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Can I re-negotiate my proofreading rates after starting on job?
Thread poster: Nesrin

Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:01
English to Arabic
+ ...
Feb 27, 2007

Hi all -

I've just started working on a huge proofreading job (45k words), an English translation prepared by a non-native English speaker*. The quality turned out to be really poor, and - as you can guess - it's taking me almost as much time to proofread as it would have taken me to translate.

Seeing as the rate I've agreed on is already a bit lower than my usual rate, what should I do? I've already received a PO from the client, and I've done similar jobs for them before but never anything as disastrous as this one.

I've already checked the forums and found this thread http://www.proz.com/topic/62554 ("Proofreading hopeless translations"), but most of you have either recommended viewing the document before starting on the job, or just getting on with it (but they were talking of cases where the text was 1,000 or 2,000 words - not 45,000 words!)

What should I do???

---
*PS: You will have noticed that I'm not a native English speaker either - so there are no native English speakers involved here to begin with!! But I'd already done some "into English" jobs for that client before, so it seems they were convinced that I was up to the job... Either that or they're just desperate!



[Edited at 2007-02-27 10:32]


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Cecilia Di Vita  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:01
English to Italian
+ ...
inform the agency Feb 27, 2007

Dear Nesrin,

I would definitely inform the agency that the translation is a complete disaster and that the rate they're offering you is not up to the task. If the proofreading involves a substantial amount of changes, then it's not a proofreading anymore, but it's something much more similar to a plain translation, so the rate should reflect this fact.

If the agency is comprehensive, they will acknowledge your honesty and will probably accept your proposal.

It just happened to me to proofread a horrorous translation, I pointed this out to the agency, saying that it would have been easier for me to translate the whole text from scratch, and they agreed to pay the usual rate for translation.

Best of luck

Cecilia


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:01
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Inform the agency Feb 27, 2007

I had similar situation not long ago. The only difference was I told the client that the rate can change once I actually see the translation and even proofread few pages. The quality turned out to be horrid so I sent them first few proofread pages with tracked changes to illustrate how much work I actually have to do.

I suggest you do the same - send them a few pages with tracked changes and maybe briefly describe the nature of the changes made. You can let them know you will not be able to finish this job at the current rate as it would mean loosing money while you could spend this time on other projects which would not take so long and would pay much better.

And of course - next time give a binding quote only after seeing the text.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Ines


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:01
Dutch to English
+ ...
Beyond the scope of proofreading ..... Feb 27, 2007

If the text is that bad, your job no longer falls under the scope of proofreading.

It would have been best to review the text first, but I suggest bite the bullet and get on the phone with the client.

Explain that what you are in fact being asked to does not coincide with what is stated on the PO (proofreading) and, in fact, amounts to very heavy editing and/or retranslation and re-negotiate from there.

If you have negotiated an hourly rate, let them know that the estimated hour count is not going to cover your time in view of the standard of the text. Show them the first page or so and explain how long that has taken, so they can get a real feel for the problem.

I know you hate negotiation (saw it just now in another thread) but stick to your guns here - this is NOT proofreading.

Only way to approach it now, but in future ask to see all texts first for this reason. It's best to sort out these issues upfront. Part of our daily learning curve.

And as for not being native English, you have declared upfront - unlike some colleagues on this site who blatantly lie about their native language - that Arabic is your native language, so your client is aware of this. Big difference.

Best of luck!

[Edited at 2007-02-27 12:19]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:01
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Inform the agency II Feb 27, 2007

Hi Nesrin,

At the very least, I guess you'd be needing an adjustment in timetable/deadline. When commenting on the fact, you'd do well to stress the extra effort the job requires, perhaps trying to find an adjustment between the terms originally agreed upon, if quoted in words, and new time-based terms.

In my combinations, for instance, 1,200-1,500 words/hour is still a reasonable proofreader's job. If you find you're going down to 900/hour or worse, it's a critical drop in productivity and can be formulated in ratios.

However, if you consider this a bad move, you could indicate willingness to go through as a token of goodwill, warning them, however, that you will not take on similar terms in the future.

Just a suggestion, hoping it gives you ideas. Good luck!


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 03:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Inform the agency III Feb 27, 2007

This has happened to me a couple of times * and in all the cases, the revision assignment became a translation assignment.

Good luck!

Au

(*) In one of the instances I raised my voice because I was about to correct A MACHINE!!!!!!! I contacted my client immediately and I translated the document...from scratch.


