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advice on discount given due to wrong word count
Thread poster: Steve Booth

Steve Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:15
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Oct 8, 2010

The scenario I was asked to do a job and told it was 8,000 words i submitted a quote of x pounds per 1000 words. The client said it was out of their budget and asked me to accept y pounds per 1000 word(a discount of over 10%). Due to the volume of 8000 words i agreed.

However when the work arrived it was pdf files so i had no way of doing a word count short of manually counting them so took the assessment to be right after i had finished it was clear it wasn't the actual word count worked out at less than 50% of the estimated 8,000 words.

Am i right to ask for the original of X pounds be honoured or should i just put up with the Y pounds i agreed to.

Had the estimate been 1500 words less fair enough but over half of what i was being asked to quote on isn't right in my mind especially as i had set aside time double that i actually needed..

The amount of money is not the point it is the principle I would not have agreed to the reduction in the first place or at best would have split the difference had I been given a remotely accurate word count.


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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:15
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
What's on the PO? Oct 8, 2010

Do you have a PO with the word count for this? Or any sort of written confirmation for the job (files + word count)?

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Steve Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:15
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
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TOPIC STARTER
yes Oct 8, 2010

yes i have an email which states it all including the fact i agreed to y pounds per 1000 words but it does state the po number and approx word count

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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:15
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Hm.. Oct 8, 2010

I guess that leaves two options, depending on how much you like the client.

If they told you your original price was beyond their budget, but now the word count is much lower, this means your original price would be within their budget (and you'd have the necessary agreement in writing that shows you only reduced the price because of the word count). So, the polite way would probably be to charge the original price (or ask for more work).

Now, if you don't like the client (it sounds like you feel cheated, which is understandable), you might as well charge for their original word count, so you'd get your original rate anyway (I feel evil about giving such advice... ). If they gave a wrong word count and you didn't notice it either - whoopsee! *chuckle*

But I would only consider this a last resort. It may also very well be that the client unintentionally gave you a wrong word count (maybe they didn't know how to do a word count for PDF either... who knows?), so, to give them the benefit of the doubt, you'll probably be better off with the first version. I don't know the tone of their communication with you, but they might like your honesty and that you inform them about the wrong word count, and thus they may give you more work..

It's a tough choice and I'd make my reaction dependent on the exact circumstances/tone of the client. You should also keep in mind that it is indeed possible to do a word count on PDF files, so the blame might come back to you for not having checked the word count before starting the job.. :-/



[Edited at 2010-10-08 16:56 GMT]


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:15
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
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You should ask for rate to be revised Oct 8, 2010

However, your client might just brush it off. You can either ask for a revised PO based on the original fee you quoted or calculate the difference and tell them you will add this to the invoice next time they send you a job. It all rather depends on your relationship with the client. If it is a good client you want to keep, appeal to their better nature (if they have one) and see what happens. If you do not care one way or another, go ahead with your guns blasting and in worst case scenario leave a comment on the BB.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Cheers,
Ines


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xxxflaviadelfin  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:15
Japanese to Italian
+ ...
Ach..rough stuff Oct 8, 2010

Hi,

as their email states the fact you agreed to y pounds per 1000 words, I think that you could not ask for the original price. I hear you, but since you did not state clearly that your rate was linked to the amount, I believe that, legally speaking, you have no ground upon which to stand. However, you can talk honestly with the customer, explaining all the circumstances and asking for original rate to be paid. See what happens...

Good luck

Flavia

ps: next time be careful...:-)


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Steve Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:15
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Oct 8, 2010

it is the first time i have worked for this client when i finished the job i emailed them and said the word count was high and asked for an accurate word count without which i would have to bill themthe agreed rate.

they came back to me and said they were paying on target words which they hadn't stipulated in any of their emails.

even at a complete guess it would be difficult to estimate more than double the real amount.

i have been told they deliberately slightly overestimated to ensure it could be done on time

I will let you know the outcome at the moment they are insisting that i stick to the agreed amount per 1000 words


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Steve Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:15
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
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TOPIC STARTER
take your point Flavia Oct 8, 2010

Flavia Delfini wrote:

Hi,

as their email states the fact you agreed to y pounds per 1000 words, I think that you could not ask for the original price. I hear you, but since you did not state clearly that your rate was linked to the amount, I believe that, legally speaking, you have no ground upon which to stand. However, you can talk honestly with the customer, explaining all the circumstances and asking for original rate to be paid. See what happens...

Good luck

Flavia

ps: next time be careful...:-)


however the email also states the job was 8k words


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:15
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Your fault, IMHO Oct 8, 2010

This is a new client, and you accepted a job without seeing the source text (you were surprised it was a PDF), without having an agreement on the base of invoicing: source or target word count (very important, as some languages have a significant expansion/shrinkage), and on top of these, agreed to a lower rate without confirming the wordcount.

