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late for deadline - payment?
Thread poster: Marina Varouta

Marina Varouta  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:08
Oct 31, 2006

I would like to ask for your opinion.

I finished a 1000 word project for an agency. It was urgent but I delivered 40 minutes after the deadline. The agency said "no problem" when I asked for a short extension, but it's true that I asked for 15 minutes which became 40. They sent me an e-mail "it is too late for our client, but please send it anyway".

20 minutes after I called them and they said "it is too late", I received an email, saying that "the client rejected the translation, because the grammar was incorrect and the writing style was bad". I had to complete the translation within 2 hours, so it is possible that the quality was not the highest. But if it had been "too late" for the client, why did they submit my translation?

What should I do? Should I just send my invoice and expect to be paid? I would not like to propose a discount, because they already asked for a discount in order to assign me the project.

Or should I just forget all about the payment? After all, it was my fault I was late.

[Edited at 2006-10-31 13:11]


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cocotier
Local time: 04:08
English to French
+ ...
Discount for a translation completed within 2 hours? Oct 31, 2006

Doesn't seem very fair...

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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 04:08
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Let me get this straight: Oct 31, 2006

So let me get this straight....

An agency calls you and asks you to translate 1000 words in 2 hours. They ask you for a discount because it's such a rush job.

The 2 hours are up, you're still not quite finished, and you ask for another 15 minutes. They said that's too late for their customer, but to send it anyway.

You sent the translation after 2h 40min, and then they told you the client had rejected it because there were some mistakes in your translation.

Now you don't know what to do about invoicing the translation - to offer a discount or not.

Have I got it right?

Alison


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Marina Varouta  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:08
TOPIC STARTER
RE: Let me get this straight Oct 31, 2006

Hello Alison and thank you for your reply,
I asked for another 15 minutes, they said it was ok.
But at the end I sent it 40 minutes after the deadline (so 2h40 after they assigned me the project), because I had some difficulties.
The rest is exactly as you say it!

[Edited at 2006-10-31 13:37]


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Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 05:08
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
2 hours for 1000 words, way too little Oct 31, 2006

I think the main mistake you did was to accept a job with such a tight deadline. I usually calculate the time needed the following way: 1 hour per 350 words, even if I usually translate much faster. That just gives me more time in case of problems and for final proofreading.

Did they show any proof of the errors?

I believe the client is going to use the translation anyway (if they are able to spot the errors, they are able to correct them, too). I mean, first they needed it very urgently and then they rejected it because of the errors...?

Just reply that as the deadline was so tight, they could not have expected very good quality, and that you did your best with the time given to you.


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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:08
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
You should make a difference between the quality and the deadline! Oct 31, 2006

I think the fact that you delivered your translation 40 minutes too late is not a reason not be paid. The bad quality is just something different. Even if you dont have enough time you should deliver the appropriate quality or say it before, that you can not deliver a good quality in that time. You can suggest a discount or demand some time for improvement.

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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 04:08
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Hmmmm Oct 31, 2006


They ask you for a discount because it's such a rush job.


If my customers want me to give them an ultra-quick turnaround I generally ask them for a mark-up, not take a discount myself. Was this a new customer for you or a regular one?


An agency calls you and asks you to translate 1000 words in 2 hours.


2 hours is one heck of a fast turnaround for 1000 words! Did they tell you it had to be ready-to-print, or was the translation for information purposes only.


The 2 hours are up, you're still not quite finished, and you ask for another 15 minutes.


OK, so you sent the translation in after 2h 40min, but even then, that's a fast turnaround for that volume. Most agencies I know build a buffer into their delivery schedules, just in case the translator is late in delivering.

Did you know the agency wouldn't be proofing your translation? A lot of the reputable agencies I work for always proof translations before sending them out. If they're not going to have time for that stage, due to the urgency of the job, then they let me know and I make sure to give the translation an extra once-over before I send it out.

