Do I need to post documents to clients?
Thread poster: melanieww
melanieww
Australia
Local time: 18:09
May 23, 2016

Hi, I'm very new to the freelance market (only started taking assignments last week...) and I've got some situation I'm not sure how to handle.
I took a one-page document translation job from an agency this morning and finished very quickly. As the document contains several Chinese names in English pronunciation, I just kept them in that way (you wouldn't know exact Chinese characters of names unless they've been shown in Chinese). The agency accepted the translation and paid the fee. But just now I received an email from the agency providing the names in Chinese and asked me to finalise it and post it to the client's address. I'm just confused! Is this within the responsibility of freelancers? Do we need to post things to clients? Can I just tell the agency it's not my duty to post things?
Thanks a lot!


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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:09
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Odd and unprofessional May 23, 2016

Very odd that an agency would encourage direct contact between you and the client, especially by post where the agency cannot even monitor what you send the client. That is super risky and unprofessional as far as the agency is concerned.

Did you sign any agreements with the agency that cover contact with the client? Maybe you can point out the clause about direct contact with the client and say that you are uncomfortable breaching the agreement, even with their consent, and you would prefer that they handle any direct contact themselves? Tell them you are happy to finalise the translation and return it electronically to the agency -- the agency is responsible for delivering translations to the client.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:09
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not unusual May 23, 2016

In my experience this is not unusual and I see no problem with it, as long as you can add the mailing costs to your invoice. You don't mention if this was a certified translation but if so, those must be posted because your stamp and signature are only valid if it is the original copy. If you value your relationship with this agency, I would not make a fuss about it.

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xxxIlan Rubin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 10:09
Russian to English
Not the right question May 24, 2016

melanieww wrote:

Hi, I'm very new to the freelance market (only started taking assignments last week...) and I've got some situation I'm not sure how to handle.
I took a one-page document translation job from an agency this morning...



Hi Melanie, you cannot make a living translating one-page documents.

As a new translator you were probably given this assignment because experienced translators have worked this out a long time ago and don't take on such jobs, unless the agency pays a minimum fee, e.g. for the equivalent of 10 pages.

And even if most work you do get is longer, one-page jobs don't 'move the needle' (unless you get 10 of them per day, which is very unusual, and you still don't want to be doing those because you will waste too much time with admin and daft client requests like the one you describe). So unless this agency gives you decent jobs as well you should drop them. I've dropped plenty in my time.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:09
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Don't agree May 24, 2016

When you are just starting out as a translator, you cannot expect to make a living from it right away. In the beginning no job is too small. It will give you experience and the opportunity to establish a relationship with a new client. Being flexible and providing an extra service when requested may bring you more work from that client later on.

As Ilan suggests, you could set a minimum fee for one-page documents, and you should be reimbursed for the cost of posting the documents.


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 01:09
German to English
+ ...
about one-page documents May 25, 2016

ILAN RUBIN wrote:

Hi Melanie, you cannot make a living translating one-page documents.

As a new translator you were probably given this assignment because experienced translators have worked this out a long time ago and don't take on such jobs, unless the agency pays a minimum fee, e.g. for the equivalent of 10 pages.

And even if most work you do get is longer, one-page jobs don't 'move the needle' (unless you get 10 of them per day, which is very unusual, and you still don't want to be doing those because you will waste too much time with admin and daft client requests like the one you describe). So unless this agency gives you decent jobs as well you should drop them. I've dropped plenty in my time.

I've been at this for several decades and still going strong as sole wage earner. I do one-page translations and small translations all the time. That said, I do have a minimum fee rather than a per-word rate for these smaller documents. Mine is $50. As far as daft client requests, I've seen no correlation between job size and daftness.

In regards to mailing things directly to the end client, I've done this frequently. Since I do certified translations with my stamp, the end client needs to get the hard copy, and some of my in-country agency clients will have me mail it to their client to save time. I add a "postage and handling" fee since it entails going to the postal outlet which fortunately is right next door. One agency now e-mails me a prepaid express post label; their address shows as sender since they paid, and I save time since I don't have to stand at the counter.

The request did not sound unusual and and it seemed efficiently and practically handled.


