The price of the bother
Thread poster: Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:48
English to Polish
+ ...
Aug 7, 2013

The example that actually made me think about asking this question was last-minute changes in the source, which Babel wrote about in the other thread. However, there are probably more such things that:

1. Aren't significant in terms of word count, and
2. Don't take enough time to make time-based rates adequate,
3. Are just a huge bother, basically.

Obviously, you can't tell your client it's a bother (especially the kind of nice client who would understand).

Increasing your rates to distribute the cost doesn't really sound like a good solution for a hefty number of reasons.

Also, Babel was right that you don't want to give the bothersome things any appearance of standard services included in your price list.

All this really makes it look like the best option is to grin and bear it (i.e. shut up and survive) unless you're prepared to request your client to change its processes to align better with the translation process. Which you aren't always in a position to do.

What else can you think about? What gives you the psychological feeling that you've been compensated, which is probably the most important thing here?


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:48
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Covered by insurance Aug 8, 2013

If it's a good client, they don't try to impose their rates, give clear instructions and adequate time to do the job, pay on time, hence do everything to keep me happy, I'll do my best to keep them happy as well.

So I call it insurance, which is included in my price. If they need something after all has been done and paid for in a job, I won't bother to charge for anything that will take me less than, say, one hour.

Recently one such 'good' agency PM told me that most translators charge their minimum fee for these add-ons, and they pay it without quibbling. Yet he showed no satisfaction about that policy.

A few times already, when the end-client's post-delivery request was not so small, however minimal in comparison to the entire (large!) job, the PMs took the initiative to tell me, on their request, "please invoice us, as we are definitely charging them for it".

My comparison is that if you go to a really GOOD restaurant, and ask for another coffee after you've paid the bill, they won't bother to charge for it. Compare that with the fast food place where you pay first, and then get exactly the items you paid for.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:48
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Aug 8, 2013

Thanks, José. I tend to see it the same way in practice, especially for good business partners and new ones that get a loan of confidence. I guess I got fixated on the academic problem of how to price something like that adequately.

For the record, when it's a good agency but an unreasonable (or tedious) end-client request, I just try to get the rate up or get the odious tasks out of the job specification (especially if it's something that the client's or the agency's staff could do without needing the assistance of a translator).


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
And is it just me, or has the bother got much worse? Aug 8, 2013

Not so long ago, the client would ask if you could do the job, you'd say yes or no, and that was it.

Here are some examples of what I consider to be unnecessary bother, and I agree that it's very difficult to price in to your work without deterring the customer.

1. Enormously long contracts and non-disclosure agreements that you have to print off, sign, scan and return before even seeing the job.

2. Unnecessary emphasis on the layout and appearance of the translation when the end customer probably just wants to know what it says. One customer blew his top at me because I hadn't reproduced the company's logo at the top of a document and used a different font to the original.

3. Ridiculously complicated translation management software that you have to log in to before even seeing the job.

4. Customers insisting that you use translation memory software where it's patently unnecessary.

5. Purchase orders (they could easily just send you an email with the deadline, the job number and any special instructions, and you could reply accepting their terms).

6. Highly complicated invoicing procedures.

7. Coming back to you with queries they could resolve themselves.

I think these are examples of how technology is actually giving with one hand, and taking away with the other. It's increasing our productivity in some respects, but this is more than offset by the extra work it creates.






[Edited at 2013-08-08 17:48 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:48
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
QA of QA... Aug 8, 2013

I have just been asked to assess the quality of someone else's proofreading.

I sometimes want to start a thread on the lines of:

Would quality be improved by dropping most of the QA and just giving the translator more time to do the job undisturbed?

I am quite convinced that in some cases the answer would be YES!

It would save paying all the incompetent semi-bilinguals who seem to be employed in QA because they can't be trusted to translate, but can be relied upon to replace correct terminology with baby-language.

Or those who ARE allowed to translate in the hope that some competent translator will pick up the pieces at half the price...

I am going to start spreading a story that I am too old to proofread. I used to enjoy it, but now I haven't the patience, and I often wonder if I miss half the things I ought to correct.

Now a lot of it is not old-fashioned proofreading for colleagues who knew what they were doing. It is just more bother.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:48
English to German
+ ...
Christine, your post deserves to be printed and framed. Aug 8, 2013

Christine Andersen wrote:

QA of QA...


I have just been asked to assess the quality of someone else's proofreading.

I sometimes want to start a thread on the lines of:

Would quality be improved by dropping most of the QA and just giving the translator more time to do the job undisturbed?

