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Need advice - client wants extra work at no cost
Thread poster: Elvira Stoianov

Elvira Stoianov  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
Local time: 05:39
German to Romanian
+ ...
Jul 17, 2006

Here are the facts:
- Thursday evening the client sends me a large job (15.000 words) in TagEditor file
- I get some error messages when opening the file (apparently the files were created in InDesign), notify the client about this and the client replies that none of the other translators has complained about not being able to edit the files
- I go on and edit the file in TagEditor in spite of the error messages relating to an InDesign filter
- Monday morning, I am able to finish the file after working over the weekend, since I have to leave town on Wednesday and I want to send the file before that. Just as I decide to start proofreading the translation, I receive a mail from the client telling me that they apparently can't work with the TagEditor files and I should send them either InDesign or Word files. (They probably received some files back from other translators, as the delivery was supposed to be in batches, which was not my case, as I agreed to deliver the whole file in one delivery.)
Now the client sent me a Word file, but given the word count, I assume that running my memory through the Word file would take a few hours, because the TM contains the tags and basically I have to adapt each segment manually. I have told the client I will do this, but they should pay me for the extra time I need for the work. The client replies that since they are not charging the end client, they cannot pay me for the extra work. I am tempted to send the client the TagEditor file and let them sort things out, since it's not my fault they sent me the wrong file in the first place. The only fear I have, is that the client might refuse to pay me (it's the first job I have done for this client and they have 4 high marks on the BB and two low marks) ...
What would you do? I would appreciate any input. Thanks

P.S. I have an exam this week, so my time is already planned ahead, that is why I am reluctant to do the extra work. I was planning to pack my bags and prepare for the exam tomorrow, that is why I am reluctant to do the extra work - especially if they are not even willing to pay for it.


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Piotr Wargan  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:39
English to Polish
+ ...
tags vs translation Jul 17, 2006

Hello Elvira,

As the client insisted on using the Tag Editor they have no right to ask for a free service of converting the "final product" to another format.

Hope you will solve the problem - it's crucial to contact them and agree on the procedure (mabye a phonecall would be the best?).

Good luck!
P.

PS
Off-topic I would like to share one thought:
my feeling is that our profession has extended to 'tag edition' and my mind opposes this idea. I can translate but I do not want to edit any tags...


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Josée Desbiens
Canada
Local time: 23:39
English to French
Translation versus computer skills Jul 17, 2006

You are right Piotr!

Memory translations have become a must in our profession and not only do we have to be perfect linguits but we also have to develop some strong computer skills in order to be competitive. The problem is that not all of us are interessed or really capable of learning those skills. And moreover, we are not really paid for those additional skills!!!!! In fact, what we see is that rates are decreasing instead of increasing with the arrival of translation memories!!!!!

I just bought a Trados license. I was working with Wordfast and thought it was perfect but most of the clients want Trados, so I had to switch to Trados. But let me say that I find Trados very complex and are lost when it comes to understand the 400 pages user manual!!!!


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:39
Member
English to French
Did you try using your current TM on the Word file? Jul 17, 2006

Recent versions of Trados strip tags from segments (sthg like Options menu>TM options>General tab>Switches area>Check the box "Strip tags in fuzzies if no tag in source segment"), so it could be less of a bummer than expected. See also the penalties to comfortably use the "translate to fuzzy" button to avoid stopping at each segment just because the source segment contained tags.

However, if you spend a significant amount of extra time on this, you should get a compensation.
It's their own mistake/responsibility and their point of not charging the end customer is utterly irrelevant.

Good luck,
Philippe


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Piotr Wargan  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:39
English to Polish
+ ...
Supporting and being supported :-) Jul 17, 2006

Josée Desbiens wrote:

You are right Piotr!

Memory translations have become a must in our profession and not only do we have to be perfect linguits but we also have to develop some strong computer skills in order to be competitive. The problem is that not all of us are interessed or really capable of learning those skills. And moreover, we are not really paid for those additional skills!!!!! In fact, what we see is that rates are decreasing instead of increasing with the arrival of translation memories!!!!!

I just bought a Trados license. I was working with Wordfast and thought it was perfect but most of the clients want Trados, so I had to switch to Trados. But let me say that I find Trados very complex and are lost when it comes to understand the 400 pages user manual!!!!