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:01
Member (2004)
English to Italian
sorry to be frank... Feb 27, 2007

Nesrin wrote:

*PS: You will have noticed that I'm not a native English speaker either - so there are no native English speakers involved here to begin with!! But I'd already done some "into English" jobs for that client before, so it seems they were convinced that I was up to the job... Either that or they're just desperate!



[Edited at 2007-02-27 10:32]


translation done by a non native and proofread by a non native... what a receipe for a disaster! Good luck to the client...

Also, if you have been certified as an English>Arabic translator by the ITI, you are in breach of ITI's code of conduct...

Giovanni

[Edited at 2007-02-27 12:22]


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:01
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Giovanni Feb 27, 2007

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

translation done by a non native and proofread by a non native... what a receipe for a disaster! Good luck to the client...

Also, if you have been certified as an English>Arabic translator by the ITI, you are in breach of ITI's code of conduct...

Giovanni

[Edited at 2007-02-27 12:22]


...for your frankness. Strictly speaking, I am not in breach of ITI's code of conduct as I have only been certified as an ITI member last week and have not done any Arabic>English translations since, and also because the ITI states that "members shall translate only into a language which is (...) their mother
tongue or language of habitual use", and doesn't say anything about proofreading.

As for the recipe for disaster, I won't dispute that, but it's really the client's problem if, even after my proofreading, the results are disastrous.


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:01
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks everybody... Feb 27, 2007

... for giving me the confidence to get in touch with the client. I will send them the first couple of proofread pages and take it from there..



Nesrin


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:01
Member (2004)
English to Italian
maybe... Feb 27, 2007

Nesrin wrote:

...for your frankness. Strictly speaking, I am not in breach of ITI's code of conduct as I have only been certified as an ITI member last week and have not done any Arabic>English translations since, and also because the ITI states that "members shall translate only into a language which is (...) their mother
tongue or language of habitual use", and doesn't say anything about proofreading.

As for the recipe for disaster, I won't dispute that, but it's really the client's problem if, even after my proofreading, the results are disastrous.



maybe you are right in both cases, but where's your professional integrity?

BTW, the concept of 'language of habitual use' is applicable only as a criterium for selecting the language pair in which you want to be certified, otherwise the certification would be pointless...

Giovanni



[Edited at 2007-02-27 12:50]


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:01
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Giovanni... Feb 27, 2007

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

maybe you are right in both cases, but where's your professional integrity?

Giovanni


Let's not open a can of worms.
All I will say on this subject is that I never accept a job which I BELIEVE is beyond the scope of my abilities. Of course, people often overestimate their abilities, but that can also happen to a translator working into his own native language.

The phrase "language of habitual use" was only part of the quote and I wasn't referring to it at all. My whole point was to say that the ITI CoC does not say anything about proofreading.

From where I stand, my professional integrity appears intact. No further comment and thank you for your input.

[Edited at 2007-02-27 12:55]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:01
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Opposite problem Feb 27, 2007

I recently accepted a proofreading assignment at an agreed rate, but it was an excellent translation and it took me much less time than anticipated. I told the agency and offered to charge it at my usual hourly rate, which was about a third of the agreed rate. The agency agreed of course, but also insisted on paying me a bonus of about 50% for my honesty. So I don't think I lost anything overall, as this agency is now likely to contact me again, which otherwise they might not have done.

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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:01
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Very refreshing to hear, Jack! Feb 27, 2007

Jack Doughty wrote:

I recently accepted a proofreading assignment at an agreed rate, but it was an excellent translation and it took me much less time than anticipated. I told the agency and offered to charge it at my usual hourly rate, which was about a third of the agreed rate. The agency agreed of course, but also insisted on paying me a bonus of about 50% for my honesty. So I don't think I lost anything overall, as this agency is now likely to contact me again, which otherwise they might not have done.


I applaud your professional integrity!


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:01
Member (2004)
English to Italian
ok... Feb 27, 2007

Nesrin wrote:

Let's not open a can of worms.
All I will say on this subject is that I never accept a job which I BELIEVE is beyond the scope of my abilities. Of course, people often overestimate their abilities, but that can also happen to a translator working into his own native language.

The phrase "language of habitual use" was only part of the quote and I wasn't referring to it at all. My whole point was to say that the ITI CoC does not say anything about proofreading.

From where I stand, my professional integrity appears intact. No further comment and thank you for your input.

[Edited at 2007-02-27 12:55]


ok, no problem... it was getting OT, anyway.

Giovanni


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:01
Italian to English
+ ...
Nesrin, judging from the standard of your writing... Feb 27, 2007

... and your kudoz replies in the English-English section, I'd say you're well up to translating into/proofreading English.

Would that my Italian were so good!


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