Seeking recommendations: Should I charge extra?
Thread poster: Kristina Wirsching

Kristina Wirsching  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:51
English to German
+ ...
Jan 14, 2015

Dear colleagues,

I am translating a website of about 6000 words for a direct (private) client on a word rate.

The client wanted me to deliver the first quarter to have the chance to review the translation, generally that's fine, in fact, it's great to work with clients who really care about the quality.

But, so far we have already exchanged 50 emails back and forth (to be fair, that's also including the getting-to-know-each-other and quoting phase), and I haven't even delivered the full translation yet.
I have never ever had that much back and forth communication with a client on an assignment and have the feeling that if I don't set limits here, it will get out of hand completely....

I wasn't expecting that much extra effort, and my word rate doesn't reflect the time investment so far Although I even sent them the translation of a short paragraph beforehand, and that was fine... And they are ok with the overall quality of my translation, but they are very picky when it comes to headlines and certain wordings.... or sending me reference websites and they want me to make the translation sound as the reference website, which is almost impossible as their source text is written from a very different angle... etc. so it seems it is maybe more transcreation they are after, and not so much translation....
And well, I've been translating websites for years, I know my craft.

Have you had "overly demanding" clients like this?
How did you handle this?
Should I set them a time limit? Or give them the option to pay an additional fee?
Or is it my mistake - and I have to go along with it now.

Thanks a lot in advance for your input!

Kristina


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Let your rate reflect it Jan 14, 2015

This is the reason we charge to agencies (who take care of this kind of stuff) “less” and to direct clients “more”. How much “more", up to you to decide, but I cannot imagine a direct client paying for “get to know” phase or for “quoting” one.

If you primarily work for agencies, you need to be a good, specialised and available translator / reviewer. Minimum marketing skills will do (being able to draft a smooth and comprehensive letter offering your services).

If you work with direct clients, you need to be, on top of that:

- Project manager
- Marketing officer
- Customer care agent
- Key account manager
- Help desk representative
- Consultant
- Sales executive
- Ideally, find an external editor/proofreader/reviewer

And this is a “but not limited to” case, as the list may go on.

There is nothing wrong about it. You just need to make sure your rate reflects that (and you enjoy performing those "non-translation" tasks). Seteris paribus, I double my “agency rate” if I work with a direct customer. I, however, do not charge for “quoting” or “getting to know”.


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Ivan Karmin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 06:51
English to Russian
+ ...
More work more pay Jan 14, 2015

Hi, I have had some meticulous people in website translation. I translated a website to Russian and the client was quite happy with until his editor engaged at a later stage and wanted practically every sentence to be rephrased. I had a lot of turmoil with that because in my situation I couldn't ask for a payment raise. But luckily for me my client said that I don't have to rewrite 100% of the editors remarks.
Logically there may be different levels of involvement for a translator and in every case the payment may be different. If you just provide accurate and comprehensible translation that's one thing, but if you are asked to polish everything to look perfect or themed, that's another thing. Maybe you can bring to the client's attention the fact that what he began to ask of you is not just the translation but a transcreation or something so that he understands you do some extra job.
Anyway, that's all between you two. Who said that he must increase your payment? That's up to you to gently convince him.


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Ivan Karmin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 06:51
English to Russian
+ ...
to Merab Jan 14, 2015

..., but I cannot imagine a direct client paying for “get to know” phase or for “quoting” one.
...
...I, however, do not charge for “quoting” or “getting to know”.

Why do you think that Kristina charged for emails? I can't tell that from her text. She just exchanged emails to clear some issues out.

P.S. Thanks for your message, especially about the functions of a service provider. That's completely true!


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Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:51
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
This contract clause would have been useful Jan 14, 2015

I found a contract model on Proz the other day that would have dealt with this:

4. Additional fees. Additional fees will be payable, to be calculated as provided below, in the event the following additional services are required: (a) investigation, inquiry, or research beyond that normal to a routine translation is required because of ambiguities in the item(s) to be translated; (b) additional services are required because the Client makes changes in the item(s) to be translated after the signing of this Agreement; and (c) the Translator is requested to make changes in the translation after delivery of the translation, because of the Client's preferences as to style or vocabulary, and such changes are not required for accuracy. Such additional fees will be calculated as follows:



__________________________________________________________________



__________________________________________________________________

In your place, I would remind myself that I am a reasonable, honest and professional translator with a reasonable issue. I'd draft an email explaining the situation and ask if the client would consider taking into account the extra time that you are spending on this translation. Ultimately I'm a bit of a pushover and if they were deadset against the idea, I'd probably give in and accept my losses.

