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Linguist spent 30 additional hours on review without my consent
Thread poster: L10N expert (X)

L10N expert (X)
Brazil
Local time: 10:40
English
Feb 24, 2016

Hi folks,

Let me give you a background to my issue. I have been working with same vendor for quite a long time and never had any issues until today. I always ask for a quote and approve quote prior to project's launch. This time upon delivery of files my vendor got back to me saying that he spent some additional 30 hours!!!! on my project. Which actually doubles (or triples!) the original quote he provided. According to him I am supposed to compensate him for his effort. During his work he did mention that he was strugling with review of 100% matches, but at no point he said even a word about 30 additional hours. I wanted to know if anyone even been in any similar situation and what do you advise me?


 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:40
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
He should have contacted you Feb 25, 2016

Hello,

I think when he saw that the initial quote finally would not do it he should have immediately contacted you in order to ask you how to proceed.

I do myself a lot of proofreading and only had that problem once about a year ago when after having reviewed the first 15 pages (I had to give an estimate very quickly before because it was a very urgent project) which were quite well translated I saw that the rest of the document was either translated by a machine, not translated at all or translated so literally that I had to retranslate the other pages.

I immediately tried to contact the agency by mail and phone, but absolutely could not join anyone as it was in the middle of the night. (I got the project at 9 p. m. and the delay was next morning by 11 a. m.)

As the fee did more than double, I decided to stop immediately. The agency contacted me as soon as they saw my messages in the morning and I then gave them a quote for a complete retranslation. They did have to renegociate a longer delay with their customer though.

If I would have had enough time to have a look at the whole document though (the agency only gave me 15 minutes for my estimate) I probably would have said: My fault and would just have done it at the initial price...

I do not understand what the exact problem of your vendor was, but I think he can not just go on and then ask for 30 hours more if another price had been fixed before...


 

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:40
English to Japanese
+ ...
Review/proofreading/editing fee should be borne by the client Feb 25, 2016

30 hours is preposterous. I don't know how large the translation was, but just by numbers, one can translate 500 x 30 which would be 15000 words.

Back to the topic, like my title says, these review, proofreading and editing rates should be borne by the client and never by the translator. There are always ignorant clients/agencies who think that the sole responsibility lies in the translator and not to themselves, where they get a cut from their clients.

I suggest you should negotiate with your client regarding this issue.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:40
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Did he have enough time to confirm this with you? Feb 25, 2016

Valeriia wrote:
This time upon delivery of files my vendor got back to me saying that he spent some additional 30 hours!!!! on my project. ... According to him I am supposed to compensate him for his effort.


Although agencies (and translators) have a habit of quoting for review at a fixed rate, after estimating exactly how long the review is going to take, the fact is that no-one really knows how long a review is really going to take. One can only make an educated guess, after seeing the text for the first time, based on previous experience, how long a review is likely going to take. But it could take much, much longer. And it can take quite a while to realise that... by which time the translator may already have used up most of the initially allotted number of hours and money.

If an agency offers e.g. $1000 for 20 hours of review, and the translator hits a bad patch after 15 hours and realises that the rest of the job might take a further 30 hours to complete, what would the agency rather have: that the translator work 20 hours only (thus sparing the agency from renegotiating the rate with the end-client, who may refuse to renegotiate and insist that the whole job be done for the originally agreed price), or that the translator work 45 hours?

Yasutomo says that 30 extra hours is preposterous, but it really depends on the job and how bad the bad patch was.

During his work he did mention that he was strugling with review of 100% matches, but at no point he said even a word about 30 additional hours.


Was this a very tight deadline? If not, then I think he should have warned you in advance that the job is going to take longer.

In some parts of the world, it is assumed that clients know that review is charged per hour, and that the "quote" is open-ended, but you should evaluate if the quote that you agreed on assumes that. In other words, if the quote was for 10 hours, and the job took 12 hours, would you have paid the extra 2 hours without quibbling? If yes, then you were/are sending a message to the translator that the original quote is just an estimate and not a binding agreement.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:40
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Price quoted is price that applies Feb 25, 2016

Valeriia wrote:

Hi folks,

Let me give you a background to my issue. I have been working with same vendor for quite a long time and never had any issues until today. I always ask for a quote and approve quote prior to project's launch. This time upon delivery of files my vendor got back to me saying that he spent some additional 30 hours!!!! on my project. Which actually doubles (or triples!) the original quote he provided. According to him I am supposed to compensate him for his effort. During his work he did mention that he was strugling with review of 100% matches, but at no point he said even a word about 30 additional hours. I wanted to know if anyone even been in any similar situation and what do you advise me?


