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Unpaid 100% matches
Thread poster: Elke Fehling

Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:20
English to German
+ ...
Jul 12, 2012

Hi everybody,

I am working for this translation agency for about 8 years now. They have been a good client, the rate is good, they send big volumes of intersting work and they always pay on time.

About two years ago they started sending me updates of previously translated texts and asked me if I would do the 100% matches for free. Since it concerned smaller translations of certain kinds of user manuals that I myself had provided earlier I agreed. Big mistake.

Recently this client sent me some huge translations (150.000 words, 15.000 words, 10.000 words), updates of existing manuals (that I didn't or only partly translated), and asked me not bother with the 100% matches, which I wasn't paid for, of course. The 100% matches usually make up 30 to 70% of the text. I objected, of course. We all know that the translation becomes awkward if you don't look at 100% matches. My client told me that he knew about the risks and that his client, was informed about the problems that could arise from this practice. I didn't like to work like that, but I didn't want to loose the client and I also needed the money, so I just did the translations, corrected some of the 100% matches but not all of them.

Now, about a week ago, the client asked me to do a "linguistic review" of one of the translations I had done recently. They had produced a PDF file and wanted me to check the final product - for free, of course. No problem with small translations, I actually like to see what my work looks like once I have finished it, and sometimes I can even correct mistakes I didn't see earlier. This time, however, it concerned a 15.000 words translation that contained 10.000 100% matches I hadn't been paid for. So I rejected, I told them that I wouldn't do this job beause I hadn't been involved in translating most of the text and couldn't see a reason why I should do this for free. Besides that, the deadline they gave me was way too short (1 day). I proposed that they mark the parts that I had translated so I could concentrate on my own translations, but I knew that this would be impossible. The client told me that he would find another solution and I didn't have to do the job.

Today, again, the same client approached me with another 10.000 words translation I had done last week that contained 7.000 100% matches. They didn't mention our previous conversation and didn't propse to pay me anything. This made me sooooo mad that I had to got to the gym get rid of my aggression Now I don't know what do do:

I don't want to do this job for free, actually I don't want to do it at all, because I know correcting the 100% matches in a PDF file will be horrible. This should have been done at the translation phase. It will be impossible for me to find out which of the parts have been translated by me and which are the 100% matches I haven't been paid for. I am ready to correct my translations, but no more than that.

I don't want to loose my client. He sends good & intersting work, pays me well and on time, it's just the fact that they won't pay me for the 100% matches in certain big manuals that makes me mad.

What would you do?

Elke

[Bearbeitet am 2012-07-12 19:45 GMT]


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Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:20
Member (2002)
English to German
Charge Jul 12, 2012

Hi Elke,

I'd tell them "Alright, my hourly rate is such and such, please confirm if that's okay".

You shouldn't have been doing these reviews for free in the first place so that's a good opportunity to start getting paid.

Good luck

Andy
www.interlations.com


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:20
English to Portuguese
+ ...
My policy Jul 12, 2012

When I am hired to translate something at my full rate and standard payment term (two weeks), for jobs over 5,000 words I give the repeated segments for free.

In a nutshell, I have WordFast analyze the material, and the percentage it says that corresponds to repeated segments, I apply as a discount on what would be the total price.

Believe me, I have taken some parts-list-type jobs where repetitions were in the 60-70% range, and they were quite profitable.

However everything else has its price.

HTH.


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Jose Ruivo  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 07:20
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
or decline Jul 12, 2012

Will the client accept that you review only the part that you translated? If not, charge by the word, or per word if done before the PDF stage.

Otherwise, you can always say you're not available or not interested.

It sounds like they are trying to do what you think they're doing. Does the client give you jobs from a diferent source? Otherwise I'd start searching for aditional clients, in case this one fails (soon).


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Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:20
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
This is not about repetitons Jul 12, 2012


Believe me, I have taken some parts-list-type jobs where repetitions were in the 60-70% range, and they were quite profitable.


José, this doesn't concern repetions but 100% matches from previous translations. There have been terminology changes in the meantime, the 100% matches come from several translators that use different styles... If nobody looks at the 100% matches the final product will be awfull.


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Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:20
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
hmmm Jul 12, 2012

Jose Ruivo wrote:

Will the client accept that you review only the part that you translated? If not, charge by the word, or per word if done before the PDF stage.


There's no way just to review the parts I translated. They send me a PDF file and my translations are mixed in between. I would at least have to read the foreign party and then rely on my memory to decide which texts I translated and which I didn't. Besides that I couldn't close my eyes if I saw obvious mistakes in the 100% matches.
By the way, the client told me it was ok to change the 100% matches


Otherwise, you can always say you're not available or not interested.


Last time I said I was not availabe, I could, of course, do this again. But that's not a solution.


