Poll: Have you ever underestimated the work involved in a project and quoted too low?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 05:09
SITE STAFF
Jan 8

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever underestimated the work involved in a project and quoted too low?".

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Jan Truper
Germany
Local time: 14:09
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
Yes, but not often Jan 8

My worst case was when I consented to translate a geographical maps application from English to German. This app had originally been written in Russian and had been translated into English. The English source text was sent to me in Excel format. I had taken a look at the source document beforehand and spotted the names of countries and cities as well as some longer text passages, but I reckoned this was something I could deal with, as I am well-versed in world geography.
While translating, I came across a list of approx. 1000 Russian village names. Most of these villages were so tiny and obscure that I needed to do some heavy, time-intensive research in order to find any sort of "official" previous mention within a German context.
Because the English names for many of these villages did not show up in Google, I had to ask the client for the original Russian source text, so I could use the Cyrillic (which I am not familiar with!) names to find suitable matches. If there was no previous German "official" mention of a village name, I needed to come up with a suitable German spelling that reflected Russian/English to German spelling norms.

It took me approx. 2 long days to translate these 1000 village names -- and of course, I had agreed to a per-word-rate. Because I saw this as my fault due to not checking the source text sufficiently beforehand, I just took the hit and didn't even mention it to the client.

[Edited at 2018-01-08 09:11 GMT]


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CI_translation  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 21:09
Partial member (2013)
English to Japanese
+ ...
No but Jan 8

No, but UNLESS client adds request afterwards

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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:09
Member (2006)
German to English
No Jan 8

My customers know my rates and if more work should have to be completed for the project, this is then just added on - Fair play!

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:09
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Proofreading is the most difficult Jan 8

I always skim through the text before quoting a per-hour or per-word rate, and sometimes find that when I actually get around to it, much more correction than I had anticipated is involved.

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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:09
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
yes Jan 8

Beginner's mistakes, biting off more than I can chew, listening to my partner whose attitude was "say yes and work out how to get it done once they've given it to you", not realising just how bad a proofreading project is till I realise I'm still on page one when I should be half-way through... yes I made plenty of mistakes when I was starting out. Thankfully I know exactly how much I can take on nowadays. Since I have to make sure of not earning too much (which would mean I would have to change my status and pay way more tax), I tend to say no any time I'm not sure.

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Joohee Kim  Identity Verified
South Korea
Local time: 21:09
Member (2017)
English to Korean
+ ...
Yes, but not often Jan 8

Last year, I translated a legal document from Korean to English and the rate was 0.02 USD per word...

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 13:09
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Exactly the same! Jan 8

Jack Doughty wrote:

I always skim through the text before quoting a per-hour or per-word rate, and sometimes find that when I actually get around to it, much more correction than I had anticipated is involved.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Same experience (in the past) Jan 8

Jack Doughty wrote:

I always skim through the text before quoting a per-hour or per-word rate, and sometimes find that when I actually get around to it, much more correction than I had anticipated is involved.


Ain't that true? Many agencies like to think that a translator can proofread a document at a rate of 6,000 to 8,000 words per day, regardless of topic, text density, terminology used and other wordface aspects.


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:09
Member (2008)
English to Italian
a couple of times Jan 8

just a couple of times

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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:09
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
These things happen Jan 8

My really bad mistakes along these lines occurred in my early years as a translator. Nowadays, not so much.

Given that I typically only skim a document prior to providing a quote, I am fairly satisfied with my estimating capabilities. In any area within my broad "comfort zone," it is not content so much as formatting issues (re-creating tables and, worst of all, rekeying columns and columns of numbers) that are the factors that tend to slow me down.

And I tend to avoid proofreading altogether, because such jobs are often "disaster relief" in disguise, and typically do not pay nearly what they are worth.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:09
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Only twice Jan 8

That was when I started as a translator.

Once a 10 K+ words, highly technical manual needed to be translated within a week. I thought I could do it (and would have been able to ) until I discovered that the document contained unfinished sentences, requiring me to frequently check back with the client to make some sense of parts of the text.

The second time was "my bad"... which won't happen again.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:09
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
All too often Jan 9

Especially with proofreading, as Jack pointed out. That's why I don't do it anymore.

My main clients are very fair and I don't have that problem with them, but with agencies I have had problems underestimating the task.


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:09
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It happens Jan 9

Above all when there are non-text stretches and the client informs you late that they want those translated as well. But cases when I actually underquoted and received less than I should have are very rare.

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