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How much for untranslated words and links?
Thread poster: Anne Koth

Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:32
German to English
May 12, 2006

I've just got word from an agency that they have paid me for some work, but that they have reduced my pay by a small sum as they don't want to pay for the addresses and links which I didn't need to translate. They haven't done it before.

They are a pleasant agency to work with, and it's only a few euro, but I'm a bit irritated that they did this without asking, and I don't see why I should get paid nothing for the lines. The text was a PDF so I had to copy it all out, and I also formatted it carefully.

Do other people charge less for addresses, links, etc? If so, don't you actually lose even more cash as you have to spend precious translating time working out the number of lines you will offer a reduction for?

Or should I just tell agencies that words like that are already included in my price per line? What do others do?


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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 02:32
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
total word count May 12, 2006

I should tell them my rate is for the total word count.
That is for you or them then to decide which words are more convenient to be translated or leave untranslated (proper names, names of companies, maybe street names, and so on) But that is also a professional work.

Good luck.

Walter


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 23:32
Spanish to English
+ ...
Charge for your time May 12, 2006

If you have to subtract them, you will need to charge honestly for the time required to count them, as you would charge for any file-processing and formatting requirements that might be part of the job.

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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 07:32
Swedish to English
+ ...
[address] May 12, 2006

...is the solution that one company I work for have come up with. I work from pdfs with them and they specifically say that they don't want the addresses in the word documents, just write [address]. They pay me per target word and don't deduct anything however many times I end up writing [address].

I wouldn't be happy in your situation - if that's their policy they should tell you beforehand, especially as you're working from pdf and have to type it into the document anyway. I think it's unnecessary penny pinching, to be honest - on their part, not yours!


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:32
English to French
+ ...
To me, this is awfully simple May 12, 2006

I know some people will say that it's "unfriendly" towards the client, but my philosophy is: if you don't want it translated, don't include it in the source text.

It would be hard to verify if they took the right amount of money off your pay. The only way to check this is if you open your document and count these non translatable strings by hand. That would take you time, even if it's only a couple of minutes. You should be compensated for that time, therefore, those strings should still be paid.

This is why I have a minimum charge for all jobs. If someone asks me to translate just one sentence, I am not going to spend five minutes making an invoice for eighty cents, as the making of the invoice is worth much more than that in terms of time. Therefore, they will pay the minimum charge, even it it would come down to two dollars per word.

It's simple: whatever the text they send, it's that text's TOTAL wordcount you should be paid for. What happens if you translate marketing material with brand names in them? You will spend your time calculating the occurrences of all brand names in your text and deduce it from the invoice? Do you have time for that? Every minute of my time is worth a dollar, so, tell your client that. If you have to start counting these things, you will charge for the time spent on counting them - which will obviously cost them more than just paying for the whole document regardless of non translatables.

My advice is, don't tolerate this. If you do, next time, they will ask to pay 50% less for 50% matches (which are useless enough that you will have to translate them from scratch anyways).


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:32
What I do May 12, 2006

Just like Victoria, I have a minimum rate for short jobs, so no word counting on those.

I also request to work on Word files. If these are not available, I charge my hourly rate for conversion from PDF to Word, plus the translation rate per word.

In instances when I have a letter and it is obvious that the address at the beginning is not to be translated, I do leave it out and only count the remainder of the text.

However, when the supposedly non translatable parts are scattered throughout the document (for instance, names of people throughout a report), I do not loose my time finding them and substracting them from the general count, as this use of my time would end up being more expensive for my client to pay for... and they generally understand it!


After reading ViKtoria's subsequent posting, I want to clarify something: when I convert from PDF to Word, I do not retype. I use Acrobat, cut and paste, and other tricks; only when the PDF has a really complicated format, retyping needs to be done. However, what I find most time-consuming is making sure that all the PDF text made it safely to the Word document. It is not unusual to find pieces missing.

[Edited at 2006-05-14 03:14]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:32
English to French
+ ...
Rosa Maria has a good point May 13, 2006

When handling PDFs, we are supposed to charge extra for it, and sadly, most of us don't, and I have always been and will always be puzzled by this...

However, Rosa has an excellent way of putting it: she charges her regular hourly rate for retyping or OCRing and editing it, and that is fair, even if a typist probably would charge less. Then again, asking a translator to type instead of translating has and always should have a price. I mean, if I was a doctor, and I was asked to clean up the clinic because nobody else will, I would do it only if I was paid my regular doctor rates.

It comes down to this: when you rent a designer dress for an occasion only because a cheaper dress wasn't available, the business is not going to let you rent if for cheaper just because something cheaper was not available. I am a translator, and no matter what work I am asked to do, I will always charge the translation rate. Makes a lot of sense: if you translate for $.15 per word and proof for half that much, it's perfect, because you will probably spend half as much time proofing than translating. However, when we are talking about hourly rates, there should be no difference, because even if you charge the same hourly rate for everything, you will still get half as much for proofing than for translation.

So, Rosa says she gets paid her PDF typing work as if it was translation - and that's perfectly fair! We're not going to start competing with typists - are we?


