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Cheating on word count?
Thread poster: EngRusTranslations -

EngRusTranslations -
Local time: 20:56
English to Russian
+ ...
Feb 7, 2007

Dear colleagues, translators and agency workers,
Not like it matters any more, but I really would like to hear your opinion.

I work with many translators and I do respect them and I DO TRUST THEM. I have never had anything like this happen to me. Still trying to calm down, but it just burns my b*tt (pardon my language!).

So, here is the story:
Material needs to be translated. At first glance, I estimated it as 600 words. Send it to a translator for a quote (I usually try to get him/her to see the project – who knows – maybe the text is difficult, or will require more time, etc. etc. You know what I am talking about). He gives me a quote - $0.10 per word. Great! Please, proceed with the translation.

In the invoice, he puts 600 words, thus, 60 bucks. Ok, I address the client and he looks at me as if I am crazy – there are no 600 words – it is 400. All right, turns out it is 400 words. Well, all went fine and dandy with the client. No problem – he must be happy. He is happy, we are happy, right?

I called the translator and asked him to run the numbers. He said that there were 380 words. Then, as a logical path, I asked him to refund me the difference or to give me a credit for future jobs. He told me – the amount is not that big to jeopardize our future work, I believe I performed work for the entire amount, etc. etc. Then he started saying something about minimum rate (??? Why didn’t you tell me that before? ). You know...

I ended up paying from my own pocket. It is not much, but it is money. What kind of a cheating is this? I should have not paid him right after the job was done. But I always try to pay guys as fast as I can, I hate to hold on to the money and pay in 30-60 days. So, what is your opinion? I just really want to hear – is that me with a big screw in my head?

P.S. I am sorry that it turned out all bamboozled – I am so upset. It is not even about the money, it is about trust and loyalty. I thought. So, now I will have to move payment for 30 days later, I guess...


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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:56
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
I always control the amount of words or lines, if I outsource translations. Feb 7, 2007

Not because I think, someone is going to cheat, but just there are always some mistakes possible. I dont one to be the one (as in your case) to pay from my own pocket.

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Liliana Roman-Hamilton  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:56
English to Italian
My point of view Feb 7, 2007

I understand your point, but from your story I can see that the mistake might have been yours.

You stated that on a first glance you considered the text as being 600 words and you put it on paper even on the invoice. First glances and generalizations are not acceptable in work transactions involving money. You should have been more careful yourself, forgive me if I sound harsh.

Why didn't you use a word counter? It was your responsibility to check the text before rushing the job to someone. I agree, the translator should have told you before starting the translation that the word count was much lower, just for a matter of correctness, but YOU should have checked it first, just to avoid such unpleasant mishaps.

Believe me I am sorry for what happened to you, but...

What happened will help you to be more accurate next time and do the word count not once but twice ot three times before starting any project.

[Edited at 2007-02-07 20:25]

[Edited at 2007-02-07 20:25]


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Cecilia Di Vita  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:56
English to Italian
+ ...
MY 2 CENTS Feb 7, 2007

Dear Natalia,

I understand your being so upset but to be honest I think you should have agreed on the wordcount before assigning the job to the translator. He is in fault as well, because he didn't check the wordcount neither when he received the job (or maybe he pretendend to...).

I think that this is one of the first things to make clear when starting business cooperation, along with deadlines, payment terms and other possible requirements.

Then, I agree with you that he was not correct to cheat on wordcount from the beginning. I mean, it's not the top of professionality. Maybe he realized that but hoped that you or the client would not.

However, I'm sure that you won't work with this person anymore, as well as I'm sure that in the future you will carefully count every single word on a document to be translated...

Regards

Cecilia


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EngRusTranslations -
Local time: 20:56
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks, Cecilia Feb 7, 2007

Because I honestly started thinking that there IS something wrong with me. Well, the thing is that usually I just send files to a translator and he/she counts the words, or we agree to a flat price. I have never been lied like that before... Well, of course, I learnt my lesson) He quoted per source word, not per total or flat fee or something like that. Well, thanks anyway. I will keep that in mind. Makes me want to go and double check all the translations we have done...

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Tatiana Neamţu
Romania
Local time: 05:56
English to Romanian
+ ...
What? Feb 7, 2007

Natalia BAGNIOUK wrote:

Makes me want to go and double check all the translations we have done...


