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Zero rate for 100% matches
Thread poster: J.Muldoon

J.Muldoon
Germany
Local time: 22:36
German to English
May 13, 2010

Yesterday, I agreed to take on a project. I've been successfully working with this agency for 2 months and in that time, they've kept me occupied pretty much full-time...decent rates, polite and efficient communication, interesting projects.
Now, they did state that a large amount of this project has already been translated (mainly by me), so the number of 100% matches is high (about 80 - 90%).
Ok, so it'll be a bit of a dull and repetitive job and no great earner.
That's alright, they've been decent so far and there's bound to be another, more interesting project along soon.
This evening, I received an e-mail from the PM (despite the fact that they're officially on holiday until Monday). He wanted to assure himself that, after the German internet difficulties on Wednesday, I had received the files (yup, got them, started work straight away).
He went on to say that he hoped I had also received his e-mail from earlier on in the day, in which he outlined certain guidelines for this job, most notably that 100% matches would not be paid.
(No, I wouldn't have agreed or started work if I'd known that!)
I'm not happy with this....am I being unreasonable?
It's not as if the 100% match segments aren't there, I still have to work through and confirm them (over 20,000 words so it's a fair amount of work).
In addition, I'm using MemoQ to work on Trados files and, even in 100% matches, inline tags tend to get missed or messed up (the agency know this, they encouraged me to test and then purchase the software).
The sad thing is, they have been pleasant to work with. Had they been honest and discussed the rate for 100% matches, I would have been willing to at least negotiate on this one occasion, as there is a good likelihood of continuous, decent work.
As it is, I've been left in a pretty impossible position. I've already completed around a third of the project; it's due next week and I won't get a reply from the agency before Monday. For the time being, I answered that I was not happy about this at all and that it was not part of the agreement I entered into for this project. I will continue working on the project but I will ignore all 100% matches and will not be held responsible for any (I've already seen plenty) formatting or content errors in these segments.

So, 0% for 100% matches....I've never come across this before - is it normal? (nevermind the fact that it wasn't mentioned in numerous e-mails and telephone conversations about the project earlier on in the day)


 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 23:36
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
No, it's not OK May 13, 2010

You are welcome to agree to anything. You may translate pro bono for all I care. You might even pay other people to let you work for them. But for the sake of all of us here, and the industry as a whole, please do not give in and do not translate 100% matches for no pay!

That said, your argument in this particular situation should be quite simple. Fuzzy-match discounts are granted on the premise that less effort is required to process them. If you dislike working with fuzzy matches, you are free to add a surcharge, i.e. tone down the discounts and make the client pay more for them. Even 100% matches, as you already mentioned, require effort to be processed. That is why they should be paid. Whether that rate is 1% or 99% of the full 'new word' rate is up for discussion between you and your customer. But it should never be 0%.


 

Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:36
Member (2003)
Polish to German
+ ...
Depends on the situation May 13, 2010

If those 100% matches are yours and you can simply pretranslate the file, then it could be acceptable.
Before you say no, simply put a calculation what happens if you say yes or no.
It's as simple as that - sometimes such a job can pay better then a fully paid job (in terms of time spend to translate it).


 

Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:36
German to Spanish
+ ...
Zero rate for 100% matches May 13, 2010

felis wrote:

Yesterday, I agreed to take on a project. I've been successfully working .../...

.../...
So, 0% for 100% matches....I've never come across this before - is it normal? (nevermind the fact that it wasn't mentioned in numerous e-mails and telephone conversations about the project earlier on in the day)


NO, it is not OK. Gerald Dennett explains in his thesis entitled "Translation Memory: Concepts, products, impact and prospects":

Take the German sentence pairs:
1. "Ein Messer ist im Schrank. Er mißt Elektrizität."
2. "Ein Messer ist im Schrank. Es ist sehr scharf."

Imagine that the translator has translated a document containing sentence pair 1 and has thus stored in his Translation Memory the two segments:
"A meter is in the cabinet." And "It measures electricity.'' The syntactical and contextual information supplied by the second sentence indicates to the translator that the word "Messer here refers to a meter. The translator then runs a text containing sentence pair 2 through the pre-translation routine in his Translation Memory software. The Translation Memory software will recognise a 100% match in the first part of the pair, and insert "A meter is in the cabinet." in the translation. A human translator would immediately realise from the syntactical and contextual information supplied in the second part of the pair that here in German word "Messer is of neuter gender, and hence means "knife"[. The translator must hope that he can pick up such mistranslations in his proof- reading.



100% matches should be revised like no matches. And, imho they should be paied alike. Thats all.



