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funny behavior of translation agency
Thread poster: Bruno Depascale

Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:22
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
Nov 7

Hi everybody, I would like to ask your opinion regarding a recent issue I had with a non-regular client of mine.
This client contacts me with a job offer. Such offer, as happens frequently nowadays, has a fixed budget (it is not paid with my regular per word rate, but slightly less). The job contains about 6000 words and the delivery deadline is in 2 days (from Wednesday afternoon to Friday afternoon).
Once I receive confirmation of the job, I notice that it contains different images
... See more
Hi everybody, I would like to ask your opinion regarding a recent issue I had with a non-regular client of mine.
This client contacts me with a job offer. Such offer, as happens frequently nowadays, has a fixed budget (it is not paid with my regular per word rate, but slightly less). The job contains about 6000 words and the delivery deadline is in 2 days (from Wednesday afternoon to Friday afternoon).
Once I receive confirmation of the job, I notice that it contains different images with non-editable text. I ask the client if they need such images translated and they reply yes, so I inform them that it would take about 8 hours of additional work.
They agree with this additional 8 hours, extending the deadline to Monday morning.
I deliver the translation in due time, with no quality issue, and the translation of images took me 4 hours instead of the planned 8.
The following month, when I issue the invoice, I insert the additional 4 hours in the invoice, but the project manager rejects my invoice saying that we never talked about an additional fee for the translation of the images, but only about a deadline extension of 8 hours.
This sound extremely funny and unprofessional to me.
What do you think? Do I have a legal basis to be paid for the additional 4 hours of work?
Thank you for your inputs
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Laurent Mercky
 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
'Hours' not necessarily price Nov 7

It depends on what you and your client actually agreed. When you first accepted the job, didn't your own word count show a discrepancy? You did verify the word count yourself, didn't you? Anything in images would not be included in that count.

When you initially looked through the files, weren't the images clear to see?

And when you requested 8 hours more, did you make it clear that it would increase the price, and did the client accept such additional cost? If you had
... See more
It depends on what you and your client actually agreed. When you first accepted the job, didn't your own word count show a discrepancy? You did verify the word count yourself, didn't you? Anything in images would not be included in that count.

When you initially looked through the files, weren't the images clear to see?

And when you requested 8 hours more, did you make it clear that it would increase the price, and did the client accept such additional cost? If you had already agreed a price, the client would have been under no obligation to accept a higher price if you had already had the opportunity to view the files in advance.

The lesson is to always make it clear in writing what is agreed and verify the client's claims, notably the word count, before you start.
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Niina Lahokoski
Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL
Kevin Fulton
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Teresa Borges
Philip Lees
Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 

Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:22
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
4 hours of additional work -> 4 hours of free work? Nov 7

Thank you Thomas,

Thomas T. Frost wrote:
It depends on what you and your client actually agreed. When you first accepted the job, didn't your own word count show a discrepancy? You did verify the word count yourself, didn't you? Anything in images would not be included in that count.


Actually, the word count was obviously different and the images weren't included in it. However, I gave if for granted that it was additional work and that the client would acknowledge it. Otherwise, I wouldn't even bothered to ask..(and to work on Sunday for free).

And when you requested 8 hours more, did you make it clear that it would increase the price, and did the client accept such additional cost? If you had already agreed a price, the client would have been under no obligation to accept a higher price if you had already had the opportunity to view the files in advance.


No, unfortunately I was in good faith

The lesson is to always make it clear in writing what is agreed and verify the client's claims, notably the word count, before you start.

I surely will in the future!


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:22
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Bruno Nov 7

Bruno Depascale wrote:
I inform them that it would take about 8 hours of additional work.


Yes, but what is obvious to you may not be obvious to someone else.

To you, it is obvious that your original acceptance of the offered price was based on a calculation "offered rate" divided by "expected number of hours", and therefore if it is discovered that the job will take longer than the original expectation (and if the client accepts this), then obviously the rate for the job will also be higher, because in your mind you evaluated the reasonableness of the total price based on a calculated price per hour.

From the agency's perspective, they offer you a fixed price to do the job, and you should then evaluate whether you are willing to do the work for that price and for the particular deadline. If you then say "it'll take 8 hours longer" than you originally expected, it doesn't imply that it will also cost "8 hours x calculated per-hour rate" more.

This is a sad misunderstanding, but to be fair: you never said "it will cost $200 more". You just assumed that the agency thought that it is obvious that a longer deadline also means paying more money.

4 hours of additional work -> 4 hours of free work?


As a freelancer, you are free to take as long as you like. You are free to take 8 hours to do a job that would usually take 2 hours to do. If you agreed $100 for a 2-hour job, and you take 8 hours to do it, then the price for the job is still $100. Or, if for some reason you happen to finish the 2-hour job in just 20 minutes, the price for the job is still $100. If you get a 2-hour job and you discover that it is actually a 5-hour job, telling the client "it'll take 3 hours longer" doesn't properly communicate to him that it is actually a $250 job.

Do I have a legal basis to be paid for the additional 4 hours of work?