The price he quoted is the price that applies. If he screwed up in compiling his estimate, that's his own fault. I'd say that's a general rule in all business.

If you feel like being generous and paying him a little more, if the quality of his translation is totally amazing, that would be entirely up to you.


 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:40
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
More info? Feb 25, 2016

Hi Valeriia,
Can you provide some more info?
What is the word count of the translation and was it translated by a pro translator, the client or a machine?

One possible solution would be for both of you to agree to calculate the revision job at half the rate for translations on the basis of the word count, which is the way quite a few pro translators estimate revision work I think.

It's impossible to estimate how long a revision job will take in hours imo.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:40
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Refuse Feb 25, 2016

Jo Macdonald wrote:

It's impossible to estimate how long a revision job will take in hours imo.


Yes- that's why I always refuse revision jobs. They generate slightly unpleasant discussions about time and money. It's impossible to establish clarity.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:40
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Agree with Tom Feb 25, 2016

Tom in London wrote:
Yes- that's why I always refuse revision jobs. They generate slightly unpleasant discussions about time and money. It's impossible to establish clarity.

I'm with you on this after having a similar experience early on in my freelancing career. I quoted by the hour and gave an estimate of x hours to do something, but warned that it could be more or less. It turned out to be more and the client wasn't happy. The conversation that followed was unpleasant.

I now avoid revision like the plague - it's a linguistic Pandora's box.

On the original poster's predicament: if the bill looks like it's going to be substantially more than expected, e.g. 15% or 20% more I would always check in with the client. For it to be 50%, or double - that's just absurd. You can't submit an invoice for double the amount without having discussed it.

Dan

[Edited at 2016-02-25 09:00 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Charging by time is always a delicate matter Feb 25, 2016

Tom in London wrote:

Jo Macdonald wrote:

It's impossible to estimate how long a revision job will take in hours imo.


Yes- that's why I always refuse revision jobs. They generate slightly unpleasant discussions about time and money. It's impossible to establish clarity.


I refuse payment by time units, unless the job involves my full availability during a specific period of time, e.g. interpreting. It doesn't matter if my interpretee chatters like spitfire, or drags his delivery at snail's pace, or even fails to show up, I get paid the same.

My pet example is in DTP. After a quarter century using it, I am a black-belt PageMaker operator; I can do anything with it in a snap. If I took a DTP job using PM and getting paid by the hour, I'd be grossly underpaid for all the years I invested in mastering it. On the other hand, if I had to do the same job using QuarkXpress, my client would be grossly overcharged for the many hours I'd spend reading manuals and help screens, as well as in trial-an-error attempts.

My reviewing/proofreading/editing rate is explicitly stated as one-third of my per-word translation rate for human translation done at a quality level comparable to mine; if translation quality is lower, the rate may rise up to my full translation rate, in case redoing it from scratch is justifiable.

If desired, I can provide a list of about a dozen fellow translators in my language pair whose delivery is quality-wise comparable to mine, who charge the same rates I do, and who don't mind which of us translates and which one reviews.


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:40
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Also agree with Tom and Dan: A deal is a deal Feb 25, 2016

And that is why I almost always refuse "proofreading/editing" work. It never pays well and, in a worst-case scenario, involves cleaning up someone else's mess for a mere pittance.

[Edited at 2016-02-25 19:10 GMT]


 

Irène Woodhead
Local time: 15:40
Russian to English
+ ...
Agree with Tom Feb 25, 2016

Tom in London wrote:

The price he quoted is the price that applies. If he screwed up in compiling his estimate, that's his own fault. I'd say that's a general rule in all business.

If you feel like being generous and paying him a little more, if the quality of his translation is totally amazing, that would be entirely up to you.


I agree. I was in a similar situation once when I checked the first few pages of a translation that needed editing, saw that it was near-faultless and quoted the client accordingly. However, the rest of it proved a machine-translated nightmare, all 200 pages of it.