These are 3 fundamental things that you need to check and have an agreement on, BEFORE commencing work. Otherwise, anything can happen. And you know Murphy.

Katalin



[Edited at 2010-10-08 18:18 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:15
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Next time, ... Oct 8, 2010

Steve Booth wrote:

they came back to me and said they were paying on target words which they hadn't stipulated in any of their emails.


If they didn't stipulate it, why didn't you ask them? It really does seem as though you accepted a job without having any real idea what was involved. I'm sorry, but that was your fault - IMHO, you need to accept the consequences and learn from them.

A. You can't possibly finally accept a job until you have seen it
B. If it's a scanned PDF and therefore impossible to count the words you need to either (a) increase your quote per word and/or add an hourly rate for processing the file, or (b) quote per target word
C. If it's a PDF but it's possible to count the words, then you need to invest in appropriate software (personally, I am completely out of my depth in this type of thing so I reject all PDF work, but I know it is possible)
D. You can't agree to do a job based on "nnnn words" - you have to make sure you know if you're talking source or target words. My experience is that they are NEVER the same
E. In the final analysis, it is your right as an independent service provider to dictate the terms. In practice, we often let agencies take the initiative but this does not mean that your role is reduced to a "yessir" one.

It does sound as though they tried (and succeeded!) to pull the wool over your eyes - but I'm afraid you laid yourself open to it. Next time something similar happens, I'd advise you to listen to the alarm bells ringing in your head and query things before you translate the first word.

NB: Your first reply to a job offer, when all you know is that it's a "3000-word marketing text for next Monday" can only be an estimate subject to reviewing the source text. It doesn't turn into a firm quote until you have seen and thoroughly checked the file.

Sorry not to be more supportive, and don't let me stop you from trying to get more money out of them, but I think the most important thing is to avoid it happening again - and to prevent others going the same route.

Edited to note that I hadn't seen the previous post

[Edited at 2010-10-08 18:28 GMT]


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
Out negotiated Oct 8, 2010

I believe the PM has out-negotiated you at every turn and given you a valuable business lesson.

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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:15
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
OCR - slightly off-topic Oct 8, 2010

Slightly off-topic, but since it might be helpful to some in here: you can also do a word count if the text in PDFs can't be selected - at least an approximate word count that will allow you to see if you're faced with a document of 10K words or of 5K words.

You don't even need to pay for software to achieve this, and in fact, Windows has some built-in OCR capabilities. The word count will not be 100% correct, since OCR sometimes merges two words or splits up one word into two, but I just did a test (with MS Office Document Imaging) with one simple page, and the word count was off by 5-10 words only. So, it'll definitely give you a good idea of how many words there are. If your life doesn't depend on it, such free OCR tools are certainly sufficient.

For a quick overview, see here: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/top-5-free-ocr-software-tools-to-convert-your-images-into-text-nb/


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:15
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I entirely agree! Oct 8, 2010

John Rawlins wrote:
I believe the PM has out-negotiated you at every turn and given you a valuable business lesson.

Indeed! This will be a valuable lesson in the long run.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:15
French to English
Not only that... Oct 8, 2010

John Rawlins wrote:

I believe the PM has out-negotiated you at every turn and given you a valuable business lesson.


...they've nicked his shift key and all the keys with punctuation on. Fiends in human shape.

I can't really offer much constructive advice because I haven't got a clue what is going or who has been estimating what at twice or half the volume of what else from the story as presented here. I can guess what the problem probably is, but it's Friday night and it's been a long week.

All I'm going to do is add "messing up the original word count" as yet another reason why, in my not particularly humble opinion, offering volume discounts is a mug's game.


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Steve Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:15
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
ok Oct 8, 2010

Now I am back at my own desk you might get some capital letters and punctuation but as you said it's Friday and it's been a long week.

I take your points about having the wool pulled over my eyes, but I am not as naive as perhaps my post makes me out to be. I had received a sample of the text that needed doing and was asked 'there are approximately 8000 words that need translating into English what is your rate per 1000 words'.

This tells me that the rate is per source word not target word.

Normally with pdf files I would give the final quote based on seeing the files. However I was asked if i could reduce my quote to fit in with their budget, I don't offer discounts based on volume but am sometimes prepared to be flexible when I can be so based on the volume I agreed. To be honest I wouldn't expect any agency to be so far out in their estimating.

Due to the timings I either had to do the job before raising any questionsover the volume or I probably wouldn't have got it done in time. Otherwise I would have raised the matter immediately.

Perhaps I have got out of the habit of being ultra cautious over things because I have always been so lucky in the past and the agencies I have worked for have all been great. Had this one been a smaller agency without a good reputation I would have been more wary.

Still we will see what happens .


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