underestimated job: what to do?
Thread poster: Sawal

Sawal  Identity Verified
Senegal
Local time: 17:58
English to French
Aug 15, 2010

Hello all,

I sent a proforma invoice for a job and then got it. While doing it I realized that i really underestimated this job. It is a correction/proofreading but it is highly technical, very long, with very little context (I am then guessing more than knowing what I'm doing despite my repetitive questions to the client) and there is a lot of errors (first translation seems to have been done by a MT).

I don't know what to do now as I'm really frustrated. I don't want to loose the client either because it's my best client and I'on my way of getting more regular jobs with them.

However I really feel like cancelling this translation or ask them to pay more what I know they wouldn't accept because it's a big company with a lot of regulations and they already got my proforma quote...

Any idea to help me out of this is welcome....


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:58
German to English
Some lessons are learned the hard way Aug 15, 2010

Never undertake a translating/proofing/checking job without reviewing the text first. By examining the document, you can determine whether you are competent to translate/check it, or whether the translation has been executed competently.

Never take a job of any kind outside your areas of competence.

Never submit a low bid in order to get your foot in the door with a client.

Turning an initial job back to a client will, in all likelihood, eliminate any chance you'll have of getting a second job.


 

mónica alfonso  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:58
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
This is not unusual Aug 15, 2010

However, you may comment the issue with your client. Sometimes I have been lucky enough to get some adjustment of the rate...
Good luck
Mónica


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:58
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Unfortunately I have to agree Aug 15, 2010

Kevin Fulton wrote:
Never undertake a translating/proofing/checking job without reviewing the text first. By examining the document, you can determine whether you are competent to translate/check it, or whether the translation has been executed competently.

Never take a job of any kind outside your areas of competence.

Never submit a low bid in order to get your foot in the door with a client.

Turning an initial job back to a client will, in all likelihood, eliminate any chance you'll have of getting a second job.

Unfortunately I have to agree with all these statements. This job will help you perform better in the future on the planning/job evaluating side of your business.

Edited to add this: At this stage in your job, I see no option but to continue working in the job and spend any time as necessary to understand the matter better and learn about it, so that you can be sure of the right terminology. Yes, it will be a very frustrating, time consuming thing and it will keep you from accepting other, probably more profitable jobs, but suffering a bit this time will help you avoid a lot of suffering in the future. Good luck with it!

[Edited at 2010-08-15 19:52 GMT]


 

Bilbo Baggins
Catalan to English
+ ...
Agree with other posters Aug 15, 2010

Sawal wrote:

i really underestimated this job.

It is a correction/proofreading but it is highly technical, very long, with very little context (I am then guessing more than knowing what I'm doing despite my repetitive questions to the client) and there is a lot of errors (first translation seems to have been done by a MT).

I don't know what to do now as I'm really frustrated.

I don't want to loose the client either because it's my best client and I'on my way of getting more regular jobs with them.

However I really feel like cancelling this translation or ask them to pay more what I know they wouldn't accept because it's a big company with a lot of regulations and they already got my proforma quote...

Any idea to help me out of this is welcome....


Just to coincide with the others: you dug your own grave, to use an extreme metaphor, but try to see the positive side: this is a valuable learning experience.

First, the fact that you underestimated is your business and your problem, and although you might mention this to your client, you run the risk of appearing less than professional, because pros, given a job for which it's difficult to estimate price, always hedge and explain why they are hedging.

Second, it seems like you didn't assess the job fully, and again, this is a business risk that you must bear - and also one that you should, in the future, build in to pricing by being very cautious about what you take on to edit and its price.

No, it would be a bad idea to dump the client becuase you gave a price that was agreed on by both parties and were sent the job. Bad luck if you made a mistake in pricing. You have an ethical obligation to complete the job - unless you feel that it's really beyond you technically, when the proper thing would be to alert the client.

Finally, jobs seem worse at the beginning so if you stick it out you might find your task's not so awful after all. And finally, this is a good learning experience - in more ways than one - and you just might just win a valuable client from it - provided you haven't set a precedent for a low price.

