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Do your clients sometimes sneak in extra tasks after you've agreed the job and the rate?
Thread poster: Tom in London

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:21
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Aug 5

I recently agreed a job, and the rate, and everything seemed hunky dory.

But as soon as I'd got down to work, the client asked me to send a full glossary with each file in the job. I hadn't intended to create glossaries for this job, and it required more time.

On other occasions after I've agreed on a job, the client has added in other annoying little extra chores that have nothing to do with the translation.

Your thoughts?


Samuel Murray
Philip Lees
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 22:21
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No, not exactly Aug 5

I have been working for some time with an agency which manages communications projects, mainly annual reports and the like, for UN agencies, research institutes, international organizations, development banks, etc. Usually these texts have several contributors from different countries and many of them are not English or French native speaking, this means that sometimes they are awkwardly phrased and I need to ask questions to clear things up. More often than not, answers from the end client are ... See more
I have been working for some time with an agency which manages communications projects, mainly annual reports and the like, for UN agencies, research institutes, international organizations, development banks, etc. Usually these texts have several contributors from different countries and many of them are not English or French native speaking, this means that sometimes they are awkwardly phrased and I need to ask questions to clear things up. More often than not, answers from the end client are extremely slow. For example, I delivered a long report on the 25th June, without having all the answers I needed, and I was recently informed that I’ll have them on the 10th August. As the rate agreed is on the higher side and these projects are on subjects I’m very interested in I don’t mind at all this back and forth process.Collapse


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Loosing the plot Aug 5

Tom in London wrote:
Your thoughts?

Well, I’m flitting between wondering what to have for lunch and whether to wind you up with some missspelling, all mixed in with sporadic musings over what the fat woman I nearly ran over earlier might look like without any support underwear.

I’ve never been asked for a glossary, but just tell them it will be extra, or that you don’t have time and they can make their own.

Agencies, eh? You can’t live with them, but you can certainly live without them...


Vesa Korhonen
 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 23:21
German to Serbian
+ ...
Sometimes. Aug 5

It happens sometimes, and it's always added to the bill. If it requires extra time, it will find its way and place on the bill.

Sheila Wilson
texjax DDS PhD
Christine Andersen
Chris Foster
 

Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:21
Member (2008)
English to French
I charge for it Aug 5

I've had agencies ask for a glossary.

I offer several options - an 'on-the-fly' glossary created in Multiterm as I translate for which I charge about an hour's work per 50 terms or so.

A "full" glossary, usually in Excel or in a table in Word, with references to sources, explanations, comments and descriptors (e. g. verb, adjective, etc.) that will usually run around one hour's work per 10 terms.

Offering two prices points seems to effectively halt the r
... See more
I've had agencies ask for a glossary.

I offer several options - an 'on-the-fly' glossary created in Multiterm as I translate for which I charge about an hour's work per 50 terms or so.

A "full" glossary, usually in Excel or in a table in Word, with references to sources, explanations, comments and descriptors (e. g. verb, adjective, etc.) that will usually run around one hour's work per 10 terms.

Offering two prices points seems to effectively halt the request for a *free* glossary.
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Anna Schuster
DZiW (X)
Christine Andersen
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:21
Member (2018)
French to English
. Aug 5

I would tell them a glossary would cost extra. And the price would be hefty. At the agency we produced a glossary for a client and they sent it to a cheaper translator thinking they'd get the same quality for less money.
If they add a few sentences, I'll just add the per-word rate.
If they ask me for something that takes me less than ten minutes, I'll do it free of charge.


ahartje
 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:21
Member
English to French
Current clients don't Aug 5

But I've seen many of the common ones, besides glossary creation:
Do the agency's admin
Use an unknown translation tool
Read too much documentation
Comment (in a table) reviewer's suggestions/changes
Explain (in a table) why I didn't follow the glossary on some occasions
Insert end customer changes in bilingual files
etc.

If the time involved sinks into the size of the job and I am in good enough a mood, I might comply. Always while mentioni
... See more
But I've seen many of the common ones, besides glossary creation:
Do the agency's admin
Use an unknown translation tool
Read too much documentation
Comment (in a table) reviewer's suggestions/changes
Explain (in a table) why I didn't follow the glossary on some occasions
Insert end customer changes in bilingual files
etc.

If the time involved sinks into the size of the job and I am in good enough a mood, I might comply. Always while mentioning that it's an added task and a favour with compliments, thank you.

