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Your opinion about an emergency job, paid at low rate
Thread poster: Arnaud HERVE

Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:02
English to French
+ ...
Apr 20, 2010

Hi, here is the case, briefly.

An agency called me on Tuesday, asking me if I could do a 400 words job for Monday, 9 am. I agreed.

Then the agency called me again the same day, saying the job might perhaps be 4 000 words instead of 400, that they were not sure, and checking that with the client, asking if I could still do it in that case. I agreed.

On Friday they sent me the PO, mentioning only 400 words. I assumed they had checked that with the client. I trust professional agencies with which I work regularly, they do the word count, I don't check the files to see if there is a diffrence of x10 between the PO and the files. They send a PO when they have the word count and the deadline, or they send me a new PO if deadlines or word count have changed.

It is important to note that : they sent me only one PO, one day after saying they were checking the quantities. They did not mention a change of quantities after saying they were checking, the PO did not contain a change of quantities, and they sent me other messages about technical details without mentioning a change of quantities.

On Monday I started work on those files at 7 am, because translating 400 words before 9 am was safe. Then I saw it was 5 100 words (Trados analysis : ca. 4 000 100%, plus ca. 1 000 repetitions).

I sent them a message saying I could not send that in time, they admitted there had been mistake in the PO, and asked me to do it as quick as possible. I said I would do what I could.

I managed to send the last file during the night, around 1 am.

I you ask me if I could have done it quicker, yes I could have. But when you have planned to do something else in your private life during that day, there are things you can postpone, and there are things that are important and still deserve a moment instead of postponing. Don't ask me what, it is simply things of life that are special to me. Postponing another job for another client to work for them only during that day was already an important favour.

Plus, the sentences in the files contained script, that I had to be careful reproducing correctly in Trados segments. Plus, I had to do some research, because I didn't know that technology at all.

However, they were extremely angry that I didn't send these unexpected 4 000 words plus 1 000 repetitons before end of business.

Today, they tell me my translation was reviewed and contained mistakes. I fully admit that : I normally don't translate that quantity in a day, I didn't know the technology and had no time for complete research, they had not sent me references in target language. Well, it was a rush job. And it was going to be reviewed anyway.

They also tell me today that they want to pay only 0.025 E/word for the whole job.

Yep, for working until 1 am, for postponing another job with another client, they say I did a terrible job and it deserves only 0.025 E/word.

Not a word of apology about sending a wrong PO. Only a smaller price and bad words to me.

What do you think about that ?


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Alina - Maria Chiteala  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 03:02
Member (2011)
English to Romanian
+ ...
their miskate but.... Apr 21, 2010

They did a mistake on the PO, but just one question: when you received the file you did not check them? I always check the files, no matter what the PO says

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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:02
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Had you worked with this agency Apr 21, 2010

before? It sounds to me as if they were planning to scam you from the outset, creating conditions to have an excuse to reduce your payment before they even sent you the job, but perhaps I'm just being cynical. The best case is that the agency is very unprofessional in a) sending a wrong PO and b) making unreasonable demands that are guaranteed to produce inferior quality as a result.

Unfortunately, I doubt you can make a case in this instance because you accepted the job anyway, but maybe other colleagues have more experience with this sort of thing and have other suggestions.


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Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:02
English to German
This is too bad! Apr 21, 2010

Hello Arnaud,

I think I would have proceeded in the same way. However, did you give them an approximate date or hour for completion (after they said you should deliver it as soon as possible)?

However, one should avoid to be rushed in such a way, because it destroys your reputation to deliver translations that are not perfect. Next time, I would try to speak with the agency that they negotiate a prolongation of the deadline with their customer. By that, both parties would benefit. If they refuse, I would refuse to do the job. It is not worth risking your reputation.

But now in this case, I would insist on full payment; after all, you did help them out! Write an email stating the relevant facts.

Hope this helps!

Annett


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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 02:02
English to Czech
+ ...
Errors on both parts Apr 21, 2010

Hi Arnaud,
in my opinion, there were mistakes both on your and on the agency's side.

First of all, the agency should have sent a correct PO and all files in time. No question. If they failed to do so, I would have asked the agency to extend the deadline reasonably.

As regards all other things, allow me to quote and comment:
On Friday they sent me the PO, mentioning only 400 words. I assumed they had checked that with the client. I trust professional agencies with which I work regularly, they do the word count, I don't check the files to see if there is a diffrence of x10 between the PO and the files.

Your first mistake: never assume. (If you assume, you make an ASS of U and ME.icon_smile.gif) No matter who sends the job, I always analyze all files before entering the job into my database.

Today, they tell me my translation was reviewed and contained mistakes. I fully admit that : I normally don't translate that quantity in a day, I didn't know the technology and had no time for complete research, they had not sent me references in target language. Well, it was a rush job. And it was going to be reviewed anyway.