I am quite convinced that in some cases the answer would be YES!

It would save paying all the incompetent semi-bilinguals who seem to be employed in QA because they can't be trusted to translate, but can be relied upon to replace correct terminology with baby-language.

Or those who ARE allowed to translate in the hope that some competent translator will pick up the pieces at half the price...

I am going to start spreading a story that I am too old to proofread. I used to enjoy it, but now I haven't the patience, and I often wonder if I miss half the things I ought to correct.

Now a lot of it is not old-fashioned proofreading for colleagues who knew what they were doing. It is just more bother.



A brilliant summary. Thanks!!


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:48
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Aug 8, 2013

Chronologically:

Spot on, Phil. I wonder if those complications aren't generated by people who, subconsciously, just don't want to work with you. A kind of hidden self-descruction mechanism? Or not. They pile it up and up until it makes teenage dating look simple

Thank you, Christine. Oh, QA, QA. I need to talk to a counsellor after some of the things I've been through. Right now, I'm repressing the memories, and simply tired of having to teach proofreaders and reviewers about proofreading or reviewing or about the language itself, no matter that they have more relevant degrees and longer experience. It feels like teaching mum and dad how to be a parent. A thoroughly awful thing to go through. It has made me think about quitting the profession more than once.

By the way, I've mentioned QA procedures as a factor in my pricing on many occasions. I generally try to make agencies aware that it costs, and if it really is incompetent, then it ends the deal. Except I'd rather deal with dudes who split my infinitives than cross-translate something or mistype a number or whatever else an overworked translator is capable of doing.

Edit: On second thought I want to stress how ludicrous is that emphasis on recreating the layout which Phil talked about.

[Edited at 2013-08-08 21:59 GMT]


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Charlotte Farrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:48
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Brief note on proofreading Aug 8, 2013

I once proofread a translation that had been produced from a converted scanned PDF, where several proper nouns and names came up incorrectly in the converted source file. The translator did not bother to correct these, including leaving 'Hamburg' as 'Harnburg'. I nearly wept.

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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:48
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
My time has a cost, even for a "bother" Aug 9, 2013

It happened some time ago that I translated a website of a company selling some specific software. You know, normally it is an Excel file: into the column B, translate what is in the column A. I did ask before starting whether that was to translate into Portuguese or into Brazilian. The agency assumed it was into Brazilian (because of the respective trade fair). All righty.
Yesterday, I receive a file for correction. Opening the file - and there is no a correction! There is a couple of changes in the source text and couple of preferential substitutes of Brazilian terms by Portuguese terms. Subsequently, all the articles had to be changed based on the noun gender.
This is what I call "bother". It's not really a job but needs my attention and knowledge.
The agency reckoned it wasn't about corrections, pointed out that the other translators didn't charge for that but offered me a fixed amount. And I accepted.
We can do many things for free, I can even translate a phrase or a small paragraph with no charge for a nice client, but in such cases... My time has a cost, the same as any other service provider's.
Just try to ask, straight and clear, "what is a usual pay in such cases?" A really nice client will collaborate.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:48
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Footwork for preferential changes Aug 10, 2013

Well, Inga, my point of view is that if someone can make preferential changes competently, he can also implement them. If the someone doesn't need a translator for the skill required to make the decision, he needs the translator solely for the office footwork. And it's not like I've always been 100% strict on this, but I believe translator should not be seen as available human resources for someone else's document footwork. However, to avoid making the client or agency (as I object to calling agencies clients) think the translator is available for entry-level jobs, I wouldn't charge for them but rather always make sure they remain gratuities.

[Edited at 2013-08-10 01:25 GMT]


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:48
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Exactly! Aug 10, 2013

"if someone can make preferential changes competently, he can also implement them." - Exactly!
For many years, I had done such changes for free, just for a good relation.
However, where is the limit? Pushing my kids away constantly and not being nice for them because I want to be nice for someone I've never met ?
At a certain point, we have to stop and think: is this a business, and not a gratitude Exchange, for the client/agency, or shall it be for both parties?
I volunteer on spot and long-lasting projects, in various areas, so one can guess, it's not about counting every penny.
Maybe I just have developed a certain kind of allergy to certain kinds of requests)
Have a nice weekend.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:48
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Exchange? Aug 10, 2013

Well, in my view you offer highly qualified and demanding professional services, not secretarial services. For that reason, just simply being paid for whatever small office task is asked of you is not good enough.

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