The most original added request after rate agreement was a few years ago from a newly acquired agency. On all jobs, they required that I filled a table with examples of "transcreative" translations and associated justifications to ensure that I had made a "transcreation", not a translation. I suspect it was to show the client that "yes, transcreation is more expensive, but see, it's human made and they even gave it a thought". I did a couple of smallish assignments, found out that explaining inspiration, or lack thereof, takes time, and explained that I needed to increase my word rate since it didn't originally include training services.
A "transcreation" is simply a translation that doesn't sound like a translation, with changes in word order and sentence structures, added logical links and adverbs, vocabulary that exceeds 50 words, etc. Well, a good "translation". It was likely called that before machines and word factories spoiled the "writing" of translations and dull, uninspiring and boring PEMTed-like translations became the norm.

Philippe
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Christine Andersen
TranslateWithMe
 

Didi18
United States
Local time: 14:21
Member (Jun 2020)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It's been happening lately with proofreading Aug 6

I've noticed lately that some clients bring a translated document for me to proofread (at proofreading rates), and turns out that it needs major rewrites. Sometimes clients want to save money by doing the translation themselves and then getting somebody to do a "light" proofreading but, in my experience, it's faster to translate a document than to proofread a badly translated one.

How would you guys handle this situation? Thanks in advance.


Christine Andersen
 

Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 00:21
Member (2008)
Greek to English
One horror story Aug 6

More than ten years ago, when I didn't know any better, I accepted a translation job from an international agency, after going through a Byzantine registration process. The job was OK and the rate reasonable, but after I'd delivered the translation they started sending me a series of extra assignments involved with checking and quality control that hadn't been mentioned before. This involved hours of extra work, but I did it, because I didn't know any better. Getting paid the agreed amount invol... See more
More than ten years ago, when I didn't know any better, I accepted a translation job from an international agency, after going through a Byzantine registration process. The job was OK and the rate reasonable, but after I'd delivered the translation they started sending me a series of extra assignments involved with checking and quality control that hadn't been mentioned before. This involved hours of extra work, but I did it, because I didn't know any better. Getting paid the agreed amount involved yet more Byzantine bureaucracy and delays.

This one job and the prerequisite bureaucracy amassed a total of 58 emails back and forth over a period of eight months. The last of these was from them, agreeing to my request for them to remove me from their database as I had no desire to work for them ever again.
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Philippe Etienne
Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:21
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Yes, restoring my translation after the client has messed it up ... Aug 6

Some of my clients think they write good English... To be fair, Scandinavians are exposed to English on TV and in the media from early childhood, and they learn it in school, read half of their university syllabus in English, negotiate with customers and do business in English...

It is a special variety, which I call Scandi-English, and even after three years reading law in Cambridge or whatever, some still use Scandinavian syntax or legalese expressions etc. etc. They cannot just a
... See more
Some of my clients think they write good English... To be fair, Scandinavians are exposed to English on TV and in the media from early childhood, and they learn it in school, read half of their university syllabus in English, negotiate with customers and do business in English...

It is a special variety, which I call Scandi-English, and even after three years reading law in Cambridge or whatever, some still use Scandinavian syntax or legalese expressions etc. etc. They cannot just agree, they have to agree upon whatever it is, and they break up sentences in tell-tale ways that are not wrong, but more Danish than English...

They go through my translation and wonder why I have used a particular expression and not just the first suggestion in the little red dictionary, which is what they expected. (Others would justifiably complain if I did that!)

Last month I suddenly had three large translations, two of mine and one by a colleague, where normal idiomatic English was changed to literal expressions that grated on the ear and would leave a native baffled.

The client had questioned the terminology and some of the idioms in the one by a colleague, made some helpful suggestions, and paid for the time I spent checking, quite generously, as it was not one of my core subject areas. (But it was archaeology, and you can probably count the real experts on your fingers.)

This was in contrast to the other two, where someone in Marketing had gone through 5000 and 8000 words, making hundreds of changes!

For the first couple of hours I was too furious to do more than underline the direct errors -- there were quite a lot!
However, I then took a deep breath, read my original text, and decided, to my great relief, that it was actually not bad!
I could then go calmly through and reject the changes.
I added explanations of a few of the really important points, and adjusted the tone of my comments from supercilious to polite...

I did not get paid, and those extra jobs took me a day each, but I do not expect the same clients will do it again!


