Documents lost..... work to be done from scratch....
Thread poster: xxxR.C.
xxxR.C.
Local time: 15:47
English to Italian
+ ...
Feb 1, 2011

Dear colleagues,

last October-November I translated a few documents for a few hundred euros (Ita-English) for a young couple trying to apply for a resident visa abroad. The work included going to take the oath at the Rome Court with the documents translated and a fair amount of liaison with this young couple for the provision of suggestions, appointments, clarifications, etc. I tried to keep the price down because the bulk was really major and because of the overall situation, the people were young and skilled, and their chances to be accepted by the immigration section were high. We were all quite happy and waved goodbye with the client's request to keep a copy of the documents translated, something that I cannot promise because I tend to destroy everything for the sake of privacy.

The other day the client showed up: all the certified stuff went abroad but was not complete, so the foreign government returned it..... by ordinary mail. The stuff never came back to Rome, so the client asked for my copies. I digged in my e-mails and could provide a few but the client has re-sent all the originals and would like the translation anew.

I said that of course I cannot charge the same amount for the same documents and that the price will be lower.... but what should I charge in your opinion (provided they do not pretend they won't pay at all, which doesn't seem to be the case here)?

The work consists of letters from previous employers, certificates, payslips, bank statements.

Thank you for sharing your experience and opinions soon.


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Kate Chaffer
Italy
Local time: 15:47
Italian to English
It depends on the agreement with the client Feb 1, 2011

RAFFAELA C wrote:

We were all quite happy and waved goodbye with the client's request to keep a copy of the documents translated, something that I cannot promise because I tend to destroy everything for the sake of privacy.


I think it all depends on what your agreement was here. You say you delete things for privacy reasons but here the client specifically waived their right to privacy in asking you to keep hold of the documents. If you promised to keep a copy of the documents then you can't really charge for the translation again. I would charge for anything extra you have to do (getting documents certified etc.) as you would do normally.


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xxxR.C.
Local time: 15:47
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yes but.... Feb 1, 2011

the other thing is that I had a computer virus after that, I saved something in a USB flashpen but there's almost nothing now. So I think I did not save at all because of my habit, but I can't be sure 100%.

But I might in fact ask for almost nothing.

R.


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Rick Henry  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:47
Italian to English
+ ...
Priacy and safety aren't mutually exclusive Feb 1, 2011

RAFFAELA C wrote:
... with the client's request to keep a copy of the documents translated, something that I cannot promise because I tend to destroy everything for the sake of privacy.

I've had to refurnish documents on a couple occasions and was glad I saved everything.

I save absolutely everything these days. You can easily maintain privacy and have the safety of having backups. Just encrypt all your data. It's not mutually exclusive.

I've also never charged for redelivery of any document. If I had to run around and get notary stamps or somesuch, then sure, I'd charge appropriately for that. But I don't charge for copies otherwise.

R.
==


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:47
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
What's the privacy issue? Feb 1, 2011

Kate Chaffer wrote:
I tend to destroy everything for the sake of privacy.

I've heard this before quite often but I don't really understand the issue behind it.

By sending us the source text, the owner (or guardian, I suppose, if it's from an agency) is trusting us to take good care of it. For me, it doesn't matter if I've signed an NDA or not - the content is for my eyes only. I can't see any harm coming from then archiving this date in a correct way - and a lot of potential good. You're not going to post it on Facebook, after all.

I was on the receiving end of this a while back in a totally different area:- I went to a dentist for a one-off treatment. Now, a couple of years later, that tooth needs treating again in the same way. Meanwhile, he has junked the X-rays, tooth measurements and records and wants me to pay to have them all recreated. I'm rather peeved at him, although I will pay. I imagine this client is feeling the same way.


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Amel Abdullah  Identity Verified
Jordan
Arabic to English
+ ...
Too bad they didn't make their own copies Feb 1, 2011

If I didn't want to be responsible for storing copies of the documents I translated for this couple, I probably would have suggested that they make their own copies.

