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My "client" doesn't want to pay half of the work-translation and reviewing/editing differences?
Thread poster: Lyhm

Lyhm
Italy
Local time: 15:44
English to Italian
+ ...
Jan 28, 2017

Long story short, I got my first job as a translator and last night the "client" decided she doesn't want to pay for some of the translations.
To give you some context, I applied to a job offer to review an English text ( on a different website, not on here), the offer also said "Translation is optional. It will be considered only if the candidate is able to translate perfectly in italian"-being a native Italian speaker, my cover letter said I would have been available for the translation, if needed.The "client" contacted me for the translation only, and asked for my email to send me a first file to test my translating ability, claiming she couldn't manage to send it through the website messaging. I trusted her, my mistake, now I don't have any "official" way to get retribution for my work, but her behaviour has been really nasty anyway.
She said she would only pay once I accomplished the work because my predecessor had vanished half-way through and she didn't want to experience that again, so I reassured her I wouldn't leave and I trusted her on the payment too.
Now, the job was to translate 15 files for her website, each one being>1000 words, for €5 each-unrighteous pay, but being my first experience, I accepted anyway and did my best to complete the work.

I've translated 4 and 1/2 files, no errors regarding punctuation, grammar rules, etc, but she had complaints regarding vocabulary and the structure of some sentences-so I agreed to go over every translation again with her, where she would point out the bits she didn't like and I would suggest changes to the target text to make it sound more idiomatic-this ON TOP of the translation and in addition to the fact that for pretty much every word I already had to give her 3/4/5 synonyms so she could choose the version she liked best.
We've done this for 3 of the translations.Yesterday, while reviewing the third one, we got to a few points were she would literally laugh at me saying the translation didn't make any sense and similar stuff, after having agreed to similar statements, and having given her alternatives to the original translation on several occasions- This time I proceded to explain why I translated that way ( correctly ) and what the verbs or words I used mean in Italian, she got mad and called me on my mobile and on skype, several times during the day, properly shouting and saying I was arguing with her and doing a 'poor' job and that my translations weren't complete and she would find someone else to do it(apparently she didn't want a translation but something ready to publish)- I kept my cool and told her I wasn't trying to argue but simply to explain that my translation was correct and complete, that there's a difference between translating and reviewing/editing a text, and that if she wanted to find someone else she was completely free to do so, I just asked to be paid for the translations I gave her. She claimed my translation was wrong and she'd publish it on a forum to confirm it, I told her to go on and suggested to look up the differences between traslating and editing.
She insisted in saying she'd only pay for the "completed" translations, to read as translated and reviewed/edited.
I've correctly translated 4 and 1/2 files and she only wants to pay for 2. We're not talking about a lot of money, just €12.50, but she's still not willing to pay for what she asked.
The problem wasn't with my translation but with her understanding and knowledge of the Italian Language.

As far as I know, a translation is completed when you've translated everything correctly, from source to target language. Reviewing and editing aren't translating.

Am I in the wrong?What should I do?

EDIT: I wrote this post this yesterday morning, in the afternoon I sent her a formal e-mail asking for a payment and she called me to keep making up excuses not to pay me.Doesn't seem she wants to give me anything at all

[Edited at 2017-01-29 10:02 GMT]


 

Agneta Pallinder  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:44
Member (2014)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Walk away! Jan 29, 2017

Just drop it now - don't bother about the money - take it as experience costs. If you continue arguing with this unreasonable person you'll just wear yourself down into the ground.

Also - the rate seems absurdly low and this might well have emboldened your client to feel you have no skills worth respecting.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:44
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
i'm sorry, but very little of your post makes any sense to me Jan 29, 2017

The English is reasonably good - that isn't the problem. What I don't understand is what the job was. The difference between editing an English text and translating a text into Italian is obvious: the language you deliver is different!

Surely €5 per 1000 words was for tidying the English text, wasn't it? That's a job that should be done by an English specialist. I'd charge a minimum of €30 for that quantity of monolingual proofreading (more for editing), but at least one could maybe earn around €10 an hour (if I've done the maths right). It's pitifully low, but it happens.

