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Tight Deadlines Rule
Thread poster: sueshahine
sueshahine
United States
English to Arabic
+ ...
Oct 5, 2013

I am a translator who have become a full time freelancer, I have worked with someone who has a translation agency, he used to send me translation to finish in a very tight deadlines, like 5 hours or maximum 12 hours, he always says he is behind and he needs to deliver the project. He put a lot of pressure on me to deliver the translation in a very short time, and if I say I couldn't he passes the job to somebody else, otherwise he comes back and give me two more hours. Is this normal? is there anybody who had the same situation? and what to do? is refusing the job wrong or right to put some guidelines for yourself?

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:31
Russian to English
+ ...
For tight deadlines, that don't give extra 24 hours on top of the time required for the translation Oct 5, 2013

(3,000 per day average), you should charge at least 20% more -- 20-30% in my experience.

So, if someone needs 6,000 words in 48 hours -- you should charge 20-30% more.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:31
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
A premium should definitely be charged... Oct 5, 2013

...for any deadline that imposes undue hardship on the translator. What constitutes "undue hardship" will depend upon each individual translator, and will of course take into account factors such as need for work at the moment of the offer, the nature of the relationship with the party offering the work, the translator's physical and mental state, prior plans for the time needed to do the work, etc., etc.

It comes down to this: There should be a direct relationship between inconvenience to the translator and proposed fee, and an inverse relationship between need for remuneration and proposed fee.


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Alex Kalani
United States
Local time: 07:31
Arabic to English
+ ...
A premium should definitely be charged Oct 5, 2013

sueshahine wrote:

I am a translator who have become a full time freelancer, I have worked with someone who has a translation agency, he used to send me translation to finish in a very tight deadlines, like 5 hours or maximum 12 hours, he always says he is behind and he needs to deliver the project. He put a lot of pressure on me to deliver the translation in a very short time, and if I say I couldn't he passes the job to somebody else, otherwise he comes back and give me two more hours. Is this normal? is there anybody who had the same situation? and what to do? is refusing the job wrong or right to put some guidelines for yourself?


I guess its up to us to demand enough time and not be put under deadlines pressure. You should estimate your regular time for work and the rest should be time and half. In this case 20 to 30%.
I myself will not work under pressure especially if the project is lengthy. I have worked 16 and more hours straight enduring so much pain for nothing.... JUST SEE NO IF YOU ARE GOING TO HARM YOUR HEALTH.


THANKS,
ALEX


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:31
English to Polish
+ ...
Charge more or require a good justification Oct 5, 2013

sueshahine wrote:

I am a translator who have become a full time freelancer, I have worked with someone who has a translation agency, he used to send me translation to finish in a very tight deadlines, like 5 hours or maximum 12 hours, he always says he is behind and he needs to deliver the project. He put a lot of pressure on me to deliver the translation in a very short time, and if I say I couldn't he passes the job to somebody else, otherwise he comes back and give me two more hours. Is this normal? is there anybody who had the same situation? and what to do? is refusing the job wrong or right to put some guidelines for yourself?


It's possibly that the circumstances are justified, which would perhaps diminish the need to charge more for such tight deadlines, but in the light of traditional good practices as I know them, the surcharge should apply anyway. So, a client but especially a professional agency who wants such short deadlines should be able to give you some reasons why you should waive it.

Having no other reason than just a simple desire to have the text ready as soon as possible obviously wouldn't be enough. On the other hand, if the agency isn't charging the client any extra, then it doesn't have extra cash for your rush fees within that budget, so at least you aren't getting shafted (that much).


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:31
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Irrelevant [and often simply dishonest] Oct 5, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

On the other hand, if the agency isn't charging the client any extra, then it doesn't have extra cash for your rush fees within that budget, so at least you aren't getting shafted (that much).


If an agency contacts me on a Sunday morning (for example) with a request to translate 4000 words within the next 10 hours and, as an excuse for offering me absolutely no premium, explains that their project budget does not allow for one, this in no way lessens the inconvenience to me of fulfilling the request, and therefore is completely irrelevant.

Secondly, I strongly suspect that such excuses are often simply dishonest. After all, it seems implausible on the face of it that an agency would commit to a rush turnaround of (in the current example) a project on a Sunday morning without imposing some premium of its own on the end client.

I am personally aware of one especially large agency that sends out e-mails requesting that translators "help out" (as if the basis of the request were a friendship or some kind of humanitarian plea!) along the lines and under the circumstances that I've indicated above. I am sure that this scenario will be all too familiar to some of you reading this....

[Edited at 2013-10-05 19:48 GMT]


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felicij  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:31
German to Slovenian
+ ...
According to my experience.. Oct 5, 2013

...not a single "rush" job was actually a rush job. If I say: "no, i cannot do it until...", I almost always get an answer like: "ok, if you cannot do it until Friday afternoon, then Monday morning please".
These type of jobs can occur once in a while but not too often from the same outsourcer. If they occur too often then there is something terribly wrong with the outsourcer.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 13:31
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
People actually survived before e-mail... Oct 5, 2013

... when translation was done with pen and paper, and in the first decades of the 20th century often typed, then sent by post, on paper to the client.