[Edited at 2010-08-15 22:55 GMT]


 

Diarmuid Kennan
Ireland
Local time: 18:58
Member (2006)
Danish to English
+ ...
Tell the client your situation Aug 16, 2010

I have found myself in similar situations before.

The only thing to do is tell the client that you made a mistake. The job is bigger than you expected and you will need more time if you are going to do it properly.
You also underestimated the price you should have charged, but as a professional you will naturally stand by your original offer.

It's a difficult mouthful to swallow, but your client will appreciate your honesty and you will have learned a valuable lesson that will pay off in the long run.

Good luck.


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 00:58
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Power Point and graphic files Aug 16, 2010

Diarmuid Kennan wrote:
The only thing to do is tell the client that you made a mistake. The job is bigger than you expected and you will need more time if you are going to do it properly.
You also underestimated the price you should have charged, but as a professional you will naturally stand by your original offer.
It's a difficult mouthful to swallow, but your client will appreciate your honesty and you will have learned a valuable lesson that will pay off in the long run.

I made such mistakes a few times. I handled MS Power Point files that contained many table and graphic. After translating with CAT tools, many tables were left untranslated (to translate, open Excel/graphic file link program etc.). I learned that rather estimating by word, it is better to estimate by page [many format rearrangements were needed] because much time was consumed and CAT tools are hardly helpful. The clients agreed to adjust for those parts in their revised POs.

Best regards,
Soonthon Lupkitaro


 

Oksana Kondakova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 00:58
Member (2010)
English to Russian
+ ...
ask your client for some referrence docs Aug 16, 2010

As for changing the intial rate, it seems arguable. But, you may explain the cituation with lack of context to your client, this will look proffessional at least. May be you can get some referrence materials or consultation of a technical specialist.
And one more thing - when the translation looks lite MT, it is better to tell your client about it.


 

Sawal  Identity Verified
Senegal
Local time: 17:58
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
well, it's not a new client Aug 16, 2010

Kevin Fulton wrote:

Never undertake a translating/proofing/checking job without reviewing the text first. By examining the document, you can determine whether you are competent to translate/check it, or whether the translation has been executed competently.

Never take a job of any kind outside your areas of competence.

Never submit a low bid in order to get your foot in the door with a client.

Turning an initial job back to a client will, in all likelihood, eliminate any chance you'll have of getting a second job.


Hi all,

Thank you for your answers. They confirm my fear that I'll have to continue with it.

However the client is not new and I have good relationship with them. They don't want to tell me a lot because it is a new product and they don't want their competitors to here about it. But they don't understand that this is affecting the quality of the translation...

For underestimating the job, I'm feeling like translating instead of proofreading. It was clearly machine Translation and I didn't realised that. I also gave them a discount for the repetitions in the text.

It's then the frustration of fully rephrasing instead of correcting such a long text and the discount that I gave that are torturing my mind now.

However I'll drop them a line to see their reaction....


 

Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:58
English
+ ...
Ditto. Aug 16, 2010

Diarmuid Kennan wrote:

The only thing to do is tell the client that you made a mistake. The job is bigger than you expected and you will need more time if you are going to do it properly.
You also underestimated the price you should have charged, but as a professional you will naturally stand by your original offer.

It's a difficult mouthful to swallow, but your client will appreciate your honesty and you will have learned a valuable lesson that will pay off in the long run.



I also agree with Bilbo.


 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:58
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
give it back Aug 16, 2010

I agree with most posters here,
you (hopefully) learned a lesson, you to solve it you can
a) give it back
b) hire a professional yourself and have him take over the job from you
This might be a little on the extreme side however, and you will be losing money in the process.

But since you mention that this is a machine translation, you might just return it to the client and say , sorry I don't correct crappy stuff, and by the way I made a mistake this is not my cup of tea, you will be better of giving the original to a translator who has specific experience in X subject matter,

This type of honesty is much better then making something crappy out of it, since you are not likely to learn all about the product before the deadline - I doubt the customer will not return to you, they normally do if the quality of your other work is good.


Ed


 


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