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Can you charge more after quoting if work requires additional tasks
Thread poster: Karen Tucker
Karen Tucker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:14
French to English
Oct 21, 2005

Hi everyone,

I'm translating an academic paper for a French professor for whom I have worked before. I didn't give him a specific quote on this job because I regularly do work for him and his colleagues and they know my current rate. However, he asked me to use American Psychological Assn. style, which meant spending a lot of time looking up guidelines in the APA style book (I have a a Master's in psychology, but I received the degree a long time ago). He also expected me to find online the original English questions and categories used in two psychological surveys (which he had translated into French, but he didn't provide me with the original English). I'm almost finished with the translation and just found out he expects me to find the original questions and categories.

I always do research when translating, but I've spent far more time on it for this translation than I normally do (several hours' worth) and feel I should be paid more. I only want to charge him 1 centime more per word, but I know it's considered inappropriate to charge more after the initial quote. I feel I'm doing tasks that are more appropriate for a graduate assistant.

I don't want to lose him and his colleagues as regular clients, although I've been working for this psychology department for so long it's unlikely they'd change translators at this point. But I'm also partly to blame for not discussing this with him at the beginning of the job, which I put aside for a while to focus on more urgent jobs.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Thanks very much,
Karen


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 00:14
French to English
Put this one in the 'live and learn' category Oct 21, 2005

Karen,

This is really frustrating, but you do admit that you are partly responsible for being a bit lax during the quoting process (something that often happens when you do regular work for a client...).

If it is just a few hours and if you hope to maintain good relations with the client, don't change the original quote, but do let them know (tactfully) that you have included X hours additional research free of charge as an exceptional favor.

You might also want to say that in the future you would charge by the hour for this kind of work and it might be more beneficial to all if a graduate assistant performed these kinds of tasks.

Maybe this never even occurred to the professor. He might even thank you for the tip.

My 2 cents.

Have a good weekend!

Sara


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Roberta Anderson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 00:14
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Just be open Oct 21, 2005

Just be open, no need to be shy here

Explain that this job required longer that previous ones, that you have put in x extra hours in research etc to comply with specific requests, at your usual hourly rate of xx.

I found myself in a similar position on few occasions, and when I saw what was happening I let the client know while the project was still in progress. Each time I just received an "Ok, we appreciate the extra time you are putting into this - let us know the extra time spent on this when you submit the job" sort of reply.

Remember you are running a business
I'm sure they'll understand and appreciate!

Roberta

[Edited at 2005-10-21 14:00]


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Karen Tucker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:14
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Very good points Oct 21, 2005

Hi Sara,

This is an excellent suggestion. I've learned I get in trouble when I act while I'm upset, which is the state I'm in right now (after spending a great deal of time looking up the original questions, then having to change what I had already translated). If I state I'll charge more in the future if I'm required to do a lot of non-translation work, he might be less likely to ask me to do it. My problem is knowing how to put it diplomatically in French. I don't always know the right "formules."

Thanks for responding so quickly.

Karen


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 00:14
French to English
I know what you mean... Oct 21, 2005

I must have read something like this in a goofy self-help book somewhere along the line...

I don't remember the exact words, but the essence is that people will remember how you make them feel long after they have forgotten what you actually did for them!

So take a deep breath, don't be nervous and just be as gracious as you possibly can. It sounds like this is a good/important relationship to you.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Maybe you could ask a French person just the right words to butter the prof up a little (but still be yourself and be sincere, of course).

Also, try to focus on the positive: you enjoyed the work, you were very thorough, etc. and how you can better help the customer in the future (i.e. by examining the document closely, breaking down tasks that could be shared w/ a grad asst.). I work with professors regularly and they are not always the most pragamatic types, if you know what I mean. Maybe he honestly never thought about how the work can be broken down into research/vs. translationt tasks. Maybe he has a bored grad assistant he needs to keep busy...honestly, you might be doing him a favor by helping him be more effective in the future and he will appreciate you for taking the time to pass these ideas on (tactfully, of course).

Have a good weekend!

Sara

[Edited at 2005-10-21 14:31]


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JackieMcC
Local time: 00:14
French to English
Charge if it happens again Oct 21, 2005

Hi Karen,

I agree with Sara here - as this is a valued client her suggested approach is probably best this time.

However, if this happens again I would have no scruples about charging for the extra time you spend. But rather than increasing my rate per word, I would work out how much extra time I spent on the research work (over and above a reasonable amount of time you would expect to spend researching any translation job)and call the client to explain you will be charging for this at an hourly rate.

I have done this a few of times in the past, and the clients were understanding - although once the client agreed in principle but said he just didn't have the budget to pay the extra so I ended up charging half of the extra amount only.