[Editado a las 2010-05-13 21:35 GMT]


 

J.Muldoon
Germany
Local time: 22:36
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
I do not accept low rates May 13, 2010

@ Mikhail Kropotov:
Thank you very much for your answer but I feel I should clarify: I do not accept low rates. Almost all rates advertised here for my language pair are well below my standard rates.
You're right to pick up on my difficulty in regard to this project though - I can't communicate with the agency before Monday, shortly before the project is due to be delivered.
I'll repeat once again: I would never have agreed to these conditions.
My difficulty now is that I'm stuck with this project, and I'd like to carry on working with a decent agency - but not with these conditions.
I'm really glad you agree that this is not ok, all I wanted was other people's perspective on the matter.
I think it's out of order but, even with many years of experience, perhaps I'm out of touch?


[Edited at 2010-05-13 21:32 GMT]


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:36
Member (2008)
French to English
Never 0% May 13, 2010

If the matches are things like part numbers or some other "non-translatable" a low (not 0%) might be reasonable. But if they are text, no - you still have to check the context, which might be slightly or significantly different from one match to another, and when you come to proofread your work before submitting it, the 100% match saves nothing at all.

I tell clients my 100%/repetition rate is 35%, based on time tests of savings. Otherwise I'll accept a minimum of 10% if there are no more than 5% repetitions/100% matches? I don't know if its lost me any business - I'm much too busy to find out...

As for being stuck with a job when you can't communicate with the customer, I suppose it comes down to how much you want to keep the client and be paid for what work is already done. Sometimes we have to bear with it and learn from experience for next time.

[Edited at 2010-05-13 21:34 GMT]


 

imatahan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:36
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Common May 13, 2010

Unhappily, it's been more common lately than we'd like to.

I don't agree with it. I can give a good discount, but enver never accept ) for the job. What is 100% match? You have to read it carefully anyway. And even when copying peolple can make mistakes. Or a word or expression may have a different meaning in different contextes.

This is NOT FAIR! And isn't professional from the client.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:36
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
It's okay only if it involves no work May 13, 2010

felis wrote:
1. He went on to say that he hoped I had also received his e-mail from earlier on in the day, in which he outlined certain guidelines for this job, most notably that 100% matches would not be paid.


Did you receive this mail?

I'm not happy with this....am I being unreasonable?


Not paying for 100% matches is only reasonable if they involve no or practically no work from your side. For example, if you have to "click through" the matches but you don't have to check them, and they are a small percentage of the whole, then I'd willingly say "no charge for 100% matches". But if the 100% matches still need to be checked, or if there are so many of them that clicking past them takes up a fair amount of time, then you should be paid for them.

What is a 100% match? IMO a match in which the tags need to be checked can't be regarded as a 100% match (the tag mismatch should penalise the match percentage by, say, 1%). I realise that there are CAT tools that don't penalise matches for stuff like different case, different format or different tagging, but that is silly, really.

I think you need to explain to the client that your CAT tool makes it impossible to simply click past the 100% matches and that they'd have to be checked anyway, or otherwise the client should remove 100% matches from the file he sends you (or auto-translate them and absolve you of all responsibility to check them). If your CAT tool can penalise the match percentage for stuff like tag differences or re-tagging, then activate it.


 

J.Muldoon
Germany
Local time: 22:36
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Pablo, that's exactly my feeling May 13, 2010

Pablo Bouvier wrote:


NO, it is not OK. Gerald Dennett explains in his thesis entitled "Translation Memory: Concepts, products, impact and prospects":



100% matches should be revised like no matches. And, imho they shoul be paied alike. And thats all.




[Editado a las 2010-05-13 21:33 GMT]


You're quite right and I know Gerald Dennett's arguements and have always agreed with them. I'm not a habitual poster here, but I'm really rather shocked by this (especially as I've been denied the ability to argue against it - they're on holiday until Monday! I either do no further work and am in breach of my contract to complete the job (despite the previously undisclosed rate restrictions), or I complete the project but try to get the agency to see sense.
That was my purpose here; I wanted to be sure that my "gut feelings" were reasonable, so that I can tackle the agency with confidence about my position.


 

J.Muldoon
Germany
Local time: 22:36
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
No, the previous repetition/100% match rate was acceptable May 13, 2010

John Fossey wrote:

If the matches are things like part numbers or some other "non-translatable" a low (not 0%) might be reasonable. But if they are text, no - you still have to check the context, which might be slightly or significantly different from one match to another, and when you come to proofread your work before submitting it, the 100% match saves nothing at all.

I tell clients my 100%/repetition rate is 35%, based on time tests of savings. Otherwise I'll accept a minimum of 10% if there are no more than 5% repetitions/100% matches? I don't know if its lost me any business - I'm much too busy to find out...

As for being stuck with a job when you can't communicate with the customer, I suppose it comes down to how much you want to keep the client and be paid for what work is already done. Sometimes we have to bear with it and learn from experience for next time.

