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Client refuses to pay full sum
Thread poster: Inga Jakobi

Inga Jakobi  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:29
Member (2006)
Chinese to German
+ ...
Oct 25, 2006

Hi everybody,

I would like to hear your comments/opinions on the following situation:

I completed a quite big job with source language Chinese. Unfortunately, the source text was only available as hard copy so there was no possibility to count the words or lines and I quoted per target line (which is quite common in germany anyway). The client agreed, sent me a written purchase order and I started working on the file. Of course there was no possibility to really estimate the full amount beforehand and when I delivered the translation and asked the client to confirm my line count, he told me that the translation was too expensive, that he wasn't able to pay such an amount and that I would have had to inform him earlier about the translation being that expensive. Of course when he sent me an extract of the source text, I started counting the characters and tried to estimate the final sum, but I didn't feel responsible of informing him because he accepted the job from his client and I couldn't assume that he couldn't deal with Chinese. IMO, he must have had an idea about the language pair he offers his clients himself and know that the target text will definitely be longer than the source text. I didn't send him the invoice straight away and he asked for a price reduction. I asked him to make a proposal, but now I have been waiting for two weeks without receiving any concrete proposal and still wonder how to continue. On one hand, I would give him a small discount just out of kindness but on the other hand, it was him who mis-calculated.
Thanks in advance for any advice or comment!

Inga

[Bearbeitet am 2006-10-25 18:52]


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:29
German to English
Written purchase order? Oct 25, 2006

Then there's no argument, is there. Caveat emptor, and all that.

It's pretty standard procedure in such cases where an advance quote is more or less impossible (or would involve too much effort) simply to quote a target line price, as you did. The client accepted, so that's that.

Insist on payment in full, usual 30 days net (or maybe 2% 14 days).

Robin


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 16:29
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Dear Inga Oct 25, 2006

That's why I hate and I try to avoid by all means charging per target length.

Whenever I have to do it, in my P.O. it's stated that the client or me will accept a variation of + or - 10% of the agreed amount. So, even if the final amount is unknown, we're both protected by this 10% around my estimate and we both have an idea of the final amount.

In this case, I must say that I understand the client's situation. You are the expert and you should have told him that the translation would be longer, and cost more money.

What to do... I think that I'd take this as a lesson for avoiding the same mistake in future. And accept what he expected to pay.

Claudia


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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:29
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
I see this as the client's fault Oct 25, 2006

Hi everybody,

Claudia Iglesias wrote:
In this case, I must say that I understand the client's situation. You are the expert and you should have told him that the translation would be longer, and cost more money.


I also understand the client's situation. Nobody wants to make a loss. But I see no fault on Inga's side here. If the client is so unexperienced as not to know that Chinese text becomes much longer when translated into German, they shouldn't have offered this language combination in the first place.

And if I, as an agency, agree on a payment per target text, I'd just charge the end-client on this basis as well.

Claudia Iglesias wrote:
What to do... I think that I'd take this as a lesson for avoiding the same mistake in future. And accept what he expected to pay.
Claudia


I clearly see this situation as the client's fault. And I find it unprofessional that they ask Inga to reduce her price. Furthermore they let her wait for so long without any reply. I'd rather see it as a lesson for the client. Next time they will know about the source/target ratio in this language combination.

To look at it from the translator's perspective: If I accept a job at a certain rate and find out that it is much more difficult than expected, I do not ask the client for an increased rate. I calculated wrongly, so I have to put in the extra time and effort at the agreed rate.

Inga could offer to accept a reduced price. But just out of niceness.

My opinion

Stefanie

[Edited at 2006-10-25 19:49]


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Inga Jakobi  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:29
Member (2006)
Chinese to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
How should I know he can't handle Chinese? Oct 25, 2006

Claudia Iglesias wrote:

In this case, I must say that I understand the client's situation. You are the expert and you should have told him that the translation would be longer, and cost more money.




But how am I supposed to know that he is no expert in this language pair if he 1st offers this language combination and 2nd doesn't ask me for an estimation, but accepts the rate without any further comments?


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:29
French to English
+ ...
A contract is.... Oct 25, 2006

A contract.

I agree with RobinB and Stefanie, I think the onus on the client.

If the language pairs had been reversed (German to Chinese) and the client had asked for a target word count, for example, it would have been up to Inga to protect herself, explain the ratio between the two language and adjust accordingly if she saw fit.

If she had failed to do that and at the end of the job had the nerve to turn to the client to ask for increased payment without having negotiated the terms in advance, the client would be right to insist she respect the contract.

