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Client changed the price after delivery
Thread poster: Helen Westén

Helen Westén  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:32
Member (2010)
English to Swedish
Jul 20, 2011

I recently did two translation jobs for an agency, which I have already delivered and sent out my invoices for according to the PO. Today I get an e-mail from the agency saying that after discussing with their end client they have made a mistake, sending out these two jobs as separate, when in fact they were one and the same. Since part of one job was also included in the other one, they now want to reduce the price with €200 (claiming that I in fact had already translated part of this second job) and expect me to send out a new invoice with this lower price. I just don't know how to proceed on this one. Any advice?
On the one hand, I feel like their mistake is theirs, why should I lose €200 because of a mistake they did. I have the PO which states this higher price and which is what I charged them. On the other hand, I don't know what is customary in a situation like this. Just keep quiet and change the invoice, hoping that this will lead to new jobs? Or insist on getting paid on what they initially offered me? I am much grateful for any input on this!


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:32
Member (2008)
Italian to English
This calls for a tough response Jul 20, 2011

If I were you I would completely avoid all discussion about their situation. I would very coldly email them to simply remind them that you and they have a contractual agreement and that you await payment in full.

Do not be tempted into discussing their problems. Those are not *your* problems.

(And after they've paid you, never work for them again).

[Edited at 2011-07-20 07:32 GMT]


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 19:32
German to English
+ ...
Not sure what has happened Jul 20, 2011

Your posting is unclear to me. Did the two texts contain elements taht were in fact identical? In which case the client would be justified in demanding a reduction. Otherwise, I don't really understand why sending out two texts as two jobs rather than as one would have any effect on the price payable.

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Helen Westén  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:32
Member (2010)
English to Swedish
TOPIC STARTER
Identical Jul 20, 2011

David Wright wrote:

Your posting is unclear to me. Did the two texts contain elements taht were in fact identical? In which case the client would be justified in demanding a reduction. Otherwise, I don't really understand why sending out two texts as two jobs rather than as one would have any effect on the price payable.


Yes, parts of the second text included elements that were identical with parts of the first one. I was sent the first job first, delivered, invoiced and got paid, then got sent the second one, delivered and invoiced, and now they want to reduce the price of the second job. Even though the second one included parts from the first one, they have sent them out as two separate jobs to me, with two separate PO's etc.


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 19:32
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Stick to the POs Jul 20, 2011

There is no reason for debate here at all.

Your client has sent you POs for these jobs, and they constitute your contractual agreement, nothing else. You should of course stick to the original invoices, as they are based on your mutual business agreements (i.e. the POs).

The client has no right whatsoever to change the agreement.
If the client made a mistake - tough luck, but it has nothing to do with you. The client must learn from his/her mistakes and thereby also learn, that no mistakes on his/her part can be rubbed off on some poor soul.

I agree completely with Tom - don't discuss this at all.

Good luck.


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Nathaniel2
Local time: 19:32
Slovak to English
PO Jul 20, 2011

A written, signed PO should constitute your contract with the agency. If they subsequently discover a mistake was made, either on their part or on the client's part, it is their problem and not yours. You delivered the product in good faith based on the PO and have therefore performed your part of the contract. The agency must pay the price they stated in the PO in order to perform their part of the contract. It doesn't matter whether the mistake was made by the agency or by their client, you should be paid based on the PO. Maybe in future the agency will be more careful when issuing POs.

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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:32
French to German
+ ...
Not sure either... Jul 20, 2011

David Wright wrote:

Your posting is unclear to me. Did the two texts contain elements taht were in fact identical? In which case the client would be justified in demanding a reduction. Otherwise, I don't really understand why sending out two texts as two jobs rather than as one would have any effect on the price payable.


Did you for example agree on degressive pricing? What was the volume and was there a volume discount in your agreement with the agency?

In the meantime, I would stick with the PO's.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:32
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Yes, stick to the purchase orders Jul 20, 2011

I agree with most posters here. Unless I am mistaken, you received two separate purchase orders for two separate jobs. You invoiced them accordingly. You cannot be expected to reduce one of your invoices now because of the client's alleged mistake - unless, of course, you are keen to ingratiate yourself with this client in the expectation of further worthwhile work, in which case you might agree to a *small* reduction. Only you can decide that.
Best wishes,
Jenny


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Veronica Lupascu  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:32
Dutch to Romanian
+ ...
Same situation here Jul 20, 2011

It is an old client, so we didn´t actually have a PO, but there are clear emails stating the volume of work, the rate and the total amount.

I sent a kind reminder for payment when the payment was already late. They sent me a request to issue a new invoice, and to apply a Trados scheme based discount.

I never specified in our communication for this or other previous projects to be offering such discounts. They do not have Trados in their office and they had the Trados report from the client probably. They would pay me only for the 100% new words/segments (!!!), which would mean about 20% from the total calculated amount.

I sent them an email back saying that we never agreed on offering Trados discounts and that I would probably decline the project in the first place, if I would know they want to apply these. I reminded them to read my terms and conditions that clearly state that payment terms should be agreed on before starting the work on the project and not 34 days after invoice date.

