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Dealing with client additions
Thread poster: Christopher W Gladden

Christopher W Gladden  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 04:28
Japanese to English
Dec 16, 2015

Hi folks,

I'm translating in Japan, and am pretty new to the industry. Lately I've been experiencing a rather annoying trend where clients will send new additions to projects after I've completed them. They'll get the translation back and then decide they want to add more text (of course at no extra charge). Or else I'll be half-way finished a translation and they'll say "Oh, wait, we want to change some things..." I had like four hours of work go down the drain this past weekend that way. Basically, what's been happening is there's a Japanese organization in the middle who's supplying these projects. It seems as though clients are paying per project, so they feel it's like an all they can eat translation buffet.

What do folks do in such circumstances? Is there an industry standard?

Any and all thoughts on this are greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

Chris



[Edited at 2015-12-16 12:44 GMT]


 

Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:28
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Additions = new projects = new charge Dec 16, 2015

Hi Chris,

There isn't any 'industry standard', just common business sense, which tells me that you should bill any additions separately once the actual/main project has been completed. Your clients should be made aware of the simple equation of extra work = extra pay. It's your additional time that you are investing - and this should be remunerated accordingly.

Regards,

Steffen


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 02:28
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Yes Dec 16, 2015

Steffen Walter wrote:

Hi Chris,

There isn't any 'industry standard', just common business sense, which tells me that you should bill any additions separately once the actual/main project has been completed. Your clients should be made aware of the simple equation of extra work = extra pay. It's your additional time that you are investing - and this should be remunerated accordingly.

Steffen


I support this idea. The client should be educated to know that translators are respected and honored regarding their services.

Soonthon L.


 

Gad Kohenov  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 22:28
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Howdy Chris, Dec 16, 2015

Yes this phenomenon exists. You have to tell the client before accepting the job that any changes/additions (they change their opinion and rephrase sentences etc.) is not gratis.
You have to spend time on it + change/add an invoice etc. Tell them you will charge an extra 10% if the changes come within 24 hours. 15% within 48 hours and so on. That will make sure they won't come next year with a new version of the same contract and say: "But you have it on your Trados or we will sent it to you". I don't touch CAT tools which were purposely made to rob us of "repeated words". I just say: "Next, please".
Don't be a pasty. It is like giving a low price to a new customer, hoping to charge more next time.
Some tell me: "last time you charged x per word and now you want x+Y". They forget to mention that was good 5 years ago. "Why didn't you update us?"
Answer: "I have so many sites with my name in the database! I will have to pay a full time employee just to send you updates! Besides, you come once in a blue moon, just like companies you never see, who never forget to sent you a Happy New Year card. We need work to pay our biils, not Happy New Years greetings. They don't pay our biils.
Chris, you can conact me to discuss some things in private if you wish.

Happy New Year!

Gad Kohenov


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:28
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Specify at the beginning Dec 16, 2015

I always specify (to new clients) that once I have received a text to to be translated I will not, under any circumstances, accept additions or changes. This seems to work !

My existing clients already know and understand. You usually only need to say these things once.

Sometimes it causes a slight delay because the end user realises they need to finalise the text before passing it to me. But that's not a problem.

[Edited at 2015-12-16 08:54 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:28
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
As said, it's common sense, not law Dec 16, 2015

You might want to be flexible for a good client. For example, if you're working on Page 25 and they send a direct replacement for Pages 26-32, you may be prepared to throw away the old ones without charge. Of course, if it's now a longer document they must pay a little more.

But if you've already spent an hour and finished Text A, then they send Text B to replace it, they must pay for both.


 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:28
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Pay per project Dec 16, 2015

Hi Chris,

I like the buffet concept! Clear the plate you've paid for and step up again.

I think in just about any market it's reasonable to expect to be charged for something major that wasn't part of the original deal. You build a wall, then they realise they actually need two walls, which isn't "just a few changes". The odd additional paragraph I don't mind, but if I do it once without saying anything, I'm sending the wrong message and they think, Hey, why not really go to town on this rewrite at no extra charge, and later a couple of new pages will arrive, with changes made everywhere else. It's time-consuming with or without CAT tools, and let's remember the pay-per-project is their deal, not yours.

Some people are simply used to calling their secretary to make a few changes or endless changes, so it's best to make it clear you're not running a secretarial outfit. Four hours down the plughole (!!!!!) definitely call for Gad's "Next, please!"


Mervyn


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Extra work, extra billing Dec 16, 2015

If I have to spend more time on it, I bill the additional time, except for marginal differences. I won't bill 10 minutes more for a 20k-word project, for example, but I may bill 15 minutes for extra work on a tiny job.

This includes time spent when the agency comes back with a reviewed version where the reviewer has introduced errors, changed words to synonyms that don't significantly improve the text, made changes because the reviewer doesn't understand their own language fully, rewritten sentences that were perfectly in order because they'd found another translation somewhere etc.

It's a question of respecting one's own time and work and to make the client respect them too. One has to draw a line in the sand somewhere; we're not in charity. One can do this while being polite and flexible. I understand changes can happen, but they must understand that more work is not free. I haven't had any problems getting this accepted until now.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:28
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
In Japan also Dec 16, 2015

Christopher W Gladden wrote:
What do folks do in such circumstances? Is there an industry standard?

