Being charged for a client's error
Thread poster: Emma Page

Emma Page
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:02
Member (2017)
French to English
+ ...


Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile


Feb 19

I have an agency client who is generally great-- pays well, semi-steady work, pays very quickly. My primary PM contact has emailed me saying that their end-client has complained about being overcharged for a document which had a large number of English words in the source (FR>EN projection).

I did notice this, and asked the PM at the time whether I should proofread those sections. She said no, so I did not alter those sections. I invoiced and was paid for the job. The PM acknowledges that it is her fault the client was over charged, but is asking me to put a credit for the difference on my next invoice.

My instinct is that this is not my fault, and thus I shouldn't have to pay for it. The agency should absorb the cost of their error, especially since they caught it so late. On the other hand, I don't want to lose this client and the amount is around $100, not huge but not insignificant.

What would you do? Give the invoice credit for goodwill? Refuse because it isn't my problem?


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
I would probably give them the credit Feb 19

I think I would agree to the credit if the credit corresponds to work I didn't have to do, because the text was already written in the target language – unless there were a good reason not to.

I would not get hung up on the legal details if it seemed fair, from a common-sense view, that they should not pay for this. It would seem pointless, even counterproductive, to play a blame game if this is a good regular client.

I would limit costs to any payment fees lost as a consequence.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 02:02
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Offer a compromise Feb 19

It's bad karma to fight over money that you didn't work for, but you could make the case that you had to spend time distinguishing what needed to be proofread and what didn't need to be, so you could charge a partial fee, say 20-30% of the full amount. They are probably not in a strong position to refuse.

[Edited at 2018-02-19 18:35 GMT]


 

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
No such thing as free money Feb 19

Agree with what was said above.

In this situation you might want to lean more towards the ethics of the situation rather than your rights.

Like you said, it’s not your fault but what seems fair? Say you stick to your guns and demand that you did no wrong, get to keep your $100 but the end client finds another agency. No one wins in that situation.


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:02
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes - but! Feb 19

I agree wholeheartedly with both Thomas and DJ here. I would only suggest that you make it clear to the PM you are dealing with that you are doing this one time only, and that the agency is henceforth responsible for taking into account any issues regarding the source document that it believes warrants a discount of some kind before they make the agreement with you to do the work in question.

After all, how would the agency feel about you asking for an extra $100 for a project on the grounds that it turned out to be a lot more difficult and time-consuming than you had initially expected?

In other words, the general principle of "a deal is a deal" should apply. You should not be the one to take the hit for the PM's negligence (or, perhaps more accurately, greed).

So absorb the loss this time, but at the same time put them on notice that you are not inclined to do so again.


[Edited at 2018-02-20 15:53 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:02
English to Portuguese
+ ...
An informal frequent-flyer miles program Feb 20

Emma Page wrote:

I have an agency client who is generally great-- pays well, semi-steady work, pays very quickly.


For many years I have a mentally-managed (i.e. NO paperwork) "miles/points" system similar to airlines' and credit cards' my "great" clients accrue. Whenever is this kind of 'trouble' arises, I charge it to their miles' balance with me.

In such accounts, they can't overdraw. If you've accrued, say, 37,000 miles, and 40,000 are required to get a free ticket, you'll have to cover the difference with cash. Miles expire after some time. If they haven't used your services, say, for two years, and suddenly come out of the blue asking a BIG favor, that past history will be no longer considered.

To illustrate, I keep a case that took place many years ago. One day, someone from my best client, just as you described above, called me: "We goofed on an estimate, so we'll need a 30-min video quickly translated for dubbing, for free! We'll make it up on your next job for us."

I had been doing about 50-60 such jobs for them every year. So my reply was, "Don't worry, I'll do it for free!" They said, "You may split its cost over our next 2-3 jobs so we'll pay you." However I insisted: "No. Don't worry. You have prepaid it over the past twelve years."

For the record, I continued working for them as usual for the ensuing thirteen years.

