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Ethical question
Thread poster: Conrado Portugal

Conrado Portugal
Germany
Local time: 17:02
German to Spanish
+ ...
Sep 20, 2006

I have a very good cliente who gives me work on a regular basis and pays promptly: a good client. I always use Wordfast for my translations. In the case of this particular client it is extremly useful cos there are many words that are used again and again and sometimes full sentences that apppear repeated. I have always charged as a full translation and the client never asked for a reduction for matches or fuzzy matches or what ever. Anyway, I would be reluctant to do this since I see as a benefit for the client too that I use the TM programme . Plus:there are always little things to change and you have to check this things too.

Now, I have received 8 pages from this client where many sentences have been translated before and therefore I dont have to do anything (just checking the content to be sure everything is OK) and sentences where there are some little changes and of course there are things to be translated from the scratch.

This is posing an ethical question to me. What to do? what should I do with the invoice? I do not want to set a precedent on the one hand since there are other translators working on this assignment into different languages, I do not want my client to start asking me for fuzzy matches and co. and all the other translators hating me for making the working conditions worse for all of us and on the other hand I want to be fair, plus: I cannot know if some other translator will tell the client about the many repetitions in this text and offer a fee reduction- if I do not say anything in this case I´ll be the dishonest translator.

What do you think? What would you do?
Thanks

Conrado

[Editado a las 2006-09-20 22:53]


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Sybila Canobra  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
that's a tricky one Sep 20, 2006

Dear Conrado.

On the one hand, CAT are certainly good tools for translators in terms of productivity. On the other hand, you will always find a competitor who will charge less money for the work you do. The thing is I believe that kind of translation program is purchased by the translator, and therefore it is a cost you have to consider when charging your fees to the customer, because it's a tool you use for the benefit of both parts.

I agree with you when you say charging for a translation that has already been "done" is not so ethical so I believe a good choice would be to stick to "best practices" and let your customer know about your "issue" and offer him a "proofreading" fee instead of a translation one. THat would make you appear as a highly reliable professional and would make them think twice before hiring someone else for less money.

Good luck


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Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:02
Member (2002)
English to German
You invested so you keep the profits Sep 20, 2006

Trados itself used to market the advantages of TMs for agencies as faster turnover and higher consistency, never lower prices.

Sometimes you are lucky with your matches and sometimes you aren't.

Since these tools never supposed to be tools for lowering the costs of agencies I see no reason to mention it.

It is a different issue if the agency itself maintains a TM, pretranslates the files for you AND asks for a discount. In this case every translator has to decide how to handle such a request.

You on the other hand invested in a tool and as I understand it you maintain the TM. So if there are any advantages for you using this tool, you don't have to pass them on to your customer. This is the sole reason why you bought this tool anyway, isn't it?

Best regards

Andy

www.interlations.com


[Bearbeitet am 2006-09-20 22:16]


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Andres & Leticia Enjuto  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 12:02
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree with Andy Sep 20, 2006

Hi Conrado!

I agree with Andy. Just think it this way:

- If you would not have taken the (initial) time to learn, create and maintain your Wordfast TM, you would not have posted this thread, would you?

- The same applies if this situation would have taken place 10 years ago.

My opinion is that this ethical issue is in you mind only. Besides, you will still have to spend time reviewing, translating some sentences and proofreading.

I also think that for agencies, reliable translators are more valuable than "cheaper" ones.

But if you still feel weird, you could tell your customer that this particular project includes text that is very familiar to you (because of previous ones), and offer him a little discount.
In this way you don't need to explain about your TM, you give a discount to your customer, and make a difference to another possible translator.

Good luck!

ANDRES


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 10:02
Partial member
Spanish
+ ...
My 2 cents Sep 20, 2006

Something similar happened to me this year. A client sent me a medium-sized document but an analysis showed me that I had translated probably more than 75% of the segments just a few weeks before. I thought it was a mistake since many pages in a row were identical so I told the client, as. He said it wasn't a mistake, that the document had been revised.

I would have felt bad charging my client full rate so I used the TM to find the identical matches and charged my client by the hour.

