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Mistake with translation order
Thread poster: Mark Nathan

Mark Nathan  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:05
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
Dec 4, 2006

I recently completed an approx 18,000 word technical translation for a one person agency. This is the first job that I have done for them, but he did have a good reference from an agency that I deal with, and who in fact put him in touch with me.
Being Belgian he had a complicated lines and characters system that I could not get to grips with. I asked him to confirm the calculation and amount to be paid three times in separate emails.

I have now delivered the translation and almost by return he has emailed to say that he has made a mistake and that he mixed up the file I translated with another, larger file. Therefore he will be paying me much less.

Obviously this is not acceptable, even if he really did make a mistake.
Given that arguing with him is unlikely to get me anywhere does anyone have any suggestions?


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Romualdas Zvonkus  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 18:05
Member (2006)
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
"Mistake" Dec 4, 2006

It is always suspicious when "mistakes" benefit the ones who make them.

Unless he/she goes for some kind of compromise, I suggest you tell him that his mistakes are not your problem and put all the information about him and the agency which recommended him on the blue board.

Next time he will have harder time to find someone to make "mistakes" with.


Sincerely,
R. Zvonkus


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Hamza Gürdal  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:05
German to Turkish
+ ...
General terms and conditions Dec 4, 2006

If customer or contractor makes mistakes, he is up to compensate the legal/material consequences. There are several points to consider:

1.1 Does your "General Terms and Conditions" point at this responsibility of the costumer/contractor

1.2 Do you possess the documentation of the process: Form costumer demanded extent and so on.

If you can prove that the contactor is wrong, then you can choose between to strategies:

2.1 You sue him.
2.2 If you want believe in this "mistake" story, you should insist on the payment of a part of the difference ( He/she would be fair if this part is eual to/more than half of the difference between his and your price).

If you can provide 1.1 and 1.2, you can suggest 2.2. If 2.2 not successful, then 2.1.

PS. If the contractor made this "mistake" to get a bargain, try to get as much as possible.

wish you success!


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Flo Demolis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:05
French to English
+ ...
Ask him to pay per target word Dec 4, 2006

Hi Mark,

You could try giving him the benefit of the doubt and offer to charge him per target word for once. I presume you usually charge per source word and that you know how many words there are in your translated document. Any time I have had to translate a document where it was impossible to work out the number of source words, I have used this method.

I don't see what being Belgian has to do with it. I've never heard of a Belgian agency calculating French to English translations any other way than per source word. Did he not give you a PO with the number of words and the amount to be paid? If you have a PO, you have a right to invoice him for the amount on the PO, but if he has made a genuine mistake I think target word payment is the best solution.

Best wishes,
Flo


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Henrik Pipoyan  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:05
Member (2004)
English to Armenian
They have to pay you for the work you have done Dec 4, 2006

Once an agency sent me a rather voluminous translation in PowerPoint and forgot to tell me not to translate the text on notes pages. I translated also notes pages, which was almost five times the size of the text on the slides, and they didn’t say a word, agreed to pay me in full. Of course, I reduced the rate a little, but they would pay me the whole sum if I hadn’t. And they keep sending me orders.

Another agency once had to stop the project on halfway, when I had already translated some 25,000 words, because the client had decided not to translate the text. They paid me in full for every single word I had translated, and didn’t even accept my suggestion to use a discounted rate. They also keep sending me orders.

Unfortunately the forum rules forbid me to write the names of these agencies, both of which are ProZ.com members. They can serve as an excellent example of professional and responsible attitude.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:05
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Compromise Dec 4, 2006

I would offer to translate the second "correct" job at a substantial discount to be delivered upon receipt of payment in full for the first file (or for both files). This way you will be able to ascertain the validity of his story and earn a little extra money. After all, if there really is such a document, why would he want to pay someone more? If the documents are similar, you have already done some research, so the second one should be a little easier.

Mark Nathan wrote:

I recently completed an approx 18,000 word technical translation for a one person agency. This is the first job that I have done for them, but he did have a good reference from an agency that I deal with, and who in fact put him in touch with me.
Being Belgian he had a complicated lines and characters system that I could not get to grips with. I asked him to confirm the calculation and amount to be paid three times in separate emails.

I have now delivered the translation and almost by return he has emailed to say that he has made a mistake and that he mixed up the file I translated with another, larger file. Therefore he will be paying me much less.

Obviously this is not acceptable, even if he really did make a mistake.
Given that arguing with him is unlikely to get me anywhere does anyone have any suggestions?


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:05
German to English
+ ...
Mistake with translation order Dec 4, 2006

FrenchtoEnglish wrote:

I don't see what being Belgian has to do with it. I've never heard of a Belgian agency calculating French to English translations any other way than per source word.


Do Belgian agencies use different counting methods depending upon the language? I work for several Belgian agencies, generally Dutch > English, and without exception the billing unit is the line of 60 keystrokes (including spaces) of target text.

