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Agency asking me to review client's comments; should I charge extra?
Thread poster: Maciek Drobka

Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:18
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Aug 1, 2008

Hi all,

Here's the situation:
For a US based translation agency, I did a translation of marketing campaign material designed for a leading networking solutions provider's sales channel partners.

Then the agency sent me the translation with the reviewer's edits for me to finalize. I accepted most of the edits, rejected some, and returned the finalized version.

Now the agency has sent me the text with the client's Polish office's comments/edits. And they ask me to review the edits, and again either accept or reject them.

Now, isn't that a bit too much? I have no 'scope of work' agreement with the agency detailing what my per word rate includes. Usually, however, my job as a translator is to deliver my best quality translation, and that's all. I've learned that some agencies (all of them US based) require me to process the reviewer's edits as a final step. That's fine by me, I can see it as a reasonable step. But additionally processing the client's comments seems, as I said, a straw too much.

(FYI, I think the client's edits mostly degrade the linguistic quality of the document, which I was a little surprise to find, but that's beside the point here.)

Would you adjust your per word rate upward if you knew in advance you would be asked to review the client's edits to your translation? And in my situation, would you charge extra for something like this? (I will not charge for this particular document, it is only 300+ words long. However, I have already indicated to the agency that I may decide to charge extra for another batch of my translations with the client's edits, totalling almost 10,000 words.)

Any comments will be hugely appreciated.

Maciek


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Per Magnus  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:18
English to Norwegian
Charge extra for any work that you have not taken into account in your original offer. Aug 1, 2008

I always do one revision free if the customer ask for it (it is to my benefit as well – and I often learn from it). If they want additional revisions; or any extra work at all (except for a word or a sentence), I always charge for it. My customers have always understood and accepted this.

I cannot adjust my per word rate upward because of this, because it will vary from client to client and project to project.

Magnus



[Edited at 2008-08-01 08:38]


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:18
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Prior notice Aug 1, 2008

Hi Maciek,

Only if they told you beforehand. I know we often compare our profession to others, but really you can't reasonably expect the garage to service your car at a certain price, and then say, Oh would you mind waxing it for me too? with the inference that there is no increase in price.

Even if it's a dead easy job, it is all TIME.


Mervyn


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Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:18
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
I had one of those yesterday Aug 1, 2008

It's apparently quite common that the agency ask you to go over the end clients final revision. I had one yesterday (a prooffreading job), I didn't charge for it, took me 5 min., the few changes were aceptable and I also learnt a bit from it.

But my initial reaction was similar to yours - I wanted to charge for it, simply because the agency hadn't warned me that might happen. In the end I decided not to charge for it - simply because I hadn't been paid for the original job yet.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:18
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Hourly rate Aug 1, 2008

I think you are doing the right thing by not charging extra for editing this short document. But I would let the outsourcer know that in the future you will charge an hourly rate for doing additional edits.

Note added: for anything over one hour I mean.


[Edited at 2008-08-01 20:39]


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:18
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
We have one of those every week... Aug 1, 2008

...and consider it as part of business. We don't charge extra for that. Sometimes these end-customer reviews mean several hours of work, but I think it's our commitment to deliver a full solution until the very end of the job and until everyone along the line is happy.

Of course if you got a very low rate for this job, you should suggest some hourly charge for the edits, unless your customer already told you that this situation could happen.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:18
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Making people happy Aug 2, 2008

Tomás, please please tell us you didn't really mean this:


"Sometimes these end-customer reviews mean several hours of work, but I think it's our commitment to deliver a full solution until the very end of the job and until everyone along the line is happy".


Several hours of work? Until everyone is happy? Does "everyone" include you? How can it, with such a servile attitude?


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:18
English to German
+ ...
Absolutely normal in marketing Aug 2, 2008

Imagine how many different departments on the client's side (the agency's client) might be involved during the production of expensive marketing and advertising materials, which is a huge investment.

The fact that the translator has the final say is a huge compliment.

Unfortunately, a lot of translators who are adding "marketing / advertising" as an expertise ("hey, I simply have to put some flowery and catchy phrases together! It's easy! What's the problem?") are not aware of this kind of process and feel annoyed when they are asked for the final touches.

Servile attitude? I don't think so. It's part of the job, if you want to do a top-notch one, that is. And you charge accordingly. But not afterwards, that's unprofessional.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:18
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
It is servile if it's the same price Aug 2, 2008

Yes, Nicole, I agree, but your last sentence was the one I wanted to see. The process can be as long as they like, but it cannot get drawn out for the same amount.

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:18
English to German
+ ...
Exactly, Mervyn. Aug 2, 2008

A marketing translator should know. Otherwise it's a learning experience.


Edited for typo. I misspelled our colleague's name, sorry.

