When is a rush not a rush? (What's your policy for charging a premium?)
Thread poster: Rachel Vanarsdall

Rachel Vanarsdall  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:31
Member (2004)
French to English
Jan 28, 2004

I'm wondering if I goofed - actually I know I goofed a little, wondering if I goofed a lot.

Up until now, I haven't had any hard and fast rules on when I charge a rush rate. I generally charge a rush rate in 2 situations:

1 - when the client says "this is a rush" or "go ahead and charge your rush rate for this one."

2 - when the job is required in under 24 hours and is significantly bigger than a minimum charge-type job.

A client sent me a job on Friday afternoon (a F-E medical article, wound up at 2700 words target). They asked me to have it back to them on Wed (today) by noon. An hour or so later they called back, saying the client now needed it earlier, and they wanted it by Tuesday noon. I was told something like "this is now a rush." I agreed to the new deadline, thinking (but not confirming! Mistake #1!) that I would now be charging a rush rate.

I decided to send the job on Monday night after midnight rather than waiting till Tuesday morning - we were expecting an ice storm and I was afraid the power would go off. I was thinking that the job was sort of a borderline rush but since the word "rush" had definitely been used I charged extra (I charged 25% more than my standard rate, BTW).

The email I received yesterday confirming receipt of the job and bill also included a terse reminder to notify them in advance when I'm going to charge rush!
Aside from ALWAYS confirming in advance, even when you hear the word "rush," I'm wondering if other Prozeans have any rules regarding charging rush rates?

Any insight appreciated.


Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 06:31
Member (2002)
English to Russian
My basic rules for charging a rush rate Jan 28, 2004

I may charge a rush rate if the required deadline involves a (much) higher daily throughput compared to my average daily throughput. E.g. you do normally 1,500 words. The proposed job translates into doing 2,200 words per day. This is a good reason to charge, say, a 20% higher rate.

Another case is when you agree to work on weekends or holidays in order to meet the deadline. Basically, it is similar to the above situation. In your case, when you accept a 4,500 job on Friday, you are prepared to return it next Wednesday. If you are asked to return it by the end of Monday, you will either need to work overtime on Friday and Monday, or to work on weekend.

In any case, you should ALWAYS discuss the applicable rate with your client, to avoid future problems. If you are not happy, you may always decline the job at the outset.

Hope it helps.


Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
English to German
+ ...
More than 8-9 hours a day Jan 28, 2004

When I have to work more than 8-9 hours a day to meet a deadline although there are no unexpected complications involved, I consider it as "urgent" or as a "rush job",
which is one of the factors determining my rate for the specific project.


Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:31
Italian to English
+ ...
Talk to your customer Jan 28, 2004

Gee this kinda thing makes me mad. They moved up your deadline and simply ASSUMED you (a) were just sitting there twiddling your thumbs, and (b) love to work weekends?
I would be firm with the customer and explain that you DID say it was a rush job at this point. Explain that you would generally get this in writing FROM THEM, but they're an old and valued customer, blah, blah blah.
I would also say that not every translator who comes down the pike can handle specialized work like a medical translation. Lastly, for your own info, I don't charge 20% on rush jobs: I charge 30%.
I've found it's a great way of vetting the real rush jobs from the fake ones.
With one customer, I said I'd have to charge 30% extra, and the response was that they'd be willing to pay a lot more (which I didn't charge!) because the job simply had to be done fast or they would lose a contract!
For the most part, when I mention the surcharge people suddenly discover that the job isn't really all that urgent after all.
So stick to your guns and talk to these people CONFIDENTLY. After all, you could have said "sorry, got other jobs due and I can't juggle" -- and then where would they be??


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Uhmm Jan 29, 2004

You make me think my rules are soft...

I set the limit at 3,000 in 24 hours. If I get 4,000 at the same turnover 3,000 of them are normal and 1,000 get a 40% surcharge.


Rachel Vanarsdall  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:31
Member (2004)
French to English
Thanks for your answers Jan 30, 2004

Thanks all for your comments/suggestions.

I can see that I will need to put a post-it on my monitor to remind me to discuss rush charges up front! These situations really don't come up very often but when they do I should have some specific numbers/timeframes in mind so I can determine the most appropriate rate.

I should have pointed out in my original post that I was talking about two different people. One told me "this is now a rush" and another one responded to my invoice with a reminder to inform them in advance when I need to charge a rush. So there may have been some miscommunication on their end as well.

Parrot's suggestion about charging rush rates for that portion of a job which exceeds your normal daily word count is interesting - I have had some big jobs recently where I had to do 15-20K words in a week or so, but in those cases rush rates didn't come up because of the volume of work. Parrot's idea sounds like a way to get at least a little extra compensation for the hard work (and sleep deprivation!) that kind of project requires, while keeping the price "reasonable" to take the volume into account.


Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:01
English to Tamil
+ ...
It is quite simple Jan 30, 2004

Let us say you normally work for 10 hours a day and take rest on Sundays. Your output is 250 words per hour. Hence you can do 2500 words in one day and 15000 words in a week of 6+1 days.
Now an anxiouus client comes and asks you to deliver 21000 words in 7 days. Hourly output cannot be increased without compromising on the quality. This option is out. You can work for 12 hours and work on Sunday too. This means 20 hours overtime. Even assuming that you charge only normal rate for overtime also, this implies work for additional 5000 words (20 x 250). But the total wordcount is just 20000. Hence charge 25% more for this job and you will be alright. The client will agree if the job is really urgent. Otherwise the urgency will vanish without trace.


Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:31
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
It's rush when the client thinks it is Feb 2, 2004

Because one usually has to deal with more than one client at the same time it is not possible to count according to your own speed but a rush is, when the client is in a hurry. Even if its a small job the client should always have the feeling that you are booked full and do him a favour if you take his job on top of all the other stuff. So try to put additional charge to all urgent jobs. Delivery tomorrow? Ok, but that's plus 50 %.


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Actually, it would depend Feb 2, 2004

I use industry (PCO) figures that presume you work full-time.

When a Professional Congress Organizer contracts you as a translator, they pay by the whole day. Selection implies that all their selected translators can do 500 words/hour and can work optimally for at least 6 hours/day (breaks are provided for to alleviate fatigue in performance. 6 hours on the job may mean 7-8 hours of presence).

Even when I had a part-time teaching load, I observed 3,000 words as something I owed the client.

However, the industry also pays 50% more on overtime (i.e., 150% of normal rate outside of the 6 hours of peak productivity). I say 40% because that's usually enough to dissuade a panicking client who considers everything "urgent" (it also gives him a certain peace of mind if he only has, say, 2,500 words and 24 hours to do it in).

Pre-defining this on a price list makes things sound much more objective. You could tailor it to your own situation, of course, but large-volume clients appreciate the whole-day dedication (with possible pluses), in my experience.


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