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melanieww
Australia
Local time: 18:09
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all and new questions May 25, 2016

Thank you for your opinions. The agency didn't tell me this assignment needed to be stamped and signed. As my previous assignments with them were all about company website or profile, which not requiring stamps or signature, I didn't know this one should be certified. The awkward part is that I haven't applied for my stamp yet...So they had to re-allocate the assignment to someone else.
Just got a few more questions regarding freelance work:
1. Is the stamp essential? I've met translators who's never used their stamps...
2. I haven't signed a contract with the agency and they didn't mention anything about that. Is it necessary to sign an contract? What clauses are usually included?
3. I understand the concern of one-pages, but I'm not at a position to choose assignment at this stage. Just wonders how to transit to a translator with larger volume of work? How to get more connection with different agencies?

Thank you!


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 01:09
German to English
+ ...
about stamps May 25, 2016

It depends on the country and circumstance. In Canada a lot of material has to be certified and done by a certified translator (who can certify his/her work), or it has to be notarized which is expensive. Where you are there may be something similar. Some countries don't have this at all, others have sworn translators, etc.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 08:09
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The only hard and fast rule is to agree with the client what they want May 25, 2016

There are so many different situations involved in translation - what works fine in one is hopeless in another. If the client has a clear idea of what they want and will pay, and you are happy to do it for their price, that is what counts.
In your case, there might not be time for the post to deliver the physical document to the agency first and then to the client, if the distances are large.

Having said that, I also define what is reasonable for me as a one-person company. Others will set their limits completely differently.

I do not do DTP-work, and I don't have the software. Some colleagues enjoy a certain amount of DTP as a change from translating.

I personally prefer the small jobs, but as others have said, you need to set a minimum charge. Don't set it too low - about an hour's work to cover overheads and adminsitration is NOT unreasonable. If you do a lot of small jobs, you may need to set your general rate a little higher to allow for the fact that you have more administration for five jobs at 500 - 1000 words than for one job with 5000 words.
If you spend time on formatting, or other adjustments because you handle Chinese, you may need to charge extra for that on top of your word rate, or make sure your word rate allows for it.

I don't give discounts for large-volume jobs - they take me extra time in other ways, checking consistency, turning down other work that I don't have time for, whatever.

I do sometimes give CAT discounts, but not on the very small jobs. The difference for the client is small, but you still have to set up your CAT, even if you have a template or the client sends a package. I add my own termbase and other resources as a rule anyway.

Otherwise you risk translating 500 words for the price of 250 if they tell you most of the text is repetition... and you really can't make a living on that.

And so on.
You have to decide for yourelf what you are good at, and can get paid for, and pass the other jobs on - there is usually someone who actually likes them!

Good luck!


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xxxIlan Rubin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 10:09
Russian to English
No need for correlation May 25, 2016

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

As far as daft client requests, I've seen no correlation between job size and daftness.



No, but if you are given one daft request per 10 jobs and you do 10 small jobs per day rather than 2 large ones per day you will face one daft request per day, rather than one every 5 days...


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Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:09
Member (2013)
Chinese to English
On client additions May 25, 2016

melanieww wrote:

Hi, I'm very new to the freelance market (only started taking assignments last week...) and I've got some situation I'm not sure how to handle.
I took a one-page document translation job from an agency this morning and finished very quickly. As the document contains several Chinese names in English pronunciation, I just kept them in that way (you wouldn't know exact Chinese characters of names unless they've been shown in Chinese). The agency accepted the translation and paid the fee. But just now I received an email from the agency providing the names in Chinese and asked me to finalise it and post it to the client's address. I'm just confused! Is this within the responsibility of freelancers? Do we need to post things to clients? Can I just tell the agency it's not my duty to post things?
Thanks a lot!


Looks like it doesn't matter since it's been reassigned, but I would never certify something like this without a note on the certified document stating something like: "Names are rendered using information provided by client [or ABC agency]; there is no information in the translation itself that definitively confirms whether these names are accurate." You always need to protect yourself against the worst, and you actually don't know whether the names provided are accurate or not. This way you won't be found at fault if this is some sort of attempt at forgery.

[Edited at 2016-05-25 09:59 GMT]


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