[Edited at 2010-05-13 21:34 GMT]


Thank you very much for your answer.
No, that's exactly my problem. I don't use CAT tools much because, as well as translation, a large amount of my work is as a freelance medical writer , i.e. I take German clinical trials, pharma development etc. details and turn them into English documents for journals, posters, marketing material etc.

I also have many years of experience in translation and I can see the advantages/disadvantages of CAT tools; they're ideal for certain types of documents but absolutely unsuitable for others.

I've used Across, Wordfast and now MemoQ and I've never been expected to provide "work for free" which is what this amounts to. It isn't part numbers, it's mainly instructions in a highly technical user manual for a medical device, where the slightest error or ambiguity could, theoretically, lead to death.
That's why I take it very seriously.

[Edited at 2010-05-13 22:21 GMT]


 

xxxXX789  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:36
English to Dutch
+ ...
One condition May 13, 2010

The only situation in which I give 100% discount on 100% matches is if I need not touch them. That means pressing Pretranslate once and never looking back. Even if I spot enormous mistakes, I will not correct them. I will warn the client though and offer to correct them... if they agree to pay at least 25% for all 100% matches (and not just the matches with mistakes). They don't agree? Then no deal. I will leave the mistakes as they are. I also refuse to accept responsibility for *any* part of the translation (including the parts I do translate and get paid for, as you never know what influences what).

Once this has been made very clear, the client either agrees to pay 25% for perfect matches after all, or to leave the mistakes as they are. I can live with both options.

[Edited at 2010-05-13 22:12 GMT]


 

Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 22:36
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Is it worth it? May 13, 2010

I am quite surprised that so many people give such strict advice without knowing the whole story... There is no point in sticking to principles if they do not make sense in a given situation.

For me the particular arrangements with the agency are not that important. I can be paid 0% of 100% matches, I can be paid 50%. I can count characters, leaving out the spaces. I can be paid only for occurences of the letter D in the translation... I couldn't care less - these are details to be worked out, but none of this is a deal-breaker. There is only one thing that really matters...

In your situation, obviously the client tries to change the rules after the agreement (as you understood it) has been made - that is not fair. Still, there is still time to ask the essential question:

Will you be fairly compensated for your effort?

If, at the end of the day (or month, rather...) you decide that you will be paid enough for the work you will put into the project, let them have it their way. If you feel otherwise, it is time to renegotiate or to refuse the project altogether. Obviously you are not bound to terms which have been only passed to you and which you did not accept beforehand. If they feel otherwise, feel free to notify them of your increase in rates...

By the way, don't "stick it out till the better projects come in". They rarely do... You have to get your share for every job you do.


 

J.Muldoon
Germany
Local time: 22:36
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
No, I don't give discounts... May 13, 2010

Loek van Kooten wrote:

The only situation in which I give 100% discount on 100% matches is if I need not touch them. That means pressing Pretranslate once and never looking back. Even if I spot enormous mistakes, I will not correct them. I will warn the client though and offer to correct them... if they agree to pay at least 25% for all 100% matches (and not just the matches with mistakes). They don't agree? Then no deal. I will leave the mistakes as they are. I also refuse to accept responsibility for *any* part of the translation (including the parts I do translate and get paid for, as you never know what influences what).

Once this has been made very clear, the client either agrees to pay 25% for perfect matches after all, or to leave the mistakes as they are. I can live with both options.

[Edited at 2010-05-13 22:12 GMT]


Thank you Loek, that's exactly my problem.
I do need to touch these 100% matches. The rates for percentage matches for the previous projects have been reasonable, with 100% matches at between 20 to 30% of my standard rate (and I have to emphasize again, I've been insulted so many times by the rates offered here. I won't accept a few cents per word - I don't care how much work you promise to offer me, why should I work at half or one third of my usual rate?

As it is, my only option is to deliver a translation of which I have only checked/translated a very small amount. As I'm not going to be paid for ~ 90% of the document (the pre-translated part), I'll try to avoid working on it...
(not sure if I can ignore Medizinprodukt = no it is not a medical product!!)


 

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 22:36
English to Polish
+ ...
Samuel's question May 14, 2010

You didn't address the question Samuel asked. Did you get the e-mail?

There are two issues here: one thing is whether to accept 0% for 100% and under what conditions (agree with what Samuel and Jabberwock said), another completely different thing is whether this was or was not deemed as agreed before you were able to start work.


 

J.Muldoon
Germany
Local time: 22:36
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
No, I did not receive the e-mail May 14, 2010

...and the PM was actually aware of this, as we spoke over the phone several times on Wednesday afternoon.
As I said, I would never have agreed to it, but would certainly have discussed the matter. I just think it's not on to spring new (and unfair) conditions on me when the work is already underway and I can't reply.


 
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