€5 for the translation of 1000 words is plain ridiculous. Surely you weren't signing up for that, were you? How long did you spend on each file? I translate around 250 words per hour of marketing text from French. Some translators - particularly in technical sectors - have a faster rate, particularly when leveraging extensive TMs, but newbies normally find it difficult to maintain even that rate. Were you really happy earning one measly euro per hour? Or were you putting it through Google Translate and maybe "tweaking" it a little?

I'm sorry, I shouldn't be prejudging you. As I said, I can't really make any sense of it all. Perhaps you could explain the circumstances once again.


 

Loreta Saddi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:44
Member
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Website Jan 29, 2017

You said you applied for a job on a website. Which site is it?

 

Lyhm
Italy
Local time: 15:44
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I walked away but I'm still confused whether or not her complaint was valid Jan 29, 2017

Agneta Pallinder wrote:

Just drop it now - don't bother about the money - take it as experience costs. If you continue arguing with this unreasonable person you'll just wear yourself down into the ground.

Also - the rate seems absurdly low and this might well have emboldened your client to feel you have no skills worth respecting.


I've given up about the money,not worth at all. She said she could only pay that much and I only agreed to such a low rate to gain some professional experience and "feedback" on the website, which we discussed.


Sheila Wilson wrote:
I'm sorry, I shouldn't be prejudging you. As I said, I can't really make any sense of it all. Perhaps you could explain the circumstances once again.


The job she contacted me for was the €5x1000 words translation, yes. I know it's plain ridiculous but it seemed a better option to just volunteer to gain experience which is the only alternative I've been offered.

Each file took me about 2/3 hours, it was general translation, nothing complex. Far from literal translation, I actually gave her pretty fluent translations of the original (that, to be fair, was a patchwork of stolen material from other websites).

After I sent her the translated version, each time she would want me to sit there on skype with her for hours, where she would go "find me a synonym for this" or "how can we change this sentence", which I believe is part of the "editing" process, not translating. There were no translation errors.
Her complaint was that I didn't provide her with something "ready to publish" so she wouldn't pay me.

I don't think she was right but now I'm confused on what clients are going to expect from me when they ask for a translation.

Loreta Saddi wrote:
You said you applied for a job on a website. Which site is it?


UpWork but she claimed she couldn't attach files etc. so she nerver "formally" hired me on there

[Edited at 2017-01-29 14:21 GMT]


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 07:44
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Walk away Jan 29, 2017

I agree with Agneta, this client has impossible demands. Tell her that, since she is obviously not satisfied with your work, you think it would be best if she finds another translator. Don't say anything more and don't reply to any further emails from her, just drop it and forget about payment.
For any next job you accept, make sure you communicate, and have proof of the assignment, by regular email and charge a better fee. Live and learn.


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:44
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Way too many red flags from the beginning Jan 30, 2017

"my predecessor had vanished half-way through" - I am not surprised.

 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:44
German to English
Unclear what this particular client was expecting, but ... Jan 30, 2017

It sounds like kind of a bizarre situation. Someone wanted to pay half a cent per word for advertising copy (website texts). A newbie then translated those texts at the speed of 1500 words per hour (= 1000 words in 40 min.). If you only needed 10 minutes for research and revision, then the bulk of the translation was actually done at the speed of a fairly good typist. It would be more than shocking if the results were adequate for the purpose of the translation. And, despite this miracle, your earnings before expenses and taxes would be €7.50.

Lyhm wrote:

I don't think she was right but now I'm confused on what clients are going to expect from me when they ask for a translation.



I honestly don't know what this client wanted or expected, because her budget is absolutely absurd. I assume a reputable agency would haved demanded at least €3000 or more for 15,000 words of advertising copy. The cheapest translator with a halfway convincing profile probably would have demanded at least €1500. And she wanted to pay €75!
On the other hand, if someone buys a translation for their website from you, then they want a translation for their website from you. It has to be well-written, it has to convey the client's expertise, it has to take their SEO keywords into account, etc. They expect and are right to expect results that are "ready to publish". What would be the point of anything else?
And this often involves some post-delivery tweaking of your translation: That is not editing, it is part of translating.