As the other posters have said, you should be making it very clear that additional work costs money.

I would add that just because it's Japan, it doesn't mean matters are any different. I delivered a job for a Japanese client yesterday. This morning they have come back asking me to do an additional 500 characters or so. That's a new project and it will cost them, as they know and accept.

Stand up for your rights. You need to be firm but polite.

Regards
Dan


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:28
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Thankless Dec 16, 2015

Rather than haggle over extra payment, and potentially poison what might otherwise be a fruitful working relationship, with interlocutors who may genuinely not understand that making unforeseen additions or alterations to a test will create difficulty for the translator, I find it preferable to refuse alterations and additions AT THE OUTSET.

The additional work is just too unpleasant and time-consuming to contemplate.

The last thing I want, having completed a careful translation and delivered it, is for the client to come back to me with changes/additions that compel me to interrupt my other work and go back over that job again. Frequently small changes can result in massive extra work for the translator.

So it isn't about charging extra money. It's about **not wanting to do it** !!

[Edited at 2015-12-16 11:41 GMT]


 

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:28
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Charging extra vs. declining Dec 16, 2015

Tom,

Knowing that you don't use CAT tools, I can see that your policy makes sense for you. That's fine.

For me, it does make sense to accept source text changes as paid work, because incorporating small changes in or additions to the source text into my carefully prepared translation is something CAT tools are particularly good at. Often enough, small changes in the source text don't lead to changes in the translation at all (which does not mean it doesn't lead to extra work, of course, as this needs to be carefully checked).

However, I don't "haggle" over "extra" payment. It's just another job I charge for.


 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:28
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
Charge the extra time Dec 16, 2015

I charge the extra time because changes may make that I have to change whole parts of the text.

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:28
Member (2008)
Italian to English
It isn't about CAT tools Dec 16, 2015

Erik Freitag wrote:

Tom,

Knowing that you don't use CAT tools, I can see that your policy makes sense for you.



It isn't about CAT tools. It's about the style and flow of the documents I translate and the need to preserve the logic of the argument that the document develops.

Knowing that you use CAT tools and don't do the kind of translations I do, I can see that your policy makes sense for you.


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:28
German to English
Charge extra Dec 16, 2015

If there are last-minute additions to a document, they should be billed, either separately or as part of the same job. I have an agency client who has me translate a client's newsletter on an ongoing basis, and all additional text is paid.

However, if the alterations are of a minor nature (change in spelling, job description, etc.), I do this at no charge, because the client sends work on a regular basis, and also because my client (the agency) is also charging their client.

Another agency sends me ongoing changes/additions to existing documents on a regular basis. All work is considered a different job and paid accordingly. The 100% matches have been vetted by an editor as well as the end client, so recycling existing text isn't an issue.

Several years ago I translated a manual for a direct client, and since then there have been additions/modifications several times/year. Sometimes sentences/paragraphs have been deleted or added, or there have been entirely new sections added. The client sends the entire manual if there are numerous revisions. Having initially translated the document using a CAT tool, it's quite easy to find the new material (and the deleted material does not show up when I load the document into the CAT tool). I charge the client for one hour's work (locating the additions to the text), plus a word rate for the new material.

A lot has to do with your relationship to the client. I don't mind making minor alterations to a current document at no charge – for a regular client. It helps ensure repeat business.


 

Christopher W Gladden  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 04:28
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Arigatou! Dec 20, 2015

Thanks so much for all of your thoughts and advice. Reading your posts has been truly helpful. Now I know for sure that I have to establish some guidelines, and I'll definitely incorporate many of the ideas you've mentioned. I like the simplicity of a basic "no additions" policy as Tom suggested, while in practice I'd probably be a little flexible, as others have said. Flexible if they aren't trying to take advantage, I mean!

So when clients approach you with a job, you just mail them your guidelines at the start? Or are is it just like a page on your sites?

Steffen Walter wrote:

There isn't any 'industry standard', just common business sense, which tells me that you should bill any additions separately once the actual/main project has been completed.


Right?! The idea that people would expect the extra to be free is just bananas. No one would order a pizza, and then when it arrived say, "Actually I'll have a coke, too," and then expect it to be free.

Mervyn wrote:

but if I do it once without saying anything, I'm sending the wrong message and they think, Hey, why not really go to town on this rewrite at no extra charge


So definitely need set rules for the buffet. "I'm sorry, no, you don't get five desserts with that..."icon_wink.gif

Erik Freitag wrote:

However, I don't "haggle" over "extra" payment. It's just another job I charge for.


This is a great point. I think I'll use this approach.

Dan Lucas wrote:

just because it's Japan, it doesn't mean matters are any different.


Absolutely. But I think that's probably why I've run into this issue. It seems the Japanese "middle folks" (not really an agency) don't have any guidelines set up at all. From what I've seen, in other industries too, overindulgence is not only tolerated, but even catered to. But really, I don't care what the other guys do...when it comes to my work though, as you say, they have to pay!

And Gad, that's right, the greeting cards don't cut it! Thanks for your kind offer to let me contact you. If I have other questions around this, I definitely will.





[Edited at 2015-12-20 06:46 GMT]


 
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