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Client insisting on discount after job completed
Thread poster: Kate White

Kate White
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 28, 2011

Hi all,

I am looking for some advise regarding a recent large project (22,000) I carried out. This project was done in parts of 3,000 words which I delivered on time at regular intervals. After the first part the PM confirmed with me that the translation seemed fine according to the editor and told me to proceed.

Once I had finished the parts, the agency then asked me to proofread the whole thing again before I gave it in, which I did. About a week later they came back
... See more
Hi all,

I am looking for some advise regarding a recent large project (22,000) I carried out. This project was done in parts of 3,000 words which I delivered on time at regular intervals. After the first part the PM confirmed with me that the translation seemed fine according to the editor and told me to proceed.

Once I had finished the parts, the agency then asked me to proofread the whole thing again before I gave it in, which I did. About a week later they came back to me saying that because the editor had to make more changes than usual, they would like me to discount 222 euros off the bill (about 20%). The sent me the file with the changes which I have looked at thoroughly.

I do not feel happy accepting any discount, since the changes made are 99% due to style and spelling. When I expressed this concern to the company they came back saying that the editor had said that there were serious errors. I therefore went through the entire translation and put each word/phrase which I thought was not obviously due to stylistic differences into an excel spreadsheet, compared it with the original and the editors amendment and justified my translation. I aimed to show how what I had written was valid (using links and my train of thought etc). I explained that I did not disagree with the editor's choices (although there were a couple of errors) but that the job of an editor is to check and improve the quality of the translation.

I am awaiting an answer but I would really like to hear any advice people have or anyone who has had a similar experience. This is the first time this has happened to me, other companies and agencies who I work with seem happy with my work. This is the first time I have worked with this company and they also pay a fairly low rate, so I don't feel that I am being unreasonable demanding full payment as agreed.

Thanks in advance for any feedback.

Kate
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imatahan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:45
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Nothig else to say Apr 28, 2011

but that you're dealing with a dishonest client!

 

Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:45
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Don't let them get away with it! Apr 28, 2011

Sorry to read about your experience, Kate. I agree with imatahan that they seem to be dishonest.

I would suggest you report your experience in the Blueboard, so that other translators will be warned. Often this also helps to magically change an outsourcer's mind about paying up.

In my experience, the low-payers tend to be the ones that try to wriggle out of their duty to pay by employing all kinds of excuses. Those agencies that value good translation work (and pay up)
... See more
Sorry to read about your experience, Kate. I agree with imatahan that they seem to be dishonest.

I would suggest you report your experience in the Blueboard, so that other translators will be warned. Often this also helps to magically change an outsourcer's mind about paying up.

In my experience, the low-payers tend to be the ones that try to wriggle out of their duty to pay by employing all kinds of excuses. Those agencies that value good translation work (and pay up) know that quality comes at a certain price.

Good luck!

Stefanie
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Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 07:45
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
About editors Apr 28, 2011

I can understand how you feel. I think the agency does not really understand what an editor does. The editor's work is an addition to, not necessarily a correction of, the translation. As an editor I often see possible improvements even to the text of published books, that I assume has been hashed and rehashed by several people already. As translators we walk a fine line between accurately representing the meaning of the source text and making that understandable in the target language, all with... See more
I can understand how you feel. I think the agency does not really understand what an editor does. The editor's work is an addition to, not necessarily a correction of, the translation. As an editor I often see possible improvements even to the text of published books, that I assume has been hashed and rehashed by several people already. As translators we walk a fine line between accurately representing the meaning of the source text and making that understandable in the target language, all within a given (usually tight) deadline. An editor, who is once removed from the source text and looks at it with fresh eyes, can make stylistic improvements and take the liberty of saying things a little differently. You could maybe do this yourself if you were to look at the text again three weeks later but as translators we rarely get that opportunity.

