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Dilemma about a misrepresented job
Thread poster: Amy Duncan
Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:42
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Aug 31, 2008

It's Labor Day weekend in the USA and I thought I was going to get through it with no work, but I got an e-mail on Friday from a company I've never worked for asking me if I could take a job for the long weekend. Since I really didn't have anything planned, I said I could but I'd have to take a look at it, or at least a sample of it first (as I always do).

There were 24 pdf files, mostly contracts and some short legal documents, also a few were just stamps or seals. The PM offered a flat rate and gave me a word count. It wasn't great, but it sounded OK to me, especially if this might mean a new client for me. I took his word for it about the word count, because I really have no way to count words for this type of document in PDF (most of them couldn't be copied over to Word, for instance), and even if I did it would have taken forever, not to mention the fact that this outsourcer had nothing but raves on the Blue Board -- so I trusted him.

Anyway, I started working on the thing, and at the end of the day today I wasn't even half way through all the files, so I decided to do a word count of the doc files I had completed. The count came to over 2600 words, which didn't surprise me because I'd been at it for quite awhile. I sent this person an e-mail (although he may never get it over Labor Day) telling him what I had discovered and that I couldn't complete the job for the pay he had offered. The problem is, the deadline is Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. I really don't feel inclined to translate all the rest of this stuff and then find out that they won't budge about the pay. Any advice?

Amy


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
No advice Aug 31, 2008

I don't know what others will say, but all I can say is that you've been had. Wish I could offer something better, but I can't.

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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 08:42
English to Russian
+ ...
What if... Aug 31, 2008

...you translate the stuff anyway, but refuse to deliver it to him unless he agrees - in writing - to pay you more, based on the real word count?

Just a thought... of course it's a gamble either way, I understand.


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casey
United States
Local time: 11:42
Member
Japanese to English
That's their problem. Aug 31, 2008

Amy Duncan wrote:

I sent this person an e-mail (although he may never get it over Labor Day) telling him what I had discovered and that I couldn't complete the job for the pay he had offered. The problem is, the deadline is Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. I really don't feel inclined to translate all the rest of this stuff and then find out that they won't budge about the pay. Any advice?

Amy


As you noted, the job was misrepresented as being smaller than it actually was. That is their fault. You agreed to take the job based on the information they provided. They have no choice but to extend the deadline since they gave you inaccurate information, whether it was intentional or not. Do you really want to do the entire job and then get screwed over? Better to wait and see what they say, so that at least they haven't benefitted at your expense when all is said and done.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 18:42
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
I would go on Aug 31, 2008

As they depend on you to deliver on time you cannot stop. But I would send first only so much as was agreed and promise to send the rest when they send you a PO for the whole stuff.
Probably it was a mistake on their side only.
Next time you'll be more careful.
Cheers
Heinrich


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:42
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
This is why I check everything Aug 31, 2008

Get yourself a tool like Abbyy FineReader and next time you need to get a fast, approximate count of a bunch of PDF files, just throw them in as a batch, do an automatic (ugly) conversion and count the resultant text. This will work no matter what form the text is in - bitmap or extractable. Then you can avoid grief like this. Good luck with it.

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Daniel García
English to Spanish
+ ...
Deliver the job and send updated invoice Aug 31, 2008

Hi,

I would advice your the following:

a) Deliver the job. You can't really hold it if you agreed to deliver it at a given price.

b) Tell the PM that you have to send an updated increased invoice because there was a mistake word counts. Don't make it a big deal, just mention it. We don't know how they quoted the customer, they might have room for paying you or they may have the possibility of telling their end-customer about the miscalculation.

I don't think it is wrong to send an updated invoice if there has been an error in the work estimation. Anyone can make errors.

They still may refuse to pay but at least you have tried. This will also show them that they have to be more careful.

c) From now on, make sure you have more accurate way of estimating how much work a project involves.

Daniel


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:42
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your replies... Aug 31, 2008

And there may still be more of them. I appreciate them all, and even though they express different opinions they helped me sort out my thoughts and reach a decision.

As I thought about this, the one thing that kept coming to me was the client, who probably needs this job urgently by the deadline. Even though the agency was at fault, I don't think the client should have to pay for that.

