Client arbitrarily applying 50% discount
Thread poster: AnthonyLee

AnthonyLee  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:32
Russian to English
+ ...
Sep 18, 2014

Dear Colleagues,

Details:

I have a client (agency in Mexico) for whom I completed two projects. The payment for these two projects is late, so I inquired about when I could expect payment. I received a response from someone in the office that they would be discounting the invoice by 50% because one of the files that I delivered had 2 or three misspellings, which I admitted to after reviewing the file. Example: I accidentally added an extra I to the word AMORTIZATION and left out the C in the word RESCISSORY. Unfortunately, I didn't catch those two mistakes after having proofread my own work and formatted the document to match the original.

I gladly offered the client a 5% discount and sent a revised invoice. I thought all was well since I did not hear back from the client until a few weeks later, asking if I was available for another project.

In my years of experience, I have never had a client arbitrarily apply a discount to an original Purchase Order without first discussing the matter in detail. Especially a discount as large as 50%.

Should I let this one slide and forget it, or pursue this matter? To put things into perspective, the amount owed is comparably small and would be a small pinch to the wallet.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sadly Sep 18, 2014

Sadly, they probably do not intend to pay you at all. It would certainly seem like that.

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Nicole Coesel  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:32
Member (2012)
Dutch to English
+ ...
I understand Sep 18, 2014

your situation. What I did when something similar happend to me, was telling them I'd be happy to assist in further translation projects as soon as payment for the first two projects is received.

On the other hand, would you seriousely consider to work for a relatively new party that is giving you the runarounds already, let alone, they should have informed you that they'd discovered errors in the translation submitted by you, allowing you time to set things straight instead of just deducting 50%. That is up to you. Be smart!


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Little Woods  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Member
English to Vietnamese
Leave them but leave something on their BB for colleagues Sep 18, 2014

If I make small mistakes, I am let to fix them and my clients dont ask me for a discount let alone cut down my invoice because of that. I sometimes offer some compensation if the mistake is big like mistyping date on the translation, it is mistyping but the date info is very impotant and it is always me who decide to give it, not my clients. If it is a small pinch as you say, that is a small to you but will be big for their name on the BB. When I see such details in the BB, I dont contact them.

[Edited at 2014-09-18 20:54 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:32
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I definitely agree; they don't intend to pay Sep 18, 2014

Henry Hinds wrote:

Sadly, they probably do not intend to pay you at all. It would certainly seem like that.


Were it not for the two mistakes, they would have found some other reason to cut 50%, and then another one to cut the remaining 50%.

I once had such a client. One of their countless "reasons", one at a time, when the payment was overdue for more than a month already was "You don't have Trados!", and demanding a discount on account of that. First, I never said to anyone, dead or alive, that I have Trados, because I don't; second, it was never required for the job; third, the job was accepted with praise when delivered.

I got paid quickly when my comment on the BB used the word "blackmail", which they wanted removed ASAP. In spite of their insistence, I never worked for this agency again.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:32
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never another job with overdue payments! Sep 19, 2014

Never accept more jobs from a customer who has overdue payments. Simply be "too busy" and "very sorry you cannot help this time" until you get paid. Do not increase your financial risk and invest the time looking for other customers.

As for the 50% discount on one file... although the figure seems a bit high, they were ultimately right about the mistakes, and this does severely reduce your negotiation strength. And all this just for the oversight of not running a spellchecker after your review. The good thing is that, I am sure, you will always run a spellchecker from now on!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:32
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Please do not accept this Sep 19, 2014

If those two errors really are the sole shortcoming of the translation you produced then the 5% offer you made was reasonable. 50% is totally unreasonable. Actually, it's totally unreasonable that they've waited so long (unless the payment period was one week).

You say it's a reasonably small loss to you. OK. But how big a loss will it be to the next translator? Maybe they'll get a 100,000 word project. If you've sent a clear message to this agency that they can always demand a reduction then they always will.

I know there are limits to chasing a small amount but please at least go through all the free steps, including the Blue Board to warn us of this scammer. And why accept less than 95%? It would be an admission that you were vastly overpricing your work.


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AnthonyLee  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:32
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank You, Everyone. Sep 19, 2014

Thank you to everyone that has contributed their thoughts and opinions. I find myself agreeing with each opinion, in one form or another.

