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Poll: Do you charge your customer for extra services (formatting, DTP, PDF, difficult files, OCR)?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 12:21
SITE STAFF
May 31, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you charge your customer for extra services (formatting, DTP, PDF, difficult files, OCR)?".

This poll was originally submitted by Gianfranco Manca

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 17:21
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
One rate fits all May 31, 2006

I charge rates that cover any unforeseen extra work. I make a point of creating Word macros for formatting, acquiring all the necessary OCR software such as ABBYY FineReader

Clients will appreciate you if you seem like you are going the extra mile (even if it is a simple task for you) for you without charging extra. If they are satisfied with your work and rates, they will very likely stay with you.

Reed

[Edited at 2006-05-31 20:42]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
Would like to but... Jun 1, 2006

I do not add extra services like Reed does (though not a bad idea), but like him, I generally consider certain difficulties just as par for the course and do not charge extra. In some cases I might add a little, but not much.

As far as extra services go (formatting, desktop publishing, etc.), that can go on and on yet be used only now and then, and my clients are nearly always better at it than I am. Translation is hard enough work as it is, and if the format needs a little tweaking, I leave it to them and they understand, they are glad to have a good translation.

The item that really deserves extra charges is the quality of the original provided to the translator (me). I do a lot of paper (or scanned) documents, and so many times the text I have to work with is practically illegible. Well, in time I have also become an expert in deciphering illegible documents, a talent that has been little recognized.

I have even had to re-create lines of text that have been cut off at margins, rendered illegible by poor copy machines or worn typewriter ribbons (remember those?), not to mention poor image quality or terrible handwriting.

Good thing those glasses I wear are only for distance, I should charge extra for that myopia that allows me to see
with the naked eye what few others can see. Oh, what a blessing...


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Claudia Aguero  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 14:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
My clients think formatting is part of my job Jun 1, 2006

Unfortunately, I cannot charge any extra services, like translating or formatting graphics, pdf, etc.

My clients expect me to give them a translation with a format that "exactly" matches the original, but without paying any extra rates. In many cases, I have spent long hours scanning pictures or browing the web for a specific logo o graphic in order to meet their requirements. They even consider that IT is my job to understand cut of lines, illegible documents, even missing text.

By the way, Henry, this is the first time I am seriously thinkin my myopia is a blessing.


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, separately... Jun 1, 2006

After 24 years as a translator, it's great when I client says: "yes, you are right, if you work on a weekend the fee has to be another one. " or "I understand, because of the urgency of my job you need to put other projects on hold and decline others." (Educating clients... if we don't do it...who will?)

Great poll!

Au

[Edited at 2006-06-01 08:54]


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:21
Italian to English
+ ...
No extra charge Jun 1, 2006

Even for illegible handwritten medical records! Personally, I do consider the formatting to be part of the job, although I don't go as far as searching on the web for logos. However, I think from the comments above that we're talking about different types of document - the scanned pdfs I get (apart from the medical records) are all letters from ethics committees and CROs, so the formatting isn't that essential, as long as it follows the basic layout of the original.

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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
Shame on me Jun 1, 2006

Aurora Humarán wrote:

After 24 years as a translator, it's great when I client says: "yes, you are right, if you work on a weekend the fee has to be another one. " or "I understand, because of the urgency of my job you need to put other projects on hold and decline others." (Educating clients... if we don't do it...who will?)



Sorry, Gianfranco. I have just realized that I went a bit off topic in my first comment.

As far as formats are concerned, I always charge a higher rate. I need more time and, sometimes, much more thought. An example: when you translate from English into Spanish, the final document grows by approximately 20-30%. (Think of the typical Human Resources presentations of the 'You can do it' type... a pain in the. period)

Au


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:21
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Not applicable Jun 1, 2006

I just translate and I leave DTP, conversion and complex formatting to others, i.e. the client. I'm prepared to use programs like Quark and PageMaker to perform the translation directly in them, but hardly any clients send me PDFs or image documents. If they do and are not prepared to convert them for me, I just turn the job down. I haven't got time to spend on this kind of things when other reasonable clients are banging on my door with interesting projects.

Giovanni


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:21
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
The purpose of this quick poll Jun 1, 2006

The purpose of this quick poll was to investigate how many translators deliver not only linguistic services but also spend a lot of time reproducing difficult layouts, converting files (using OCR or other systems), converting PDF files to editable formats, etc.

Those amongst us who are able, when requested, to convert files, reproduce the original format or DTP their translation, should clearly invoice the extra service separately (or include everything in an appropriate higher rate).

In many cases, I suspect, these extra services and the time invested are given almost for granted. On the other hand, many translators, consider them, for some reason, part of their service and do not charge for the time consumed.
My position is that, as translators, we could better spend our time in translating and invoicing for it.

The figures of the poll, after almost 700 answers, have confirmed my suspicion: not many of us charge for the extra services.


Comment on the temporary results (** now updated with the final result)
(but they tend to be stable after a few hundred answers)

  • A. 13% charge separately
    (best choice, very professional)

  • B. 13% include the extra service in their rate
    (this is acceptable, but only if the rate is sufficiently high to includes all services, translation and extras)

  • C. 30% charge only for some projects or some customers
    (why only for some projects? are we giving away time and efforts?)