It sounds like they are trying to do what you think they're doing. Does the client give you jobs from a diferent source? Otherwise I'd start searching for aditional clients, in case this one fails (soon).


I do have enough other clients, it would hurt me if I lost this one, though.


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MikeTrans
Germany
Local time: 08:20
Italian to German
+ ...
You must train your clients Jul 12, 2012

Hello Elke,
here some comments of about how I would behave, but it always depends on the particular client of course.



Elke Fehling wrote:


About two years ago they started sending me updates of previously translated texts and asked me if I would do the 100% matches for free. Since it concerned smaller translations of certain kinds of user manuals that I myself had provided earlier I agreed. Big mistake.


Big mistake? It depends. If it's an immediate follow-up to a project you have done, including only corrections to be carried out, then it's still part of the project and I do it for free if there are no numerous added contents.
If the follow-up is not immediate (within a few days after delivery), I will generally ask the client to take out of the document what he doesn't want to be translated. This avoids any missunderstanding.


Recently this client sent me some huge translations (150.000 words, 15.000 words, 10.000 words), updates of existing manuals (that I didn't or only partyl translated), and asked me not bother with the 100% matches, which I wasn't paid for, of course. The 100% matches usually make up 30 to 70% of the text. I objected, of course.


Simply objecting without further "client training" is not a good idea. In cases like that, I communicate to my clients *in advance* about how I deal with 100% matches (I don't do fuzzy matches for free or at lower cost). If I feel my client is unsure about how I do handle them, I will again simply ask him to put out what he doesn't want me to translate. Besides, this is the job of a Project Manager, say the job of an agency.
If my clients keeps 100% matches in the text, then I advice him that in order to not charge him, I must not have to deal with these matches AT ALL: no editing, no special time-consuming text adaptation.


Now, about a week ago, the client asked me to do a "linguistic review" of one of the translations I had done recently. They had produced a PDF file and wanted me to check the final product - for free, of course.


For free? Come on, this is a reviewing job, and do you work for free? One reason I'm charging much, much less to an agency for doing translations is because they must have a QA department in place which will simplify my job, thus I'm charging with lower rates. Such deliveries have to be proof-readed, and it would be a very bad idea to make the proof-reading by the same translator, do you realize this?


Today, again, the same client approached me with another 10.000 words translation I had done last week that contained 7.000 100% matches. They didn't mention our previous conversation and didn't propse to pay me anything. This made me sooooo mad that I had to got to the gym get rid of my aggression Now I don't know what do do:


Again, train your client.


Greets,
Mike


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Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:20
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Mike Jul 12, 2012


Big mistake? It depends. If it's an immediate follow-up to a project you have done, including only corrections to be carried out, then it's still part of the project and I do it for free if there are no numerous added contents.
If the follow-up is not immediate (within a few days after delivery), I will generally ask the client to take out of the document what he doesn't want to be translated. This avoids any missunderstanding.


I actually think that problems arise like that. It would have been good if I had told me client that I was ready to do this one time or, as you say, as long as it's a follow-up to a recent project, but since I didn't do that they slowly started to extend the amount of work they sent me "for free".



Simply objecting without further "client training" is not a good idea. In cases like that, I communicate to my clients *in advance* about how I deal with 100% matches (I don't do fuzzy matches for free or at lower cost). If I feel my client is unsure about how I do handle them, I will again simply ask him to put out what he doesn't want me to translate. Besides, this is the job of a Project Manager, say the job of an agency.
If my clients keeps 100% matches in the text, then I advice him that in order to not charge him, I must not have to deal with these matches AT ALL: no editing, no special time-consuming text adaptation.


It's not as easy as that. They wouldn't have paid me and they would have asked another tranlsator. At that time I desperately needed the money... I couldn't afford that.


For free? Come on, this is a reviewing job, and do you work for free? One reason I'm charging much, much less to an agency for doing translations is because they must have a QA department in place which will simplify my job, thus I'm charging with lower rates. Such deliveries have to be proof-readed, and it would be a very bad idea to make the proof-reading by the same translator, do you realize this?


Yes, I realize that. I regularly proofread texts for them from other translators, so I know that they usually have the texts proofread, but this made me wonder, too.


Again, train your client.


Well, if it was a dog that was obliged to stay with me, I would do that

[Bearbeitet am 2012-07-12 20:02 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:20
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
PDF checking can't be free for long jobs Jul 12, 2012

Elke Fehling wrote:
Now, about a week ago, the client asked me to do a "linguistic review" of one of the translations I had done recently. They had produced a PDF file and wanted me to check the final product - for free, of course.


