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Do you charge for commenting on the text after the translation is done?
Thread poster: Sarah McDowell

Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:11
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
Jun 24, 2014

I would like to know if other translators usually charge for making comments on completed translations.

The process is as follows:

- I do the translation

- Client makes some comments on it

- I address these comments and make some changes

Usually I do not charge for these things provided that the comments are not extensive. Now I have a client asking hos much this extra commenting would cost. Would you suggest charging an hourly rate for this?


 

Beatriz Ramírez de Haro  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:11
Member (2008)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No, with one exception Jun 25, 2014

Hi Sarah,

Post-translation comments are included in my rates until the client is fully satisfied.

I only charge my hourly rate if the client has failed to instruct me beforehand or has made changes on the ST.

Just recently, one of my clients didn't tell me that he had limited space, so I made a normal translation which was useless. This would not have happened had I been properly informed, so I charged my hourly rate for shortening it.




[Edited at 2014-06-25 00:10 GMT]


 

njweatherdon
Canada
French to English
+ ...
I consider it as part of the service I offer, so it's never "after". Jun 25, 2014

I consider this as part of the service.

I think many agencies see translator's notes as an inconvenience, and would rather pretend that translations are of higher quality when translators pretend to have 100% confidence in the perfection of everything.

I consider this as part of my marketing package.

If we need to work out details in the translation, then this is included in the word rate. I often include lengthy comments on various ambiguities and translation challenges, and if/when clients have time, they take up these details. At times, the original text also comes out better as a result. In the process, I get to better understand my clients and can perform translations which reflect the particularities of different authors/organizations/etc.

But if they change a bunch of stuff first, then this is a headache, and headaches cost more money than no headaches.

I like to work on a reciprocal principle of headache minimization. Non-price incentives such as this kind of stuff make it easier to promote such thinking among clients, I think.

But for many types of projects, this will create undesirable additional amounts of work for clients and this will eat up time.

So I always ask people to be explicit if extra feedback is wasting their time. But again, I think additional feedback is more strongly linked to lack of confidence in the translation as opposed to a sign of strong quality control.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 08:11
Chinese to English
An opportunity to impress Jun 25, 2014

It sounds like a nice opportunity to impress the client with your generosity and professionalism by saying this is done free of charge!

I like to keep the checking and re-editing rounds free, because it puts us in a better position. Clients who know we are doing this "for free" can see that we have already produced a good translation, and that any changes they request are style issues (that they probably should have told us about before we started).

Once you start taking payment for editing, it becomes a hassle. I'm not a professional editor, and I'm just not that good at finding that perfect little change which which lift the whole piece. I don't particularly enjoy rewriting to meet style guide requirements. But that's what post-translation editing turns into, and once you accept payment for it, you have to do it well.

The exceptions are the cases like Beatriz mentioned, where there's a significant change in the text or the requirements.


 

564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:11
Danish to English
+ ...
All part of the service Jun 25, 2014

I consider my job done once I complete and submit my translation and that is what I charge for. Anything after this stage, I consider an additional service that builds good client relationships.

One agency I do a lot of work for suddenly introduced a new quality control process, which meant that they would start having a proofreader check almost all of my work. At first, this really irked me and I did initially charge an additional fee. However, I soon discovered that knowing there would be a proofreader at the other end actually sharpened my work, so it was a win-win situation, as I became more accurate in my work. Needless to say, I no longer charge them for any additional work it gives me, I just see it as useful for my professional development. icon_smile.gif

With direct clients, I will answer any questions and implement any changes they may want free of charge, too. It's all part of one package. As I don't work with a proofreader of my own when working for direct clients, I think it is only fair that they ask for changes (stylistic or terminological or whatever) until they are completely satisfied with the end product.


 

FarkasAndras  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:11
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Free if reasonable Jun 25, 2014

I agree with previous posters. If they just want to clarify some details or ask you to correct errors you've made (no translation is 100% perfect after all), or perhaps make minor preferential changes in terminology, that's fine.
If they are rewriting the source text or making unreasonable and time-consuming demands, charge them a reasonable hourly rate. I would ask them to see how many/what kind of comments they have, and then tell them whether or not I will charge for responding to them.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:11
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
it's all part of the service, and this justifies my rate Jun 25, 2014

Like others, I don't charge. I tell them that it's all part of the service, and this justifies my rate.

However, they have to ask questions within a reasonable time-frame, depending on the length of the job and how urgent it was, which I specify on my quote.

I find that this fosters more of a "working together" spirit: both sides feel free to ask all the questions they need to get the job done.

I once had a client who would ask about five questions for a half-page text. We worked together to produce a glossary with all her preferences etc. and after a few months of very intense discussions, the questions died down. Nowadays she might question a term, and I just tell her "line 75" (of the glossary). She has gradually come to accept that the terms I use are mostly good and in fact the terms she insisted on in the beginning that I felt were too close to the source or just not the most natural term in English have been weeded out one by one. We have now got to the point where I'm the one who "breaks in" new colleagues, sending the latest version of the glossary and explaining why we use certain terms.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:11
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Only if there is a LOT of extra work not included in the original PO Jun 25, 2014

Most of the time I carry on adjusting until the client is satisfied and inlcude that sort of thing in my basic rate. I do mutter under my breath occasionally that clients certainly get their moneysworth!

I know with others, like Gitte, that it is worth making the extra effort to do it the way they want it the first time, once I have learned their preferences or asked about them.

I have one or two clients who sometimes send an extra couple of hundred words and ask for a few changes to the original source text. I charge for those as a separate job, word count + time, on the invoice. (I send them monthly invoices.)

Especially as these are often madly rushed jobs that mean I have to drop everything else!


