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How does one go about in charging by the hour in a manner acceptable to the client?
Thread poster: Narasimhan Raghavan

Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:47
English to Tamil
+ ...
Jun 30, 2006

In many forum postings dealing with PowerPoint slides translation, I have read that many translators charge the work by the hour. Same goes for proofreading.

This always makes me wonder. How and who does determine the time spent on a file? For people like me working at home, am I supposed to start a stop watch every time I start working on a file and stop the clock at the time of leaving the file? Will the client accept my version of the time spent?

The only time I charge by the hour is while going to the client's office and doing the work there itself. In that case the check-in time and the check-out time determine the time spent on the job, with some previouly agreed upon lunch time being deducted from the total hours. Here too, in the case of interpreting this deduction is not done as I will be interpreting between the client and the visitor even during the lunch hour. As such, in this case, the client never disputes my bill, as he has seen with his own eyes as I was working.

However, when I am doing work at home, what should be done? Somebody told me about installing a timer in the operating system, which starts a clock on starting the work on a file and stops it, when you close the page. The time spent for that session should be recorded in a template. Is such a thing possible? What can such a system do/not do?

I don't know, whether this aspect has been touched upon in any earlier postings.

Regards,
N.Raghavan


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
Honesty Jun 30, 2006

Just be honest about it and charge them a fair price, keep track of your time as best you can. If they don't want to accept that, then don't work for them any more.

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Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 15:17
English to Czech
+ ...
Time Tracker Jun 30, 2006

For people like me working at home, am I supposed to start a stop watch every time I start working on a file and stop the clock at the time of leaving the file?


Exactly.

This is a nice tool:
http://www.formassembly.com/time-tracker/


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Lise Smidth  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 15:17
German to Danish
+ ...
They ought to trust you Jun 30, 2006

Henry Hinds wrote:

Just be honest about it and charge them a fair price, keep track of your time as best you can. If they don't want to accept that, then don't work for them any more.


I agree with Henry. Your clients ought to trust you and pay for the amount of time you said you spent. Simply as that. Just as they have to trust you to deliver a proper quality at the agreed dead line.

br
lise


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:17
French to English
+ ...
rules of thumb Jun 30, 2006

There is a nifty free tool called Time Stamp at www.synap.com, first of all.

Then as noted by others there is the question of mutual trust.

And finally, there is logic:
-for proofread or edited documents you have the file with all the changes you've made highlighted
- for translations, the final product.

There are rules of thumb about average translation times, proofing times and editing times. Sure, there are variants according to the difficulty of the text and the quality of the translation being proofed, but it provides clients with some measure.

It will be obvious whether you work quickly/slowly and well/poorly!

Cheers,

Patricia


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:47
English to Tamil
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Henry, Hynek, Lise and Patricia Jun 30, 2006

It was as I feared. There is no foolproof solution such as the word count - either from the Tools menu or count statistics or from PractiCount & Invoice, which the client too can verify and both can be happy in a Win-Win situation.

So, the client has to trust me. This puts a very big burden on me. In a typical day, as I slog at the computer, the little woman will surge into my room and declare that I will have to go to the grocer to procure some urgent items. She is of the firm opinion that I am playing some games at the computer and am generally having a good time and hence there is no harm if I leg it to the shop.

Then the daughter and son-in-law drop in suddenly and expect me to put aside all the work to do their bidding. Or a distant relative coming from a distant place is coming visiting us and I am supposed to go to the railway stattion which is at a good distance from my house. If I do not oblige, everybody acts distant with me.

It is a wonder I get any work done at all. It was under these circumstances that I desperately needed the timer arrangement, but .....!

Under these circumstances, I prefer to do time-based work at the client's office and word based work while doing translation at home.

Regards,
N.Raghavan


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 18:47
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
That was hilarious, Narasimhan! Jun 30, 2006

Sounded almost like paragraphs from an R.K. Naryanan novel!

Thank you for making my day!

Almost the same plight with me. I keep a jar of chocolates near my table and every time my 4-year old daughter comes into my room with a request to play with her, I bribe her with one to just go away and play elsewhere.

This trick doesn't work with the elder daughter who is in the ninth standard now. And when she barges into the room with a physics or maths problem or for ideas for a Hindi school essay, all that I can do is to curse (softly) under my breath, and attend to her needs in the minimum time, so that I can get back to my work.