No, if it is a short file and I did the whole translation, then I'll do the PDF check for free, but if sizeable chunks of it were done by someone else, then it can't be free. They would have to pay you an hourly rate for that. Usually at PDF stage I try to make only changes that are really, really terribly necessary.

Keep in mind that a PDF check sometimes means only that you must check for visual things, like long words that got chopped off, hyphens in wrong places, text that wasn't updated, wrong line breaks, wrong fonts, etc. Such a check goes much quicker than a linguistic review. If they want you to compare the PDF with the original, then it takes longer, and they have to pay. If they want you to do a linguistic review, then that takes even longer, and they have to pay. I do not think that doing full-scale editing in PDF is a good idea (primarily because marking up changes in PDF takes a lot longer than simply making the changes yourself).

In your case I'd just hope that the client will see reason, but I think it is important that you explain the situation to them. If they won't pay much for the PDF review, then it means that they can't expect it to be error-free when you're done with it.


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Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:20
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Samuel Jul 12, 2012

Samuel Murray wrote:
Usually at PDF stage I try to make only changes that are really, really terribly necessary.


In this case I know that there will be a lot of necessary changes.. If 70% of the text are 100% matches there must be inconsinstencies...


Keep in mind that a PDF check sometimes means only that you must check for visual things, like long words that got chopped off, hyphens in wrong places, text that wasn't updated, wrong line breaks, wrong fonts, etc. Such a check goes much quicker than a linguistic review. If they want you to compare the PDF with the original, then it takes longer, and they have to pay. If they want you to do a linguistic review, then that takes even longer, and they have to pay. I do not think that doing full-scale editing in PDF is a good idea (primarily because marking up changes in PDF takes a lot longer than simply making the changes yourself).


They explicitly asked for a "linguistic review", they asked me to "check if everything is ok" (whatever that means), that "nothing is missing" and "that there are no spelling mistakes etc.". So that's regular proofreading, not just checking if the layouter didn't introduce any mistakes. I would actually have to compare the source text with the German PDF.

Checking all of the 10.000 words will be horrible because of the fact that it's just a PDF and not a format where I can easily apply changes or comments. In my opionion, this check should have been done during or right after translation, but since they didn't want to pay for it they didn't get it It's so stupid, if I had checked it during translation they would have received a nice an clean TM... if I just change the PDF the changes won't go into the TM

You are right, checking long PDFs like that can't in any case be free or charge. I will tell them that I would like to be paid by the hour, but I already know that they won't pay for that...


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 14:20
Chinese to English
Elke, you put it so clearly to us... Jul 13, 2012

Say the same thing to your client. You're not wrong, you're not being unreasonable. Explain the issues just as you've explained them to us, and they will understand.
Then, to make yourself look good, try proposing some solutions that actually are feasible.

e.g. A paid review of the pdf
OR A quick read-through of the pdf for free (couple of hours?) to be followed by a proposal for the fixes necessary to make it work.
OR Write a letter which develops these two parts a little:
"My client told me that he knew about the risks and that his client, was informed about the problems that could arise from this practice."
"They had produced a PDF file and wanted me to check the final product - for free, of course."

The claim here is that the end client and the agency knowingly opted for a translation practice which they know causes problems, and then asked you to fix those problems for free.
Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are being ignorant and unthinking rather than deliberately exploitative. They need to be made aware of the contradictions in their working practice.
I know it's worrying to argue with a client, but clients aren't children. They won't have a tantrum just because you disagree with them. Clients like translators who are direct, professional, and able to tell them clearly what is possible and what is not.


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Nani Delgado  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2010)
German to Spanish
@Elke: I feel with you. Jul 13, 2012

Hi Elke,

I agree with all those who say you are not being unreasonable and I certainly would not make that kind of work for free. Some time ago I had a very similar situation (www.proz.com/post/1950062#1950062) and talking to the client didn´t help at all. They completely stopped contacting me. Of course it hurts but, in the long run, it hurts much more working for free. It´s better to spend the extra spare time in finding better clients.

Phil Hand wrote:

Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are being ignorant and unthinking rather than deliberately exploitative. They need to be made aware of the contradictions in their working practice.


I would believe it if they were newbies, but they clearly are not. I´m sure they know perfectly what they are doing and how contradicting their working practices are.

Phil Hand wrote:

I know it's worrying to argue with a client, but clients aren't children. They won't have a tantrum just because you disagree with them. Clients like translators who are direct, professional, and able to tell them clearly what is possible and what is not.


Unfortunately it is not always that way, I have experienced that myself. It was indeed unpleasent having to educate the PM although in my case it was a well etablished agency, but after all he just said: "We know and we understand that nobody wants to work for free, but it would help us a lot if you did. The client is also not paying extra for that."
Assuming that that was true (which I also doubt): How is it supposed to be *my* problem? Agencies should be educating end clients at the first place. I am not willing to support their marketing strategies from my own pocket.