 

Aleksandra Muraviova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 19:44
Japanese to Russian
+ ...
Typical Upwork Jan 30, 2017

Lyhm wrote:

UpWork but she claimed she couldn't attach files etc. so she nerver "formally" hired me on there

[Edited at 2017-01-29 14:21 GMT]


First of all, she lied.
Secondly, you can report her there (I doubt she would bother much, but still a valid option). They at Upwork are pretty much concerned about following their rules, which forbid to take the job off site.
Thirdly, I would recommend you to leave this site for good, their fees are absurd, and their "payed membership" is a waste of money. But if you're comfortable with the site, you can as well go on. Just make sure that the job found there stays there.


 

Lyhm
Italy
Local time: 15:44
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I think the main problem wasn't with my translation but with her "education" Jan 30, 2017

I was aware the budget was absurd but, as I've already said, it feels like to get some "experience" you have to compromise to work for basically nothing nowdays.

I'm confused on why it seems so unbelievable to many of you that a newbie could translate and refine 1000/1500 words in a couple hours. I'm a newbie in this field but I've been studying and practicing written and spoken English for over 10 years now and in the last 3 I've rarely used any Italian in my daily conversations ( English boyfriend, foreign friends).I know my English isn't perfect but it's quite fluent and I have a good understanding of the language in general.
Translating some general text is nothing more than just having to type down, when you don't have to look up every word- with the occasional research and final revision. I didn't give her an "ugly" literal translation, if that's your concern.It could have easily been "ready to publish", her complaints were merely based on personal taste- she didn't know or like many of the Italian words I used, sometimes claiming the translation didn't make sense( leading me to think she's quite ignorant ).
You're talking about post-delivering tweaking of the translation, which I'm guessing, would be needed and expected *if* I failed to translate using the terminology needed for the context? It doesn't feel like this is the case.She stated my translation was "wrong", didn't make sense or wasn't "complete", not because of an actual mistranslation but simply because she wouldn't understand Italian that isn't "basic".

Other complaints were about the content itself, the text she gave me. She would ask me to make up a completely new sentence, far from the original in meaning and form, and when I suggested to adapt the original ( she has both versions on her website, side by side ) she would laugh at me and say my translation was wrong, not the original text... is that part of translating?



Now I don't know if I've been particularly unlucky or if I should expect many other clients to have her same attitude. I've already drawn my own conclusions about this experience, my main concern now is for the future.


Michael Wetzel wrote:

It sounds like kind of a bizarre situation. Someone wanted to pay half a cent per word for advertising copy (website texts). A newbie then translated those texts at the speed of 1500 words per hour (= 1000 words in 40 min.). If you only needed 10 minutes for research and revision, then the bulk of the translation was actually done at the speed of a fairly good typist. It would be more than shocking if the results were adequate for the purpose of the translation. And, despite this miracle, your earnings before expenses and taxes would be €7.50.

Lyhm wrote:

I don't think she was right but now I'm confused on what clients are going to expect from me when they ask for a translation.



I honestly don't know what this client wanted or expected, because her budget is absolutely absurd. I assume a reputable agency would haved demanded at least €3000 or more for 15,000 words of advertising copy. The cheapest translator with a halfway convincing profile probably would have demanded at least €1500. And she wanted to pay €75!
On the other hand, if someone buys a translation for their website from you, then they want a translation for their website from you. It has to be well-written, it has to convey the client's expertise, it has to take their SEO keywords into account, etc. They expect and are right to expect results that are "ready to publish". What would be the point of anything else?
And this often involves some post-delivery tweaking of your translation: That is not editing, it is part of translating.


 

Lyhm
Italy
Local time: 15:44
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
true Jan 30, 2017

Aleksandra Muraviova wrote:

Lyhm wrote:

UpWork but she claimed she couldn't attach files etc. so she nerver "formally" hired me on there

[Edited at 2017-01-29 14:21 GMT]


First of all, she lied.
Secondly, you can report her there (I doubt she would bother much, but still a valid option). They at Upwork are pretty much concerned about following their rules, which forbid to take the job off site.
Thirdly, I would recommend you to leave this site for good, their fees are absurd, and their "payed membership" is a waste of money. But if you're comfortable with the site, you can as well go on. Just make sure that the job found there stays there.


