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Hourly rates - how to prove the amount of hours spent?
Thread poster: Maria Arruti

Maria Arruti  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:16
Member (2012)
French to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 10, 2013

Hello all,

This topic has probably been discussed before, but I couldn't find anything about it in the fora.

I usually charge per word, but if I were to charge per hour, I'm curious as to how to prove that I have actually spent the amount of hours I claim to have spent, not less. For example, if I spend 5 hours completing a project, how do I prove that I have actually spent 5 hours, not 3? Do clients normally trust translators regarding this issue?

Any comments will be much appreciated.

Maria


 

Charlotte Farrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:16
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Element of Trust Jul 10, 2013

There always has to be an element of trust here. If a client agrees to pay you by the hour (which I do for proofreading but not for translation) then they have to trust you to be honest.

I do a lot of editing/proofreading paid by the hour for one client and they always state how long they expect the job to take when they set it. If I think I'll need more time then I flag this in advance so I'm not surprising them with an extra hour or two once I deliver.

Trust will grow the longer you work with the client. For example with my client, if they estimate five hours for a job and I take four hours I tell them so, meaning that they do trust me if I let them know another time that it's more likely to take six or seven.

Maybe provide a conservative estimate when accepting the job (eg say six hours if you think it'll take five) and then confirm the total time on delivery.

Really though, I would suggest that you continue to charge by word - it makes a lot more sense and avoids quibbling.


 

Peter Gleason  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, clients normally trust their translators. Jul 10, 2013

Maria Arruti wrote:

For example, if I spend 5 hours completing a project, how do I prove that I have actually spent 5 hours, not 3? Do clients normally trust translators regarding this issue?


Generally, there is no need to prove how many hours you spent on a project. They wouldn't be asking you to do it if they didn't trust you in the first place.

Regards


 

XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:16
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Most of my work is charged by the hour Jul 10, 2013

Do you ask your solicitor to provide proof of how many hours he/she has spent on a job? I'm the professional and I act like one. I record my own time using Project Timer and were the issue ever to be raised, I could send the client the report. However, to date I've never been asked to prove how long I've spent on a job.

 

Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:16
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Time Stamp Jul 10, 2013

I use Time Stamp to keep track of hourly projects.
http://syntap.com/products.htm

Of course, it doesn't prove that I've been working all that time because it's basically a stopwatch, but I still find it useful.
I sometimes offer new clients an exported report created by Time Stamp when I've finished the project, but they always reply that it's not necessary.

I agree with Charlotte and Петро: it's basically a question of trust.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I imagine we're talking proofreading/editing here? Jul 10, 2013

Charlotte Farrell wrote:
Maybe provide a conservative estimate when accepting the job (eg say six hours if you think it'll take five) and then confirm the total time on delivery.

If the client has no idea how long it will take, as is often the case with my direct clients who want their website improved/polished, then you can't simply say "I charge EUR 30 per hour" and expect them to pay the bill, whether the total turns out to be EUR 30 or EUR 3,000. That really wouldn't be fair.

I insist on seeing the text beforehand - until it's ready I can't do any better than quote my hourly rate. Once I've examined it, I give a maximum figure that I'm willing to guarantee. This is a good third above my more realistic estimate and I tell the client that it may well be rather less. When I start the work, I let them know asap if I'm going to need to charge them the top rate, and why. At the end of the job, they get an invoice that relates to actual time worked, no more - and sometimes less, but that's my own fault.

I've had direct clients who have been horrified at the maximum costicon_eek.gif, but none who've accused me of lying about how long I've worked on their job. With agencies, it's a lot simpler as they know the job, but some of them set ridiculous targets that have to be revised before I'll consider working with them.


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
I do the same as others Jul 10, 2013

I will see the job, estimate how much time it may take (a comfortable estimate) and tell the client what I estimate.
If while I'm working I have reason to believe it will take longer, I'll flag it but this doesn't happen often.
I keep an excel spreadsheet with my hours but I must say that I'm going to look into time stamp and project timer (now that I know that these exist - thanks Emma and Lisa!!) because it's really hard to calculate by 60s when you're used to calculating by 100s.
I will usually send this spreadsheet to the client with invoice. I certainly wouldn't expect clients to query my trustworthiness in this respect if they've trusted me with their translation.
I charge per hour for copywriting and sometimes I can get a text done in 15 minutes and sometimes it takes me 2 hours to write the same amount of words, depending on the creativity required, but nobody's ever queried this.