The funny thing is that, the word Amortization was in the document 4-5 times and, unfortunately, it was in one sentence that I overlooked that extra " I ".

For further clarification: Payment was expected within 30 days. It was for that reason that I contacted them. Prior to my query, the client contacted me a third time for another project, (after their initial complaint), which I declined, as I did not want to have too many outstanding invoices with this one client, as Tomás has rightly pointed out. Should have stopped at the first project, which was "Perfect", according to the client's review.

Perhaps it's time for a pair of reading glasses to compliment the CAT tool's embedded spell-check feature.

Thank you again to everyone.

Have a great day!


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DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 02:32
Spanish to English
+ ...
A final spellchecking run Sep 19, 2014

The very last step of the process before sending off the file should be to run the spellchecker one last time. It's amazingly easy to introduce a typo or two when "polishing off" the target text.

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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:32
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
50 % arbitrary discount Sep 19, 2014

This problem can be solved by
(1) using a spell-checker
(2) being picky about the countries you do business with.

Michael Newton Boston


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Denise Phelps  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:32
Spanish to English
+ ...
I don't work with agencies Sep 19, 2014

But I've gathered from these same forums that one of their roles is to provide "added value", such as proof-reading/editing/quality assurance, otherwise there's very little justification for their existence. In that light, to deduct anything, let alone 50%, from your invoice for two spelling mistakes which don't even hinder understanding seems entirely unreasonable to me. I would do as Tomas suggests, and dump them as soon as possible - and remember to run a spellcheck in future

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:32
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agencies do serve the industry Sep 19, 2014

Denise Phelps wrote:
But I've gathered from these same forums that one of their roles is to provide "added value", such as proof-reading/editing/quality assurance, otherwise there's very little justification for their existence.

I tend to disagree: even agencies who do not have proofreaders and deliver your work as is to the end customer are doing valuable work in the industry. For instance they help sell our work, manage multilingual projects (which would be a nuisance for the end customer and for us), reduce (or should reduce) our administrative work since we do not have to cope with a host of different requirements from many end customers, and can manage bigger volumes most of us would never have access to individually.

Good, professional, reliable agencies are very interesting business partners for us translators. What we do not need is bad agencies, of the kind that pay late, constantly dispute our rates, and make our life complicated with unreasonable requirements. Let's work with passion for good agencies to help them succeed, and let's drop bad agencies as our customers. By helping to weed out bad agencies, we will have a much better future ahead for ourselves and the new generations.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:32
English to Polish
+ ...
... Sep 19, 2014

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

help sell our work


After first outcompeting us for direct client work.

manage multilingual projects (which would be a nuisance for the end customer and for us)


Multiple languages are not relevant to us. We don't benefit from that. Only clients do, to some extent, by outsourcing the management and admin work.

reduce (or should reduce) our administrative work since we do not have to cope with a host of different requirements from many end customers


Nope. Different client requirements are passed on to translators by agencies. There are also agency requirements to boot, and the fact you can't play by your own rules (e.g. under your own Terms of Service).

and can manage bigger volumes most of us would never have access to individually.


That means process larger volumes in a shorter time and saving on rush fees by dividing the text. No benefit for translators there per se.

***

This said, nothing wrong, per se, with agencies that don't contribute to the translation work itself, except that should be made clear among all the parties involved, and the translator shouldn't be burdened with the risk which arises from skipping third-party review (the so called second pair of eyes). When clients or agencies generate risks, they should be stuck with them or get an insurance policy.

Plus, e-mail forwarding agencies should not pass themselves off as substantive providers, creators of translation, owners of the process etc.


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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:32
Russian to English
+ ...
No discount for minor typos Sep 19, 2014

I may be bucking the trend here, but I believe it is the agency's responsibility to proofread translations before delivering them to their clients. See the "Proofreading" thread in the Money Matters forum for a discussion of just that issue.

As several people have opined here, they were just looking for an excuse to avoid paying you what you were due.


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:32
French to German
+ ...
No discount in this particular case Sep 19, 2014

I think there really should be no faults in the document one furnishes but do agree with James and dont think these minor faults justifie discount.

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Client arbitrarily applying 50% discount

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