I don't really know if she was just trying to scam me or if she was genuinely stupid, it would have made more sense if she got me to translate all the files first and then make excuses not to pay me.

I agree with what you say about their fees, but on any other website where you can find a job without having to pay for membership is the same thing-I don't have the money to pay for membership on "serious" websites, that's why I need to get some experience to get more decent jobs. I'm still a student but even after getting my "qualification" I would still need to get some professional experience to be considered by future clients.
I'll surely be more careful in the futureicon_smile.gif


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:44
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
This is what the reality should have been Jan 30, 2017

Michael Wetzel wrote:
I assume a reputable agency would have demanded at least €3000 or more for 15,000 words of advertising copy. The cheapest translator with a halfway convincing profile probably would have demanded at least €1500. And she wanted to pay €75!
On the other hand, if someone buys a translation for their website from you, then they want a translation for their website from you. It has to be well-written, it has to convey the client's expertise, it has to take their SEO keywords into account, etc. They expect and are right to expect results that are "ready to publish". What would be the point of anything else?
And this often involves some post-delivery tweaking of your translation: That is not editing, it is part of translating.

These are the sorts of figures you should be bearing in mind, Lyhm. Website text may seem simple, because you understand all the words in the source text, but every word in the target text needs to be considered carefully. It doesn't just need to be an accurate translation; you need to come up with a text that will (a) have the SEO clout to bring people to the site, and (b) encourage browsers to stay on the page and eventually buy whatever the website is selling. You can't come up with that sort of text at a breakneck typing speed. If you can come up with a convincing text at all, you should be paid properly for your skills.

Lyhm wrote:
it seemed a better option to just volunteer to gain experience which is the only alternative I've been offered.

Most charitable organisations don't want new translators who are trying to gain experience; they want seasoned professionals who can be totally autonomous. But there are some cloud-based organisations out there nowadays where your peers will give feedback. I'm not sure how well it all works, but you could sound out the TED videos, for a start.

Please demand professional conditions for professional translation assignments, for the sake of us all. Why should a company make a profit from a translation when the translator is being used as some sort of slave labour? I don't know how much you are investing in translation as a career, but you should realise that is IS a career and that you need to invest time and money in training, tools, marketing, memberships, IT setup, etc. It isn't anywhere near enough just to know two languages.


 

Lyhm
Italy
Local time: 15:44
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
about experience and demanding professional conditions Jan 30, 2017

Sheila Wilson wrote:
Lyhm wrote:
it seemed a better option to just volunteer to gain experience which is the only alternative I've been offered.

Most charitable organisations don't want new translators who are trying to gain experience; they want seasoned professionals who can be totally autonomous. But there are some cloud-based organisations out there nowadays where your peers will give feedback. I'm not sure how well it all works, but you could sound out the TED videos, for a start.

Please demand professional conditions for professional translation assignments, for the sake of us all. Why should a company make a profit from a translation when the translator is being used as some sort of slave labour? I don't know how much you are investing in translation as a career, but you should realise that is IS a career and that you need to invest time and money in training, tools, marketing, memberships, IT setup, etc. It isn't anywhere near enough just to know two languages.


I wasn't talking about organisations, more like people hearing I'm aiming to become a professional translator and going "oh do you want to translate something for me (CV, website, novel, comic or whatever ) to get some experience?For free!"

I am aware being a translator is a career or I wouldn't be going for a MA in professional translation... the problem is that my university doesn't provide proper job opportunities and I don't want to end up, in a few years, with a degree I can't put to proper use because I don't have any experience for serious people to even consider hiring me. Considering my current financial and personal situation, I can't afford to work for free or to even do an unpaid internship once I get my degree, that's why I'm willing to do "slave labour", not because I'm not taking this seriously.