This was entirely my fault because I should have checked all of it before quoting. I ended up basically rewriting a novel-length manuscript for peanuts. I did explain the situation to the client though (mainly to warn him that the work might take much longer than originally expected). To give him justice, he paid me a fair editing fee for reworking the whole book, but that was entirely his initiative. Had he not done so, I'd have ended up doing it for a pittance.

[Редактировалось 2016-02-25 14:27 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:40
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Have you been flexible in the past? Feb 25, 2016

Samuel Murray wrote:
In some parts of the world, it is assumed that clients know that review is charged per hour, and that the "quote" is open-ended, but you should evaluate if the quote that you agreed on assumes that. In other words, if the quote was for 10 hours, and the job took 12 hours, would you have paid the extra 2 hours without quibbling? If yes, then you were/are sending a message to the translator that the original quote is just an estimate and not a binding agreement.

I agree that if you've been flexible in the past (you state that you've worked with this person for a long time) then you should be prepared to be flexible in this case. It depends to a great extent on how much time the original estimate was for, and how much the final cost has varies from the estimate in the past. You do say that this doubled or even tripled the cost, and that certainly seems excessive in anyone's book, whereas spending 330 hours on a job estimated to take 300 may not be unreasonable.

It also depends on how the 'quote' was worded, or maybe - as you work together regularly and not everything needs to be restated every time - on the original wording agreed on for the first-ever job.


 

L10N expert (X)
Brazil
Local time: 10:40
English
TOPIC STARTER
Some additional info Feb 25, 2016

Thank you so much for all your answers.

My workflow with this freelancer has always been the same. He provides a quote, I approve it and only once it's approved he goes ahead with his review. The project he worked on was slightly more than 20k of words of pure software-related content, 15k of which were 100% matches. I pay him a different rate for review of new words, fuzzies and 100% matches. The rate for review of 100% and fuzzies is actually the same, which is quite favorable for my linguist. I am not underpaying him! Initially he got back to me asking to pay 30 additional hours on top of the amount I already paid for review of 100% of matches. I found it absolutely outrageous. An experienced linguist can not take liberties and charge client as much as he wishes without any consent. I mean, how can I really know that he spent 30 hours after all? What if next time when I work with him he gets back and asks for 100 additional hours? I talked to him about the whole situation and right now he wants me to pay only for 30 hours of review and he will return the total amount I paid for 100% matches. The problem is that his per hour rate is very high and it will literally double the initial invoice...

P.S the deadline was not tight at all. I even mentioned that I could give him some extra time, if he needed it.

[Edited at 2016-02-25 17:39 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-02-25 21:27 GMT]


 

Laura Kingdon  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:40
Member (2015)
French to English
+ ...
I agree with Tom and Sheila Feb 25, 2016

Also, 30 hours plus whatever had been agreed upon beforehand means several days of work even if he was working on it full-time and working long hours every day, so he should have had plenty of time to email you and get confirmation (or not).

If it's been a long and happy collaboration so far, I might be inclined to be generous and pay him what he asks anyway for the sake of maintaining the collaboration, but I'd make it absolutely clear that it won't happen again and that he should never have gone ahead without your authorization. Like Irene said, it's only his own fault if he underestimated the time that badly, assuming that he had a fair chance to review the file before making his quote.

This, btw, is partly why I only do proofreading on a per-word basis.


 

Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 10:40
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
30 additional hours, and the vendor failed to inform you? Feb 25, 2016

Let's suposse that your vendor is right, and that the translation was really bad, thus he/she needed more time to complete the job: it was his/her duty to inform you in advance, or as soon as he noticed the issue. 30 hours is a three days job (assuming one works 10 hours per day!). Why did the vendor failed to inform you that the very first day? If he had done so, You could have resubmited back the translation to the translator, in order to modify his job.
I suggest you to send the reviewed files to the translator, so he/she can provide a feedback on the reviewed job. Or you submit a couple of pages to an independent reviewer, to confirm or reject the changes made by your vendor. If the result is that you vendor is right, I will inform the issue to the translator and ask a refund Or a discount to compensate the additional job of your reviewer.


 
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