Is it common to impose a surcharge for translating a document that requires transcription?
Thread poster: Jonathan Beaton

Jonathan Beaton  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 13:22
German to English
+ ...
May 24, 2013

For example, if you receive a scanned document (newspaper article, etc), is it common in the industry to ask an extra amount for the inconvenience?

I've asked 25 euro extra to translate a newspaper article from a scan, and received no complaints, but maybe I'm lucky, or maybe my rate is low enough to begin with that they don't mind.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:22
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Yes, it's perfectly fine May 24, 2013

Jonathan Beaton wrote:
If you receive a scanned document (newspaper article, etc), is it common in the industry to ask an extra amount for the inconvenience?


Yes. Because it takes longer to do the translation.


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:22
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I would usually charge per hour for formatting May 24, 2013

if I receive a text and I need to OCR it or I need to format the document in a special way (reproducing stamps or placing translations for tables/images in text boxes), I will usually charge per hour for this service over and above the usual per word charge for translation.

I learned this the hard way after a few jobs when I started out that took longer to format than to translate. I'll agree this with the client/agency at the start and if they're not willing to pay, I'm not willing to format.


I wouldn't usually add a surcharge for a document received in .pdf per se, only if there is unusual formatting, or it's handwriting, and/or I am asked to reproduce the format.

Did you know that there are programs that convert .pdfs and .jpgs into Word? I'm sorry if that's a silly question but I had no idea when I started out and had never heard of OCR. I use Abbyy FineReader for this and it's become one of my favourite tools.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 05:22
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
The same May 24, 2013

I do the same as Marie-Helene. Practically all my documents come in as pdf-files. The extra cost involved actually comes before the job even begins: converting the document and doing a word count, so I can make an appropriate quote. But the cost of that and of proofreading is included in my rates. If there is a lot of formatting involved, I charge by the hour.

 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Transcription or formatting? May 24, 2013

Transcription is when you take an audio recording and put it in writing. But apparently what you want to know is whether we charge more for formatting.

In my own case, I work a lot with paper documents and scans. I do add a surcharge for difficult formats, but I make no effort to faithfully reproduce them, which could be a very time-consuming and often impossible task. I merely try to lay the material out so it is understandable. If it is just straight text with no format difficulties then it's regular price.


 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 16:52
English to Hindi
+ ...
Yes of course May 24, 2013

Anything that makes a demand on our time should be charged for, as in the end it is our time that we are trading.

 

Jonathan Beaton  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 13:22
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
weekend rates May 24, 2013

That's good. I agree we should be paid for the time we spend. What about working in the weekend? Is it common to charge extra for this, or to ask higher rates?

[Edited at 2013-05-24 16:25 GMT]


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:22
English to Polish
+ ...
It depends May 24, 2013

In Poland, you don't charge extra for translating from paper or a scan into a .doc file. Then again, people aren't normally crazy enough to require a carbon copy of the formatting when you translate from paper or from a scan.

There are some one-stop shop translators who basically do everything so that the agency doesn't have to, or they work with direct clients and do the stuff agencies normally do. In my work, agencies do their own OCR. Clients don't know or care about CAT. If they did, they'd have enough slick software and tech assistants to avoid needing me to do it.

I haven't heard about any situation that involved a translator actually typing into a computer file without changing the language, except transcribing from audio types or some old handwriting. I would most probably refuse to do any simple typing for anybody other than senior citizens or people who don't know the language or can't type. But never for a normal "process".


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:22
Member (2008)
French to English
No weekends May 24, 2013

Jonathan Beaton wrote:

That's good. I agree we should be paid for the time we spend. What about working in the weekend? Is it common to charge extra for this, or to ask higher rates?


Or perhaps to say you don't do weekends. I don't and I haven't had any particularly negative reactions from it. I've occasionally explained that I need the recharge time to keep quality up. Clients mostly seem to respect it when you have a definite policy.


 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 16:52
English to Hindi
+ ...
I am flexible on this May 25, 2013

Jonathan Beaton wrote:

That's good. I agree we should be paid for the time we spend. What about working in the weekend? Is it common to charge extra for this, or to ask higher rates?


Being a freelancer, I am not bound to taking a break only during weekends or on stipulated holidays. I can choose to take a break whenever I feel like taking one. This is the main advantage of being a freelancer.

So, charging higher rates for working on weekends and holidays doesn't really apply to freelancers. For me everyday is the same, weekend or weekday or holiday. They are interchangeable for me, that is, I can make a weekday a holiday or a weekend with a mere wish!

I charge the same amount for all days that I work. If don't want to work, I don't.

The same rule applies for working hours. I am not bound to working 8 hours a day. Sometimes I work only 1 hour, and sometimes I might work round the clock. It is my choice. And I don't charge extra for pushing myself or pampering myself.


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:22
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I will sometimes charge extra for working weekends May 27, 2013

if it is the agency's choice and not mine.

Let's say I've taken a couple of projects on and have to do one of them at the weekend to hand it in on time, or because I've chosen to take some time off during the week, I don't think that the client should be the one suffering because of this choice.

However, if I get a project on a Friday afternoon for a Monday morning, I'll usually negotiate a slightly higher rate for it. I will do the same for late-night projects, ie a project received at 5pm that needs handing in before the next morning and contains more than 1,000 words.

Sometimes this separates the wheat from the chaff. Faced with having to pay more, some projects miraculously become less urgent.


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:22
French to English
+ ...
OK, but probably wouldn't bother itemising May 27, 2013

I think it's fair to charge a little extra if the input format genuinely hinders you. I probably wouldn't bother to itemise it to the client, though -- just set a slightly higher rate to reflect the fact that you received a non-editable format.

You may actually find that in some fields, only having a scanned copy is more or less the norm, and you just need to factor this into your average target rate.


 

XXXphxxx  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:22
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Surcharges May 27, 2013

In response to your original question re. non-editable files, I charge 10% extra. More if there are a lot of charts, tables etc.

I charge a 50% surcharge for weekend or evening work if the volume and deadline are such that I will have to work over the weekend to complete the job in time.

I might add that I haven't imposed surcharges for a long time because most agencies won't pay them. It was perfectly acceptable, even the norm, to do so a few years ago. However once again, we have shot ourselves in the foot. Not only are people offering their services for peanuts but willingly working round the clock, during antisocial hours and at no extra charge.


 


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