When you sent in your translation, did you tell the agency that you had been having problems with it?


...they told you the client had rejected it because there were some mistakes in your translation.


Have you asked what mistakes they claim that you made? Or do you know what mistakes you made? Can they provide you with a marked-up copy of your translation?


Now you don't know what to do about invoicing the translation - to offer a discount or not.


Has the agency asked you for a discount? Your decision on what to do depends on the answers to these questions...... Tough one!

Alison


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Marina Varouta  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:08
TOPIC STARTER
Reply to Alison Oct 31, 2006


Was this a new customer for you or a regular one?


This is the second project I do for this agency - but it was another "branch" (in another country), so we could say it was a new customer.


Did they tell you it had to be ready-to-print, or was the translation for information purposes only.


They said nothing.


Did you know the agency wouldn't be proofing your translation?


No, I did not know, but unfortunately I assumed it (because of the limited time I had to accomplish it).


Have you asked what mistakes they claim that you made?


Poor grammar and style quality, they said. Should I ask for the mistakes?


Has the agency asked you for a discount?


No. They just said that the customer did not accept the translation. So I am not sure I can get paid!

[Edited at 2006-10-31 14:32]

[Edited at 2006-10-31 14:41]


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 04:08
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Who are you working for - the agency or the end customer? Oct 31, 2006

Marina Varouta wrote:
Should I ask for the mistakes?


If it were me, I would ask to see what mistakes I made. This would allow me to make sure that the "mistakes" were genuine mistakes, and would thus impact my invoicing decision. If there were objective mistakes in my translation, it would allow me to learn from them and not make the same mistakes again (hopefully!)



They just said that the customer did not accept the translation. So I am not sure I can get paid!


Who are you working for - the agency or the end customer? Even if their customer didn't accept the translation, your customer is the agency. And they're the ones paying your bill. Unless the agency didn't accept your translation, then I'd charge them the full amount.

That being said, if the marked-up translation they give you does include objective errors, then a discount might be in order.

It also depends on how much you want/need to keep this agency as a client. Do you really want/need clients that give you horrendously tight deadlines, make you accept discounts even though the turnaround is ultra fast and the job is difficult, and then say that the quality wasn't up to scratch?

At the end of the day, you are the only one who can make the decision on what to do. It's not an easy decision to make, and I wish you luck taking it.

Best,

Alison


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Marina Varouta  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:08
TOPIC STARTER
no choice Oct 31, 2006

Well, they did not leave me a choice. I wrote them I was sorry for the quality and asked if they wish me to correct the translation, or if they have something else in mind (meaning discount / correction...)

They said they have nothing at all in mind, because another translator did the job within two hours and delivered a far better quality. Of course they are not paying.

They sent me this translation and they have right, the quality is much better. Apparently, there are translators who can deliver a high quality 1080 word translation in 2 hours, without it being proofreaded by the agency, and at low rates - I personally need more time, or more money to hire a proofreader.

Well I guess I lost three hours working for nothing, it's not the end of the world. I just ask myself:
if the agency found the time to hire a new translator to translate it from scrap (after the customer rejected my translation), why couldn't they give me the time/chance to improve my translation, instead?

I would not like to lose the customer, because I had a wonderful communication with the director of another branch of the company, but I have the impression I don't have a choice!

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR ADVISE!!!

[Edited at 2006-10-31 15:57]


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Roman Bulkiewicz  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 05:08
Member (2004)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
I'd say you should do 2 things: Oct 31, 2006

1) Request a feedback to see and/or discuss the alleged mistakes. Learn your lessons. Say sorry.
2) Invoice them and expect to be paid.

Assuming the item 1 does not reveal something really inexusable - something that can't be justified by the rush - these two items ought to be independent of each other. (Whatever the end-client said or did is essentially irrelevant, as Alison said.)

Things happen to agencies and to translators.