Marc


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Mark Nathan  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:05
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
60 characters per line Dec 4, 2006

I have since established that 60 characters per line is the basis of the billing system. And that the reason that I didn't understand was that he really had made a mistake.

The job was split between several translators and the other larger file that I mentioned has supposedly already been translated by someone else.


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Flo Demolis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:05
French to English
+ ...
Counting methods Dec 4, 2006

MarcPrior wrote:

FrenchtoEnglish wrote:

I don't see what being Belgian has to do with it. I've never heard of a Belgian agency calculating French to English translations any other way than per source word.


Do Belgian agencies use different counting methods depending upon the language? I work for several Belgian agencies, generally Dutch > English, and without exception the billing unit is the line of 60 keystrokes (including spaces) of target text.

Marc


Hi Marc,

I don't know how other language pairs are billed. I just know that in my experience of working in French to English with Belgian agencies, there never has been any question of keystrokes or characters or lines.

My suggestion to Mark still seems to me to be a reasonable way to solve the problem. If the basis of the contract is 60 characters per line, then charge per target line. If the person has made a genuine mistake I think he will accept this. He won't be losing out and Mark will be paid for the work he has actually done.

Flo


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Joeri Van Liefferinge  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 17:05
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
You can check... Dec 5, 2006

If you have agreed on a rate per target line of 60 keystrokes, it is very easy for you to check how much your client owes you, isn't it? I must say I don't understand how you can argue on that... You can calculate the number of lines, and so can the client, and both of you should come up with the same result, there's nothing to argue about, is there?

fwiw

Joeri


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Mark Nathan  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:05
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
May be I am slightly to blame? Dec 5, 2006

When he sent me the (incorrect) bon de commande I checked it and could not see how he arrived at that number of lines. I was not familiar with the lines system. I emailed him twice to confirm the number of lines. Twice he confirmed the (incorrect) number of lines.
I did not make a connection with the other larger file , I just thought there was a way of calculating lines on the basis of numbers of characters, spaces, whatever, that I was not familiar with.
When I converted the (incorrect) lines price to a more familar per word rate, it seemed like a reasonable rate for a technical translation that was going to require a great deal of research (0.11 euros/word). Now I realize that he only intended to pay me 0.074 euros/word. Had I known this I would not have accepted the job; it involved researching hundreds of terms in a specialist field.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:05
German to English
+ ...
Mistake with translation order Dec 5, 2006

FrenchtoEnglish wrote:

My suggestion to Mark still seems to me to be a reasonable way to solve the problem. If the basis of the contract is 60 characters per line, then charge per target line. If the person has made a genuine mistake I think he will accept this. He won't be losing out and Mark will be paid for the work he has actually done.


As I understand it (Mark, please correct me if I'm wrong), the problem is that Mark did not understand the billing system. He therefore agreed to a line rate, i.e. a rate in the system which he did not understand, but to protect himself asked the customer to confirm the number of lines. From this number, confirmed by the customer, Mark calculated whether the rate was appropriate.

Unfortunately, the customer made a mistake and counted the wrong file. The resulting end price, upon which Mark based his decision to accept the order, was therefore incorrect.

This problem cannot be solved by saying "use this counting method" or "use that counting method instead". The problem is not the counting system as such, but that two parties originally reached an agreement based upon incorrect information. From a legal point of view, the question is: what information formed the basis of the contract? Mark was relying on the end price, the customer upon the rate per line, but these figures are not consistent with each other. If Mark charges for the work he has actually done, based upon the per-line price that he originally agreed, he will earn less than he originally anticipated.

A court would have to decide who is "right", but it appears to be a genuine mistake. I would not assume that the customer is not prepared per se to pay the end price originally agreed, but that he is only prepared to pay a certain per-line price because that is the basis for what he in turn is charging *his* customer. It's unfortunate, but I would suggest that the two parties try to reach an amicable agreement in which they split the loss.

Marc


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 22:05
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Just give him a certain amount of discount Dec 5, 2006

Mark Nathan wrote:

Being Belgian he had a complicated lines and characters system that I could not get to grips with. I asked him to confirm the calculation and amount to be paid three times in separate emails.

I have now delivered the translation and almost by return he has emailed to say that he has made a mistake and that he mixed up the file I translated with another, larger file. Therefore he will be paying me much less.



Based on the quotation above, it is very clear that you have sent three emails to confirm the calculation of source text and the total cost, and he confirmed them three times.

If there is a mistake, he should immediately tell you when he replied one of the three emails. In fact, there is no revision at all. The notification of mistake was made after you sent the translation. This is completely the client's mistake, not yours.

Next, you have translated the whole source text. For this, you deserve the three-times-confirmed total amount regardless of his mistake. To be decisive, no discount.

However, as a sign of good will, you may give him a certain amount of discount.

[Edited at 2006-12-05 12:23]


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