It cost extra to have a messenger take it directly on a bicycle or by other means of transport, but there used to be quite an efficient collective system where messages of all kinds were collected in boxes on the street corners, sorted, and delivered to the recipients a day or so later. Mail took longer to deliver to foreign countries, depending on transport connections etc. but it normally arrived.

To pay for it, small adhesive tokens called stamps could be bought at quite a modest price at so-called post offices and in some shops.

Some of us actually grew up under those conditions.

If we could organise ourselves then, why can't people do that now?
In fact many clients do....


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dianaft  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:31
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
bank on desperation Oct 6, 2013

OK so you say the agency passes the job elsewhere, if you don't drop everything to give them priority treatment. So they depend on you being available immediately and they expect you to be available whenever they snap their fingers. Naturally, if you have other clients, then you won't be able to fulfill their needs, but you won't need the work coming with those conditions as much.
If you struggle with this, then build your client base and replace that agency.

Some of my (direct) clients genuinely need things yesterday. Two of them regularly so. 1 pays me a basic monthly fee that enables me to keep my general workload a little lower, as they genuinely require a 24 hour turnaround, sometimes they even need delivery even on the same working day.

Another one needs half the assignments done overnight and the other half on a relaxed schedule. So I get a premium rate for the urgent jobs and my regular rate for the regular jobs.

These are direct clients, so it is not as easy for them to just go somewhere else, but they do their part to ensure that I am available for them.

An agency can. Therefore, I don't really look at it the same way, when an agency contacts me with a rush job. They have a few people on their books. If I would struggle with the deadline or don't fancy a nightshift, I don't feel I have to move a mountain to make it happen. If I can, if I can't I can't. They have other options.

You appear to panic at the thought of the agency giving the job to somebody else and that indicates quite simply that you are relying on that agency too much. So focus your efforts on finding clients that offer conditions that are acceptable to you. As long as you need them, you have to play their game.


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Sarai Pahla (MD) MBChB
Germany
Local time: 13:31
Member (2012)
Japanese to English
+ ...
No - it's not normal if every job is like that Oct 6, 2013

sueshahine wrote:
Is this normal? is there anybody who had the same situation? and what to do? is refusing the job wrong or right to put some guidelines for yourself?


If *every* translation is like this, then you are just being taken for a ride - it's true that there are some agencies that genuinely require a rapid turn-around time, but not every single translation is urgent.

When you receive the project, if you feel you cannot complete it in the time stated, say so clearly and state when you can finish the project, e.g. Thank you for your offer - I have reviewed the translation and can complete it by 6 PM GMT. There's nothing wrong with that.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:31
English to Portuguese
+ ...
On rush rates... Oct 6, 2013

The Brazilian law on sworn translations - to celebrate its 70th anniversary in the next few days, unamended - states a production threshold around 400 words per business day. Of course, it was signed during the fountain pen/mechanical typewriter & paper dictionaries translation era, so that makes sense (on a per-client base, implied, not explicitly). It stipulates a 50% urgency surcharge for demands exceeding this threshold, and a 100% surcharge for work done on weekends/holidays.

I transposed this rule to regular, non-sworn work. As I have an obsession with timely delivery, actually with earlier-than-deadline delivery, such requests, in spite of the extra income, were ominously disruptive to my schedule.

Last January I took two weeks' vacation (instead of just one, as usual), and there was trouble in store for me upon my return: too many jobs, many of them urgent, some clients willing to pay extra for priority. One of them, upon learning that I had given priority to another who was paying 50% extra, offered me to top it with 80% plus, if I put their job first.

I immediately realized that it would be blatantly dishonest to move a 50% rush surcharge-paying job to the waiting list because another one was paying 80% plus for priority. Before the whole thing turned into an auction, I decided put an end to it.

From past experiences, I know that rush surcharges seldom pay for all the disruption they cause. They are just a tool to discipline clients with bad attitudes like every job of ours you must be handled with absolutely top priority, no matter what.

My solution was intended to solve the post-vacation inrush, yet it worked so well that I made it permanent. I decided to tackle jobs with the shortest payment terms first, all the way to the longest payment term last.

This was aided by the high interest rates in my home country, Brazil, so COD payment, on top of priority, gets a discount worth almost one year of interest in the USA, half a year in the Euro Zone.

I got rid of all clients with payment terms longer than 30 days a couple of years ago. My standard term is two weeks. Yet thanks to the speedy service and the discount, my best clients rejoiced from paying COD while improving their margins.

Yet this is not the beauty of it. Anyone wanting to secure absolute priority will have to prepay their order. The beauty lies in nobody being able to travel back in time to prepay earlier, after someone has done it already. Mind you that throughout these 8-9 months since I adopted it, I only had two cases of prepayment.