Quite understandable, but perhaps you should have mentioned that in your note to the client.

They also tell me today that they want to pay only 0.025 E/word for the whole job.

Again, the rate should have been made clear before you started working on the job. Didn't they send a corrected PO? If not, why did you start working?
Personally, I would firmly insist on full rate because the basic mistake, from which all other ones unfold, is clearly with the agency.

Lesson learned: always clear everything in advance and, if possible, immediately.


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Sushan Harshe
India
Local time: 05:32
English to Hindi
+ ...
I don't accept job out of my expertise Apr 21, 2010

Hey Arnaud,

icon_eek.gif

1] I don't take a job out of my expertise,

2] I don't start work before confirming word count at my end.

3] I don't bother to clear changed condition/s; rather I consistently update client about progress/condition and possible delay in delivery (if so!)

4] I don't hesitate to ask my regular clients about rate/charge in writing (by mail), before I start working on project.

5] I don't relay on PO in any case (i.e. I don't need PO while working with regular clients; and for new client I believe PO don't make any sense if they are paying or not paying you).

Regards,

Sudarshan


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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:02
German to Spanish
+ ...
Your opinion about an emergency job, paid at low rate" Apr 21, 2010

Arnaud HERVE wrote:

Hi, here is the case, briefly.

An agency called me on Tuesday, asking me if I could do a 400 words job for Monday, 9 am. I agreed.

Then the agency called me again the same day, saying the job might perhaps be 4 000 words instead of 400, that they were not sure, and checking that with the client, asking if I could still do it in that case. I agreed.

On Friday they sent me the PO, mentioning only 400 words. I assumed they had checked that with the client. I trust professional agencies with which I work regularly, they do the word count, I don't check the files to see if there is a diffrence of x10 between the PO and the files. They send a PO when they have the word count and the deadline, or they send me a new PO if deadlines or word count have changed.

It is important to note that : they sent me only one PO, one day after saying they were checking the quantities. They did not mention a change of quantities after saying they were checking, the PO did not contain a change of quantities, and they sent me other messages about technical details without mentioning a change of quantities.

On Monday I started work on those files at 7 am, because translating 400 words before 9 am was safe. Then I saw it was 5 100 words (Trados analysis : ca. 4 000 100%, plus ca. 1 000 repetitions).

I sent them a message saying I could not send that in time, they admitted there had been mistake in the PO, and asked me to do it as quick as possible. I said I would do what I could.

I managed to send the last file during the night, around 1 am.

I you ask me if I could have done it quicker, yes I could have. But when you have planned to do something else in your private life during that day, there are things you can postpone, and there are things that are important and still deserve a moment instead of postponing. Don't ask me what, it is simply things of life that are special to me. Postponing another job for another client to work for them only during that day was already an important favour.

Plus, the sentences in the files contained script, that I had to be careful reproducing correctly in Trados segments. Plus, I had to do some research, because I didn't know that technology at all.

However, they were extremely angry that I didn't send these unexpected 4 000 words plus 1 000 repetitons before end of business.

Today, they tell me my translation was reviewed and contained mistakes. I fully admit that : I normally don't translate that quantity in a day, I didn't know the technology and had no time for complete research, they had not sent me references in target language. Well, it was a rush job. And it was going to be reviewed anyway.

They also tell me today that they want to pay only 0.025 E/word for the whole job.

Yep, for working until 1 am, for postponing another job with another client, they say I did a terrible job and it deserves only 0.025 E/word.

Not a word of apology about sending a wrong PO. Only a smaller price and bad words to me.

What do you think about that ?


Unprofessional.


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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 02:02
English to Polish
+ ...
thanks for the post Apr 21, 2010

It's a lesson to be learned, isn't it - to trust but verify. I do take an immediate look at the arriving files but I may have just scanned the first page once or twice.

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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:02
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Some answers, and more details Apr 21, 2010

Thanks for all your answers. As usual on Proz forums, there is a variety of support between colleagues.

Some answers to some questions :

- I have been working for that agency for more than one year, and they were always professional. However, that PM in particular was new to me.

- I did not check the files because they had been sending me small jobs for several months, about three a week, always in a satisfactory relationship, so satisfactory that checking the files would have been out of context.

- I started work without a modified PO because it happened to them several times in the past to send me a modified PO later, always in a satisfactory manner.

Some more details, that I realize now and which in retrospect I find intriguing :

- They said it was a test for a new client, and it turned out it was a full user manual, for a new product announced last month.

- They chose me for a test with a new client, without asking me if I was experienced in that particular technology

- It is another manager who warned me there could be a change and they were checking, and it is the main manager who chose me, sent me the files, never mentioned or confirmed a change in several messages, and finally sent a PO without a change.

