannahme zur Ansicht vorliegen.", rendered slightly differently in EN as: "These rates are subject to sight of material".

If the source is junk, I won't touch it with a barge pole. Life's too short and my poor little mouse is too tender to be hurled against the wall in violent frustration.

I find that any 'surcharge' for pointing out the occasional typo and obvious error in the source text is paid by my getting more work from the customer.

The only surcharge I apply is the one that you so kindly recommended to me while 'powing the wow' in Berlin (PDFs) and boy, does it make life easier.

Cheers
Chris



[Edited at 2006-07-06 09:38]


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Andrée Goreux  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:31
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
every surcharge must be listed! Jul 7, 2006

I apply surcharges, as follows: PDF: 15%, hard copy which cannot be scanned 25%, manuscripts (yes, we do get photocopies of deeds, etc. from way back) 30% because someone has to type the text first. And of course, surcharges for rush work. I find that when I quote the rush work fees, the rush tends to disappear instantly!

Incidentally, as we all are professionals, let us talk about fees. Rates are for taxicabs.

Regards,

Andrée Goreux
(agoreux)


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Klaus Herrmann  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:31
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the input Jul 7, 2006

Actually, I followed Chris' advice - if it's bad enough to incur a surcharge, don't touch it. It will cost more time than the client will be prepared to pay, and I can't subsidize people who translate into a foreign language they don't really know.

The bottom line is that I won't be working with the agency anymore. They take the easy way out by having someone cleaning up the mess for free instead of educating the client or at least obtaining the manual in the original language. A perfect opportunity to take a day off


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