Maybe, but among others you're going to have to make an effort to prove that the project manager knew about your usual hourly rate and that he knew about it during that particular exchange for this particular job (the fact that your hourly rate is on their database may not be sufficient to show that the project manager "knew" your hourly rate), and that a "reasonable person" would have understood your comment about "8 hours" to mean "8 hours plus the money that 8 hours usually represents".

Bruno Depascale wrote:
The word count was obviously different and the images weren't included in it.


Well, if it was obvious from the initial exchange that the price offered was for a certain amount of words, and it is clear to a reasonable person that the agreed price implied a certain price per word, and that the job was accepted on the basis of a price per word (instead of a fixed price for the project), and that the client would know that more hours means not only a different word count but also a different per-word rate for those new words, then this will also help with the judge. But these are many assumptions, and the fact that the agency is "in the translation industry" doesn't mean that he assumes and understands all of these things in the same way that you and I do.

No, unfortunately I was in good faith.


Heh-heh, but to "act in good faith" should not mean "I am honest in my hope that we all assume the same things". (-:


[Edited at 2019-11-07 13:10 GMT]


William Tierney
Philip Lees
 

Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:22
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
trust Nov 7

Hi Samuel,
thank you for your answer!

Samuel Murray wrote:

Yes, but what is obvious to you may not be obvious to someone else.


Ok maybe I was wrong at assuming this, but in my experience if I tell a client that the job is going to take longer, it is implicit that it is going to take more work. I am not implying that I need more time to take a break and go to the beach



From the agency's perspective, they offer you a fixed price to do the job, and you should then evaluate whether you are willing to do the work for that price and for the particular deadline. If you then say "it'll take 8 hours longer" than you originally expected, it doesn't imply that it will also cost "8 hours x calculated per-hour rate" more.


But again, it wouldn't be smart from a business perspective to work more for free..if that was the case, I would have simply delivered the job without translating the images. Am I wrong?



Heh-heh, but to "act in good faith" should not mean "I am honest in my hope that we all assume the same things". (-:

I think that trust is at the base of every business transaction, especially in translation. The agency trusts me with the job and I trust them that my work will be paid. It's a very simple concept to me..


Kaspars Melkis
 

Laurent Mercky
France
Local time: 14:22
Member (Jul 2019)
Chinese to French
+ ...
principle Nov 7

Bruno Depascale wrote:

Hi everybody, I would like to ask your opinion regarding a recent issue I had with a non-regular client of mine.
This client contacts me with a job offer. Such offer, as happens frequently nowadays, has a fixed budget (it is not paid with my regular per word rate, but slightly less). The job contains about 6000 words and the delivery deadline is in 2 days (from Wednesday afternoon to Friday afternoon).
Once I receive confirmation of the job, I notice that it contains different images with non-editable text. I ask the client if they need such images translated and they reply yes, so I inform them that it would take about 8 hours of additional work.
They agree with this additional 8 hours, extending the deadline to Monday morning.
I deliver the translation in due time, with no quality issue, and the translation of images took me 4 hours instead of the planned 8.
The following month, when I issue the invoice, I insert the additional 4 hours in the invoice, but the project manager rejects my invoice saying that we never talked about an additional fee for the translation of the images, but only about a deadline extension of 8 hours.
This sound extremely funny and unprofessional to me.
What do you think? Do I have a legal basis to be paid for the additional 4 hours of work?
Thank you for your inputs


Including TM in translation software, you should always be paid for the amount of words translated, even inside pictures.
And if your client is too lazy for giving you counting details, do it by yourself and only after that you should accept the job or not.
I will never accept to make free translations, just a principle.
You are right, your client is really unprofessional.


Bruno Depascale
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 21:22
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
It's not obvious Nov 7

Ok maybe I was wrong at assuming this, but in my experience if I tell a client that the job is going to take longer, it is implicit that it is going to take more work. I am not implying that I need more time to take a break and go to the beach

I just told a client I need more time today, because I was out all afternoon and wouldn't be back until late night.

Never leave room for ambiguity in business communication; use words and expressions that cannot be misunderstood, and when money is involved, always write out the amount every single time. Leave nothing to assumptions.

[Edited at 2019-11-08 06:45 GMT]


Ebrahim mohammed
Kevin Fulton
Christel Zipfel
Amel Abdullah
Philip Lees
Katalin Szilárd
Tom in London
 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:22
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
funny behavior Nov 8

Sorry to be harsh on you, Bruno, but "I took it for granted" just doesn't work in this business. As was recently indicated in this Forum
"clients are not friends" and good faith does not work with agencies. Hope this comment is of use.


Tom in London
 

Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:22
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Make it explicit Nov 8

Bruno Depascale wrote:


Ok maybe I was wrong at assuming this, but in my experience if I tell a client that the job is going to take longer, it is implicit that it is going to take more work. I am not implying that I need more time to take a break and go to the beach



I am afraid I am with Michael and Samuel on this one. Implicit communication is not a useful way to do business. I agree with the client that no additional fee was agreed for this. Next time, when you indicate something is going to take more time, just suggest to use your hourly rate for this; that way, you both know (and do not have to assume) where you stand and the client can try to negotiate if their budget does not allow for the extra charges.