After a great client has consumed all their accrued mileage, they won't be great anymore, so I'll start to charge for everything they request.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:02
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
you didn't do the work Feb 20

I would have deducted it from my bill without even being asked. They made a mistake in the wordcount, I detected that mistake, I help them help their customer.

With a really good customer, I will consent to all sorts of things like that. Because really good customers pay enough that it's totally worth it.

Once, as PM, I sent a PO to a Russian translator, then altered the PO for the Polish translator who was to translate the same text. I forgot to change "English to Russian" into "English to Polish", and I was horrified to see that he sent me back a file in Russian! Turns out the Polish translator was actually an agency specialising in Eastern languages. It was just a one-page text. Quickly when the boss was out for lunch, I called and explained my mistake and asked if they could please translate the file into Polish as well and not bill the Russian translation. My Russian-speaking colleague had looked at the translation and had told me it was better than the version supplied by our usual Russian translator, so I was able to promise them that in the future we would outsource both languages to them. A big job into Russian came in just a week or so later and I was delighted to send it to them. The big job was also well paid so we were able to offer a higher rate than usual, to compensate for the freebie they did earlier.

It seems that that agency is doing very well for itself even now, and with their willingness to accommodate client errors, I'd say it's well justified.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 12:02
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
A way around it Feb 20

Emma Page wrote:

I have an agency client who is generally great-- pays well, semi-steady work, pays very quickly. My primary PM contact has emailed me saying that their end-client has complained about being overcharged for a document which had a large number of English words in the source (FR>EN projection).

I did notice this, and asked the PM at the time whether I should proofread those sections. She said no, so I did not alter those sections. I invoiced and was paid for the job. The PM acknowledges that it is her fault the client was over charged, but is asking me to put a credit for the difference on my next invoice.

My instinct is that this is not my fault, and thus I shouldn't have to pay for it. The agency should absorb the cost of their error, especially since they caught it so late. On the other hand, I don't want to lose this client and the amount is around $100, not huge but not insignificant.

What would you do? Give the invoice credit for goodwill? Refuse because it isn't my problem?


I agree that this is not your fault and the client should have not brought this up after the job was already over and done with. But if you value this client, I would go with Lincoln's suggestion and offer a compromise.

There is a way to prevent such a problem from happening again: remove the English passages from the source file and save that document with a different file name. You close the original source document without saving it and you can get an accurate word count from the 'new' source document. It is actually up to the client to do this before they send you the job but if they don't, you could do it yourself.


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:02
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Follow-up to José Feb 20

This is really just another way of saying that it makes sense to take care of the people that take care of you.

Over a period of several years, a very large agency offered me regular paid work, some of it (i.e., big rush jobs) very well paid indeed. So, during that time, when a PM from said agency would contact me urgently requesting that I translate (without pay) a sentence or two that a translator assigned to a particular project had left out, I would quickly do it without grumbling (at least not overtly). During this same time, I sometimes also took less-than-desirable jobs from PMs that were sending me regular work in order to keep them happy, and in the confidence that they would be soon sending me more desirable jobs.

During these last few years, I have not been offered regular work from this agency. For this reason, I no longer bother to even respond to requests for freebies or offers of jobs that are inconvenient for or uninteresting to me, when they come from the agency in question.

The more you get, the more you need to be willing to give. It's just good business.


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 19:02
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I would give the invoice credit for goodwill Feb 20

As others have said I would offer a compromise, even if the error wasn’t my fault, and I would hold that “trump card” in hand to play it later, if and when needed…

 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
The infamous ‘How to make them like me, not hurting somebody's feelings?’ Feb 20

If you really see there 'an agreement between two or more parties with the veto right' or a win-win, then it's ok to have a debtor (PM) just in case, yet I would rather:
Dear Failure,

Please, let me know if you are not planning to continue our cooperation.
I would be very much obliged to hear from you as soon as possible, so I could focus on other clients, which still value my services.
____________
Warm regards,
Mistreated Translator


 

Paul Farrish
Australia
Money matters Apr 10

If this is a good client , I agree that you should do it and make it clear to them that you are just going to do this once only for it is not your fault or mistake.

 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Being charged for a client's error

Advanced search







Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »
PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search