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How do you explain to a client that his budget is way out of line?
Thread poster: Sandra Alboum

Sandra Alboum  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:30
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 19, 2003

Last week a potential client who had been recommended by a friend asked me for a quote on translating a 150-page guidebook (for Latinos visiting a city) from English into Spanish. He told me that it was around 48,000 words. I was not given a timeline on it.

I gave him a range in price, and then offered a flat fee (in the middle of that range) and then offered him a discount on top of that as a new customer who had been referred by a friend. He said he'd get back to me.

When he finally got back to me, it was to tell me that he thought my quote was way too high and that he had bought himself a copy of Systran to translate the book. He wanted to know now how much I would charge him to edit the copy that the program had put out. [Needless to say, I was offended...]

Turns out, after further enquiry, that he had wanted to pay about $500 for translation AND editing of this text, which, as I'm sure most of us realize, is completely inadequate (at least in the US) for the job he wanted done.

I quoted him a reasonable price to edit (which was much more than his $500) his 150 pages of machine-aided translation and told him to call around and see if he could find any better prices and get back to me when he couldn't...

I was wondering, for future reference (since I'm giving this project up for lost), if anyone has any suggestions as to good ways of indicating politely to a client that his budget is out of line when I find this out BEFOREHAND (which was not the case here).

Thanks!


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Graciela Carlyle  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
The Reunion Site Sep 19, 2003

Send them to this site to have a look "http://thereunion.5u.com/index.html"
I found it today and it is excellent. It will give them an idea of what the rates should be.

Grace.

ps. Most of the times, editing from machine translated text takes you even longer that to translate everything yourself!!


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:30
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
If he puts a machine to work on it Sep 19, 2003

I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. Just my 2 cents -- such jobs take me 3 times more effort than my normal translation output.

Cecilia


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:30
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not just the money, but the principle Sep 19, 2003

Why sweat it? As soon as you had an idea of the volume of work that was involved, you were able to quote a price. Before that point, you could not quote.

But even though you have washed your hands of this project, perhaps you still have a lingering sense of unease about the poor translator who will be suckered into "cleaning up" a machine translation, or the hapless tourist who will be disgusted by a nonsense translation, if the book eventually makes it into print in the machine-translatied version. Or about the client who obviously doesn't realize the limitations and the false economy of machine translation.

This article has been cited already, but it is particularly pertinent to the case:
http://www.expatica.com/germany.asp?pad=190,205,&item_id=34146

"A little town in Germany [...] has pulped its English-language tourist
brochure after admitting it was translated by computer.

Linguistic errors are common in the leaflets that small German towns hand
to foreign tourists. But at Homberg-an-der-Efze, they did not even ask the
usual high-school teacher to do the translation: instead, municipal
officials used an Internet translating machine.

The result was sheer nonsense, [...]

'We blundered,' admitted mayor Martin Wagner this week in the town north
of Frankfurt. The 7,500 brochures had to be discarded. A staffer had
wanted to save the authorities money rather than employ a professional
translator
."


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
$0.01 per source word, anyone? Sep 19, 2003

Parrot wrote:
I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. Just my 2 cents -- such jobs take me 3 times more effort than my normal translation output.
Cecilia



I fully agree, not to mention I would refuse to deal with a machine translation on principle (especially when the machine's services were chosen over mine...).

Actually, your client's budget for translating comes up to $0.01 per word. IMHO, not worth the time you spend talking on the phone with him!

Cheers,

Susana Galilea
Accredited Translator, EUTI
sgalilea@ispwest.com
www.accentonspanish.com


[Edited at 2003-10-31 22:15]


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Carley Hydusik  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:30
Russian to English
+ ...
Put it in terms of doctors and lawyers Sep 19, 2003

Translators are highly skilled professionals. We all know of countless examples of people who have no idea what we actually do. The profession is in dire need of client education, so do explain to them that their budget is way out of line, and then tell them what our job really involves. Give them examples of the havoc that bad translations can wreak. If you are trained, emphasize this, and tell them what went into the training. If they are still unsympathetic to our cause, give them the response a colleague recently told me she once used. She said something along the lines of, "Let me put it this way. I watch LA Law on television every week, and I know all about criminal law and legal jargon. As of tomorrow, would you like me to be your lawyer?" (Or, preferably without sarcasm)make a comparison between the expertise, training and fees of a good lawyer (or doctor) on one hand, and to the expertise, training, and fees of a good translator, on the other. Good luck, and stick to your guns!

