Should I charge extra for corrections?
Thread poster: Rosalind Howarth

Rosalind Howarth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:05
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
Jun 17, 2010

Hi everyone,

I was wondering whether to charge for corrections to translations or not. I work mainly for agencies, and up until now I haven't minded doing the odd correction here and there if required. However one of my agencies has come back to me a few times to ask me to look at some alternative corrections suggested by the client. I handed in the job a month ago (which I had checked thoroughly and was happy with) and I already had to spend much longer on it than planned due to problem with the file type. I consented to the first request for corrections, which took about half an hour. However the agency has since come back to me asking me to look at another half hour's worth of corrections. Do you think I should charge for this or should I agree to do it for free, as part of the job?

Thanks in advance!

Rosalind


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imatahan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:05
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Rosalind Jun 17, 2010

I use to consider this, as you've described, as part of my job.

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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 23:05
English to Czech
+ ...
It depends Jun 17, 2010

Hi Rosalind,
this is just an opinion of somebody who has never had to deal with this kind of issue, so take it with a pinch of salt.

IMO, if the client has made corrections to something he has found to be a mistake, a free revision of the corrections will probably not hurt.

On the other hand, if all changes are just preferential, I would definitely charge an extra fee.


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Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:05
Member (2008)
English to French
Corrections to the source or translation? Jun 17, 2010

Corrections to the source that need to be implemented = standard rate per word + editing time per hour OR minimum fee if it's a small change

Corrections to the translation = "real" corrections - something that is my fault - of course no charge; "preferential" corrections that have nothing to do with the quality of the translation delivered = per hour rate based on proofreading rate or minimum fee.

My time and my work are valuable and I charge for them accordingly. On occasion I'll offer freebies for extremely small projects (10 words or less that are straightforward and not a slogan or something that needs to be adapted or technical jargon that needs to be looked up) but that's about it.

If it'll help you to rationalize think of yourself as a contractor and "corrections" as really being change orders from the client


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
Working for free Jun 17, 2010

Rosalind Howarth wrote:

Do you think I should charge for this or should I agree to do it for free, as part of the job?

Thanks in advance!

Rosalind



Perhaps the answer is to imagine that you are not a translator.

Let's imagine you are a carpenter and you have just installed a new kitchen for a client. A week after you finish the job the client phones to ask you to make some changes. The client explains that the door knobs are fine, but he now wants them in yellow rather than green.

As a professional carpenter would you charge to make these changes?

As a client would you expect to pay for these changes?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:05
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
corrections vs changes Jun 17, 2010

John Rawlins wrote:
Let's imagine you are a carpenter and you have just installed a new kitchen for a client. A week after you finish the job the client phones to ask you to make some changes. The client explains that the door knobs are fine, but he now wants them in yellow rather than green.


I'm not sure the example is relevant here, John. It doesn't seem to me that Rosalind is referring to changes to the source text - which I'm sure all of us would regard as new text to be translated and therefore to be paid for. I believe she is talking here of changes to the translated text i.e. corrections to the work she submitted.

This would equate to a carpenter who fixed door knobs (whether yellow or green) which subsequently fell off a couple of weeks later.

In that case, as a customer, I would certainly feel free to ring the carpenter and ask him to come round to refit them. In reality, I would probably just fix them myself (or ask hubby) as it's quicker and easier, but I would certainly feel I had a right to have it done for free. On the other hand, if they fell off 18 months after fitting, I'd sigh and fix them or get them fixed at my expense. Nothing is guaranteed for ever.

Personally, I make it clear exactly what is possible. I will of course correct any errors that they find and (within reason) explain my reasons for word choice until the payment due date, whether or not payment has been received. After the payment due date (ie 30 days month end) I will not normally entertain any claim for free changes or explanations. It's like the carpenter - you have to let the client have a guarantee period but it doesn't last forever.


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 23:05
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
yes ! Jun 17, 2010

Rosalind Howarth wrote:

Hi everyone,

I was wondering whether to charge for corrections to translations or not. I work mainly for agencies, and up until now I haven't minded doing the odd correction here and there if required. However one of my agencies has come back to me a few times to ask me to look at some alternative corrections suggested by the client. I handed in the job a month ago (which I had checked thoroughly and was happy with) and I already had to spend much longer on it than planned due to problem with the file type. I consented to the first request for corrections, which took about half an hour. However the agency has since come back to me asking me to look at another half hour's worth of corrections. Do you think I should charge for this or should I agree to do it for free, as part of the job?

Thanks in advance!

Rosalind



it's starting to happen to me ! And frankly I'll charge for it...It's irritating when a client does...Frankly, I just feel, why did you hire me in the first place then ?!


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:05
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
If it takes longer than making out an invoice... Jun 17, 2010

That is roughly my rule of thumb! I interpret it flexibly for good clients, but if they make demands on my time, I send an invoice.

"Everbody can English"... Occasionally clients call or mail and ask why I have not used an expression they expected. In the course of the discussion, I sometimes make a completely different suggestion, and both sides are happy. This works with the kind of text, e.g. marketing, where everything can be said in different ways.