Elvira: in my opinion the best way is to talk, to get in touch with your client and discuss the best way out.

Strongly believing that Elvira will agree upon a right compensation for the extra work, I would like to express my gratitude to Josée for her support for my idea...

Josée:
I agree - so difficult to avoid these 'tag-demanding' programmes and jobs. For now I am happy with Wordfast - a wonderfully simple and efficient tool, but I lost some jobs because I haven't got Trados

Cheers!


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Richard Creech  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:39
French to English
+ ...
Compensation Appropriate Jul 17, 2006

From what you have said it sounds like it would be reasonable to compensate you in some manner for the extra work involved, and a reasonable agency should agree.

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gad
United States
Local time: 23:39
Member
French to English
It seems like you were up front about this with them Jul 18, 2006

Elvira Stoianov wrote:

- I get some error messages when opening the file (apparently the files were created in InDesign), notify the client about this and the client replies that none of the other translators has complained about not being able to edit the files


This response gets me. Who cares if none of the other translators has complained about not being able to edit the files? The fact is that YOU got an error message, and you immediately reported it to the client. At that point, they should have taken it seriously. If it were me as PM, I probably would have asked for a representative page or something just to make sure the final format would be ok. How dare they then ask you to do the extra work after the fact. Like you have time for this anyway.

JMO.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:39
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Client can't change output format and not pay for it Jul 18, 2006

Elvira Stoianov wrote:
- Thursday evening the client sends me a large job (15.000 words) in TagEditor file.


Since TagEditor files are editable, and since no arrangement exists between you and the client that the translation will be delivered in any other format, I would assume then that the client had indicated by default that he had wanted the translation delivered as TagEditor files.

If the client decides later that he wants to have the translation in a different format, then he should be prepared to pay a conversion fee (or do the conversion himself).

The client replies that since they are not charging the end client, they cannot pay me for the extra work.


That is unfortunate for the client, but the client should not have opted to use TagEditor in the first place if he wasn't 100% sure that it would be a safe format to use.

I have an exam this week, so my time is already planned ahead, that is why I am reluctant to do the extra work.


Normally the reason why you refuse to do extra work for no pay is irrelevant, but the exam sounds like a nice tear-jerker which you could try to use it on the client, especially since there is the danger that the client might not pay.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:39
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
You should either be paid, or not do the extra work Jul 18, 2006

Hi Elvira,

The case is quite clear cut: you should either be paid, or not do the work.

I understand the agency's problem. I have been forced, by my end clients, into being an outsourcer as well sometimes, but I absolutely hate the role.

End clients are people who know nothing about the - sometimes extremely complex - procedures involved in producing exactly what they want. They unfortunately do not want to know either.

They assert their right to only pay XXX (lowest figure possible) per word, and insist that that figure has to include all extra work of any kind involved. They are totally unwilling to pay separately for any extra services in addition to the translation, which sometimes take many hours - to take just one example, preparing a .pdf to send out to the translator as a nicely-formatted Word document.

The outsourcer then not only has to undertake the preparation of the document, for example, but, due to the price that the end customer wants to pay (end customers always choose the price, unlike when they buy anything else), it is a really hard job to find a competent translator willing to do the job at a price that does not cause an actual loss to the outsourcer (given the time spent in preparing the document already, never mind checking it over afterwards).

If the translator then asserts their right to add extra costs for services in addition to the translating, that probably creates a substantial loss for the outsourcer on that particular project, which has to be made up on the next project. However, that is not possible, due to the end customer's reluctance to pay at a reasonable level.

We have a massive problem in the translation industry at the moment, caused by end customers wanting to pay low average "direct translator" rates to agencies/outsourcers, who in turn still need to outsource the work.

The only long-term solution is client education (meaning end customer education), and perhaps clubbing together to run client education seminars, essentially at our own expense, however with the expenses officially being borne by associations that we form for the purpose.

In the meantime, as translators in hard times, we have to struggle through with the problems and try to pay our rent. Professional earnings are a far-off dream with the present state of the translation industry.

Astrid

[Edited at 2006-07-18 20:50]

[Edited at 2006-07-18 20:51]


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