You mean to say you didn´t at the respective time ..... ????


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
No need to be upset:-) Feb 7, 2007

Cecilia Di Vita wrote:

I understand your being so upset but to be honest I think you should have agreed on the wordcount before assigning the job to the translator. He is in fault as well, because he didn't check the wordcount neither when he received the job (or maybe he pretendend to...).


Then, I agree with you that he was not correct to cheat on wordcount from the beginning. I mean, it's not the top of professionality. Maybe he realized that but hoped that you or the client would not.

However, I'm sure that you won't work with this person anymore, as well as I'm sure that in the future you will carefully count every single word on a document to be translated...


Cecilia


I don't quite agree. Yes, in theory, the conditions of a job should be agreed, but sometimes things aren't quite that simple.

One thing is telling a translator it's 600 words and he/she has X time, then the job turns out to be more, in which case he/she would have to work harder/faster, and understandably be rather annoyed or just a bit upset at the goal posts being moved... QUITE another matter is the job being fewer words (provided it doesn't fall to below a certain minimum - which indeed should be clarified), as it doesn't place the translator under any extra pressure.

This person has very short-term vision, because a) he/she failed to recognise that human error IS possible, and b) he/she has now bitten the hand that feeds him/her by quibbling - not even over pay - but over a trivial issue like 200 words LESS. Pretty stupid:-)

So don't be upset:-)



[Edited at 2007-02-07 21:15]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:56
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Business principles Feb 7, 2007

Hi Natalia,

While I agree with others, that you should have checked the exact word count yourself first, I think the guy was really mean to you on this occasion.

There is one thing that is quite sure, where money is concerned. More often than not, it is very difficult (or almost impossible) to get money back from anyone once you have paid it, whatever the reason for requiring a refund, and whether the reason be justified or not.

I don't think you need to specially wait a month to pay translators from now on, but it would probably be advisable to wait about a week, just to be sure that everything has gone off smoothly first.

I outsource work reasonably often, and I make sure I am on top of the word count before concluding a deal with anyone. The word count is the basis of their invoice, after all. In particular, you need to make sure you check in advance whether the translator intends to charge by source or target words and, if target words, how many more words that might turn out to be than in the source document (with German to English, for example, it is often as much as 35% more, which could really put you out of pocket!).

Although we like to assume that everyone is honest, it is nevertheless a good idea to calculate the amount of the invoice you expect to receive from the translator prior to concluding the deal.

I wish you all the best for the future, anyway. In business, we can only look forward, not back, if we are to be successful.

Best regards,

Astrid


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:56
Swedish to English
+ ...
Not counting words???? Feb 7, 2007

Natalia BAGNIOUK wrote:

Well, the thing is that usually I just send files to a translator and he/she counts the words, or we agree to a flat price.


The purpose of being an agency/outsourcer is to add something of value to the translation process. And you couldn't even be bothered to do a (two second) word count?

An agency/outsourcer that can't even be bothered to do a word count is, in my view, unprofessional.


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EngRusTranslations -
Local time: 20:56
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I understand, but.. Feb 7, 2007

Guys, it gets better – now he tells me that his minimum rate is $50. So, let me think – I ordered 382 words, which is $38.20, there is a minimum of $50, but I paid $60. Wow, check this out)

Once again, all that stuff about making agreements BEFORE job assignment - I do it all. Tatiana, when I work with a person for quite some time, I know for sure that she/he is not going to lie to me about the amount of words. Most of the people I work with are honest and loyal. Now, also I am Russian, and after living in the United States I see the difference between 2 mentalities: in Russia, for instance, you do need to double-triple check everything. In US, many things are based on trust and honor. This is an off top and I am not going to go in depth of this subject now. The person lives in the US. I mean when you trust companies with your credit/debit card info and account information... Who knows? The guy who is processing your card, may simply get himself a couple of dollars. Well, not a very good example, but still... I do trust translators, and I want to believe that they do trust me, too. However, yes, there was many times when I just leave it u to a person. By the way, I did go check (just for the interest) and yes, word count is exact everywhere.

As about the situation:
I send him the document and say - hey, here is the doc. It is about 600 words. Please, take a look at it and give me a quote.