In any case, a 20% reduction seems excessive. Given that there may have been a few (spelling?) errors on your part, you could consider to accept a smaller reduction and decide not to work for that company again. You have spent enough time on it already. Also, if you do a translation in parts again in the future, I would suggest that you ask to be paid for each part as it is delivered.
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Kate White
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks... Apr 28, 2011

That has really helped reassure me. I will wait and see what they come back with and then as you say, if they don't agree to full payment, suggest a much smaller reduction for spelling mistakes made. I have already decided never to work with them again, but I am thinking of writing on the blueboard after they have paid me so that I can report on the eventual outcome.

Thanks all, I will write back with an update on what happens in the end.

Kate


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:45
French to German
+ ...
Classical road to non-payment Apr 28, 2011

I have encountered this scenario too, only with 8,000 words and a complaint that came from the agency when payment was overdue.

Since then, I made it very clear to every potential client that in my mind and according to my conditions, Partial deliveries = partial payments.

Curiously I was never asked again to deliver bits and chunks.


 

Ines Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:45
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Percentage of errors Apr 28, 2011

Putting aside the fact that you obviously will not work for this client again, your problem seems to be determining the discount you probably will be forced to apply. I would count the number of words that contain real errors and using the total word count of the project determine the error percentage. I think there probably is an acceptable error margin (after all we are all humans here) so maybe somebody can offer a figure. Take this error margin away from the total error percentage and you wi... See more
Putting aside the fact that you obviously will not work for this client again, your problem seems to be determining the discount you probably will be forced to apply. I would count the number of words that contain real errors and using the total word count of the project determine the error percentage. I think there probably is an acceptable error margin (after all we are all humans here) so maybe somebody can offer a figure. Take this error margin away from the total error percentage and you will get your discount percentage. This way you can clearly substantiate why you believe a bigger discount is not warranted. There is no way on earth you will come up with 20% discount.

Ines
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Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:45
French to German
+ ...
You'd be surprised... Apr 28, 2011

Burrell wrote:

(.../...) This way you can clearly substantiate why you believe a bigger discount is not warranted. There is no way on earth you will come up with 20% discount.

Ines


Really? You'd be surprised!

In the case mentioned in my previous post, it appeared that the global differences between the job I delivered and the job the agency considered as final were less than 5%.

Nevertheless, the agency asked for a whooping 40% discount (probably in an attempt to manipulate me) and finally paid my fees in full within 24 hours.

Anyway, I don't see any necessity to agree on a discount in the first place. This is opening wide the gates to even more abuse.


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:45
French to English
Ask Apr 28, 2011

Kate White wrote:
because the editor had to make more changes than usual, they would like me to discount 222 euros off the bill (about 20%). The sent me the file with the changes which I have looked at thoroughly.


Any indication of how, precisely, they reached that figure? If not, ask. Is it extra hours of revision, perhaps? I'm not saying it's justified, but if you're going to mount a challenge, you have to know what the basis is. It seems unlikely to be Burrell's rather simplistic "wrong words as a %age of total word count" basis. Don't forget, in some exams, one wrong word is enough to fail the whole paper, not merely drop you down to 99.xx%. At the very least, a wrong word makes the sentence wrong, maybe the paragraph wrong, ultimately... well, you get the point. Could it be, for instance, that 20% of the sentences contained an error? It's good that you've seen the changes made, it's more than some people get in your position, but now you need to know their calculations before you can challenge it properly. In my humble opinion, of course. (Likewise, in their shoes, I'd want to know the basis for your own compromise discount counter offer, unless it's obviously a case of, say, splitting the difference between their view and yours)


 

Kate White
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No "serious" errors Apr 28, 2011

I see what you mean, but to be honest, there wasn't even one serious error - in one place I put "timesheet" instead of "payslip" which I admitted to them was a slip by me, but I had put payslip in all other similar sentences in the text, so it would have been clear to the editor that it was a slip. The only other thing was me putting thesis instead of dissertation for an undergraduate project - I admitted as well, dissertation was the better word, but several universities (including the one I we... See more
I see what you mean, but to be honest, there wasn't even one serious error - in one place I put "timesheet" instead of "payslip" which I admitted to them was a slip by me, but I had put payslip in all other similar sentences in the text, so it would have been clear to the editor that it was a slip. The only other thing was me putting thesis instead of dissertation for an undergraduate project - I admitted as well, dissertation was the better word, but several universities (including the one I went to) do use the term "thesis" although they probably shouldn't as a thesis is really only at PhD level.