Best regards,
Jackie


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Karen Tucker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:14
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
thanks to all Oct 21, 2005

Hi Jackie!

Nice to hear from you. Your advice is very wise and that's what I'll probably do. I agree that he probably didn't give any thought to all the extra work involved. He simply finished the paper and sent it off to me. I guess it's a matter of educating clients.

And I agree with Sara about people remembering more how you make them feel than the actual details of your working together. But Roberta's right as well - about this being a business. It's a very delicate matter - keeping them happy while making sure you're treated fairly as well. I don't want to be a Ms. Milquetoast but I don't want to lose good clients either!

There's a lot to weigh and I very much appreciate the advice by all three of you.

Karen


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Graciela Carlyle  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
all the way with Roberta's approach Oct 21, 2005

Hi Karen,

I totally agree with Roberta.

I would state clearly how much it is for translation work (this at your usual rate) and how much (XX per hour) for the "extra research requested".

If for any reason they complain, as you didn't raise the subject when quoting, you'll have to let it go this time. But make clear the amount of you time invested, so next time they'll know (and you don't forget when quoting!!!).

Best of luck!!
Grace.


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:14
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Am I the only coward around here? Oct 21, 2005

Hi Karen,

I wouldn't dare to charge extra in situations like this. Maybe it's a lack of self esteem, but I wouldn't even get mad.

Regards,
Gerard


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:14
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
Not a matter of cowardice! Oct 21, 2005

Gerard de Noord wrote:

Hi Karen,

I wouldn't dare to charge extra in situations like this. Maybe it's a lack of self esteem, but I wouldn't even get mad.

Regards,
Gerard


I'm with Gerard on this one. Some translations take more research than others.
What will you do next time, call the prof and say you'll charge less because it didn't take as long to research as you thought?? I think it all balances out, and it depends on how you feel about this customer (you say you don't want to lose him...). If you want to jettison someone, speaking up angrily is a great way to do that.
What I have done in some cases is say, "Gee, that took a lot longer than I expected because I had to do A, B and C." In some cases, the people have told me to charge extra. Others have not. At that point, the decision is yours the NEXT time they call, but not this time. As you yourself have pointed out, you should have spoken up before!
Catherine


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Graciela Carlyle  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
no you're not Oct 21, 2005

Gerard de Noord wrote:
Hi Karen,
I wouldn't dare to charge extra in situations like this. Maybe it's a lack of self esteem, but I wouldn't even get mad.
Regards,
Gerard


I think that the difference here is that Karen didn't give a formal quotation (if I understood correctly). Her client knows her standard rates for previous translation work.
Now they've requested some extra work (Catherine, I don't think she refers to normal research for the translation itself) and there was no reference to rates. That's why I suggested mentioning it (in a friendly manner) to the client. Although, of course, it should have been mentioned earlier. If they agree, fine; if not, never mind, it goes as a favour this time.

However, if a formal quotation was made, no, I wouldn't dare change it either.

FWIW
Grace.


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Karen Tucker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:14
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
no formal Oct 21, 2005

You're right. There was no formal quote because I regularly do translations for the psychology department. Believe me, I would never act mad toward a client. I'm just telling you how I feel. If anything, I'm too wimpy sometimes! But I also don't like the feeling of being taken advantage of. The APA style is taking a great deal of time because there are so many details in the style guide. I'm not talking here about the normal amount of research, which I do for every translation - and often extensively. This goes way beyond what's normal. Thanks for all your input. It's interesting and helpful hearing all the different reactions.

Karen


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:14
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
I do not charge extra for research Oct 21, 2005

I agree with Catherine and Gerard. I do not charge extra for research - I consider it part of the original job.

Not only that, good, steady clients who pay promptly are worth their weight in gold - handle them carefully.

Good luck,
Lucinda

[Edited at 2005-10-21 20:46]


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 15:14
English to French
+ ...
Playing dumb can help Oct 22, 2005

Hi Karen

What I sometimes do when a new situation arises is call the client and ask about "their" policy, because I never worked with them before or I never did this kind of job for them before, or whatever. It always worked for me so far, probably because they felt in control. After all, I was asking about the way they do things, not trying to push mine, and that sounded like I was willing to go along whatever they decided too.


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:14
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
On research Oct 22, 2005

I've found that any research I do comes in handy sooner or later. I remember sitting on the bed once years back with a stack of medical journals around me to work on ONE article. Was it cost-effective for that one job? No. Was it in the overall scheme of the jobs I've done since then? Yes.
Chalk it all up as a learning experience, because you can count on the fact that somewhere down the road (and sooner than you think) you'll be glad you researched this stuff. It WILL come in handy again.
Catherine


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