He goes: it's $0.10 per word and I can do it by [whatever].
So he delivers. Nice translation (simple text though). I thank him for the job well done, pay him by Paypal immediately and go to my client. The client says - but it is not 600 words, it is 400. (Now, again, I've been working with the client forever and a day, thus, I know his creditability and I know that he will pay, so I do not charge him upfront). I apologize, charge the correct amount. Done.

Go back to the guy - I charged you a) flat fee; b) minimal rate. He doesn't even know what he is charging. I mean, when he saw the document, he didn't tell me - $60. He told me $0.10 psw, right? So, it is logical, that 382 x $0.1 is $38.20. Right? What are these, hidden charges?

Now, I was very polite and nice and I asked kindly to refund what does not belong to him. He refuses. Well, of course, I am not going to hire him again anymore, and I will inform all my colleagues in other agencies about his behavior. I mean, I paid $28 bucks for that, could I have a pleasure?)

This is the same as we would go to the store, and say - we need potatoes for a dinner, the seller of potatoes says - each potato is $1. So, he says - 6 potatoes will be enough for you. You pay for six potatoes, come home and see only four potatoes in the bag. What a...? You go back to the store, and the seller says - no, I am not going to return you the difference, we charge for 6 potatoes minimum. But he never told you that in the first place. I mean - any common sense?

Well, thank you for your words of support and non-support - everything counts. I have learnt my lesson) Thank you, guys!


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Maria Karra  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:56
Member (2000)
Greek to English
+ ...
unprofessional behavior Feb 8, 2007

Hi Natalia.
Yes, you should have done an exact word count simply to avoid the situation you're in right now. But that doesn't mean you are to blame. I'm sure the translator did a word count as soon as he got the file (come on, we all do, sometimes even hoping that it will turn out larger than we were told), but apparently he chose not to tell you. And that, in my opinion, is dishonest.

You've lost a few dollars; just put this experience in the 'live and learn' category and don't lose any more sleep over it.
He, on the other hand, lost a client, which is certainly a bigger loss than yours. And that's clearly his fault. (Not very smart of him, if you ask me, to lose a client over a few dollars, especially when he knew he got more money than he worked for).

Maria


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
One freelancer's perspective Feb 8, 2007

You seem annoyed that the translator didn't mention his $50 minimum up front. He had no reason to: his client -- you -- said it was a 600-word job. Presumably he does what I do: I never mention my minimum to an agency if their initial word count exceeds my minimum

I'm amazed that neither you nor the translated flagged the incorrect word count sooner. Despite that, however, it's bizarre that he wouldn't refund or credit the $10 difference.

[Edited at 2007-02-08 05:35]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:56
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
The main problem is that you had already paid him Feb 8, 2007

Hi Natalia,

The main problem is that you paid the guy so quickly. A lot of people simply do not want to return any money they have already received, especially if it is January or February and they are hard up. People who are of this nature will just say anything in order to hang onto the money. I have also in the past had bad experiences which are based on this precise fact. Therefore, we learn for the future: never pay anybody for anything too quickly.

There is not much point, in this situation, in wasting your time either talking to the person concerned or talking about the matter to anyone else. In engaging in these activities, you are losing some energy, and energy expended is what turns into money. Therefore, for every minute that you give your attention to the matter you are losing more money - and you do not need to, because you already know that you will not work with the same person again.

Astrid


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Alan Chen  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 11:56
Member (2008)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Don't cooperate with those unhonest guy any more this after Feb 8, 2007

The best way is to keep away from those guy. If he recieve regular and great mount of translation from you, I can bet he'll be regret. However, as a translator, I never adopt these tricks to cheak for money, casue I can earn more though my honesty and my good translation service. He's so short-sighted.

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Voloshka  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:56
English to Russian
+ ...
Natalia, what word amount did you indicate in PO? Feb 8, 2007

I almost never count words especially if it's about SDLX, PowerPoint or pdf files, I trust the outsourcer. He/she sends a PO where the number of words is fixed and I put the same amount in my invoice.

I count words only if an outsourcer says "It's around..."

Sometimes (with different PowerPoint versions) the wordcount gap may be 100 words. It happened to me too, my statistics counted 100 words more and the outsourcer was surprised. I did not mind to get paid according to his statistics as I could not prove it.

[Edited at 2007-02-08 12:14]


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