I have checked the text and all other changes made can be defended and whether they had left my word or not, the meaning of the text would not have been changed. I am well aware of the importance of even one word to the meaning of the text or sentence having just done a Masters. The 99% I mentioned was taking account of these two errors, but within 22,000 words, it is actually more like 99.8%!

There were spelling mistakes, I guess I can give a discount for these. I have already spent over 5 hours going through the translation and justifying all the choices I made. I am reluctant to spend too much more time on this, but I do not want to give in as I feel they are just trying to get money off because its a large sum of money and such a big job.

Thanks for all your advice, I guess I will wait until they come back and then ask them how they came up with the 20%. The problem is, while all this goes on, I don't get paid!
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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:45
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Make a Blueboard entry Apr 28, 2011

Hello again, Kate!

I would suggest you to make a Blueboard entry on the situation as it is. You can always change your wording as well as your rating at a later point of time (the old rating and wording will be deleted). Hopefully you will get surprised by the Blueboard's power. From what I have read in some Blueboard profiles, a low rating has often encouraged clients to pay up.

Stefanie


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
As you're a member... Apr 28, 2011

... one thing you could do is submit an excerpt to the "rate my translation" forum (which I can't find at the moment) and get an unbiased opinion from your peers.

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:45
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
How many spelling mistakes? Apr 28, 2011

Yes, I know that in 22,000 words you are bound to make some spelling mistake even if a text is reviewed by 2 people apart from the translator.

Very honestly when you say "spelling mistakes" in plural I start to think that the discount makes sense... How many spelling mistakes do you mean?


 

Kate White
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Spelling mistakes Apr 28, 2011

There are actually only 7 spelling mistakes (I just counted) which are all towards the end of the text which may reflect my hurry to get it in for the deadline. They are all a matter of changing one letter (I put an f instead of ph and i instead of y - really silly mistakes I admit).

The text has pages without changes, and some pages with, although the changes made are mainly due to style.

The fact is that the company stated that the discount was for "serious errors" an
... See more
There are actually only 7 spelling mistakes (I just counted) which are all towards the end of the text which may reflect my hurry to get it in for the deadline. They are all a matter of changing one letter (I put an f instead of ph and i instead of y - really silly mistakes I admit).

The text has pages without changes, and some pages with, although the changes made are mainly due to style.

The fact is that the company stated that the discount was for "serious errors" and not spelling mistakes, but even if it were for spelling mistakes, I think 20% is far too harsh.

I guess what you mean is, were there spelling mistakes scattered throughout the translation and the answer is no - only very few and towards the end. This is why I feel I need advice, because I have never had an agency come back and say this, and I would like to know if there is some kind of norm. I guess by all your answers there isn't.

I will make a blueboard entry though - thanks Stefanie and all for your advice!
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Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:45
French to German
+ ...
Norm Apr 28, 2011

Kate White wrote:

(.../...)

I guess what you mean is, were there spelling mistakes scattered throughout the translation and the answer is no - only very few and towards the end. This is why I feel I need advice, because I have never had an agency come back and say this, and I would like to know if there is some kind of norm. I guess by all your answers there isn't.

(.../...)


The norm is that all changes should be documented, with an emphasis on critical ones. Stylistic changes and terminology preferences are hardly critical. And proofreaders are there to catch the occasional typo.


 
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