Billing for a canceled job -- your opinions, please
Thread poster: Patricia Rosas

Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:38
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 23, 2007

Dear ProZers:

I'd like to know what you'd do if you were in my shoes...

Months ago, I received an 18,000 word job. As I began translating the manuscript, I could see many, many problems, ranging from errors to style to content (DULL!).

I wrote to the publisher, but initially, the response was noncommital. Later, I sent a marked-up copy of the original (errors & problems highlighted) to someone else, and he said he'd look into my concerns.

To make this long story short, I eventually got the message: STOP! After seeing my editorial comments (but only several weeks after I sent the marked-up copy), they canceled the project (supposedly, they are going to restart it with a different author).

I had translated almost 14,000 words (still needed proofing and polishing). I know they are willing to pay (they are grateful I caught the problem), but ...

HOW MUCH do I charge them?

I won't charge them my full rate (they're valued clients and I wasn't done yet), but should I charge only 50%? 75%? I have no idea at this point of how many hours I put in.

I'm really eager to hear what you'd do in my place.


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Ivana de Sousa Santos  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:38
French to Portuguese
+ ...
I would charge my full rate Apr 23, 2007

I would charge my full rate for what I had done (the 14,000 words in this case) and I wouldn't charge the rest.

If I was not being charged per word but had got a stipulated fee for this translation, I would charge the equivalent percentage of what I had translated. For instance, the fee was 1000€ and I had done 80%, I would only charge 80%, i.e. 800€.

I hope this helps

[Edited at 2007-04-23 19:47]


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lexical  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:38
Portuguese to English
Don't sell yourself cheap Apr 23, 2007

Why would you want to be paid less than your work is worth? If you translate 2000 words a day, why suggest you would accept 3.5 day's remuneration for 7 days' work?

OK, you might offer them a small discount (10-15%) to allow for the fact that what you sent was not a polished final draft, but the fact that the text was unsatisfactory is a matter between the publisher and the author, not with you.

It's good news that they are going to honour their duty to pay you, but how they recoup those lost costs (if they do) is their business. You acted in good faith, and also saved their reputation (possibly) with your comments. You should hold out for your normal fees, less a small discount if it salves your conscience.

Good luck!


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:38
English to German
+ ...
Charge 14000/18000 Apr 23, 2007

I'd charge the amount of the job I have done which would be 14,000 words out of 18,000 or about 78 % of the amount you agreed on for the full job.

Though you did not proof or edit your work up to full quality you put a lot of work into proofing and editing the bad source. The job was cancelled not because you were unable or unwilling to continue but because the publisher decided to cancel it because you warned him. And he took a long time for this. He could have put you on hold until the decision was made but he did not, so he must have had his reasons.

Do not give unsolicited discounts for mistakes beyond your control. This is a bad way of educating publishers - because they will expect the same thing from the next translator who may not have worked with them for such a long time.

If they ask for a discount, you can still recalculate and negotiate, but I see no reason for offering a discount here.

------------------------
Okay, your second entry was not visible yet when I wrote the above. Seems we agree on this matter.


[Bearbeitet am 2007-04-23 20:00]


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xxxamj_services  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:38
charge for the amount of the job you have done Apr 23, 2007

Why should you offer a discount?

I agree with Claudia: charge for what you have done so far, be it polished or not.

You can still send that material to the client, it could be useful for him/her to see your notes.

It was not your decision to cancel the job and you already invested a lot of time and work.

Like lexical says, "don't sell yourself cheap"!

A.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:38
Spanish to English
+ ...
less than full rate becuase what was done was less than full quality Apr 23, 2007

Patricia Rosas wrote:

I had translated almost 14,000 words (still needed proofing and polishing). I know they are willing to pay (they are grateful I caught the problem), but ...

HOW MUCH do I charge them?

I won't charge them my full rate (they're valued clients and I wasn't done yet), but should I charge only 50%? 75%? I have no idea at this point of how many hours I put in.



I think you are absolutely right to charge them less than the full rate though, given that what you have done was less than the full quality, as you hadn't put in the hours necessary to produce full quality:-) So it's hardly fair to charge them, especially as there is obviously very good will between you, which should be maintained.

I think you have to decide what % to apply yourself, in proportion to the actual quality/work invested: was it 50% of what it would normally take you to produce the final version, or 75%?


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:38
Italian to English
+ ...
Agree with Claudia Apr 24, 2007

I too would charge less than my full rate for the translation, BUT you also have to charge for the time you spent in marking up the errors, so I would charge full rate but specify in the invoice that you're charging X for the translation and Y for proofing and editing. That way it's clear to the customer that you're not trying to charge full rate for an unpolished translation, but are just covering your extra time.

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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:38
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
Charge by the hour Apr 24, 2007

I know you have said you don't know how many hours you put in, but can't you work it out? Say you decide to charge the 14,000 at 75% of your normal rate, divide that into an hourly rate and then add on the number of hours you spent editing the copy and trying to get somebody to listen to your concerns, etc. I get the impression that if you just charge for the no. of words translated, you may be short-changed in the process.

For what it's worth, I have started a number of jobs in the past, which have then been cancelled. I have always been paid the full per word rate despite obviously not having done a polished job. However, I have never translated so many words before cancellation.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 05:38
English to French
+ ...
Counting time Apr 24, 2007

On such jobs, I always use a program that counts the time I've worked. The one I use is Timesheet Express, but there are lots of similar freeware out there - find the one that suits you.

I use this for projects that are long that I got from clients I don't know much or for projects where quite early on I realize that because of the quality of the text, it will take longer than expected to do my work. It helps to have this information handy when billing in situations such as yours.

And I do agree - you should charge for your work at the normal rate. You can't take responsibility for errors made by people whose work you have no control over. The client shoud have, if they don't speak the source language, asked you or someone else to examine the material first in order to avoid this situation - but they didn't, and if you charge less than the agreed rate, then you are paying with cold hard cash for errors that are none of your fault or business.


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:38
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank to everyone! Apr 24, 2007

Thank you all for your time and your advice. It is so wonderful to have support when the doubts creep in.

I decided to bill at my low end of my regular rate (which is a little less than I bill them normally).

The more I thought about it other factors came into play. This was a job they told me in late October would arrive in November, and I turned down work and waited and nothing arrived. So, November was a financial disaster for me.

Then once I had it, I alerted them twice about the quality. If they had taken it back, I had other job offers during that time, which I turned down. They were editing jobs, so I wouldn't have made as much on those jobs as I do when translating, but I think that isn't the point--they didn't take it back, and so I turned away other clients. So, in the end, I agreed with those of you who said to charge the full rate.

I sent the invoice in, along with bills for two other jobs, and I've gotten an odd reply questioning the one of the other bills, but not this one (go figure!). So, we'll see how things unfold during the day!

Thanks again!


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