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Invoice reduction on belated delivery
Thread poster: marantz

marantz  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 11:58
Member
German to French
+ ...
Jun 28, 2009

Bonjour to all of you,

I have delivered a 2'000 word text two days late due to severe computer/hard disc problems. By how much would you reduce the invoice amount? Merci et bon dimanche.


 

Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:58
Swedish to English
+ ...
50% -- 100% Jun 28, 2009

If the customer is worth keeping on as a customer (interesting work, is helpful, pays on time, and is not happy because of this late delivery) reduce by 100%. Think of it as an apology and a good marketing investment for future goodwill.

If you do not mind losing the customer, reduce by 50%.

If the customer has told you it is not a problem, reduce by 25% as a goodwill gesture.

If you want to insult the customer and lose him/her, reduce by 0%.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Discuss it openly with the client Jun 28, 2009

Tell them exactly what happened. Anyone may have a hard disk failure - ton client y compris - so it's not a farfetched excuse. You indeed have failed to have in place and use a contingency plan.

FYI I had no less than four hard disk failures in the past month. No, fortunately it's not s common at all. A 7-yo HD died on me. A 2-yo backup had severe trouble. I bought a new HD, it failed twice (reformatted, installed everything), I discovered it had an irrecoverable manufacturing defect, got it replaced in warranty.

If the client had an unchangeable deadline for any reason, and your late delivery made them miss it, no money/discount will compensate that loss. On the other hand, if they had set a deadline just to fit into a plan on what to do with your translation, they had no problem at all.

To add more variables, if they hired your services because your 'best rates' are cheaper than those offered by everyone else they know, they should be prepared to face that with such rates you'll never be able to afford good and reliable hardware.

Finally, 2,000 words are usually not such a big deal. Okay, sometimes one phrase alone is such a big deal. In the first case, you could borrow, rent, or use a public (library, cybercafe) computer to get it done in half a day. In the second one, you could use pen & paper, and a fax machine.

My suggestion is to ask them what they think is adequate. As it was your fault, you are not in a position to set the rules... if you want to keep that client.


 

marantz  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 11:58
Member
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reading you is a slight relief, Jun 28, 2009

as I thought such misfortunes happened only to me and I was doomed! They can use it and the end client seems quite happy with it. I am pursuing the reduction issue because I promised it. Furthermore, three days later and after the computer had been repaired (or so I thought) it reoccurred, this time irreversibly after successive salvaging attempts, computer replacement etc while I was at another translation for the SAME client, they lost patience and I lost them : I was delivering piece by piece what I could as they had agreed, whereupon they suddenly changed their mind and assigned it to someone else. I don't regret it. It is the more important to keep my promise regarding the reduction on the first text. Thanks to both of you for your advice.

 

Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:58
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
You said nothiong about communication with the agency Jun 28, 2009

since the deadline or since you knew that you are going to deliver late. Consequently we have no idea how much in trouble they are. I don't think that you can explain 2 days of delay by a mere hardware failure. After all 2000 words is something that may be done in 1 day and unless CAT is required, in the worst scenario you could finish work in an internet cafe.

In this situation depending on circumstances I would agree with Peter's suggestion - 50-100% discount.

BR

Stanislaw


 

marantz  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 11:58
Member
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The agency is not in trouble Jun 28, 2009

and the client is pleased with the result. Text was highly technical and not translatable within one day.

 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Why are we so obsessed? Jun 28, 2009

I deal with quite a few other freelance professionals - lawyers, accountants, graphic artists, architects, web designers, engineers - and none of them are so obsessed with deadlines. I am sure none would even consider offering a discount if they delivered a few days later than promised on a routine job.

Why are we so obsessed - what is the historical reason?


 

marantz  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 11:58
Member
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Because belated delivery endemic terrorism is contagious Jun 28, 2009

I fully agree with you. All too often clients seem to prefer a mediocre translation in time to an excellent one belated. In the particular case my insistance on granting them a reduction it is out of deontology (les grands principes, comme disait Guy Béart), motivated in particular to the identical accident shortly thereafter.

 

Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:58
Swedish to English
+ ...
Obsessed -- for business and cultural reasons Jun 28, 2009

John Rawlins wrote:
Why are we so obsessed (with deadlines) - what is the historical reason?

Having worked for large organisations in the past, I can well understand why they are obsessed with deadlines. Obtaining a translation is often only part of a larger project, and often with dependencies. So if a translation is late, it may have a knock-on effect, and upset other deadlines. And a delayed project may well incur financial penalties.

Perhaps too there are cultural factors. Some countries are very keen on punctuality, others less so. What may be an acceptable delay in one country may be little short of insulting in another country.


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:58
French to German
+ ...
No reason to be more obsessed Jun 28, 2009

Peter Linton wrote:

Having worked for large organisations in the past, I can well understand why they are obsessed with deadlines. Obtaining a translation is often only part of a larger project, and often with dependencies. So if a translation is late, it may have a knock-on effect, and upset other deadlines. And a delayed project may well incur financial penalties.


From what I have learned through dealing with both agencies and direct clients, it seems that translators are far from being the worst sinners as per not respecting deadlines. Printers are not bad too... but do not work as soloists and sole proprietors, which would not be feasible.

I guess the obsession of translators comes from the fact that they work alone and are therefore easier targets than e.g. medium-sized companies.



[Edited at 2009-06-28 14:55 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:58
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Is it a major client for you? Jun 28, 2009

If I was in your position, my response would be pretty different depending on whether the customer was a major customer for me (i.e. more than 20% of my full income) or not. If it was a major customer and the delay damaged their image in front of other people, I'd probably not charge them at all for the job. If not a major customer or the delay hasn't caused bad image in front of other people, I would initially offer 25% discount or so. It really depends!

Other than this, I would offer an apology and would try to make sure the problem does not happen again. Buying a new computer will cost you less than losing an important account.


 

marantz  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 11:58
Member
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I am just wondering about the amount of the reduction on the first job, Jun 28, 2009

for the client is lost due to the second one due to the following computer disaster within 4 days. Of course I have already profusely apologized. It is not because the client is lost that I shouldn't keep my promise.

 

marantz  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 11:58
Member
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
PS Tomas Jun 28, 2009

The new computer is already there.

 

Daniel García
English to Spanish
+ ...
Obsessessed with deadlines? Some times you have to! Jun 28, 2009

I understand from some comments that some colleagues have not been exposed to projects with strict deadlines but I have been involved in some of them.

Some times you have to deliver a translation which has to be delivered by a date and a time because it's going to be published in the web as a press release at the same time in several languages. A delay of two hours (not to mention two days) can delay the publication of all the other language versions.

Some times, the person who has to review your translation has only XX days to do so before having their time blocked for something else.

Some times your translation has to be delivered to court on a given date which cannot be changed.

Of course, in an ideal world, there should always be some buffer but this is not always possible.

Daniel


 

Daniel García
English to Spanish
+ ...
This is a very sensible advice Jun 28, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

If I was in your position, my response would be pretty different depending on whether the customer was a major customer for me (i.e. more than 20% of my full income) or not. If it was a major customer and the delay damaged their image in front of other people, I'd probably not charge them at all for the job. If not a major customer or the delay hasn't caused bad image in front of other people, I would initially offer 25% discount or so. It really depends!

Other than this, I would offer an apology and would try to make sure the problem does not happen again. Buying a new computer will cost you less than losing an important account.


This is exactly what I have done in the past. It could be that your delay has not caused any problem but it could be that it has had harmful consequences.

Daniel


 
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