Tom in London
Kevin Fulton
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:22
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Another reason Nov 8

Marjolein Snippe wrote:
Next time, when you indicate something is going to take more time, just suggest to use your hourly rate for this...


Another reason why it's a good idea to mention your hourly rate explicitly is because the hourly rate that they have on their database for you may be out of date or may have been "adjusted" by a well-meaning project manager at some time in the past. This may not apply to you, but it often happens to me that the rate that agencies have "on file" fore me is not the rate that I usually charge or currently charge.


 

Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
They have acted clearly in mala fide Nov 8

Of course it was implicit that the additional hours should have been paid, but you didn't say so.

Don't work for them anymore, you won't be happy with them. Their behaviour is not "funny" but dishonest.

[Bearbeitet am 2019-11-08 09:53 GMT]


Katalin Szilárd
Kaspars Melkis
Bruno Depascale
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:22
French to English
Extra time Nov 8

It's a contractual problem. The was a do-the-job-for-X agreement.
You agreed to the amount offered and, importantly, you had seen the document before agreeing to the offer.
If this were a million bucks deal, it would probably be worth arguing that the agency was acting in bad faith. There are grounds for saying that the initial agreement for the initial price did not include the translation of the text embedded in images. You could (should) have translated the document without bother
... See more
It's a contractual problem. The was a do-the-job-for-X agreement.
You agreed to the amount offered and, importantly, you had seen the document before agreeing to the offer.
If this were a million bucks deal, it would probably be worth arguing that the agency was acting in bad faith. There are grounds for saying that the initial agreement for the initial price did not include the translation of the text embedded in images. You could (should) have translated the document without bothering about the images.

You were acting in good faith as you alerted the client to the fact that you could not access the text in question. However, in informing the client that you would need extra time, the amendment to the terms initially agreed related only to time. You did not mention cost, neither did they.

From the facts, if you argued the client was acting in bad faith, the client could respond saying they also have grounds for supposing that this was simply a matter of extra time. When a freelancer asks for extra time, it can sometimes even be grounds for reducing the amount agreed as receiving the work later than initially agreed can upset the client's organisation.

The main weakness in your argument is that you did not express that extra time would mean extra money. It would be difficult to maintain that it was implicit because there is apparently no mention of your hourly rate. To modify the agreement between you and the client, the client would have to have the opportunity to agree to your rate. As I understand it, that did not happen.

I imagine you are kicking yourself; I would be! I think this may be one of those examples that you will have to put down to experience and add it to the list of mistakes from which you will learn. Next time, things will be different. Check accessibility and if you cannot access the text etc immediately, then ask the client to provide it in accessible form or in what form it should be provided so that the client can then deal with that in-house. If it's an agency, the chances are that they are better equipped to do so.
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Josephine Cassar
 

Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 13:22
Japanese to English
Sorry, can't agree Nov 8

Sorry, I'm inclined to agree with the client on this one. Merely asking for more time doesn't automatically mean you need more money to go with it. It could mean you're having computer trouble, or you're not well, or the job is over your head, or all of the above.

If you want more money, say so. Spell everything out explicitly: "I agreed to translate 6000 words by XX/YY for $4444, but this file contains 8000 words. Translating this will cost you $7777 and the deadline will shift to
... See more
Sorry, I'm inclined to agree with the client on this one. Merely asking for more time doesn't automatically mean you need more money to go with it. It could mean you're having computer trouble, or you're not well, or the job is over your head, or all of the above.

If you want more money, say so. Spell everything out explicitly: "I agreed to translate 6000 words by XX/YY for $4444, but this file contains 8000 words. Translating this will cost you $7777 and the deadline will shift to ZZ/YY. Should I proceed?" And get it all in writing so there's no need to argue when it's time to invoice.
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Thomas T. Frost
DZiW
 

Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:22
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Embedded text Nov 8

Bruno Depascale wrote:
if that was the case, I would have simply delivered the job without translating the images.


This is what these people deserve. You acted professionally, informed them in advance, and now they pretend the extra time doesn't equal to extra money.
When you work with people like these, don't bother about embedded text in the images, let them realize that something is missing and let them commission a new job for the translation of missing text.

I completely understand your point of view and i find their approach unacceptable.
Laura


Kaspars Melkis
Bruno Depascale
 

Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:22
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Nov 9

Thank you all for your input. It has been really helpful to evaluate my conduct from a different perspective. While I think that the agency acted in bad faith, I do agree with you that I should have been 100% clear in my communication, and I MUST NEVER assume that the people I'm doing business with will act ethically or in good faith (which is sad but true, even though this is not always the case)
Have a great weekend you all... See more
Thank you all for your input. It has been really helpful to evaluate my conduct from a different perspective. While I think that the agency acted in bad faith, I do agree with you that I should have been 100% clear in my communication, and I MUST NEVER assume that the people I'm doing business with will act ethically or in good faith (which is sad but true, even though this is not always the case)
Have a great weekend you all
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Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
Kaspars Melkis
 
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