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 08:20
Danish to English
+ ...
Not the Salvation Army Jul 13, 2012

Hi Elke

In Denmark we have a saying that goes something like this: 'If you offer the Devil a little finger, he will take the whole hand'. It sounds to me that you have got yourself into such a sticky situation, from being service-minded to being exploited.

My own approach is as follows:

I charge 25 % of my standard rate for 95-100 % matches and repetitions (and I don't give discounts for lower fuzzy matches), regardless of whether I have done the original translation or whether the matches stem from a TM supplied by the client. I proofread every single word of every translation, so naturally, I want to be paid for that.

I do post-translation review of my own work for free, that is a part of the job. However, if the client subsequently sets up the file(s) in PDF format and wants a review of that, whether linguistic or simply visual, I charge by the hour. PDF work is very time consuming, and it is an addition to translation, not a part of it.

If I review translations done by other translators or texts written in English by Danish authors, I charge this at an hourly rate. I assess the job first and tell my client how much time I expect to spend on the job, and I generally assess this to take a bit longer than I actually expect it to do, so as not to be caught out. If then I spend less time on the job, I offer the client a discount, and if I spend longer, I accept that my estimate was unrealistic and don't charge the client extra.

Finally, I used to work full-time for a translation agency, and my boss drew a very fine line between being service-minded and being taken advantage off, simply this:

We are not the Salvation Army!

We are professionals who do a professional job, and we should be paid professional rates for this.

I understand that this is an important client to you, but as others have said, your client knows the value of your work, and you can be sure that they get paid for whatever they supply to the end client. If I were you, I would write a brief letter to them stating that in recent months, you have found that the amount of work they have asked you to carry out for free has taken up a considerable amount of your time, and you would like to come to some arrangement with them about the future cost of such work. Tell them what you want to be paid for different scenarios. Either set the prices a bit too high so that you have a bit of scope for negotiation, or set the actual prices that you would feel comfortable with, and then don't budge. If they are not willing to pay what your work is worth, then be firm and politely decline to take on the extra work and just stick to the well-paid translation work they have sent your way.

Good luck!

Gitte



[Edited at 2012-07-13 08:14 GMT]


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Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:20
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Gitte Jul 13, 2012

Thank you, Gitte. We have the same sayings in Germany, about the little finger you give to the devil and also about the Salvation Army


However, if the client subsequently sets up the file(s) in PDF format and wants a review of that, whether linguistic or simply visual, I charge by the hour. PDF work is very time consuming, and it is an addition to translation, not a part of it.


Thank you for sharing this point of view. I think you are right, working with a PDF is an addition to translation, and it's very time consuming, yes.


I understand that this is an important client to you, but as others have said, your client knows the value of your work, and you can be sure that they get paid for whatever they supply to the end client.


I know that this end client I am working for is very valuable for this translation agency. They lost it once and that was a very hard time for them (not for me). It's a very big company and I am sure they do a lot of work just not to loose him. But you are right, at the end of the day they will get enough money to be happy with it, while I just work for free.

I am also not sure if the problem is simply caused by this one project manager. I have had problems with her in the past, while I worked smoothly with all of her colleagues - who also never demand extra work (for free) from me. This might be a coincidence or not, I don't know. Once she critised my translation because I had delivered it "too fast". She is also the one who "forgets" to mention that, while the PO states 5000 words, the whole translation has 15000 words. And this time, I don't know if it was by accident, she put a much smaller job in the email reference line. I would have been prepared to check this smaller job for free, but when I checked the actually file I saw that she had made a mistake (?) and the review request referred to the translation where I was only paid for 1/3 of the words...


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:20
French to English
Time is money, and all that jazz Jul 13, 2012

I'm sure most of us do the odd few minutes now and then without charge to oil the wheels of commerce, but there comes a point where you have to draw a line. A point where "this is a good client, but...." becomes "this is a bad client".

I probably don't need to point out the illogicality of saying "I needed the money" and then not getting paid for great chunks of work.

If this is only happening with one PM anyway, and the others are all fine and working "properly", I think in your position I would simply have to reply with a quote for X hrs x Y per hr and ask for a PO to confirm the deal.

I've blogged about this in the past (companies are named, so have to link not post here) just about the thin-end-of-the-wedge aspect:
http://cbavington.com/blog/2011/04/01/no-money-for-old-rope/

And then again with some musing about one's liability relative to work for which one has not been paid (willingly, rather than bad debt sense):
http://cbavington.com/blog/2011/04/03/old-rope-and-new-liability/

If push comes to shove, you could probably expand on a couple of ideas in that second post and blag your way our of it.


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