[Edited at 2014-06-25 08:47 GMT]


 

Grace Shalhoub  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:11
French to English
+ ...
I don't, please check my post Jun 25, 2014

http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/270574-client_refuses_to_pay_before_validating_the_translation.html

I am happy that your client is professional enough to consider offering you extra for extra work.


 

nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:11
English to French
+ ...
dépends Jun 25, 2014

Sarah McDowell wrote:

I would like to know if other translators usually charge for making comments on completed translations.

The process is as follows:

- I do the translation

- Client makes some comments on it

- I address these comments and make some changes

Usually I do not charge for these things provided that the comments are not extensive. Now I have a client asking hos much this extra commenting would cost. Would you suggest charging an hourly rate for this?


If the commenting is less than an hour I would not charge anything and say that it is included in the service package as some sort of "after sale" service.

If the client really wants to engage in some lenghty discussion about matters of style/options etc. than I would charge an hourly rate.

You can also say that is is free for one round of comments, but than you charge if they want to comment the comments, or make some new changes, or whatever. It happened to me once... client was not native but doing a MA in the language, he had a million questions ...and he really wanted me to teach him!


 

Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:11
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Maybe he is expecting a more thorough discussion Jun 25, 2014

I don't usually charge for this, but in some cases, discussions can take up a bit more time, especially where a precedent needs to be set.

I've had 2 such cases - one with a group of consultancy firms, where we basically determined a style guide for all companies within that group and one for an association wishing to move into a different market and trying to decide on key terminology that will be used in future translations. Naturally, there were several people involved and there was a good amount of discussion. This can be rather time-consuming.

The first case was a direct client and as this was instrumental in securing future assignments from the whole group, rather than just a particular department, I put it down as a marketing investment, which has paid off over the past year.
The other one was not direct, so an additional fee was agreed.

It might not simply be a case of a proofreader going over it, but tend towards discussing connotations invoked by particular terms, etc.
That might be worth clarifying.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:11
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
getting blanket approval Jun 25, 2014

I was very wary when the client I mentioned above said they were sending the glossary out to all members of staff who had to use English in their work at that firm.

So I said we needed an approval phase, we gave them all two weeks in which to go through the glossary and bring up any queries. I took the opportunity to shove in a few terms that had not been discussed but which could well be queried because they didn't sound much like the source term. I also added the proviso that some terms may not be suitable in all circumstances (given that staff would be using it to write stuff directly in English).

In fact nobody could be bothered to wade through the entire glossary (something like 700 terms by then), so it was approved automatically once the 2-week deadline was up.


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:11
Member (2004)
English to Italian
your hourly rate... Jun 25, 2014

Sarah McDowell wrote:

I would like to know if other translators usually charge for making comments on completed translations.

The process is as follows:

- I do the translation

- Client makes some comments on it

- I address these comments and make some changes

Usually I do not charge for these things provided that the comments are not extensive. Now I have a client asking hos much this extra commenting would cost. Would you suggest charging an hourly rate for this?


My clients usually request this type of service before assigning the job... I can take it or refuse it, or ask to be paid for it.

Since they are already asking you how much you charge, I would charge them... in my humble opinion, this is a service that should be paid for. Doesn't always happen, but I don't see why it shouldn't...


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 01:11
English to Polish
+ ...
... Jun 25, 2014

I am forced to take issue with some of the things I'm reading here, though I won't be singling anybody out with a direct quotation.

In short, I think it's proper to avoid charging the client for reasonable requests for explanation or clarification, addressing reasonable suggestions (e.g. accepting or rejecting changes) and making some small edits on the basis of unique communication needs or problems that only come to the client's mind after reading the translation. I would avoid referring to this as 'free of charge', but: '((that's) a normal) part of the service,' sounds about right.

On the other hand, you guys are paying too much attention to the client's satisfaction.

What matters, on the contrary, is whether the job has been completed and done well and — in some cases — whether the text will do its job.

Subjective satisfaction could matter if you chanced to work with, say, some French or German author who were able to understand everything you wrote and every decision you made but who didn't have the active competence to just translate on his own. Or, perhaps, where you subcontracted for another translator, preferably not your junior, and deferred to his house style. Or anybody else with a legitimate need for a house style, properly discussed with the translator beforehand.

Satisfaction matters in client service, of course, but we aren't about that, nor is there much of it in our work.

Consequently, there's little room for satisfaction edits, paid or not, outside of specific scenarios where reflecting a qualified client's subjective taste makes sense.

Inviting feedback and suggestions of change from unqualified clients is not good for our profession. Does a plumber do that? Or a lawyer? Or private teacher? Why should a translator?

Otherwise, significant unforeseen work, if accepted, should result in appropriate compensation.

In practical terms, I would go for an editing surcharge or set up an hourly fee for my time spent on the job after its completion, other than correcting errors. If you know you'll be charging separately and specifically for any time you spend on the job after returning it, you can deduct whatever part of your standard fees corresponds to processing post-delivery requests, participating in QA procedures etc.

So, for example, if you charge €0.12 per word and you feel like €0.02 is the difference between your normal service and 'translate and forget', which you'd price at €0.10, then you can tell the client: okay, since you're paying separately for my post-delivery time on a per-hour basis, your base per-word price is down to €0.10, so as not to charge you twice for the same thing.

That would be easier than calculating what were in the €0.12 and what in the separate hourly fee.

Recap: Bring your per-word fee down to what you'd charge for 'just translating', then charge the client separately for all of the work time generated by inquiries and requests. (Trimming down your core per-word fee eliminates the need to address any potential overlaps.)


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:11
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Included in the rate Jun 25, 2014

No extra charge, unless the customer changed their mind about the terminology to use or the target market, i.e. decisions which change the conditions upon which the translation was originally made.

 
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