I did tell him, however, that the only reason I was going to do that was because both documents were so similar. I never mentioned the words 'CAT tool' or 'TM' and the client was very happy.

I also agree with Andy, it is you who invested on a CAT tool, not your client. And the TM was created by you, not the client.

Hope that helps,

Claudia.


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claudia bagnardi  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
Same here Sep 20, 2006

Hi Conrado.

I went through the same dilemma just a week ago.

I did make a discount on account of "familiar terms", but never mentioned TMs.

Hope this helps you to shrug off that guilty feeling. It is a win-win deal. And an ethical one from my point of view.

Cheers
Claudia


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Elizabeth Ardans  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 12:02
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
compensation... Sep 20, 2006

I don't make any kind of discounts in case of repetitions or matches, since I believe these act as some sort of "compensation" for other parts that may requiere more extensive research (for which I do not charge an extra amount).
I believe that "sometimes I win, and sometimes I lose..."
If after an initial quote it turns out that the project is more difficult than what I though it would be, I would never go to the client and say "I have to charge you more because it took more tham than I expected", so I don't see why I should charge less when it is the other way round...

Hope it helps!


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Ivana de Sousa Santos  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:02
French to Portuguese
+ ...
It's your TM, it's your benefit Sep 21, 2006

Hi Conrado,

In my opinion, if you spent the money in the software and built up your own TM, it will be for your own benefit. I don't think you should have a conscience problem.

Do you think clients have got a conscience problem when they make us do discounts based on a cat tool? I don't.

It happened to me once a slight different thing: I had two texts to translate and I started by the biggest one (I like "difficult" things first... not only in transation, but in general).

In the second text I only had to change 1 or 2 sentences and some figures.

As it gave me really no trouble I wrote to this client saying I would do a 20% discount because the translations were too much alike (never mentioned cat tools and since it's not a translation agency I don't think they know what they are).

They were all happy with the 20% discount and thanked me a lot (although they never contacted me again).

Now that I have a bit more of experience, I think I wouldn't do that. I have a cat tool to make my work easier and benefit from it.

Good luck.

Regards,
Ivana


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Alejandra Villarroel  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 11:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
My advice... Or what I would do. Sep 21, 2006

First of all, the two most important points in my opinion:

- You paid for YOUR Wordfast. So enjoy the benefits and stop feeling guilty!

- Why would you offer your customer a discount he/she is not asking for...?

You are right when you say that lowering your rates will not make you the most popular translator. I'm glad to see you are taking into account the position of others too, and not only yours
I hope the other translators working for this customer in other language pairs will be just as considerate...

Now, what you describe in terms of 100% matches and fuzzy matches is exactly the -main- intended purpose of CAT tools, i.e., consistency. Charging less for fuzzy matches and 100% matches is a consequence of that intended purpose, which as far as I know was gradually imposed by translation agencies. So I would not even think of lowering my rates, particularly if your customer is not an agency, and above all because your customer is not expecting/asking for that.

Maybe you are new to CAT tools, but I would not even regard this situation as an ethical issue.


All the best, ALEJANDRA


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
It Happens Sep 21, 2006

Such things happen sometimes. A client will send me something that is a revision of something done before. I find the prior job, and much of it can be used for the new job. So I make the changes and send it out.

I bill for the amount of work I have done; it could be 30, 40, 60% of what the rate would have been if it had been from scratch. So what? I bill them that and that's what they pay.

I suppose I could have charged them 100% and they may not have known the difference, but I do. There's no dilemma, everyone is happy.


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Conrado Portugal
Germany
Local time: 17:02
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It´s my Wordfast Sep 21, 2006

Dear colleagues,

First of all, thanks for your contributions: it´s great to know that you can discuss these things with colleagues so none of us feel like a lonely fighter.

I fully agree with you guys. It has always my opion that CAT tools are my investment and a thing to make my work easier on the one hand, and of better quality and consistent for the client on the other hand. If I mention CAT tools to agencies only to show that I have this tool that helps me delivering a better final product but I´ll never grant matches and fuzzy matches fees neither to an agency nor to a client.