Too easy to say the work is too expensive once it is done!

Patricia


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Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 03:29
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
10% discount out of goodwill Oct 25, 2006

Stefanie Sendelbach wrote:

To look at it from the translator's perspective: If I accept a job at a certain rate and find out that it is much more difficult than expected, I do not ask the client for an increased rate. I calculated wrongly, so I have to put in the extra time and effort at the agreed rate.


Agree!

Stefanie Sendelbach wrote:
Inga could offer to accept a reduced price. But just out of niceness.


If I were in Inga's situation, I would give a 10% discount out of goodwill. Inga, you should just send an invoice to your client and demand payment within 14 days (since he wasted two weeks of your time). You have to be assertive when dealing with such clients. Good luck!!

Denyce

[Edited at 2006-10-25 20:07]


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Inga Jakobi  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:29
Member (2006)
Chinese to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Send a reduced invoice? Oct 25, 2006

Denyce Seow wrote:

If I was in Inga's situation, I would give a 10% discount out of goodwill. Inga, you should just send an invoice to your client and demand payment within 14 days (since he wasted two weeks of your time).


Hi,
so would you just send him an invoice and state 10% discount, or would you send the invoice with the original amount and wait for his reaction?
Inga


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 16:29
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Let me see if I understand all the points Oct 25, 2006

- you quoted per target line but you didn't give an estimate of the total amount nor an idea of the expected number of lines.

If this is what happened, I think the quote wasn't complete.

If your client signed a P.O. accepting to pay xx per target line, you're protected and the client should pay. The fact that he doesn't answer is another problem, quite annoying.

I try to think about the situation independently from the languages involved and the knowledge the client can have about translation.

Obviously, it seems that I'm against the majority here

Claudia


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Inga Jakobi  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:29
Member (2006)
Chinese to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Source text only as hard copy Oct 25, 2006

Dear Claudia,

Claudia Iglesias wrote:

- you quoted per target line but you didn't give an estimate of the total amount nor an idea of the expected number of lines.



They sent me a hard copy, I wasn't able to estimate the final amount, I only did a vague calculation, but this wouldn't have been of real help anyway as it was really vague. But they could at least have done the same when quoting to their customer, or ask me to give an estimation, but they just didn't.


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:29
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Pacta sunt servanda Oct 25, 2006

is what I'd say here, at least if the client is an agency or an outsourcer: If you've got a PO, stick to what you agreed.

However, if your client is a direct client who was not aware of the specific implications of charging for target word count in this particular language direction, I'd indeed feel obligated to inform the client beforehand, or to offer a discount, if I failed to do so.

Your client seems to be an agency, though, and it's their task to be aware of such problems (or at least to ask for it). I'd certainly not offer them a discount, if I were you.

My 2 cents...

[Bearbeitet am 2006-10-25 21:14]


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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:29
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Estimate the target word count Oct 25, 2006

Claudia Iglesias wrote:

- you quoted per target line but you didn't give an estimate of the total amount nor an idea of the expected number of lines.

If this is what happened, I think the quote wasn't complete.


Hi Claudia,

Now I understand what you meant with the 10% variation that you state in your PO. I try to quote based on the source text whenever possible. But if I had to quote based on the target text in the past, I never provided an estimate of the target word count. I didn't know anybody did this.

Is this common practice? Do other colleagues also send estimates of their target word count when they charge based on the target text?

Stefanie


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Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 20:29
Member (2003)
English to Czech
+ ...
No discount Oct 25, 2006

I would send an invoice for the full amount with the agreed payment terms. If the client doesn't pay, I would remind him, then warn him, then make an entry in BlueBoard and pp_dist and then contact a lawyer.

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Inga Jakobi  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:29
Member (2006)
Chinese to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Probably too late for full amount Oct 25, 2006

Hynek Palatin wrote:

I would send an invoice for the full amount with the agreed payment terms.


The longer I think about it, the more would I like to claim the full amount. But kind as I am, I already offered him a reduction and asked him to make a proposal


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Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 20:29
Member (2003)
English to Czech
+ ...
Still no discount Oct 25, 2006

But kind as I am, I already offered him a reduction and asked him to make a proposal


He didn't make any, so you can withdraw your offer and send an invoice for the full amount. Or you can be nice and give him a 10% discount, as others have already suggested, but there's really no reason to do it (or maybe there is - a bigger chance of getting more jobs from the client in the future than in the first case).

BTW, I'm not sure it was a good strategy to ask the client to propose a discount himself.

Good luck!


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