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Amount of hours for proofreading deemed excessive by agency
Thread poster: Jacqueline Sieben

Jacqueline Sieben  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:40
Dutch to English
+ ...
Nov 30, 2009

Re: Proofreading of En-Du translation.

I received a very poor legal translation of 2 court documents on a Friday afternoon, which had to be proofread. The estimated time for this job was 2.5 hours. There were so many errors and omissions that it took me 8.5 hours to review and amend both documents, including research. I was unable to contact the agency since no one was available during the weekend and the deadline was Monday morning.

Now, the agency only wants to pay me for 6 hours' work, because they claim that some of the changes were subjective in nature; however, they did not specify this any further. I did not agree at all and the agency then sought the advice of an independent reviser to assess my work. According to the reviser, my work was professional but, according to the agency, he/she was surprised that it took me 8.5 hours to complete the job. No further explanation was given and only one change (with which I agreed) was considered subjective in nature.

Word count was approx. 4,500 words. I responded to the Quality Assurance dept. that their decision to not pay me for 8.5 hours of work was not substantiated in any way. I suggested a more sensible approach of dealing with this issue. Translating 4,500 words would generally take 14-18 hours - if a translator is able to translate 2,000 words per 8 hours. Since I had to make many changes throughout the documents, 8.5 hours of work is quite reasonable in my opinion.

I am awaiting their response to my last email, but I would like to have your thoughts on this. For now, it appears that they stick to their initial decision.


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Claudio Porcellana  Identity Verified
Italy
never start a job if ... Nov 30, 2009

it seems longer/harder than expected ...

I advice you to advice the company in advance, next time, and to come to a new agreement

and when a job comes on the last day of a week, condition always your acceptance to a previous and accurate job check
(I say so, as I already did the same mistake, but I was lucky as the agency recognized my reasons

Claudio

[Modificato alle 2009-11-30 14:05 GMT]


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:40
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agree with Claudio / Be very careful with these kinds of jobs... Nov 30, 2009

...because they are often rewriting jobs disguised as "proofreading" jobs, agencies know that the material they are giving you is absolute dreck, and they are often expecting a very cheap fix.

The best thing to do is to takes some time to review the text and then conservatively estimate how long it will take you to edit the material. You can then provide a quote based on this estimate.

[Edited at 2009-11-30 14:05 GMT]


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Jacqueline Sieben  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:40
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not possible... Nov 30, 2009

to give my estimate for the job... it had to be done in the weekend and the deadline was Monday morning.

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xxxBrandis
Local time: 16:40
English to German
+ ...
A known subject... Nov 30, 2009

hi! I had one customer about 5 years ago covered as a chines agency being an american, had to employ over 10 editors to get a two page document proof-read. Never saw any payment though. I wonder why would an agency need 10 editors and proof readers that approve a two page document, was that an argument to waive the payment to the translator? The blues start here, wierdest experiences and months long correspondence. I sometimes think I am not normal, but indeed I deliver the work. 10 proof-readers, god bless them all in the hell. Brandis

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Claudio Porcellana  Identity Verified
Italy
Not possible... Nov 30, 2009

see what I added to my previous post ...

Claudio


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Jacqueline Sieben  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:40
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Just received a reply Nov 30, 2009

from the agency concerned:

QUOTE: I'll discuss this with my boss. As you can probably imagine we have to deal with many linguist claiming overtime and so we cannot just pay linguists whatever they tell us without challenging the claim (we know there are false claims against us). That is why we ask other linguists for their opinion and if they feel that 8.5 hours of worked seemed like a large time claim then there it is difficult for me to justify to my managers why I'm (from their point of view) just giving you an extra 2.5 hours worth of payment if I cannot provide supporting points of view for your case.

But as I said, I'll explain the situation to my boss and see what he feels is the best solution. end of QUOTE

I replied again that I was definitely not an 'overheated reviewer' and that the quality of my work was good - which was the opinion of the independent reviser. Hence, I am not a linguist making false claims. By the way, they know me from one translation job in the past. Let's just wait and see...


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Jacqueline Sieben  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:40
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
missed that.... Nov 30, 2009

Claudio Porcellana wrote:

see what I added to my previous post ...

Claudio


Sorry Claudio, yes, I will definitely take this into account next time!


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 16:40
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Reasonable Nov 30, 2009

I think they are being pretty reasonable.
I certainly wouldn't be happy to pay anyone 8.5 hour's wages for revising 4,500 words, given the fact that I feel 4,500 words of most materials can be translated in less time than that... especially not if there was a mutually accepted 2.5 hour estimate on the job.
If it was a truly atrocious translation of a tricky text that required a lot of research, it could be a reasonable time frame... which is what the company is checking now.