It is just that this situation was too obvious, I felt I had to do something about it- they must know about the close CLOSE similarities, at least in this case.

After reading your valuable contributions, I´ll check the % of text already tralated by me (around 1/2 of the 8 pages) and I´ll contact my client and mention "familiar text, so what do you think of a reduction of say XX %". I still don´t know how much but 2o 5 would be far too much. I am thinking of 5 - 10 % max ! There are 8 more pages that I didn´t send yet thru my TM but I may find , it happens the same with the other texts. At the end of the day, 10 % would be quite an amount.

Thanks again

[Editado a las 2006-09-21 06:06]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:02
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some options... Sep 21, 2006

conrado portugal wrote:
I have always charged as a full translation and the client never asked for a reduction for matches or fuzzy matches or what ever. ... Now, I have received 8 pages from this client where many sentences have been translated before...


One option:

Quote as usual, do the translation, and when you send the invoice, tell the client, "I happen to have noticed that many of the sentences were extremely similar to some of the stuff I've translated for you before. I have therefore decided to calculate a discount on this order, of XYZ%."

The downside is that the client might get into the habit of expecting a surprise discount whenever he sends you a document with "old sentences".

On the other hand:

I wouldn't feel bad charging the full rate, unless whole sections (a few pages or several pericopes) are basically repetitions of previous texts, in which case I'll offer to give a discount. Remember, as far as the client is concerned, you'd still have to check and recheck the old sentences to ensure that they're translated correctly. If the client is not educated about CAT tools, he might think that you've rushed the job and fear that you didn't check those sentences thoroughly.

After all, why should you charge less just because you're working smarter. The client is also working smarter (he is reusing some of his old documents, without telling his readers that some of what they read, is old stuff).


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 18:02
Turkish to English
+ ...
I faced a similar situation yesterday Sep 21, 2006

I don't use TM, but I faced a similar situation yesterday.
An agency that sends me regular work at above-average rates yesterday asked me to take on 18 pages of legal documents. When I received the documents I saw that they were actually nine different petitions to a court filed by an insurance company for a ruling requiring reimbursement of damages they had paid from the party that was held liable for a fire. The text of the petitions was identical in each case, the only difference being the insurance policy number and amount insured. I immediately contacted the agency and informed them that I only needed to translate the first two pages then use this as a template for each subsequent translation, simply altering the insurance policy number and amount involved. I said that I would only include the wordcount of the template plus the number of words that I had to alter in each subsequent document in the final wordcount on my invoice.
Of course, they were pleased to hear this. I believe that this is the best long-term policy as I am sure I am more likely to get further work from this source.


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Sarah Brenchley  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
Adjust your price accordingly Sep 21, 2006

This happens to me frequently with the employee manuals that I translate. Years back I translated the master manual with its 100 pages and which I was paid per word for. Now I am sent manuals by the same client for individual companies which are based on the master document and with additional sections and sentences. There's no way I would charge per word for the entire new document. What I do is estimate the previously untranslated sections and charge a rate per word for these and then include a formatting/editing charge to check that the rest of the document is OK.
The original TM is of course mine but it was paid for by the client if you know what I mean so I believe they should reap some of the rewards.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
Give a small discount Sep 21, 2006

claudia bagnardi wrote:


Hi Conrado.

I went through the same dilemma just a week ago.

I did make a discount on account of "familiar terms", but never mentioned TMs.

Hope this helps you to shrug off that guilty feeling. It is a win-win deal. And an ethical one from my point of view.

Cheers
Claudia


I had a smiliar experience with work that was highly repetitive, although I still had to do a lot of checking anyway.

I discussed the isssue with a lot of friends, inc. business people (i.e with 'real' business minds!), and the conclusion we came to was that there should be no fuzzy pricing, but for the 2 models of text that were always very similar in layout and content, we would give a discount, which we established at 15%.

So I'm happy (ie. not guilty), and the client - who never raised the issue in the first place - is getting a discount, so that should keep them happy.


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