[Edited at 2008-08-02 07:59]


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Per Magnus  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:18
English to Norwegian
Free extra work. Aug 2, 2008

Tina Vonhof wrote: for anything over one hour I mean.


One hour is very generous of you. More than 15-20 minutes and I will usually add it to the invoice. This is not a hobby we are doing here; we are in this business to earn a living. Have you tried to get a plumber or carpenter to throw in an hour for free?

Rest assured, the agency you work for will charge the end-customer for each end every minute.


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Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:18
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
OK, but... Aug 2, 2008

Nicole Schnell wrote:

Imagine how many different departments on the client's side (the agency's client) might be involved during the production of expensive marketing and advertising materials, which is a huge investment.

The fact that the translator has the final say is a huge compliment.




Thank you, Nicole, for sharing your view and experience. I must say I wasn't aware of the perspective you presented.

(As an aside, it's hard to treat as a 'compliment' a job where you correct the end client's typo and a glaring syntax error. I would have expected the cllient's edits to be more of a challenge.)

BUT my main point is that it's hard to use a hard and fast rule for all jobs.

I have done other jobs for the same agency for the same end client. And this is the first time when the agency wants me to review the client's edits.

If I were to raise my per word rate to account for the 'review the client's edits' step, I would end up charging the agency unfairly too much if no extra step was required.

The handful of jobs I've done for the agency suggests that the agency itself doesn't know beforehand whether 'review the client's edits' will be required. In this situation, charging extra for this step ex-post seems the only reasonable approach.

Maciek


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 09:18
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
I think it depends on the relevance and competence of the comments Aug 4, 2008

Best of all is to agree about such things before taking the job.

All in all, if the comments are translation-relevant, there are some valuable and competent remarks for making certain things better, I think the translator should say "Thank you" and revise such comments free of charge in any case.

But it often happens that those comments have nothing to do with the translation (say, the client simply wanted to put reword the target text, to delete or add a phrase or a sentence, etc.) - then this shall be fully charged.

Quite a good solution (to save a lot of time and not to get into emotions). Say, you have some 50 pages to revise after the comments of the client. Revise a couple of pages to see what it is all about, and either "OK, will revise it for free - thanks a lot for the remarks" or "Sorry, these comments are not translation relevant - to revise these I need this and that number of hours and it will cost my usual hourly rate" (and a couple of illustrative examples to substantiate your words).

All in all, at least I'd think so, translation is one thing/job, and revision of any remarks, comments, changes (if these are not related with real quality concerns or possible improvement) is a separate thing/job. If there was an agreement to translate, you translate. You have not agreed before accepting the job that you will have to revise the job 3 times after the remarks of the end client?






[Edited at 2008-08-04 02:41]


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:18
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Get paid Aug 4, 2008

The client's comments are NOT really the client's comments. These are comments from another translator they hired for that purpose (and they paid him).

If your translation contained errors, then you should fix them for free. If your translation did not contain errors and you are asked to comment on another guy's comments, then it's not your fault, and you should get paid.

If you don't do them the favor, then they have no other option than to hire someone else (and pay him) to do what you were about to do for free.

There's absolutely no law, statute, or "common practice" that requires you to work for free, when the original translation was "satisfactory".

Don't listen to those who say that this is "normal". It's not. And even if it was, it would have to change.


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:18
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
To clarify Aug 5, 2008

To clarify:

You are NOT a marketing specialist, and nobody's paying you as a market specialist. The typical minimum for a phrase review of marketing material in the US costs from $250 to thousand of dollars (depending on the company). You are getting paid to be a translator, period.
If an agency is asking you to continuously comment on more and more comments from other translators and editors, then you should charge them.

To further clarify, there are no "marketing translators". Translators are just more experienced in some fields than others... some are more experienced in marketing, some others in medicine, etc.

If you think that you should be a marketing specialist just because you translate stuff, then a medical translator would be able to perform open heart surgery.

The client (and any client) should NOT expect specialist' opinion from you. If they come to you every two days with more reviews and opinions from other linguists like you, you should charge your time, the same way the other linguists charge their time for the "reviews" you' re receiving.

The idea that you should know everything, is plain stupid. Nobody does (especially for 3 cents per word).

Even technical writers with PhDs must consult all enginners and technicians before drafting the product's manual, which then goes under reviews by everyone until it's finalized. It's necessary. And everybody is getting paid for his time, every single hour they spent (YES, they do charge afterwards, and no, it's not "unprofessional"; as a matter of fact most project budgets exceed initial calculations and I don't understand why the translation market is the only one in the world that should be an exception to that).

In conclusion, in the entire process everyone else got paid for every single hour they spent, except you.




[Edited at 2008-08-05 03:23]


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