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Discount for Easy Translation
Thread poster: Annie Sapucaia

Annie Sapucaia  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:16
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
Feb 25, 2014

Hi all,

I've recently started working with an agency that has great reviews and whose PMs couldn't be nicer. Before I started working for them we had an agreed-upon rate.

Yesterday, I was asked if I was available to do a translation of open-ended responses to a survey. These answers wouldn't require editing as cohesion is not important in this case (I guess since it's just a list of answers). I was asked to give a discount since it's simple and repetitive.

What are your thoughts? Is this is a valid reason to give a discount? I've never done a translation of this kind of text before.

Thanks.


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Selvi Saroinsong  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 03:16
English to Indonesian
Ask to see the text first Feb 25, 2014

I will ask to see the whole text first. How do they know that it is "simple"? They are 'open-ended responses'.

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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:16
English to Dutch
+ ...
Works both ways Feb 25, 2014

Would they pay more if the text is more complicated than 'usual'?

What you should have done, is determine an average rate, regardless complexity. That way, you will get less for very time consuming work, but more for fast jobs. On the whole, that should average out to the income you need and desire.
If you start giving discounts for easy jobs, that would frustrate that scheme. So unless they are willing to pay you more for difficult jobs, you should definitely say no to this.

And there is of course the problem how you are going to determine what is an 'easy' or 'difficult' job. Better not go that road.


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ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 23:16
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Easy or Difficult Feb 25, 2014

I would not change my rate because a text is easy or difficult. Besides, how do you determine it is easy or difficult. Jan Willem is right. What if they do not pay anything extra for difficult assignments? There is no agreed upon scale for easy and difficult. In short, I would not accept this assignment for anything less than my regular rate. Period.

Now suppose we have a young worker who is on a minimum wage. Can this worker (or his/her employer) request a lower than minimum wage because the task is easy? Similarly, can this worker (or his/her employer) request a higher wage because the task is difficult? I definitely would not think so.

[Edited at 2014-02-25 14:04 GMT]


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:16
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Who decides what is easy? Feb 25, 2014

It always sets alarm bells ringing for me when a customer tells me a job is easy. I am the one doing the work, and so I should be the one to determine what is easy or difficult. I don't offer different rates for easy or difficult work - it is just too subjective and can lead to awkward situations.

Repetition is different though. It is quantifiable and has implications for anyone using CAT software. I'm not a regular CAT user but can see how it might make sense to offer discounts for repetitions in certain circumstances.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:16
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
No discounts ever Feb 25, 2014

If you think your rates are fair, stick to them. But you could consider having a range of rates, with the lower end for what YOU think is easy, and the higher end for what YOU think is difficult. This means that you could actually charge different rates to the same agency, depending on the difficulty of the material, and you need to make that clear.

My advice is to never give discounts because it could be taken to mean that your rates were too high to begin with. One agency will want a discount because the translation is easy, another because it's a large amount of material, and so on and so on. My advice is not to open that door. The only discount you should ever consider giving is if you have made serious mistakes or if you have delivered late without advance notice.


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ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 23:16
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Agree Feb 25, 2014

Tina Vonhof wrote:

My advice is to never give discounts because it could be taken to mean that your rates were too high to begin with. One agency will want a discount because the translation is easy, another because it's a large amount of material, and so on and so on. My advice is not to open that door.



I agree with Tina. That is one reason you should choose your rates very carefully. And once you determine your rates, you should stick to them. If a company X finds your rates too high, let it be. You are not the only translator in the world, and company X is not the only client in the world.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:16
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
In addition... Feb 25, 2014

responses to open-ended surveys are not easy to translate. Sometimes they may be handwritten. Sometimes the people use informal language. Sometimes you, as an outsider to the company, have to spend time trying to figure out what they are talking about. Sometimes their thoughts are disorganized and they are unclear, etc. etc.

They are not easier, but they are perhaps less stressful to translate since there are fewer consequences for making mistakes.

The language used may be simple, but that doesn't mean the translation will be easy.

[Edited at 2014-02-25 20:08 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:16
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Surveys are never easy Feb 25, 2014

I have translated the text for many surveys and, believe me, there is nothing easy about them. You need to be very precise and unambiguous indeed both in questions and answers, and therefore surveys take a lot of thinking.

I am amazed that customers would describe surveys as simple work. Personally I would examine the text carefully before agreeing to anything.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:16
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Yes, this is the fundamental question to ask. Feb 25, 2014

Jan Willem van Dormolen wrote:

Would they pay more if the text is more complicated than 'usual'?



I think the particular PM who was asking for discount is rude.


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Texte Style
Local time: 22:16
French to English
Not that simple Feb 25, 2014

I have on occasion done that kind of work and while it looks easy because it's spoken language, it's not necessarily easy. The person may be referring to something they can see (and obviously you can't) or may cut a sentence short because they can see that the person holding the mike has got their drift (but you haven't). They contradict themselves, they start sentences and don't finish the way they logically would, and sometimes they say plain nonsense.

Trouble is, if you deliver a translation that's plain nonsense, the client will shoot the messenger (you).

Someone once published an amazing list of reasons why clients ask for a discount without it being justified and I'm pretty sure "it's very easy" was on that list. There were upwards of 50 reasons if I remember rightly.