  • D. 20% do not charge, but they would like to charge
    (translators probably aware of being used as unpaid workforce, but can't change the situation)

  • E. 14% do not charge
    (incorrect! the time consumed in extra tasks is not translation, and it is effectively given away for free, instead of being used working.... or resting...)



  • E + D + C (partially) means that about 50% of translators provide extra services but do not charge for them.

    I have also some doubts on B., as some of them may provide an "all inclusive service" at a rate that is far too low for the total amount of time required.


    The sad reality is that probably more than 50% of translators do not charge as it would be fair for the services requested (or given for granted) by the customers, and that have nothing to do with translation.


    bye
    Gianfranco



    [Edited at 2006-06-02 12:24]


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    Parrot  Identity Verified
    Spain
    Local time: 21:21
    Member (2002)
    Spanish to English
    + ...
    NA Jun 1, 2006

    Except for OCR, and since I use that to facilitate my work, I don't charge for it. As it is, it's still pretty iffy in the sense that some programs work with some files and not with others, and without further investment in that area, I'm not charging extra.

    I remember part of this came up in Berlin regarding badly-formatted originals and broken CAT translation units as a result. Some were of the opinion that extra time invested in correcting this should be charged, while somebody else (Jerzy?) opined this was "no problem" (I wish I had his formatting skills, but I don't).


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    gianfranco  Identity Verified
    Brazil
    Local time: 18:21
    Member (2001)
    English to Italian
    + ...
    No problem, but charging Jun 1, 2006

    Parrot wrote:
    .... Some were of the opinion that extra time invested in correcting this should be charged, while somebody else (Jerzy?) opined this was "no problem" (I wish I had his formatting skills, but I don't).


    Jerzy (as many others) has probably invested considerable amounts of time and money (purchasing applications and learning how to use them) to be able to say "no problem".
    In any case, I don't see why the service should be provided for free.

    The business model could be either to specify a separate charge or to provide a service for an "all inclusive" rate, taking into account ALL the time, ALL the expertise and ALL the investments, not only the translation...


    Gianfranco



    [Edited at 2006-06-01 12:42]


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    Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
    United Kingdom
    Local time: 20:21
    Member (2004)
    English to Italian
    same old story... Jun 1, 2006

    fear of losing the client if we refuse to convert a 20 page PDF file? The problem is that, if we do not charge, this approach will become industry-standard and clients will chuck at us any old format expecting us poor translators to spend hours in converting and formatting. Most clients send me Word files or formats which can be handled with TagEditor. With version 7, it's now possible to translate .doc files and this is very valuable in case of complex and highly formatted documents. Same for PPT files. Come on, guys: either charge or acquire the tools which allow you to do your job more proficiently without spoiling the market.

    Giovanni


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    Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
    Chile
    Local time: 17:21
    Member (2002)
    Spanish to French
    + ...
    No DTP but Jun 1, 2006

    When I work on a PowerPoint with Deja Vu I can focus on the translation because I don't see it in the PPT layout. When I export I discover that either the French or Spanish version has much more words than the English one and then it starts: reducing the size, moving the images... It is time consuming and after all, my job is already finished: a translation that has been checked at least twice. I usually add some extra minutes or hours to the total: example xx words @ $nnn = zzz plus 1 hour @ $nnn for fighting with the PPT layout.
    I have never had any negative comment or complaint, but of course it's always announced beforehand. It happens that there are surprises and it takes much more time. In that case I stick to my quote and whatever happens, I delivered the file ready to be shown.


    Some time ago I bought Abbyy FineReader 8.0.
    I often receive requests for quotes of PDF documents, and this software has changed my life. First, it makes it easier: I don't have to wonder what I'm going to do with that PDF. I used to scan, OCR, and for patents or manuals it can take many hours. Now I just upload the file, make the software read it, and even without checking the spelling I know how many words there are. And this makes a great difference for the client who needs a quote, because the Board has to accept it before outsourcing the translation.
    I charge separately, because I always give the option to provide another format to the client, example: if you provide a Word file I'll charge 0.10 and if I have to work on the PDF I'll charge 0.12. It's not for the time spent on it any more, it's for my investment ($200 for this software).

    Claudia


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    Textklick  Identity Verified
    Local time: 20:21
    German to English
    + ...
    Charge separately but invest Jun 1, 2006

    Claudia Iglesias wrote:

    When I work on a PowerPoint with Deja Vu I can focus on the translation because I don't see it in the PPT layout. When I export I discover that either the French or Spanish version has much more words than the English one and then it starts: reducing the size, moving the images...

    It is time consuming and after all, my job is already finished: a translation that has been checked at least twice. It's not for the time spent on it any more, it's for my investment ($200 for this software).

    Claudia


    Hi Claudia:

    I agree with you. Wandering slightly off topic, you might care to consider investing in a second monitor. That way, you can see the original, which is particularly useful working from German with its capitalized nouns (knowing what should/could also be capitalized. Also very good with HTML.

    Even so, PPT's often still need cleaning up when exporting with a CAT tool. Dropping the font size can sometimes help. It can also depend on the skills (or lack thereof) of the person who produced the PPT.

    Salut
    Chris


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