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Marius Reika  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 08:32
Partial member (2006)
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Minimum charge May 13, 2006

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

This is why I have a minimum charge for all jobs. If someone asks me to translate just one sentence, I am not going to spend five minutes making an invoice for eighty cents, as the making of the invoice is worth much more than that in terms of time. Therefore, they will pay the minimum charge, even it it would come down to two dollars per word.


There are situations when a minimum charge is a must if one wants to gain any profit. But IMHO minimum charges usually repel clients. A client who today wants you to translate 20 words only, one day might ask you to translate 20000. Losing such client would not be a businesslike approach. That's the way I see it.

Marius Reika


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Deolindo  Identity Verified
Angola
Local time: 06:32
Member
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Minimum charge May 13, 2006

As I work from complicated places (where communications are more often than not a nightmare) I have to get my payments through methods that are also complicated - and expensive. More than once I was forced to turn down small jobs because the fees that I might reasonably charge couldn't even cover the money transfer cost. Should I have gone for a minimum fee, based on cash transfer expenses? Following on Marius' comment, how willing are agencies (and clients, for that matter) to pay for a minimum charge?

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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:32
French to English
+ ...
who says? May 13, 2006

When handling PDFs, we are supposed to charge extra for it, and sadly, most of us don't
Um... are there rules about this? Who dictates them? I agree that it's good practice to charge extra for PDF processing, but I wouldn't want to be told that I *had* to do so - that's not why I'm a freelancer.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:32
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
An agency that behaves like that shows a total lack of respect May 13, 2006

Hi Anne,

I suggest you find some better agencies to work for. The attitude seems to me to show a lack of respect towards you as a serious businessperson.

I don't know how you came to an agreement about the rate to be paid in the first place. However, it sounds to me as if they dictated the rate to you - otherwise they would not treat you with this disrepect now.

I can only suggest that you always insist that you dictate how much you will charge, and also, if necessary, mention that there are no discounts for proper names, links, and so on. It should not need to be mentioned, but there will always be somebody trying to find a way to squeeze a discount out of you if you don't lay down a few rules. Maybe write Terms and Conditions of Business, stating the obvious, that you charge for the number of words that are counted by your software, regardless of what kind of words they are.

I think I also heard a rumour somewhere that in some countries (China, was it?) it is the practice to deduct any numbers from the word count. I am sure every possible trick is tried by some agency at least once.

In a nutshell, you have to be firm, and force them to respect you and your work and the value of your work, and, as a result, pay the full value of it.

Astrid


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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:32
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the suggestions. May 14, 2006

I'm going to try something like Clare's idea, writing XXX instead of the addresses etc.

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
What happens if you translate marketing material with brand names in them? You will spend your time calculating the occurrences of all brand names in your text and deduce it from the invoice?


Perhaps my translations will now end up looking like "Mr [name] and Ms [name] met in [place] on [date] to discuss the [loanword] figures for [brand name]."

However, hopefully at that point they would start to get negative feedback from the customer! If I was the customer, to be honest I wouldn't be too pleased with having to put all the addresses and links back in again, so let's see what the reaction is to Clare's very reasonable solution.

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:
Maybe write Terms and Conditions of Business, stating the obvious, that you charge for the number of words that are counted by your software, regardless of what kind of words they are.


I do have Terms and Conditions, but didn't think of this I'm going to work on them again.

It would be a shame to drop the agency as they have given me some nice work and are usually well-organised and friendly. Maybe it's just one new person who's come up with a cunning plan. It's just a pity for them that it's rather put me off going that extra mile for them.


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:32
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
Coming in late here... May 14, 2006

Anne Koth wrote:

... they have reduced my pay by a small sum as they don't want to pay for the addresses and links which I didn't need to translate. They haven't done it before.



Since when does the customer decide how much to pay??? Try that one on your dentist. "Uhm, no, actually I think I'll pay you 15% less for that filling."

On a serious note, I don't charge a minimum fee and have found that this policy invariably pays off with bigger jobs from these customers. Then I invoice the whole shebang.

This reminds of the story I was told by a German colleague. In Italy we charge by a standard "page" of 1500 keystrokes and one of her customers decided it didn't want to pay for the spaces, only the actual characters. Sosherepliedthatshewouldleaveoutthespacesandthecustomerwouldhavetofigureoutwheretheygo.


Catherine


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Word count includes all typed text May 15, 2006

Anne Koth wrote:
Do other people charge less for addresses, links, etc?


I don't mind giving a reduction for certain pieces of text, but it has to be agreed to at the start of the job. The client cannot simply assume that I would be happy not to get paid for this or that piece of text.

My translation tools enable me to type the links fairly easily, but if I were to translate from hard copy, I would expect to be paid for typing the links, at least. If they are internet links, you could also be expected to be paid for checking that each link works (by visiting each link).

The problem is that you'll have to compromise if you want to retain a good relation with your client. Sure, you can be snooty about it and simply type "##insert link here##" everytime you encounter a link in the source text... but that might aggravate the client.


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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:32
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
any standard phrases? May 16, 2006

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:
Maybe write Terms and Conditions of Business, stating the obvious, that you charge for the number of words that are counted by your software, regardless of what kind of words they are.Astrid


Does anyone know of any standard phrases of this kind, if possible in German? I'm fine-tuning my terms and conditions and would prefer commonly-used phrases, to give them a more professional look.


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