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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:16
Portuguese to English
+ ...
You mean this one? :) Feb 26, 2014

Texte Style wrote:
Someone once published an amazing list of reasons why clients ask for a discount without it being justified and I'm pretty sure "it's very easy" was on that list. There were upwards of 50 reasons if I remember rightly.


http://translationjournal.net/journal/55discount.htm

And here's another article that might help you deal with this kind of requests: http://www.bokorlang.com/journal/56discount.htm


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kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:16
English
+ ...
Would a plumber give a discount for an easy job? Feb 26, 2014

I would refuse to give a discount on the basis of something being "easy".

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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:16
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
The "e" word Feb 26, 2014

Just a little example from a few years ago when I banged out the odd story on Proz:

+++++
One of my new customers rang to tell me about a new job. “Nothing technical”, he chirped. “Not at all. Easy, easy stuff. Dead easy, really.”

Do you know, it’s beginning to irk me more than a little when I hear that word from customers – easy – and he’d already said it three times in as many seconds. Easy. A mere nothing, mate. A trifle, a cinch, wee buns, easy as taking candy from a baby. A big easy.

Any fool could do it.

Easy. Not technical. Does this mean that if a text isn’t easy, it’s technical? What IS this business about technical? Does technical mean difficult? Not if you’ve been doing it for years, presumably. And if it isn’t “technical”, it’s easy?

I put my hand over the phone for a second and growled at it like a Rotweiler, just to vent my irritation but not let it show to the customer. A technique I use – very useful for telephonic manoeuvres. I then removed my hand and grinned like a Cheshire cat down the receiver. “That’s absolutely marvellous”, I answered merrily. “What’s it about, then?”

“Oh, it’s just some Town Hall web page, nothing special, all the tourist attractions, all the town has. Very, very easy indeed. Real easy stuff.”

I had a little difficulty prising my teeth apart again enough to take my leave of him on the phone, but I had a look at the text. I’m beginning to disagree about this technical thang. If you have a technical translation, it may delve into hydraulics and electrics, mechanical and chemical engineering and all the rest, but at least in general it behaves itself, sticks to the theme, and stays technical. It doesn’t flit around from magnetic particles to haberdashery to macro-economics to serious trauma to the Council of Europe. I’ve been on a few of these Town Hall web page trips now, and this one was no different. “Technical-plus”, I call them now. You need vocabulary for everything in there, not just manifolds and star delta motors.

The local authorities like to kick off with “History of our Town”. Sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it? But they mean History back to the year dot, of course, with portions of the Edict of Nantes, Treaty of Utrecht, Torquemada’s reports for the Spanish Inquisition (“I wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition”, you think to yourself – only certain readers will understand that one, it must be said, for, as every skoolboy kno, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition), Magna Carta, Papal Bulls mentioning this wretched godforsaken hamlet because some saint had an encounter with the Virgin on a hill, whatever. All in the original language of 500 years ago, which now bears little resemblance to the one you’re meant to be translating, just to make it that little bit more difficult for the translator.

But thank God it’s not technical.

You limp painfully on to “Composition of the Town Council”, and suddenly you’re trying to find translations for the posts held by all the Mayor’s deputies, all the departments and committees with titles a mile long. If you’re really unfortunate, you may even find each of the main bigwigs has their CV posted on the web too, so there you will be toiling away translating the life of X, who holds the post of Senior Advisor to Y, Assistant Head of the Mayoral Office and External Relations. X, you are interested to learn, worked between 1998 and 2003 in the Accounts Section of the Department for Incentives and Economic Promotion, before moving on to take up duties as Assistant to the Head of the Department of Whatever. Ad nauseam.

“Phew, I’ve got through that”, you say to yourself, gulping back another coffee, “Good job it wasn’t technical. So what’s next?”

Next up is “Tourism - Local Monuments”. Er, do they have a Gothic/Romanesque/Neo-Gothic church in this town, at all? No, they have all three, and fiercely proud of them they are too. So proud, in fact, that they’ve asked some renowned aesthete to write a few little pieces on them for the website, and thus it’s not long before you’re drowning in an orgy of stellar vaults, apses, naves, chancels, retrochoirs and lancet arches.

But it could have been worse – it could have been technical, this translation.

Then they switch to “Local Economy”, and so you plunge into the town’s five-year plans and initiatives with more long titles, percentage comparisons with the retail price index, LIBOR, MIBOR, and EURIBOR and all the rest, perhaps a few impenetrable and incomprehensible graphs thrown in for good measure.

But hey hey, it’s your lucky day, because you remember with relief that it’s not technical. You put in the last full stop, and look at the next section. “Local Businesses”.

“For crying out loud”, you gasp, “What’s all this?”

All these local companies, with a brief description of what they do. Metal-stamping, chrome-plating, round bars, household appliances, wall-to-wall carpeting, agricultural machinery, acid baths …...

TECHNICAL!!!! Wot a swizz.



So I rang him back on this one after I’d had a look. “Got to put the price up”, I said.

“You what? But it’s EASY!! No technical stuff.”

“Exactly”, I told him. “That’s why I’m charging you more. Because it isn’t technical.”
++++++


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:16
Italian to English
Flat fee for non-standard text? Feb 26, 2014

If I were a PM with a one-off colloquial text to translate and pool of trusted technical translators, I might be tempted to send it to one or two of them (NDAs permitting) and simply ask them how much they would want for the job.

As a translator, I would want to take a good look at the project before making an offer.


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