[Edited at 2020-08-06 13:01 GMT]
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Philip Lees
 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:21
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Happens sometimes Aug 6

Time to renegotiate the price. I don't mind (extra) work, as long as I get paid for it, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

Christine Andersen
Sheila Wilson
 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:21
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Extra tasks Aug 6

Before accepting a "proofreading" task, tell the client that, depending on the text to be proofread, there are various degrees of checking involving (1) light proofreading; (2) editing; (3) rewriting and (4) retranslation, each with a separate fee. Look over the text beforehand and then inform the client what is involved. They are free to accept or to decline. One hears over and over again that these are "good clients". I wonder.

 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:21
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Good translation clients may not be good clients for proofreading Aug 6

Michael Newton wrote:

Before accepting a "proofreading" task, tell the client that, depending on the text to be proofread, there are various degrees of checking involving (1) light proofreading; (2) editing; (3) rewriting and (4) retranslation, each with a separate fee. Look over the text beforehand and then inform the client what is involved. They are free to accept or to decline. One hears over and over again that these are "good clients". I wonder.


I find it very difficult to do that. Light proofreading is only possible, but barely necessary, if the translation is already very good. I have had the privilege of doing it for expert colleagues and learnt a lot that way.
I accept editing for promising beginners and subject experts who are not primarily linguists, but write good English - in a thesis, for example, or an academic paper.
Rewriting IMHO is a waste of time! It often takes longer than translation, but if a quote is needed to hammer the fact home, OK, I might give a quote.
Retranslation means scrapping the first effort entirely - as a rule simply starting again takes far less time than trying to save bits and pieces.
____________________

Over the years, I have worked for several clients who were fine for translations, but I stopped accepting proofreading jobs from them. All of them were originally good clients, but there is a limit to the favours I would do for them even then.

Instead of wanting a good translation proofread and checked, they went over to to elaborate procedures, trying to press the process into QA templates, with all changes classified in tables as relating to to grammar, fluency, meaning, collocations etc. and as minor, serious, critical ...
Messing about like that could take longer than simply translating, and the fee offered was a small fraction of the rate for translation.

It was a warning signal. Small, friendly and efficient agencies may be bought up or merged with bigger groups, and some of them have ended up with really bad names. In all these cases, I have moved on when they started asking me to fill in assessment forms instead of just proofreading and editing, and when they changed over from paying for it by the hour to a rate for the word count.

IF - and only if - you start with a good translation and only small adjustments are needed, a word-count rate may be a good bargain. (Around a quarter to a third of the rate for translation). Otherwise, over time at least, agencies often sneak in more and more boxes to tick and increasingly poor translations for an ´agreed rate´.

Sooner or later, the well-qualified PMs leave, and I have had to admit that these agencies are no longer the ´good clients´ they used to be!


Sanghyo Lee
Philippe Etienne
 

WS McCallum
New Zealand
Local time: 11:21
French to English
An additional revenue stream? Aug 7

Tom in London wrote:

I recently agreed a job, and the rate, and everything seemed hunky dory.

But as soon as I'd got down to work, the client asked me to send a full glossary with each file in the job. I hadn't intended to create glossaries for this job, and it required more time.

On other occasions after I've agreed on a job, the client has added in other annoying little extra chores that have nothing to do with the translation.

Your thoughts?


Clients like this take an inch, then another inch, and then they're taking miles. With things like this I tend to say "well this is extra unpaid work you didn't mention before - next time I'll have to charge you for it" and then mention the charge for future reference.

On the positive side, I have received extra work with this approach. I ended up becoming an agency's paid test translations assessor after they sent me a few test translations to check gratis and I pointed out this was unpaid work. The job manager in question agreed to a lump-sum rate per test translation checked.

Maybe this client needs a terminologist...


 

Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 00:21
Member (2008)
Greek to English
Define terms Aug 7

Michael Newton wrote:

Before accepting a "proofreading" task, tell the client that, depending on the text to be proofread, there are various degrees of checking involving (1) light proofreading; (2) editing; (3) rewriting and (4) retranslation, each with a separate fee.


If a client asks me to quote for proofreading, I always make sure to find out precisely what they mean by that, often referring them to the ProZ.com wiki entry.

Most of the time, what they actually mean is "revision", according to EN 15038.

It helps if we get that clear.

[Edited to make link open in new tab/page]

[Edited at 2020-08-07 04:49 GMT]


Christine Andersen
 
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