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rush jobs, without rush rate..
Thread poster: Bruno Depascale

Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:39
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
Jan 14, 2016

Hi everybody,
I just wanted to ask your opinion about a behavior I have seen with many translation agencies and that I suspect is common practice among LSP.
I often receive job offers from different translation agencies with very tight deadlines, like for example 5000 words or more per day (even in the medical field, which can be very demanding). Most of the times, I offer them my availability for about 3000 words per day. However, they reply that they are in a hurry and have just found another translator that can work faster than me
I think this behavior is highly suspicious, because when they approach me, 99% of the times they don't state it is a rush job (they simply assume that translating more than 5000 words per day is normal), nor apply a rush rate, while I am 100% sure that they more than double their rate to the final client. Have you also experienced this behavior?
If a client wants a rush job, I can perfectly understand this and I am also sure he/she is willing to pay a surcharge for this. But this is rarely reflected on the translator side. Am I wrong?
Or it is a common practice? Thank you in advance for your opinions..





[Edited at 2016-01-14 21:54 GMT]


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:39
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Common practice Jan 15, 2016

Hi Bruno,

I have often been approached with what clearly are rush jobs without any corresponding willingness (at least initially) to offer a rush rate. Several times, I was asked to do work by a large agency at a rate of US$0.08 to US$0.10/word for large jobs that I was contacted about after 8:00 p.m., and that would have required at least 4-6 hours of work!!

In those instances, my response was an emphatic no, accompanied by an offer for a rate that would be acceptable to me under such circumstances.

Yet interestingly, this same agency has paid me premium rates for rush and weekend work on other occasions.

My best advice is that you do what makes sense for you, given your circumstances. Given that I can translate most material fairly quickly, I might accept what others would consider a mediocre rate to turn around (say) 5000 words in one day. But if we are talking about evening or weekend work, and especially if we are talking about work that alters my sleep cycle, I will always demand a premium rate.


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ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 04:39
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
The Definition of a Rush Job Jan 15, 2016

I would like to take this opportunity to comment on a different topic. The definition of a rush job could be totally subjective. A rush job is not a black and white scenario at all.

A translation volume of 4,000. words per day can be a rush job for most translators whereas it might be a standard volume for some. The expectations of LSP's differ widely. They would like to view most jobs as standard volume.

In my case, I hate to be rushed when I am translating. I am usually a slow translator. Therefore, I try to avoid rush jobs altogether. Sometimes, a regular translation job turns out to be a rush job though. Too bad.

Another complication is that some jobs tend to go quicker than others. If you are pretty familiar with the topic, you usually tend to translate a bit faster, and vice versa. You are not always lucky to accept topics that you know very well.

My suggestion is to determine a set volume (e.g. 5,000. WPD) above which you charge a rush rate. As I said above, this is subjective. Another approach could be that you tell the client up front that you will determine whether you will charge an additional rush rate when you finish the job. Obviously, most clients would not want to accept such an uncertainty. In any case, handling the payment for a rush job is a risky business.


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Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:39
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
what about professionalism..? Jan 15, 2016

Dear Atil and Robert,
thank you very much for your inputs.
The thing that worries me is that I see this behavior also in regular clients.
In such cases, most of the times the LSP don't accept any negotiation on the delivery deadline, this is what surprise me the most.
I explain myself better. I receive a job notification giving me 3 days to perform for example 15.000 words (over the weekend). Since I don't want to perform a bad job, I ask for an extension of one day. The reply often is this: thank you but since the job was urgent we found another translator (!).
The business practice I am seeing here is the following:
1) a client contacts a LSP asking for a rush job and paying accordingly a 100% rush rate
(for example 15000 words in 3 days)
2) the LSP contacts 10 translators in a single language pairs and offers them the job, without stating it is a rush job, and assuming also that they can work over the weekend.
Such translators are maybe the preferred suppliers of this agency and don't want to spoil their relationship asking for a rush rate..
3) The LSP gains a 150% revenue from the job, instead of the usual 50%.
4) the professional translators lose an interesting project and their professionalism is humiliated..because they are treated as machines

Here is a phrase contained in the job offers I receive from a LSP and that sums up the behavior: "Note that jobs are allocated on a first come first serve basis"

[Edited at 2016-01-15 10:46 GMT]


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:39
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
rush jobs... get better clients... Jan 15, 2016

it reminds me of something that I used to see at the bike repair guy's shop, something along the lines of ...:

Bad planning on your side does not inspire me do my job any faster....

Basically if a 10,000 word job comes in on Monday the LSP will look for the cheapest translator for a few days, by the time none of the cheaper-than-you-translators can help, you're it.. on Thursday or Friday....
... and since the client was already promised a delivery date of next Monday you have 1 day + the weekend to work on it...

For the end-client there was no rush rate, and subsequentially you do not get any either...because that would cut into the profit if the LSP...