I didn´t receive any answer yet and sent another kind reminder. If they fail to answer this week, I will contact my debt collector. I will probably lose this client, but do I want to collaborate with them? No! I was anyway thinking of not collaborating with them anymore, because of the poor communication with the PM's, late responses, lack of knowledge about the project and the business generally (they don't have Trados, but require it for working with them; if I have questions, they would ask me to write them down in English and not in Romanian, the language we use to communicate, so that they would forward them to the client. I should probably charge for this too. They don't really understand that it is me who sets the rates and would ask me for discounts for all kind of reasons, some of them their personal office situations and problems.) All in all, I just want to be paid for my services and to stop collaborating with such agencies.

Maybe you should contact a debt collector in your area.

BTW, my debt collector said that 52% of his clients are translators and translation agencies. Why is there such a mess in this business?

[Edited at 2011-07-20 08:05 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:32
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Big chunks? Jul 20, 2011

Helen Westén wrote:
parts of the second text included elements that were identical with parts of the first one.


Are you talking about identical sentences within new paragraphs, or identical paragraphs or an entire section that has been repeated?

I would say, first of all, that it's the client's fault and you have a perfect right to insist on full payment. On the other hand, the client is human too so perhaps you could accommodate some negotiation, IF (and it's a big IF)
(a) it was specified before you started work that some of the text was identical to text that you had previously translated; and
(b) you were able to simply copy/paste whole chunks of text from the previous translation.

Your agreement presumably wasn't based specifically on using a CAT tool so I don't personally think that odd previously-translated sentences scattered amongst new text should qualify for anything - it would probably take as long to recognise them as repetitions, find them in the previous translation and copy/paste them as it would to translate them anew. On the other hand, if it was quite clear that a large section had already been translated in another text, and was guaranteed to be identical, then you could have saved a lot of time by cutting and pasting, even without a CAT tool. You must know in advance that it's identical if you aren't using a CAT tool, otherwise you'd have to compare every word just to be sure, and bang goes any saving.

If this repeated text saved you a lot of time, then I personally would offer a percentage of the time saved to the client, as a business gesture rather than as a right. Of course, business gestures are not repeatable and should be a warning to the client that future jobs will be charged as agreed before the job starts.


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Helen Westén  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:32
Member (2010)
English to Swedish
TOPIC STARTER
No discounts Jul 20, 2011

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

Did you for example agree on degressive pricing? What was the volume and was there a volume discount in your agreement with the agency?

In the meantime, I would stick with the PO's.


The price was based on rows/lines with no discounts whatsoever. And now they want to deduct for the lines that were previously translated in the first job.


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Helen Westén  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:32
Member (2010)
English to Swedish
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, two separate Jul 20, 2011

Jenny Forbes wrote:

I agree with most posters here. Unless I am mistaken, you received two separate purchase orders for two separate jobs. You invoiced them accordingly. You cannot be expected to reduce one of your invoices now because of the client's alleged mistake - unless, of course, you are keen to ingratiate yourself with this client in the expectation of further worthwhile work, in which case you might agree to a *small* reduction. Only you can decide that.
Best wishes,
Jenny


You are right, these were sent to me as two separate jobs with two separate PO's.


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Helen Westén  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:32
Member (2010)
English to Swedish
TOPIC STARTER
Did not know Jul 20, 2011

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Are you talking about identical sentences within new paragraphs, or identical paragraphs or an entire section that has been repeated?

I would say, first of all, that it's the client's fault and you have a perfect right to insist on full payment. On the other hand, the client is human too so perhaps you could accommodate some negotiation, IF (and it's a big IF)
(a) it was specified before you started work that some of the text was identical to text that you had previously translated; and
(b) you were able to simply copy/paste whole chunks of text from the previous translation.

Your agreement presumably wasn't based specifically on using a CAT tool so I don't personally think that odd previously-translated sentences scattered amongst new text should qualify for anything - it would probably take as long to recognise them as repetitions, find them in the previous translation and copy/paste them as it would to translate them anew. On the other hand, if it was quite clear that a large section had already been translated in another text, and was guaranteed to be identical, then you could have saved a lot of time by cutting and pasting, even without a CAT tool. You must know in advance that it's identical if you aren't using a CAT tool, otherwise you'd have to compare every word just to be sure, and bang goes any saving.

If this repeated text saved you a lot of time, then I personally would offer a percentage of the time saved to the client, as a business gesture rather than as a right. Of course, business gestures are not repeatable and should be a warning to the client that future jobs will be charged as agreed before the job starts.


This was a large chunk of text from the first job that was incorporated in the second job, which was not known to me or specified beforehand, so I still had to go through the sentences and check them. There was no agreement/specification on using a CAT tool.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:32
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Technicalities apart.... Jul 20, 2011

Is this a good customer who you want to keep happy in the long run?

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Helen Westén  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:32
Member (2010)
English to Swedish
TOPIC STARTER
Not a regular client Jul 20, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Is this a good customer who you want to keep happy in the long run?


These are the first two jobs I have ever done for them.


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