 

LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:16
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Never been an issue Jul 10, 2013

Even if you are charging hourly, most clients have a maximum proofreading budget in mind anyway (based on the length of the text), and they will usually tell you in advance what it is. As long as you don't go over it by more than a nominal amount without prior consultation (e.g., as might happen with a sub-par translation), they're generally not going to question your time spent.

 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:16
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
If they can't trust you Jul 10, 2013

why on earth would they work with you?

 

Gül Kaya  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:16
Turkish to English
+ ...
which project timer? Jul 10, 2013

Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:

Do you ask your solicitor to provide proof of how many hours he/she has spent on a job? I'm the professional and I act like one. I record my own time using Project Timer and were the issue ever to be raised, I could send the client the report. However, to date I've never been asked to prove how long I've spent on a job.


Lisa could you provide the address for project timer. I tried to download from http://project-timer.softpedia.com/ (is that the same as yours?) but my antivirus programme wouldn't let it through.


 

XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:16
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Project timer Jul 10, 2013

Gül Kaya wrote:

Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:

Do you ask your solicitor to provide proof of how many hours he/she has spent on a job? I'm the professional and I act like one. I record my own time using Project Timer and were the issue ever to be raised, I could send the client the report. However, to date I've never been asked to prove how long I've spent on a job.


Lisa could you provide the address for project timer. I tried to download from http://project-timer.softpedia.com/ (is that the same as yours?) but my antivirus programme wouldn't let it through.


You're right, I hadn't realised it would be difficult to find. I've had mine for a while. It's Project-Timer V1.4.1 and you can download it from here: http://pc.revivalteam.de/index.php?site=timer


 

Gül Kaya  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:16
Turkish to English
+ ...
Thanks Jul 10, 2013

@Lisa
Thank you I've downloaded it.


 

Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:16
Russian to English
+ ...
Document properties in MS Word Jul 10, 2013

If it's a file in MS Word you can check the document properties and look under "Total Editing Time".

However, there are some drawbacks to this. For example, if you save a file under a new name before sending it this will show 0 editing time.

On the other hand, if you simply have the file open and take breaks etc. this time will still be counted as "editing time".

I agree that Time Spent is a good tool to use. I also like Exact Spent which is a similar thing. However, these are not entirely irrefutable proof because they can be altered.


 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:46
English to Hindi
+ ...
PMs are pretty shrewd in their judgment of the time it would take Jul 10, 2013

My experience has been that PMs have a pretty good idea of how long a task offered at hourly rates would take and they mention it at the outset. In most cases their judgment is correct, though it can mean racing a bit for they usually present a lower estimate.

If you do the same task at a leisurely speed, you will overshoot their time limit. I normally try to accommodate their budget, and only quote a higher time amount in my invoice if I spent a substantial amount of additional time. In most cases the PMs have accommodated this without fuss.

In one case I had a rather nasty and unpleasant experience. The PM told me that the task was urgent and I finished the task (an editing task) in double time, but quoted the normal time that she had mentioned in her job order, assuming that she would approve it for had I done the job at normal speed, it would have taken me that much time.

But the PM came back to me in a rather nasty way, accusing me of being dishonest and overcharging her. She wrote saying that the time I had downloaded the files from her server and the time I had uploaded the edited file showed that I had not spent the claimed amount of time in doing this work.

I replied in an equally nasty way that I did not at all approve of her snooping behaviour and I had actually done her a favour by returning the file earlier, to do which I had to really fast pace myself. Had I done the work at my normal pace, it would have taken the time that she had allotted for the job.

On the whole it was quite an unpleasant experience. But since this was a long time client with whom I was almost on friendly terms, a few more exchanges of emails calmed the frayed nerves on both ends and we continue to work as before.

I have learned my lesson from this experience, though, and handle hourly jobs with more sensitivity and care than before.

[Edited at 2013-07-10 16:11 GMT]


 

Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:16
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Another happy TimeStamp user Jul 10, 2013

I've been using TimeStamp for years and years. It is extremely simple to use, takes no time to either download or install, and keeps accurate count, not only of how much time I've spent, but how much, exactly, that time is going to cost my client. TimeStamp includes a function for printing out a final report to the client. (One tiny caveat: you do need to remember to click off the timer for every interruption to your work, but all it takes s a quick, one-step click).

Enjoy.


 
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