Either way, even if they agree to pay 6 hours only, you are only out 2.5 hours' wages. Not too tragic. They'd be essentially claiming that you either work unreasonably slowly or tried to trick them, but I could get over that.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:40
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I don't know what to say! Nov 30, 2009

FarkasAndras wrote:

I think they are being pretty reasonable.
I certainly wouldn't be happy to pay anyone 8.5 hour's wages for revising 4,500 words, given the fact that I feel 4,500 words of most materials can be translated in less time than that... especially not if there was a mutually accepted 2.5 hour estimate on the job.
If it was a truly atrocious translation of a tricky text that required a lot of research, it could be a reasonable time frame... which is what the company is checking now.

Either way, even if they agree to pay 6 hours only, you are only out 2.5 hours' wages. Not too tragic. They'd be essentially claiming that you either work unreasonably slowly or tried to trick them, but I could get over that.


Maybe things are just slow in my language pairs, but I am just translating 6000 words over two days as a rushed job! I have also learnt that with legal work I should never agree to proofread more than 1000 words per hour unless I know the translator and am sure he/she really knows the subject. Then I go up to 1500.

I admit, I am always amazed by how long I take to proofread, but both agencies and translators can live with it. As a rule (and nobody is perfect...) I find the things that need changing, so that the end client doesn't complain, and I check whatever I am not sure about. It takes time. But then I am not normally accused of changing things just for the sake of changing them, either.

If I had spent 8.5 hours of my weekend on a job that should only take two, I would ask for an extra high weekend rate! I might not get it, but I would draw the agency's attention to the issue... Normally, though, I would contact the agency first, but when it is not possible, then I would sort out the text like Jacqueline Sieben.

Just my humble opinion. Some agencies do run away screaming at my suggestions, but others come back again and again!




[Edited at 2009-11-30 15:57 GMT]


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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:40
Member
French to English
+ ...
Good faith Nov 30, 2009

From the tone of the PM's reply, it sounds like they are reasonable, so hopefully all will work out in the end. The situation is tricky and your reaction, if you want to keep the customer, will likely have to be firm yet polite. I really hope that you're able to come to a common understanding.

In the future, indeed, always insist on seeing a document before accepting (translation, editing, proofreading, or anything else).

If you decide to keep working with the customer in the future, you might offer to work with "time stamp" software, which records the exact amount of time spent on a document. (You can find more information about such software by doing a forum search; I know that it has come up before). Although I've never used such technology, the agency might appreciate the jest as a sign of your good faith.

Good luck - and remember to ask to see the document in advance next time.

Best,
Jocelyne


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Jacqueline Sieben  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:40
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for all your input! Nov 30, 2009

Thank you for the input! I agree that normally, a legal translation of 4,500 words would take 4.5 hrs. at the most. The translation was indeed way below par and the agency did recognize the quality of my work; it is only questioning the amount of time involved... I also think that 1,000 words per hour for proofreading a legal translation is a fair estimate, so the agency's estimate of 2.5 hours was already quite low. I will be extra careful in the future with those kind of proofreading requests right before the weekend. I did see the source document in advance, but the translation was sent to me by the end of a Friday afternoon...

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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:40
Russian to English
+ ...
I learned my lesson a while back Nov 30, 2009

When I first started freelancing, I charged by the word for proofreading/editing. After fixing a few atrocious translations, I started working by the hour, but I always review the document first and come to an agreement with the agency on an estimated charge. I also tell them that if it looks like I will go over the estimate, I will check back with them -- but I try my best to hold to my estimate.

Not long ago, one of my best customers asked me to proofread a translation that was just terrible. It had mistakes in it that even an MT program wouldn't make. I translated the first paragraph to prove my point and told them the translation needed to be completely redone. They insisted that I give them an estimate for proofreading it. I did so with the expectation that I would end up retranslating the document anyway, so my estimate was rather high. After checking with their customer, they decided to have me retranslate it, which I did, charging by the word. As it turned out, my fee for retranslating the document was less than my estimate for proofreading.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:40
French to English
Time stamp Nov 30, 2009

It may not be relevant here, if you weren't using Word, or perhaps you and the agency already know this, but if you use Track Changes in Word, each and every change is timestamped. This could, perhaps, help you prove the time you took in terms of having a rough idea of the times of the first and last changes, although of course that doesn't mean that they still won't consider that you dawdled in between each change made

I sometimes find myself having to charge an extra hour or two compared to the initial estimate, and I am happier knowing that this is available to help support my claim, while it cannot actually prove it, of course.

Other than that, I think we all get stung with this kind of thing at some stage, and as a result we are more careful. I never accept proof reading any more without seeing the work first, and even then I turn most of it down


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sailingshoes
Local time: 16:40
Spanish to English
Beware Nov 30, 2009

I really think we have to be careful with the whole 'reviewing' concept. I've received too many requests recently for 'correction' of partially translated texts, badly translated texts or just total rubbish.

My line is, in most other sectors you wouldn't give someone a substandard semi-finished prodouct and expect them to 'finish' it to perfection by waving some kind of transforming wand.

I generally offer to translate from scratch in these cases, afterwards offering a discount at my own discretion if the 'translated' material was really of any help.


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