Now if the end client or the Larger LSP did the same thing (leave that nasty old job of translating those documents) on the shelve for a couple of days, hoping it would go away, there might even be a rush-rush and they absolutely need it by Friday in the same week.... you only have 1 day for 10,000 words -- and again no rush rate..

This is one of those chain events that nobody feels responsible about and there is nothing you can do, except for looking for better clients, going higher up in the chain, or simply insisting you charge a higher rate... - if some other poor slob is desperate enough to take it... why bother.... it saves you the stress of these kinds of mission impossibles...

...on the other hand , by the time you get the call, the LSP might already be deperate enough to cut into their own profit... so stick to your guns!

(and do not accept any jobs unseen, do not expect that in these 2 weeks anybody had actually looked at the document, so it might be totally crap or even the wrong language.... - and when you discover that on Friday at 16.00, there is nobody to help you out anymore, THEY'LL all be gone celebrating the weekend...)


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:39
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
another rush job - we need it today... Jan 15, 2016

I do get a lot of these as well, ...."we need it today, even late in the evening your time".... usually only 100-200 words, but you could say this is a rush job too....

(as a business owner, you're not just waiting by your PC and checking your e-mail to see what clients need today -- you probably have some sort of continuous workflow)...

It's likely that the larger job this belonged to went to some cheaper translator, who was given more time... now the client found some extra bits and pieces and they need a quick and correct translation (no more time for extensive proofing) so they need a better translator... You !


This is down to a question of service maybe -- do you charge a rush rate or not, or some other minimal fee, that makes this worth your while...

Ed


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Paweł Hamerski
Poland
Local time: 03:39
English to Polish
+ ...
For me anything delivered same day or larger than 1000 words Jan 15, 2016

to be delivered next morning/day is a rush job.
I am a slow worker when necessary and will not not be 'rushed'. I don't have to being 68.

[Edited at 2016-01-15 17:17 GMT]


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:39
German to English
Chain of subcontracting agencies Jan 15, 2016

Robert Forstag wrote:

Yet interestingly, this same agency has paid me premium rates for rush and weekend work on other occasions.



One explanation for this is that the agency was working for the end client in these instances.

It's common practice for agencies to subcontract to other agencies if they are already overwhelmed with work, or if they feel that given the amount of overhead involved, it would be more profitable to farm out the job to a cheaper agency. Each link in the chain of outsourcing reduces the time available for translation, checking, etc. Thus a reasonable deadline of three days for 5000 words can turn into a job requiring delivery the next day.

It's my theory that agencies that primarily offer "rush" jobs are often not working for the end customer, but are instead far down the pecking order when managing a project.

This is why it makes sense never to accept a rush job from a new client, as it may well turn out that this client mainly handles projects that have been outsourced to them from other agencies.


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:39
Member (2014)
English to German
Are end clients aware of this Jan 15, 2016

[/quote]

One explanation for this is that the agency was working for the end client in these instances.

It's common practice for agencies to subcontract to other agencies if they are already overwhelmed with work, or if they feel that given the amount of overhead involved, it would be more profitable to farm out the job to a cheaper agency. Each link in the chain of outsourcing reduces the time available for translation, checking, etc. Thus a reasonable deadline of three days for 5000 words can turn into a job requiring delivery the next day.

It's my theory that agencies that primarily offer "rush" jobs are often not working for the end customer, but are instead far down the pecking order when managing a project.

This is why it makes sense never to accept a rush job from a new client, as it may well turn out that this client mainly handles projects that have been outsourced to them from other agencies.

[/quote]


If I was an end-client, paying good money for a translation and leaving plenty of time, then I would be somewhat upset if this turns into into a low paid rush job for the translator - I wouldn't feel I received value for money.


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Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:39
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
small vs big LSP Jan 15, 2016

Kevin Fulton wrote:


It's common practice for agencies to subcontract to other agencies if they are already overwhelmed with work, or if they feel that given the amount of overhead involved, it would be more profitable to farm out the job to a cheaper agency. Each link in the chain of outsourcing reduces the time available for translation, checking, etc. Thus a reasonable deadline of three days for 5000 words can turn into a job requiring delivery the next day.

It's my theory that agencies that primarily offer "rush" jobs are often not working for the end customer, but are instead far down the pecking order when managing a project.



Thank you Kevin, I didn't know that this practice was so widespread. When I worked as in-house translator I witnessed such behavior, but the agency was pretty small in that case. I think it could be a "normal" thing between small-medium sized LSP, but does it also apply to bigger LSP?


[Edited at 2016-01-15 19:57 GMT]


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Bruno Depascale  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:39
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
a disheartening picture Jan 15, 2016

Edward Vreeburg wrote:

Basically if a 10,000 word job comes in on Monday the LSP will look for the cheapest translator for a few days, by the time none of the cheaper-than-you-translators can help, you're it.. on Thursday or Friday....
... and since the client was already promised a delivery date of next Monday you have 1 day + the weekend to work on it...