Bottom line is that now I can schedule my jobs properly. Though I never deliver late, my time estimates are now more reliable then ever. Since they are adequately "padded", I can fit in any small but urgent request at no extra charge, which earns a lot of goodwill. The CODs keep me busy 80% of the time; slower-paying clients only get service from me when I'm not taken up, hence they'll have to take their otherwise disruptive urgencies elsewhere.

I don't apply rush rates anymore, except those prescribed by the Brazilian law for sworn translations alone. It's better for me, and for my clients as well. If interest rates in Brazil ever go down to international levels, I'll have to rethink the entire strategy.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:31
Russian to English
+ ...
I agree with Robert. There is no justification for things like that. Oct 6, 2013

Even if there were, sometimes, still there should be a surcharge for rush jobs. Only this way companies will not take advantage of too many "emergencies".

If rush jobs are normal-- it depends what you mean by normal. They are definitely not anything that adds to the quality and accuracy of the translation. They cause an unnecessary strain on the translator's health, so they are definitely something poisonous that should be weeded out.


[Edited at 2013-10-06 12:39 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:31
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
It's normal... for that agency Oct 6, 2013

sueshahine wrote:
He sends me translations with very tight deadlines, like 5 hours or 12 hours. He always says he is behind schedule, and that he needs to deliver the project. He puts a lot of pressure on me to deliver the translations in a very short time, and if I say that I can't, he passes the job to somebody else, or he gives me an additional 2 hours. Is this normal?


Yes, it's perfectly normal for that agency. Not all agencies are like that, but some of them specialise in "daily" jobs. It is your choice if you want to work for him, and you should not feel bad if he chooses to give the job to someone else. In fact, you should not feel pressured to take the job, even if he gives you some extra time, if you feel that you will not be able to do the work.

I have three clients like that. I regularly tell them that I can't guarantee same-day delivery, but that I will do their jobs if I have time. Their jobs are usually small and can be done in two or three hours, but they also know that the earlier they send the job the more likely I am to accept the job. They also e-mail me for confirmation after an hour and again after two hours if they don't hear from me, and I'm not bothered by that or pressured by it because I realise that for them time is money. If I can't deliver a job within their deadline, I write back immediately and propose a new deadline, often telling them why.

Those clients send me work so regularly that I basically set aside 2-3 hours of each day for them, knowing that most of the time those 3 hours will be filled with work from them. At the same time, I don't allot a whole day to their work, because I must have the ability to accept other jobs.


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:31
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Time and a half math Oct 6, 2013

Alex Kalani wrote:
time and half. In this case 20 to 30%.


Wouldn't time-and-a-half be 50%? 20-30% is tip territory. I don't work for tips.


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sueshahine
United States
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I was about to feel I don't fit in. Oct 6, 2013

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for your feedback, you gave me a true insight from your experience, I was at the brink to think I am "bad". When I was freelancing part time, I have not met such a thing, the clients I dealt with used to give me like 48 hours to translate like a 2000 to 3000 words. But this particular agency, made me feel that I know nothing about the translation field, and he took advantage of me being new in the full time freelancing job, and tried to convinced me that this is regular, every translator accepts it, and I am the one who doesn't want to work and take projects. If, I say for a 2000 words "tomorrow", he replies angrily "TOMORROW!!!??" and then he says "never mind forget about it".

So I was very desperate, am I really a lazy translator? or I am not professional because I can't make 12K in 24 hours (which I did the very first time, staying till 1 am, then resumed at 4 am)! and then 2500 sent by 3 pm and should be delivered at 10 pm maximum?

Moreover, during the time allowed for me to finish, he keeps sending me text messages asking where am I in the translation, if I don't answer he keeps calling, and emailing, if I don't answer the tone becomes angry, was very rude.

I have a BA in translation and I have worked as a bilingual professional for more than 13 years, may be I was not so professional using Trados, or I don't know how to charge my services for now. But I am sure I am very good at what I am doing from a technical point of view.

Usually, when I perform translation, I try to make a research on the use of the term in the target language, to make sure the term I chose is used correctly in that particular context. Also, I tried to tell him that I am not a typist who can finish a job in few hours, as a translator I sometimes spend 30 minutes translating and search one term.

What he was trying to do, is to shake my self confidence in my translation skills, he told me about two or more terms that I mistranslated, trying to argue with him that my translation is based on research I made on the topic in the target language, he said "No, the client wanted it like that, (referring to the term he used)".

A day later, he forwarded me an email from a editing company he wrote in the email "FYI this is the feedback I received from the client". In the email, the editing company said that the editor used to review my translation has found a lot of mistakes in English and translation, the person sent him not the editor admitted that most of the editing was in the style. When I reviewed the editing, I found out that the editor changed most of the style and very little to do with the translation itself, the editor even changed some of the translation and certain style to the wrong one.

When I sent him back my points on the editing, he didn't reply, so I understood that he wanted to tell me you are a bad translator, and see what people say about you.

Finally, he said that he pays after 45 days! I am not sure if this happens with all agencies or no, with me I have never encountered.

Thanks,
Sue


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