- The main manager sent me the large files on Tuesday without mentioning the change in those files, received a CC later on Tuesday of the message from the other manager warning me there could be a change and they were checking, and sent me the wrong PO on Friday.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:02
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Comments Apr 21, 2010

Arnaud HERVE wrote:
On Friday they sent me the PO, mentioning only 400 words. I assumed they had checked that with the client. I trust professional agencies with which I work regularly, they do the word count, I don't check the files to see if there is a diffrence of x10 between the PO and the files. They send a PO when they have the word count and the deadline, or they send me a new PO if deadlines or word count have changed.


You have a point, but... you should still check the files when the client sends them, and not two hours before the deadline. Why? Because the client may have sent the wrong files, or the files may contain sections that you think should be translated but are marked as non-translatable, or the files may contain fewer words than on the PO, of the files may be in the wrong format, or the MS Word file may contain an embedded image with the text on it, or... whatever. We all make mistakes, and agencies do too.

On Monday I started work on those files at 7 am, because translating 400 words before 9 am was safe. Then I saw it was 5 100 words (Trados analysis : ca. 4 000 100%, plus ca. 1 000 repetitions).

I sent them a message saying I could not send that in time, they admitted there had been mistake in the PO, and asked me to do it as quick as possible. I said I would do what I could.


You should have told them that you can only deliver by start-of-business the next morning, and that you can't guarantee that the terminology will be correct because you have no time for research. Remember, to them it is a rush job, hence a priority job. They are not aware that their job is not a priority for you (or not your top priority, anyway), or that the job contains elements that usually require more time to do well. They sit there all day with baited breath waiting for the translation which their trusty translator will deliver "any moment now".

However, they were extremely angry that I didn't send these unexpected 4 000 words plus 1 000 repetitons before end of business.


If you were the agency people, wouldn't you be angry too? I would be. That doesn't mean that I agree with the agency's subsequent actions, but that I do see if from their perspective.

Not a word of apology about sending a wrong PO. Only a smaller price and bad words to me.

What do you think about that?


1. Ignore the fact that they are not apologetic -- it is irrelevant to the job relationship.

2. Explain to them the situation so that they understand what the consequences of a "rush job" is. Explain that you had set aside an amount of time based on their PO and that you were able to do the job properly if the PO was accurate. Explain that when you discovered that the PO was way off with regard to the size of the job, you went out of your way to accommodate them, even to the point of cancelling a job with another client. Don't mention your personal endeavours -- it's none of their business. Explain to them how many words you can usually do per day, and how many hours you had in that day to complete their job, and let them do the math. Explain that the errors and research mistakes were due to the circumstances created by them.

3. Insist on the original per-word rate.

4. Optionally apologise for not telling them more clearly that you would be unlikely to complete the job on the same day.


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Lowri Roberts  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:02
English to Welsh
+ ...
Agree with other posters Apr 21, 2010

Hi Arnaud
I must agree with a lot of the previous posters that there is some blame on both sides.
The agency were at fault for not giving you an accurate PO but I would says it's always necessary to just check the word count on the PO matches the actual word count before starting work on the translation. As has been mentioned, everyone makes mistakes.
It's very unfortunate that they subsequently try to pay you a low rate, maybe they are indeed 'trying it on'.


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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 02:02
English to Czech
+ ...
Perhaps the PM was new to that agency? Apr 21, 2010

- They said it was a test for a new client, and it turned out it was a full user manual, for a new product announced last month.

- They chose me for a test with a new client, without asking me if I was experienced in that particular technology

- It is another manager who warned me there could be a change and they were checking, and it is the main manager who chose me, sent me the files, never mentioned or confirmed a change in several messages, and finally sent a PO without a change.

- The main manager sent me the large files on Tuesday without mentioning the change in those files, received a CC later on Tuesday of the message from the other manager warning me there could be a change and they were checking, and sent me the wrong PO on Friday.


Hi Arnaud,
perhaps the PM was new to the agency, but that's no reason to excuse this unfortunate situation. I still believe you made some mistakes, but all of them resulting from a single mistake made on the agency's side. That's why I would insist on full payment.

What you have mentioned in your last post are clear arguments and I think the right place for them is in an e-mail message for your client. Regardless of their professionalism levels in previous project, their behaviour in this particular one was all but professional.

Try to explain the situation to them using the arguments above and insist firmly on full payment.


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
seeking for a scapegoat Apr 21, 2010

It's a pity it turned that way, but as far as PO was for 400 words I'd just had 400 words translated only)

IF you pay the fine then you admit your fault.
IF you accept the payment then you admit you deserve it.

Cheers)


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Sevda Ros  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 03:02
Member (2009)
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
I do not accept emergency jobs Apr 21, 2010

I do not accept emergency jobs, I like to have enough time, because I have to proofread everything after that and I want to deliver translation with good quality.

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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:02
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
more details Apr 21, 2010

I also didn't check the files because they were accompanied with a Trados analysis log. A wrong Trados log. In the same message. A trados log not corresponding to the files in the same message.

I did read the Trados log.


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