Regarding the dentist, it would have been nice if he'd told you that he only keeps patient files for "x" amount of time. That way you could have retrieved your file before it was destroyed.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:47
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Save everything Feb 1, 2011

I am quite the opposite, I save everything, both hard copies (in a locked filing cabinet) and on a CD. Eventually, if I run out of space or if I move, I may have to shred the older hard copies but then I will still have the CDs. Unless someone breaks into my apartment and turns it upside down, no-one will ever see these documents and I think they are completely safe. I would advise you to reconsider and keep your documents at least for a specified amount of time, say two or three years.

In the current situation, especially since the couple asked you to keep them on file, you can't really charge them for re-doing the same documents, only any additional ones.


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xxxR.C.
Local time: 15:47
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
you've made my client happy! Feb 1, 2011

In the afternoon I explained to the client that I had asked for advice and that I would not charge them for a second copy, only for the new affidavit in English and my presence at Court and new documents. He almost jumped with joy, I assume.

It is fair from their point of view and I accept the rule: however I think they should have made a copy, not me. I don't really think translators have to keep data for clients unless specified, and the client's verbal statement "you keep everything" at the end of the performance without my formal approval is not contract. I fear viruses, the net hackers for sensitive Court documents, traditional thieves, (last but not least!). The electronic mail is not safe, computers aren't either, although of course the work done can be used as reference.

Besides, when I finish something I wish to destroy everything psychologically, too, and put an end to the exercise.

[As for the dentist..... my dentist cousin in Rome, whom I regularly pay, recommend new professional x-rays every year or so if for major surgery or plants, or gives rays himself on the spot no matter how long I shout at him. I just don't go any longer, who likes x-rays and dentists?]

R.C.


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 15:47
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Thoughts Feb 1, 2011

I also save absolutely everything to do with work, mainly for my own use.
However, if a client asked me to keep copies, I certainly would not promise to do so. I don't want to be responsible for any lost data.
If they came back and I happened to lose or intentionally get rid of their stuff in the meantime, I would charge them the same amount for having it retranslated, or 10-20% less due to the fact that I probably still remember a lot of my old research and can work faster.
In practice, this whole scenario is very unlikely as I have several backups of all my work. It would take the combination of quite a few very unlikely events to wipe out all my data.


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Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:47
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
It depends on who is the client Feb 2, 2011

If your client is a professional organization - you may reasonably expect them to archieve documents. However when dealing with clients who need translation for their personal needs - I would assume that you are a professional person in this relation and I think that decision to not charge them is correct. Especially if they have requested they you keep these translations.

On the other hand - you really need some back up system. Otherwise one day you may loose something far more important.

Cheers
Stanislaw


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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:47
English to French
+ ...
charging administrative fee Feb 2, 2011

If a client asks me for an old translation, and I still have it, I would charge 1 hour time for "administrative fee" covering time to find the document, retrieve it from archive and sent it.

I keep archives on DVD (original and translation) unless the client has expressly written that all material are to be destroyed, which happened to me only once. In this case I kept he files untill I was paid.

If they ask during the course of a big project to send a previous file - I work with a publishing company who are quite nice to work with but not very good regarding file management then I re-senit for free.


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:47
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Some thoughts... Feb 2, 2011

@nordiste
I usually follow the "administrative fee" approach myself, thought it would be probably a little less than a full hour of work (just enough to discourage capricious requests of that type but not so much as to appear unhelpful).

@stanislaw
If the the organization is well-organized, one would indeed expect them to have a comprehensive archive. Unfortunately, that is not often the case; depending on compartmentalization, things easily get lost when people leave the company or if documents are not stored systematically. And sometimes even when they are: my ex-in-house employer still calls me years later to ask where I used to put this or that, even though I left a comprehensive map of everything before I left. How many times have we had to deal with terrible copies of document when you know the company would have dug the original electronic file with 15 minutes' thought or a phone call or two.

@Rafaella
Re. the dentist: I guess malpractice lawsuits are less of a concern in Italy... I can't imagine a medical provider on this side of the pond not saving patient records indefinitely. Otherwise, how would he ever prove that he provided the standard of care?


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