The other thing that occurred to me was that this is most likely an error and not a deliberate scam, although I could be wrong. The reason I think this is because if the PM did this on purpose, surely he would realize that the translator would discover the error (as I did)...so what would he gain? Nothing. Also, since this company has a good reputation, I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

I think the best suggestion was Heinrich's, and that's what I'll do. I'll finish the job today and tomorrow and send what was promised on Tuesday morning ahead of the deadline, requesting a PO that reflects the actual word count of the whole job, and as soon as I receive it I'll send the rest.

Kevin, the program you suggested is not Mac-compatible (I'm a Mac user) and is also expensive, considering it is something I would rarely use. This is the first time I've ever had a problem of this sort and I don't expect it will become a common thing in my experience. However, I will do some research to see if I can find a reasonably priced one for Mac.

Thanks again, everyone, for your kind help.

Amy


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Andrea Kowalenko  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:42
Member (2006)
Spanish to German
+ ...
Search your Mac for Readiris Aug 31, 2008

Amy, may I suggest you search your Mac for Readiris. I only found out after using my Mac for a quite a while that it already had an integrated OCR-Software. My iMac with Mac OS X 10.4 had Readiris 9.0 installed. It should be more than enough for your purposes.

Regards,

Andrea


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:42
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Can't find it Aug 31, 2008

kowalingua wrote:

Amy, may I suggest you search your Mac for Readiris. I only found out after using my Mac for a quite a while that it already had an integrated OCR-Software. My iMac with Mac OS X 10.4 had Readiris 9.0 installed. It should be more than enough for your purposes.

Regards,

Andrea


Hi Andrea,
I looked all over my hard disk, but can't find Readiris. Maybe it's in some folder or other? Where did you find yours?

Amy


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 16:42
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
There's always OmniPage I think Aug 31, 2008

There was a Mac version for that circa 1990 which I used to use. It doesn't really matter which OCR tool you use, the point is to use one to save yourself some grief. If you have a free one from Apple or you get one with a scanner you might have purchased, super. The reason I suggested Abbyy is that it is good at reading large batches of files all at once. If I have 30 files or so to deal with, I sure don't want to count them individually!

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:42
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
What was the original word count? Aug 31, 2008

Amy Duncan wrote:
The count came to over 2600 words, which didn't surprise me because I'd been at it for quite awhile.


What was the original word count?


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:42
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Word count Aug 31, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:


What was the original word count?



Here are the PM's exact words: "There are about 2400 words total."


Amy


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Gisela Greenlee  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:42
German to English
+ ...
PDF files Aug 31, 2008

I work with a lot of clients that send me PDF files and provide an approximate word count, but of course they don't offer a flat rate, but pay me per target word. However, when they estimate the word count, they assume an average of 250 words per page, which would have totaled to 6000 words in your case. They use that as a standard, regardless of the fact that some pages may only have a few lines on it, because overall is comes much closer to the actual word count. If you have some documents with a lot of small print on it, even that count may be quite a bit too low. The PM who contacted you is either not good at math, or made a grave error in his estimate. You accepted the flat rate based on his statement of "approximately 2400 words" and I could accept an overage of maybe 10 percent without squaking, but it sounds like you may come much closer to a total of maybe 5000 to 6000 words, so I would ask for a revised PO from the project manager before delivering the work. They should have done a better job estimating the total word count and if they end up not making any money on the project, that's their problem, not yours. If you call a handyman to come repair something in your house, let's say replace a faucet, and he tells you that he charges $XXX for the job, and then finds out he has to replace some lines under your sink first, you can just bet he's not going to just roll over an play dead, he's going to "revise his estimate" and charge you for the complete job.

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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:42
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Word counts Sep 1, 2008

giselrike wrote:
The PM who contacted you is either not good at math, or made a grave error in his estimate. You accepted the flat rate based on his statement of "approximately 2400 words" and I could accept an overage of maybe 10 percent without squaking, but it sounds like you may come much closer to a total of maybe 5000 to 6000 words, so I would ask for a revised PO from the project manager before delivering the work.


I don't think it'll come to quite that much, since several of the files are just pictures of seals or stamps with very few words on them.


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