I haven't yet found a solution to the problem of the wife wanting to check her email on my computer while I am in the midst of a difficult translation. Mercifully, she doen't use me as an errand runner, for I have a poor memory and she has learnt from bitter experiences that I often forget my errand! Also I am a poor bargainer (or try my best to be) and she spares me the trips to the neighbourhood grocer.


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Susanne Schnitzler  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:17
English to German
LOL Jun 30, 2006

They simply do not take us seriously.

There are days I even expect the aliens to prove their existence physically in my living room only because they need the fun of hampering ...

Cheers
Susanne


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 08:17
English to Russian
+ ...
My 2 cents Jun 30, 2006

Normally I handle it in 1 of 3 ways:

1. Under File-Properties-Statistics in the main PP menu there is a word count so when PP suggests minimum formatting like mostly bullet points and a few boxes I accept it as plain text - I love PP and it does not slow me down really.

2. With complicated formatting I

a)charge 2 rates - words and DTP based on average DTP rate established with that client

b) agree on x number of slides per hour flat - in 16 years I grew pretty good at calculating my time and slides with 1-2 bullets offset overpopulated ones

Another way of doing it - translate, get the word count, send it to the agency for formatting and switch to my prime task - translating another job. Of all - my favorite:-)

One thing I don't understand about those timing SW - how can one prove that open file means file being worked on? A cheater can just leave it open for the time of grocery shopping. Colleagues are right - trust must be present.


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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:17
German to English
I don't like charging by the hour for precisely this reason. Jun 30, 2006

I prefer to charge per line. However, with proofreading, it sometimes works better by the hour. I usually have a look though the text and try to work out roughly how long I might need per page in advance, so that I can tell the client how much it should be. That way they don't get a shock when the bill comes. Of course, this has the disadvantage that it might turn out to take longer than you expected, although so far I've found my estimates work out well.

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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:17
German to English
+ ...
Trust is important Jun 30, 2006

My clients trust me to charge them fairly. If they ask for a formal quote on an hourly job, I tell them that the price I offer is the maximum - and then if my work time is less than the quote, I lower the price. If I go over, that's my loss and a lesson for the future in how to quote more accurately. This fosters trust because they know what they are getting.

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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:17
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
One way to double-check Jun 30, 2006

When I charge by the hour, I try to start exactly on the hour or half hour and work in chunks of one or 2 hours at a time - that way it's easy to keep track of the time spent. Obviously, this would be difficult to do in your circumstances, which you have described for us with a great sense of humour.

When the job is finished, I add up the hours but also take a word count. This is one way to double-check that my final charge is not substantially more than what it would have been if I had charged by the word. Unless there is complicated formatting involved the two are usually not too far apart.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:47
English to Tamil
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Come on Balasubramaniam Jul 1, 2006

Balasubramaniam wrote:
Almost the same plight with me. I keep a jar of chocolates near my table and every time my 4-year old daughter comes into my room with a request to play with her, I bribe her with one to just go away and play elsewhere.

I haven't yet found a solution to the problem of the wife wanting to check her email on my computer while I am in the midst of a difficult translation. Mercifully, she doen't use me as an errand runner, for I have a poor memory and she has learnt from bitter experiences that I often forget my errand! Also I am a poor bargainer (or try my best to be) and she spares me the trips to the neighbourhood grocer.


But then it might happen that the little princess will disturb you more often just to get the chocolate! Your little woman has nothing to tell you about the child having tooth problems developed because of the chocolate?

Then you have tougher time ahead as the elder princess reaches the tenth standard next year! As for the little woman checking the email, on my house, I am the only one handling the computer and the little woman has no email.

But I envy you on the errand front. I should have developed this strategy way back in 1971 itself when I married. Now I guess it is a little late in the day to develop your skill in the matter.

Regards,
N.Raghavan


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:47
English to Tamil
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
People are still of the opinion that you have to go to office to work! Jul 1, 2006

One of the usual refrains I get to hear is to the effect, "You are at home and can have a better time management" and expect to take up unnecessary (in my view) work. Time management? Yes, I have got the whole night at my disposal I suppose.

Regards,
N.Raghavan

Susanne Schnitzler wrote:

They simply do not take us seriously.

There are days I even expect the aliens to prove their existence physically in my living room only because they need the fun of hampering ...

Cheers
Susanne


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