I would love to have the opportunity to demand professional conditions without people laughing at my face saying there are hundreds out there who would accept whatever offer, no questions asked.
People doing it as a hobby don't care about the conditions and I have to compete on that level to gain experience if I don't want to work for free. No one wants new translators who are trying to gain experience and education alone doesn't mean anything.

Thank you for suggesting me the TED translators project, I looked it up and it seems like a good place to start. ( still unpaid but it seems professional and trustworthy )


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:44
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You're talking yourself into it Jan 31, 2017

Lyhm wrote:
People doing it as a hobby don't care about the conditions and I have to compete on that level to gain experience if I don't want to work for free. No one wants new translators who are trying to gain experience and education alone doesn't mean anything.

It's you saying that, not those of us who know a bit about the profession. I know that it isn't easy for inexperienced translators to land good jobs, but it isn't impossible, unless they approach it as though it's going to be. Of course, you shouldn't expect to land your first good job on day one - it could be weeks or even months before the jobs start trickling in. That time can be filled with all sorts of useful activities, such as learning about risk management.

The other way to start is to:
- agree to work for a pittance
- agree to work on massive jobs for untried clients
- agree to jobs that you don't fully understand
- underestimate what the client wants/needs
- overestimate your own abilities.

That way, you're going to spend hours and hours working, and probably without either pay or positive feedback at the end. You'll have rushed through the work so there's no way the samples would look good in your portfolio. You'll just get bitter about the profession. And it's likely that you'll get your name noticed in all the wrong places for all the wrong reasons. And our reputation is the most sacred thing we possess.

This actually speaks volumes:
Lyhm wrote:
I'm confused on why it seems so unbelievable to many of you that a newbie could translate and refine 1000/1500 words in a couple hours. I'm a newbie in this field but I've been studying and practicing written and spoken English for over 10 years now and in the last 3 I've rarely used any Italian in my daily conversations ( English boyfriend, foreign friends).I know my English isn't perfect but it's quite fluent and I have a good understanding of the language in general.

I think you might be well advised to wait until you're well into your MA before you start translating professionally. Get a job flipping burgers or something now to earn some money. Spend your free time researching how to run a business. Read extensively about whatever you're interested in - in both languages. Do NOT drop your use of Italian. If anything, maybe you ought to be studying Italian written expression. I'm sure not all native Italians have a good writing style in their native language, any more than English speakers.

The texts you translate as part of your studies will serve as samples of your work. Lecturers may well have leads to professional jobs, and of course there will be plenty of people around the university doing other courses who may need translations. Just keep an eye on the notice boards. You'll be in an ideal place to earn a lowish rate, but not a pittance.


 

Aleksandra Muraviova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 19:44
Japanese to Russian
+ ...
Never give up Jan 31, 2017

Lyhm wrote:

I agree with what you say about their fees, but on any other website where you can find a job without having to pay for membership is the same thing-I don't have the money to pay for membership on "serious" websites, that's why I need to get some experience to get more decent jobs. I'm still a student but even after getting my "qualification" I would still need to get some professional experience to be considered by future clients.
I'll surely be more careful in the futureicon_smile.gif


You're right, but not one fifth - freelancer, for example, takes seven times less than upwork (namely 3%).
Also, ProZ is pretty much available free of charge. I have joined it as a paying member only today, but I still got clients from the site before that.

Also, I agree with Sheila, you can try some other jobs while pursuing your studies, although I'd recommend something other than burgers. Look for a secretary position, this way you will be able to learn a lot about how businesses are run and familiarize yourself with lots of documents. I had that experience and it was invaluable. Also, you might get to know a certain topic better (in my case, I worked in a company that built and sold transformators, so I got to see the usage of specific terms pertaining to the subject). This will greatly aid in your future carreer, as you will be a person with "inside" experience, not some language studies graduate who knows the difference between past simple and present perfect, but lacks real-life experience.

In the meanwhile, do not give up and let this bitter experience take over you. Now you know a great deal more about risk management, compared to what you knew before. Make the knowledge work for you. See it as your profit - you wanted experience and you gained it, though not the one you were aiming for. There is plenty of honest employers.
And remember: there is no such thing as "need experience, will work for food." Your time is worth something more than 5$, even if you're new.


 
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