That said, though it's true that you didn't agree on how you would deal with this circumstance before beginning the project, it sounds like the client also didn't give you the full translation brief in advance either, so it's not unreasonable to feel short-changed.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:51
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Too much extra and unpaid work Jan 14, 2015

Hi Kristina,

although it is great to have a client who is seriously interested in the quality of your translation, this over-abundance in email correspondence can get to become a quite irritating distraction.

I only had one client "bombarding" me with that type of emails. So I know how you're feeling. There are 2 ways to go about this, of course remaining polite.

1. Make reference to the delivery deadline. Explain that you might face problems delivering the translation on time because of all the extra work, e. g. email correspondence, website reading, etc.

2. If 1. results in your client telling you that an extension is no problem (direct clients are quite felxible), then renegotiate the price by stipulating your already agreed on per-word rate for the translation and, if your client really needs you to do all the extra work, try to negotiate a flat rate for this.

You were originally hired to do the translation and not to read reference websites (1 would be acceptable). If 2. renders no satisfying result, then try to work off-line, that is, take your time in answering those emails.

Good luck!

Thayenga

[Edited at 2015-01-14 12:59 GMT]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:51
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Seeking recommendations: Should I charge extra? Jan 14, 2015

What does it say in your contract about extra work? You did have the agency/client sign your contract???

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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
This is an excellent summary of reasons why direct customers should be charged more Jan 14, 2015

Merab Dekano wrote:

If you work with direct clients, you need to be, on top of that:

- Project manager
- Marketing officer
- Customer care agent
- Key account manager
- Help desk representative
- Consultant
- Sales executive
- Ideally, find an external editor/proofreader/reviewer

And this is a “but not limited to” case, as the list may go on.

There is nothing wrong about it. You just need to make sure your rate reflects that (and you enjoy performing those "non-translation" tasks). Seteris paribus, I double my “agency rate” if I work with a direct customer. I, however, do not charge for “quoting” or “getting to know”.


This issue seems to be still controversial, but I have always expressed the very same opinion and thus unconditionally second your post.

I hope the OP has taken into account these factors; anyway, in my opinion now she cannot claim more than agreed.


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Kristina Wirsching  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:51
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your feedback Jan 15, 2015

Thanks everyone for your comments.

Yes, I do charge my direct clients at least double than my agency clients, with external proofreaders even triple. I'm not charging for the quoting phase, I didn't mean to indicate that.

And yes, the client has not signed any contract form with me.

So, yes, I see your point, it is probably my mistake in not making this clause clear from the beginning, or by failing to get the brief 100% confirmed.

But I have a paragraph in my T&C stating:

"The Translator also reserves the right to add additional charges to the
quoted amount if after commencement of the work, changes in the text
or in the requirements are advised by the Client."

Though I have not specifically mentioned this, or attached the T&C to any correspondance, however, it is freely available on my website. This may not be enough, and I should probably email it the next time.
(@interpretwhisky: I like the clause you shared. May I use it as part of my T&C?)

So the full story is, after I emailed the first quarter of the translation (and as we talk about websites, of course that includes cultural adaptation to target culture conventions), they figured out that they want the translation to resemble the language of this other website, so they asked me to rework the translation. So basically they wanted a "transcreation". And that's what I did.

So I'm getting the gist that it is probably too late now to change the translation rate to a "transcreation" instead.

Thanks Thayenga for your useful comments. Unfortunately, they are not really bothered by the deadline so 2) would have been the way to go, although I might have missed the point of time to do that.... So there is still option 3)


So, this is an interesting lesson then for me. Next time, I'm better prepared.

If you have any further recommendations and experiences that will help me to handle future cases like this, I'd be very grateful!

Have a lovely afternoon!

Kristina


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 12:51
Chinese to English
A few pointed questions Jan 15, 2015

I just had a similar thing with a direct client, and after a few rounds of questions, they ended up admitting, yes, maybe the source text doesn't really say what we want it to say after all...

Sometimes clients don't know exactly what they want when they come to you. If you can spot it before you start, then you ask more questions and get comfortable with the job. If you don't realise (and they don't realise) until after delivery, then you're in for some trouble. Sometimes you have to say: the translation you have here is fine. If you have style requirements, you must tell me before I start the next piece. Redoing this piece will cost you $XYZ, and it's probably not worth it now. In the end, the client will get the message.


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Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:51
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
It's from ATA model contract Jan 16, 2015

Kristina Wirsching wrote:


(@interpretwhisky: I like the clause you shared. May I use it as part of my T&C?)






I think so. It originaly comes from the ATA website. I saw it quoted on Proz at some point:

(https://www.atanet.org/business_practices/model_translation_job_contract.php)

All the best,


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