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Steffen Pollex  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:30
English to German
+ ...
Couldn't agree more Sep 20, 2003

Tayfun Torunoglu wrote:

Needless to discuss.



There's nothing to add. Why should you "explain" to your customer over and ocer again? He has a certain price in mind, you are free to accept it or not. If he doesn't understand this, let him have his way but without you.

To me it happened several times in the beginning that I accepted jobs at low rates which turned out to be much tougher than it seemed to be in the beginning, then people called me about jobs with better conditions, and I couldn't take them up, being involved with the cheap stuff I took to do someone "a favour".

In the meantime, I refuse immediately, once a client isn't willing to accept my offers. I know they are calculated in a way that the client does not have to feel ripped off. So no "discounts for volume" or whatever anymore.

Believe me, it will only cost your time when trying to "do someone a favour". Business is business.


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Olga Simon  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 05:30
English to Russian
+ ...
Agree Sep 20, 2003

Steffen Pollex wrote:
Believe me, it will only cost your time when trying to "do someone a favour". Business is business.


Absolutely. Nothing to add.


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Altrum  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:30
Italian to English
+ ...
You've answered your own question -Shop around! Sep 20, 2003

I totally agree with everyone who says you should steer clear of editing a machine-translated text and especially 150 pages worth. You'd be back to square one: underselling yourself and probably driving yourself crazy into the bargain.

What I liked about your post was when you said that at one point you told your potential client to have a look round for himself to check the going rates. If you think about it, it's what everyone does before purchasing any kind of product or service. Admittedly in this particular case the advice came a bit too late, but might pay off if given at the first sign of ignorance/disbelief on the part of the client. The worst that can happen is that they then go off and indeed find a cheaper alternative. After all, it's a free market, but you wouldn't have lost face by being rude and telling them where to go. And if they were really after quality in the first place, I'd say they would come back to you in appreciation of your honesty and willingness to "educate" them. I know I would.

Althea


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
Did you really offer your client a "rental"??? (see machine translation below) Sep 20, 2003

Sandra, just for chuckles I ran your posting through a machine translator. The resulting Spanish text is below, and if that does not convince you to steer clear of editing such a project...then I bow to your superior patience

Perhaps in the future instead of trying to reason with deluded clients, we could simply run their email messages through a machine translation (and back into the original language), and let them decide for themselves...

Enjoy the Quixotic prose

S.G.


>>>La semana pasada un cliente potencial un amigo había recomendado que me pidió una cotización(cita) en la traducción de una guía turística de 150 páginas (para Latinoamericanos que visitan a una ciudad) del inglés en el español. Él me dijo que estaba alrededor de 48,000 palabras. No me dieron un horario sobre ello.

Le di una gama en el precio, ***y luego ofrecí un alquiler*** (en medio de aquella gama) y luego le ofrecí un descuento sobre la cima de esto como un nuevo cliente que se había remitido por un amigo. Él dijo que él me regresaría.

Cuando él finalmente me regresó, debía decirme que él pensó que mi cotización(cita) era el camino demasiado alto y que él se había comprado una copia de Systran para traducir el libro. Él quiso saber(conocer) ahora cuánto yo lo cobraría(cargaría) para corregir la copia que el programa había sacado. [De más está decir, fui ofendido ...]

Resulta, después de la remota investigación, que él había querido pagar aproximadamente 500 dólares para la traducción y editing de este texto, que, como estoy seguro la mayor parte de nosotros realizan(comprenden), es completamente inadecuado (al menos en EU) para el trabajo que él quiso hecho.

Lo coticé(cité) un precio razonable para corregir (que era mucho más que sus 500 dólares) sus 150 páginas de traducción automatizada y le dijo llamarse alrededor y ver si él pudiera encontrar cualquier mejor precio y regresarme cuando él no podría...

Yo me preguntaba, para la futura referencia (ya que dejo este proyecto para perdido), si alguien tiene cualquier sugerencia en cuanto a los modos buenos de indicación correctamente a un cliente que su presupuesto es fuera de la línea cuando averiguo esto DE ANTEMANO (que no estaba el caso aquí).


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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just say no Sep 21, 2003

As easy as that.

That client is obviously not interested in quality. No need to bother trying to "educate" him/her.


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