They must have been in a tough situation and asked you for help. If you had refused the job (because you weren't 100% sure you can handle it), it would make the situation even tougher for them, as they would have to find someone else to do it in even shorter time. You did your best. Even if it hasn't worked, they should have known they were taking risks. IMHO, if they are a responsible agency, they should pay you for your work and learn their lessons (one lesson may be that they won't trust you with a rush job like this in the future... well...).

(Again, I assume you hadn't boasted around that 1000 words in 2 hours was kid stuff for you

After all, 1000-words-worth is not a big deal either for you or for them. At least you will know whom you are dealing with.

Good luck!


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xxxZZZZZZ
Local time: 04:08
German to English
Time is of the essence Oct 31, 2006

The customer would have a leg to stand on for non-payment because it was very clear that "time was of the essence" - and a 40 minute delay on a deadline of 2 hours IS a substantial amount of time.

I wouldn't have taken on the job, especially at a discount. Time pressure is grounds for a surcharge, not a discount. I think that you should also get a feel for your capabilities before taking on other tight jobs, though, if you want to continue with that.


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Darin Fitzpatrick  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2006)
German to English
Bill in full Oct 31, 2006

I would submit a bill for the full amount. This establishes that you expect to be paid for your work.

Any provision that work will be paid only if it is on time must be made clear in advance. Generally an agency will have this in their general terms.

Similarly, any quality requirement should be spelled out in advance. Questions of style are typically subjective, and a translator should expect to adhere to style guidelines if any are given, but "poor style" is not a reason to refuse payment.

I think you are obligated to provide corrections if they ask for them, but not a discount and certainly not work for free.

A good way to approach the agency is to ask them, now, what they expected. This starts a conversation that will end with a decision about whether to work with them again. If and when you do, it's a good idea to have them state clearly what happens if the job is late or the style is not to their liking.

ON EDIT:

If the agency assigned the same work to two people, but only expected to pay the one that did the better translation, then that is fraudulent behavior. If they cancelled your job before assigning it to someone else, that's a different story, but I would ask them to explain the process for cancelling a job.

[Edited at 2006-10-31 16:14]


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Nadia-Anastasia Fahmi  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 05:08
English to Greek
+ ...
Hello Marina, Oct 31, 2006

First of all, as other colleagues have said, you should not accept such rush jobs unless you are sure you can deliver a good quality translation in such a VERY limited time.

Second, you let the customer know that quality will have suffer because of this more than tight deadline.

It seems to me that you accepted a rush job without seeing the text and judging whether you are able to do deliver, at least, good - if not excellent - quality in such a short deadline.

I know you are relatively new to the field, so my advice to you is: always ask to see the text to be translated, ask for more time and do your best to get it even if you are sure you can deliver within the deadline and, last, always advise the customer that they should not expect the usual quality under these circumstance.

Furthermore, a customer should never ask for a discount for assigning a rush job. On the contrary, they should pay you more. That's why there is something called "rush job rate", even if the customer is someone you' ve worked with before. I have rejected rush jobs many times from long-standing customers and, I assure you they respect me for that and I still remain their first choice when it comes to my language combinations.

I now say you new post. Hopefully, you learned your lesson. And, as Alison said "At the end of the day, you are the only one who can make the decision on what to do. It's not an easy decision to make, and I wish you luck taking it."

Don't take it too hard, we' ve all been through difficult situations and we learned from our mistakes (and probably make new ones and learn from them as well).

Take good care of yourself,
Nadia


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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 04:08
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Fraudulent behavior Oct 31, 2006

Darin Fitzpatrick wrote:

If the agency assigned the same work to two people, but only expected to pay the one that did the better translation, then that is fraudulent behavior. If they cancelled your job before assigning it to someone else, that's a different story, but I would ask them to explain the process for cancelling a job.


It seems very fishy to me that the same agency had the same translation (with the same tight deadline) done by another translator (logic dictates that this must have been in the same two hours that you were working on it) and that the quality was much better.

FWIW

Alison


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