For the end-client there was no rush rate, and subsequentially you do not get any either...because that would cut into the profit if the LSP...

Now if the end client or the Larger LSP did the same thing (leave that nasty old job of translating those documents) on the shelve for a couple of days, hoping it would go away, there might even be a rush-rush and they absolutely need it by Friday in the same week.... you only have 1 day for 10,000 words -- and again no rush rate..

This is one of those chain events that nobody feels responsible about and there is nothing you can do, except for looking for better clients, going higher up in the chain, or simply insisting you charge a higher rate... - if some other poor slob is desperate enough to take it... why bother.... it saves you the stress of these kinds of mission impossibles...


(and do not accept any jobs unseen, do not expect that in these 2 weeks anybody had actually looked at the document, so it might be totally crap or even the wrong language.... - and when you discover that on Friday at 16.00, there is nobody to help you out anymore, THEY'LL all be gone celebrating the weekend...)


Thank you for your input Edward,
indeed the picture you have depicted is pretty disheartening, but I understand that it is the bare reality. What discourage me the most is that the clients that require such rush deadlines are my regular clients, for which I have worked for years and that consider me they preferred supplier. The single thing that I don't like about this job is the constant rush agencies are putting on translators. I am pretty fine translating 3000-4000 words per day, but this shouldn't mean that the agencies can ask for rush jobs all of the time.
I estimate that 40% of the jobs offers I receive are indeed rush jobs. The question is the following: is the translation agency aware of this (trying to maximize its profit), or does the reason lay somewhere else?


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Laura Kingdon  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:39
Member (2015)
French to English
+ ...
Never... Jan 16, 2016

I've never, ever been offered a rush rate... but then again, I'm well aware that I do poor-quality work when rushed, so I never accept jobs in the first place unless I'm sure I have a comfortable amount of time in which to finish them. If the agency/client left things until the last minute and now has to scramble, that's not my problem...

As for the reason, I can't really guess, but Edward's scenario, unfortunately, sounds all too plausible.


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:39
Member (2014)
English to German
I don't like to be rushed either Jan 16, 2016

And I need the time to come away from my translation and return with a fresh mind to re-read, edit and then again to proofread. If rushed quality inevitably suffers. I am sure some will be more efficient than me, but I thought that was good practice.

Also, I would never agree to translate more than 1500 words of an unknown text per day, as my speed depends greatly on the text itself, I could manage anything from 1500 to 5000 words per day.

Coming back to the gloomy example above ... I have never been offered a rush rate, but I will charge more, but if all translators charged more for rush jobs, I am sure the LSP would consider that and not wait so long to assign the job?

[Edited at 2016-01-16 08:09 GMT]


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xxxAdrian MM.
Local time: 03:39
French to English
+ ...
No need to accept jobs marked 'urgent' Jan 16, 2016

Edward Vreeburg wrote:

it reminds me of something that I used to see at the bike repair guy's shop, something along the lines of ...:

Bad planning on your side does not inspire me do my job any faster....



Bad planning and case management are redolent of UK NHS GPs' - National Health Service general practitioners' plaintive cry to their patients: 'please try to fall ill or drop dead between 9-5 on weekdays, Mondays to Fridays'.

It is difficult to plan for emergency repairs of a pushbike embroiled in a road, mountainside or cycle path accident. So a sign in a cycle repair shop like that might not exactly inspire confidence in the trade mechanic's appreciation of the real, mishap-prone world.

By the same token, there is no imperative to accept a rush job wihout a rush rate.

However, there are some translation agencies or LSPs (language service providers to those of us who are from a dinosaur age) that use I&T portals with fixed and immovable rates with no scope for negotiation or flexibility, even for jobs deadlined - irreverently and disrespectfully - for instance, during church-going hours on a Sunday morning or during a Ramadan fasting period, an ever-more frequent liberty-taking and malpractice, even if there is court trial starting 10.00 a.m. GMT the following morning.

[Edited at 2016-01-16 13:36 GMT]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:39
Member
English to French
Of course not Jan 17, 2016

Laura Kingdon wrote:
I've never, ever been offered a rush rate...

I don't offer my builder more money when I require him to have my bathroom renovated twice as quickly as what he anticipated. The builder will tell me that yes, he can have it done more quickly, but given that he's going to do overtime and night/weekend work, he will have to charge me more. Which I find perfectly normal. I will then decide whether I am prepared to shell out more money to have a bathroom earlier than expected.

As self-employed providers, we really need to address this tendency of having our basic business conditions ruled by customers and being lured into employee-type behaviours as if we had no choice. If we're not happy about conditions offered, we just have to state ours and see if they're accepted. Negociation is a two-way process.

Philippe


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