Sometimes the answer is that there is a difference in meaning or usage according to my experience, backed up by my big dictionary and some suitable reference. I regard this as marketing. Clients are usually satisfied that I know what I am doing, and it seems like a good reason to keep sending me work instead of trying to do it themselves. (And then sending me their efforts for proof reading... )

If the job takes longer, and I do not conceed that I was wrong, I charge for my time. That includes jobs where my suggestion was strictly correct, but maybe a little pedestrian, and the client´s expert has some brilliant suggestion or learned a buzz word at a conference... But if suitable, I use it next time I work for them.

If it is a case of updates, then I charge, and no discussion. (I translate a specification for a building contract, and a month later the client's client wants oak panels instead of teak, three cubicles in each of the the washrooms instead of two, and fifteen electric outlets instead of twelve...)
I charge accordingly.



[Edited at 2010-06-17 16:01 GMT]


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Rosalind Howarth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:05
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Jun 17, 2010

Thanks everyone; your comments have been very helpful. I have concluded that there can be no hard and fast rule, and this really needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis. I think the premise of only charging if the changes are updates or preferences is a good one. In this case most of the changes were client preferences rather than mistakes, so I think I probably dealt with it fairly.

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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
As usual, it all depends Jun 18, 2010

I agree with Sheila that it’s important to distinguish whether we're talking about changes or corrections. I've had clients who have suggested their “corrections” and they were absolute rubbish. They had a much higher opinion of their level of English than they should have. In that case, I usually told them that their suggestions didn't make any sense and that in good conscience I personally wouldn't use them. (What Christine says is so true, "Everybody can English", but my corollary would be, "But not everyone can do it well".)

On the other hand, I've had clients who couldn't string together a logical sentence in English if their lives depended on it, yet were veritable founts of wisdom when it came to using specific technical terms in the language. They had worked in a certain field and had dealt with technical manuals, reports, etc in English for years and so knew more about the specific subject than I did. When they suggested I make changes, I took it as an opportunity to learn specialized terms and build a glossary, even though I had to use more time to do so. The time invested in making the changes (which I did free of charge) was a good long-term investment in my own work.

In any event, as a business person, you should make clear to clients and agencies what your policy is for changes. Sit down, write out your policy and send it along in the email with the translation. I personally have a 15-day reclamation period. Clients can request changes (within reason) free of charge within that period. After that, I'm free to charge them for any changes they want to make. Each translator can obviously come up with their own policy that works for them.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:05
French to English
+ ...
Don't lose sight of your goal Jun 18, 2010

Rosalind Howarth wrote:
I was wondering whether to charge for corrections to translations or not. I work mainly for agencies, and up until now I haven't minded doing the odd correction here and there if required. However one of my agencies has come back to me a few times to ask me to look at some alternative corrections suggested by the client.


I'd say don't lose sight of the fact that your aim is produce a translation that satisfies the needs of the client, and your job is to do whatever it takes to get to the point where the client has a translation that they're satisfied with.

For many clients, getting to this process may well just be you submitting a translation "in one take" and that's that; for others, they may need to do some revision of their own and run those changes past you. For a given client, you just need to agree on a rate that, on average, makes the overall process worth your while.

For the client, breaking things down into "translation" and "correction" fees, for example, is a bit like airlines charging a separate fee to check in, take a suitcase, pass through a particular airport and go to the toilet-- it's just a pointless level of detail as far as the client is concerned, when all you want is one overall price to "get from A to B".


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:05
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Part of the job Jun 18, 2010

I always think that my job spans from the first word translated to the final product. Eventual corrections or changes (making sense or not) suggested by the end customer are part of my job. And if you think about it, many times you can learn a lot from what the end customer has to say. Keep track of any terminology or style comments, and you will produce a perfect translation (perfect in the sense of what they expect from you) next time.

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Michael GREEN  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:05
English to French
It all depends... Jun 22, 2010

I think previous contributors have already said most of what is to be said, but for what it is worth, here is how I handle the problem.

Unless the corrections are made to rectify terminological mistakes, I would invoice the customer on an hourly basis if the time spent correcting (ie making style modifications) exceeded one hour. This of course has to be made clear to the customer when you quote for the job.

Even so, terminological "corrections" are a moot point - if the customer is in a very specialised area, or has his own in-house jargon, and fails to provide a glossary, I invoice ANY time spent correcting: it's my time he is taking up, and I could be earning money doing other work.

Then there is the special case of the customer who mistakenly thinks he / she speaks your target language better than you: if (as has indeed happened to me) the corrections demanded are either grammatically or terminologically incorrect, I point this out and modify the text anyway - "the customer is always right" - but I charge for my wasted time. I'm in this business to make money, not to provide free languages courses to idiots.


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George Hopkins
Local time: 23:05
Swedish to English
It depends, but on what? Jun 23, 2010

As Michael so rightly says, it depends.
The difficulty is drawing a line.
When a customer insists that 'tändstiftsnyckel' (eg, spark plug wrench) should be translated as 'universal wrench' a bold line appears in my head, and I say NO.

It can be quite a problem with the odd person who can english good.


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