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Urgent (if possible) - Client now wants to pay half (repetitions)
Thread poster: Hilary Davies Shelby

Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 08:57
German to English
Nov 4, 2006

Hello there,
I've been doing quite a bit of work lately for a nice agency, and have spent 4 days this week on some brochures for them. While there HAS been quite a bit of repetition, I had been doing them "by hand" - no CAT tool - as I actually find it quicker. (More fool me, perhaps). The repetition involves text "chunks" being recycled in various documents, sometimes with a few lines being changed here and there. It was copy-and-paste work from different documents followed by careful proofreading to make sure that the copied-and-pasted chunks didnt need to be modified (they often did). The job is now FINISHED and the agency has JUST NOW emailed me saying "there is 41% repetition, can we pay you for half?" While I HAD intended to say something along the lines of "3 out of 15 documents were mostly copy-and-paste work, i'll give you a discount", i find this a bit "off". Surely if its 40% repetition, the least they should pay is 60% of the price? And what about my HOURS of careful checking?

Help please!!

Thanks a lot!


Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:57
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
Say no Nov 4, 2006

Tell them you put in a lot of work for this 41%. Moreover, no one said anything about discount, so they cannot come asking you for 50% off after you have completed your project. That's unprofessional. If they really refuse to pay you for that 41%, ask them to pay for the time you spent on proofreading. Go for your highest hourly rate...icon_wink.gif


[Edited at 2006-11-04 11:53]


Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:57
Italian to English
Repetitions take time Nov 4, 2006

Hi Hilary

One of my client agencies (when it's pressed) asks me to accept the following:
Repetitions and 100% matches: ⅓ full rate
77 to 99% matches: ⅔ full rate
0 to 74% match: full rate
Strikes me as fairer than what you're being offered.


Just an afterthought; did they mean 50% full rate on the 41% repetitions?

[Edited at 2006-11-04 12:03]


Doron Greenspan MITI  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
Member (2005)
English to Hebrew
+ ...
I'd start with "no discount" Nov 4, 2006

I'd start with "I'm not giving you any discount, as the claim was not agreed on before I started doing the translation, and therefore it breaches any kind of agreement we had".

You assumed it's going to be 100% payment, and worked accordingly. How come they change the terms AFTER the job's done? Unacceptable, in my view.

If you still feel you want to be 'friends' with them, I'd only go down as low as 75% and no less, since you did the job without any Trados-like tool, i.e., manually.

Good luck, Doron


Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 08:57
German to English
I bet they don't offer the end client the same terms Nov 4, 2006

Thank you very much, everyone, that is very helpful!

The thing that *really* bugs me (apart from the aboveicon_wink.gif), is that I cannot imagine this agency going to the end client and saying "there was 40% repetition, we are only going to charge you half of what we quoted you"...


Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Only if they provide TM Nov 4, 2006

You should stick to the terms you had offered in the beginning. Of course they will charge the end-client full, so do not give in. You could offer discount on repetitions for the next jobs, if they provide a TM.


Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:57
French to English
Some thoughts Nov 4, 2006

Well, of course, it is possible that it's the end-client that is instigating this - mebbe they spotted the reps, and are putting pressure on the agency to charge less? Maybe the agency has already agreed to charge less?

Not relevant, of course, since your contract is with the agency, and assuming terms were agreed in writing (and even if they weren't, really), it's very naughty (!) of them to try to change them later.

It all depends what relationship you have with the agency, of course, and whether you want to keep working with them (I would think twice) but I think I would point out:
1. they can't, or shouldn't, unilaterally change the terms once the job has started
2. even if they did want to do this, industry practice (whether or not CAT tools are used - it's your choice to use them or not) is NOT usually to pay zero for 100% matches
3. 40% duplication does not = 50% reduction

After that:
1. if you offer the discount you were thinking of offering anyway, it might look good as a compromise and possibly ensure that you at least get what you think you should get. Whereas if you go down the "I inisist on 100% payment of what was agreed", they could get all shirty and delay payments and generally make life difficult (especially if they're based in another country where debt collection procedures might be different). A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush, after all.
2. You might mention that you are prepared to accept discounts for reps for future work when stated in advance. You can say you are now, even if you're not.
3. Wait until you get paid for this job (since no matter how they respond to, for instance, your own suggested discount, the proof of the pudding is in the eating) before you do anything else for them.

That is, I think, what I would do.


Lucinda Hollenberg  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:57
Dutch to English
+ ...
Add an hourly rate for checking Nov 4, 2006

Dear Hilary,

If they insist on the repetition non-payment (and I feel they shouldn't because it was not agreed upon beforehand), charge an hourly fee for the checking.

Fair is fair.

Somehow this does not feel right. Be careful!

Have a great weekend.



Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:57
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No Nov 4, 2006

I don`t usually give any discounts for repetitions. I usually don`t use any CAT tools either, but even if I did, you also have to check the translation given is exactly right there or needs any minor changes.

Besides, if you were to translate a long text where the word "love", for example, appears 35 times, would you consider that a repetition? What is a repetititon anyway?

Furthermore- and most important- this wasn`t agreed before. So NO and stick to the prior agreement, that would be my answer to them.


Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:57
Flemish to English
+ ...
Should you be forced to agree... Nov 4, 2006

leave the repetitions out of the text.
They can fill them out themselves. A word = a word.
They will probably charge their customer their full rate. Nice profit: 40%+say an average of say 20% profit on the translation itself.

Pity that silly scheme of giving discounts for CATs still exists, even when Trados does not exist any longer. Thank you, Trados' marketing department for inventing and imposing this silly scheme. Now a person of the marketing department has been hired by this site, perhaps he could do his best to get this scheme out of the world!

[Edited at 2006-11-04 16:04]


Daniel Bird  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:57
German to English
Belated EUR0.02 cents worth Nov 4, 2006

Hilary Davies wrote:

Thank you very much, everyone, that is very helpful!

The thing that *really* bugs me (apart from the aboveicon_wink.gif), is that I cannot imagine this agency going to the end client and saying "there was 40% repetition, we are only going to charge you half of what we quoted you"...

(I think others have said something similar to what follows)

Of course there's no way to know, but even if they are giving the end client a discount agreed when they took on the job, that's a fact that must in turn be reflected in the agency's original job order to you. Your halfway house is more than reasonable if the time comes for negotiation, given that none of this is of your making.

Personally I think they should be made to swallow 100% of any loss, chalk it up to "experience" and do their utmost not to make further similar schoolboy errors in future when they're dealing with pros.

Tough but fair, I feel.

Good luck!


Henrik Pipoyan  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:57
Member (2004)
English to Armenian
It’s unacceptable Nov 4, 2006

If they think it’s that easy to cut & paste, why don’t they do it themselves and save their money. In fact it’s not just cutting & pasting, but also finding similar phrases in both files, retaining the correct format in each, carefully reading each phrase, because often there are slight differences that you may not notice, etc. In such cases sometimes it’s faster to retranslate a phrase than to find it, compare and format accordingly.

If the client cannot or does not want to do something and wants YOU to do it, than they have to pay you for your time. They could have discussed it with you before starting the project and agreed on the price, but never after. I have a client who often sends me similar projects. They send me several files and ask me to translate just one of them. On the other files, which are similar to this, they mark all the changes and ask me to quote a per-word rate for the translation, and per-hour rate for the rest of the files that need just changes. And I am not responsible for a single word that is not marked to be changed.


Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:57
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Two comments Nov 4, 2006

Hilary Davies wrote:
The job is now FINISHED and the agency has JUST NOW emailed me saying "there is 41% repetition, can we pay you for half?"

1. Repetition discounts are quite common but by no means "standard practice", so any repetition discount should have been negotiated or agreed upon at the start of the project.

2. Repetition discounts only make sense if you use CAT. You did not use CAT, and the client didn't specifically tell you to use CAT. In fact, IMO even telling a client that you own a CAT tool isn't an implied acknowledgement that you always make use of it.

Therefore, in this case, the client can't expect any repetition discount. Tell him why.


Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 08:57
German to English
Have made an offer Nov 4, 2006

I think I am too nice, having read all the answers you guys have given me (thank you very much!!), I realise I should probably have told them where to shove their discounticon_wink.gif

As it is, I emailed back pointing out that I did not use a CAT tool, and had done several hours copying, pasting, checking and proofing for the "repeated" documents. I offered a half-price discount for the 41% repetitions, as Russell's scale suggested.

I haven't heard back yet, but it's definitely lesson learned. The next time I come across anything similar I will drop what I am doing and get on the phone to negotiate terms before I even start cutting and pasting!!

Thank you all for all the advice and support!

[Edited at 2006-11-04 21:57]


Manuel Rossetti (X)
Local time: 14:57
reply Nov 5, 2006

to begin with, I'm so disgusted about low rates, contracts being agreed to then suddenly changed after the work is done or almost done, etc.

What i would do- depends :

1)If they're breaching the contract, well, I suppose you can decide not to turn in the project or ask for a percentage of your pay up front or contact collections and show proof of the contract.

2)Turn in the project, and if the agency isnt willing to give you a choice about their decision in reducing your pay or if you feel that they, the outsourcer/agency will no longer have interest in you because you're not going along with their way, then it seems unwise to pursue further business relations with them.

In fact, let them have their way, and write them up in the Blue Boards or Black and white lists. That way all other translators are aware of the agency's business ethics.

Why should the person who has done so much hard work suddenly at the end have to bend over backwards for someone else's behalf?

i can go on and on...

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