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Question on changing proofing rates/delivery after starting job
Thread poster: Roberta Beyer

Roberta Beyer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:24
Member (2011)
French to English
Nov 29, 2011

Hi,

I am doing a very large proofreading job on a technical document translated by four different translators. I was offered a pretty low rate but it seemed reasonable since they were not even asking for serious style and grammar proofing - mostly just "accuracy and consistency of terms." It's the accuracy part that's getting me. So far, almost none of the terms have been correct and instead of "proofreading" I am finding myself really translating, doing the research to find the right terms. This research is not difficult - a lot of the terms are part of an IEC standard and are readily available if the original translator had taken five minutes to look them up. I have started alerting the project manager to the issue. Should I raise my rate and/or change the delivery time? I did also previously tell the project manager that I was accepting the job conditionally, and might re-evaluate if the translation was very bad.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:24
English to German
+ ...
What does a proofreader do Nov 29, 2011

Roberta Beyer wrote:

Hi,

I am doing a very large proofreading job on a technical document translated by four different translators. I was offered a pretty low rate but it seemed reasonable since they were not even asking for serious style and grammar proofing - mostly just "accuracy and consistency of terms." It's the accuracy part that's getting me. So far, almost none of the terms have been correct and instead of "proofreading" I am finding myself really translating, doing the research to find the right terms. This research is not difficult - a lot of the terms are part of an IEC standard and are readily available if the original translator had taken five minutes to look them up. I have started alerting the project manager to the issue. Should I raise my rate and/or change the delivery time? I did also previously tell the project manager that I was accepting the job conditionally, and might re-evaluate if the translation was very bad.


OK.

Firstly: What do you consider a low, yet reasonable rate? Apparently you are not aware of the scope of your job. Your job is to ensure the consistency in terminology of 4 (!!) different translators (I'd rather guard an anthill).

Secondly: What makes you think that all 4 (!!) translators are wrong in their choice of terminology, and based on what grounds would you like to replace the applied terminology of 4 (!!) translators with your own, new terminology?

Thirdly: Simply because you found ICE terminology somewhere online doesn't mean that any ICE standards and terminology apply to this particular text. Be careful. Maybe the translators were smarter than you think.


Fixed stupid typo.





[Edited at 2011-11-29 01:55 GMT]


 

Roberta Beyer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:24
Member (2011)
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Re: Nicole Schnell Nov 29, 2011

"What do you consider a low, yet reasonable rate?"

A quarter of my translation rate, for a 50,000 word document.

"Apparently you are not aware of the scope of your job. Your job is to ensure the consistency in terminology of 4 (!!) different translators"

My job is to ensure consistency *and accuracy.*

"Simply because you found ICE terminology somewhere online doesn't mean that any ICE standards and terminology apply to this particular text."

This document is based on the IEC standards. I didn't just find them somewhere online - I searched by the IEC numbers noted in the text as the normative reference for the specifications. They do indeed apply to the text and the terminology should match the English versions, as the original terms match the CEI (french version). Sorry if I wasn't clear.

"What makes you think that all 4 (!!) translators are wrong in their choice of terminology, and based on what grounds would you like to replace the applied terminology of 4 (!!) translators with your own, new terminology?"

I am currently on the first section of the translation. I am only making judgments at the moment based on this translator. Again, sorry if I wasn't clear. As mentioned above, the terminology is neither new nor my own, but the accurate terminology.

"Be careful. Maybe the translators were smarter than you think."

That would be great. But I think then they might have at least used spell-check. At least two of them definitely did not, including this first one. Maybe they are smart, but this one is certainly sloppy and doesn't care about the product he or she turns in. I do care.

I am sorry if anything I originally posted was unclear. I am not, however, just being uppity and thinking I know better than four other people, and your accusatory and demeaning attitude was unnecessary.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:24
English to German
+ ...
Ah. Nov 29, 2011

Roberta Beyer wrote:
A quarter of my translation rate, for a 50,000 word document.


Proofreading (monolingual) starts at 30%, editing (comparison to source text and checking of terminology) starts at 40%, reviewing (complete double-check if each and everything is applicable in the target country) starts at 70%.

"My job is to ensure consistency *and accuracy.


You have been hired for editing. Neat! Raise your rates.

This document is based on the IEC standards. I didn't just find them somewhere online - I searched by the IEC numbers noted in the text as the normative reference for the specifications. They do indeed apply to the text and the terminology should match the English versions, as the original terms match the CEI (french version). Sorry if I wasn't clear.


Ask your client about the target country. The UTE (France) might give a damn about the terminology of the CES (Switzerland), even if they are both in French.

That would be great. But I think then they might have at least used spell-check.


They usually are. Many translators consider proofreaders as a synonym for cleaning personnel. Kick their sloppy b...hinds.

your accusatory and demeaning attitude was unnecessary.


Are you really sure that I am demeaning? Gee, next time I will think twice before I give a new colleague/(snotty-nosed brat?) any tips.

[...]

You are welcome.


 

Roberta Beyer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:24
Member (2011)
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Unnecessary Nov 29, 2011

Sorry about whatever put you in a bad mood tonight. I hope it gets better. Thanks for your help.

 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:24
English to German
+ ...
You are welcome. Nov 29, 2011

Roberta Beyer wrote:

Sorry about whatever put you in a bad mood tonight. I hope it gets better. Thanks for your help.


I gave you a breakdown on rates. West coast people are nice and generous.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:24
English to German
+ ...
And for heaven's sake Nov 29, 2011

Triple your rates. I just looked at your profile. I wouldn't even proofread at your translation rate. Before you call me unfriendly again: This is probably the most valuable advice that you will ever receive.

 

theda  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 17:24
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
Inappropriate Nov 29, 2011

Nicole, you are right about your comments but really no reason to call Roberta a snotty-nose brat, a bit of respect wouldn't hurt. Yes, looks like she is a new colleague, so if that annoys you, then just don't bother answering.
Whatever the reason is for your mood, not appropriate.
My two cents.
Now, flame me.icon_smile.gif


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:24
English to German
+ ...
Sorry Nov 29, 2011

theda wrote:

Nicole, you are right about your comments but really no reason to call Roberta a snotty-nose brat, a bit of respect wouldn't hurt. Yes, looks like she is a new colleague, so if that annoys you, then just don't bother answering.
Whatever the reason is for your mood, not appropriate.
My two cents.
Now, flame me.icon_smile.gif


That was my reply to "accusatory and demeaning attitude". I have feelings, too, and I considered this remark by the OP extremely rude.


 

F Scott Ophof (X)  Identity Verified
Belize
Local time: 04:24
Dutch to English
+ ...
OK, let's please move on Nov 29, 2011

and hope that negative issues will be settled via email.

Roberta, given all the pertinent info here, you've already received very useful answers as options:
- Raise your rates (realizing you're then actually translator number 5).
- Pull the plug on the job and only charge for what you have done (you took it under conditions).
- Give your client the name of a translator you trust to do a GOOD job.
- Change the delivery date, raise your rate and pay a translator you trust to redo it for you. THEN do your job on her/his work.
The last option sounds like a possible winner to me, and to the translator you trust--if your version of NDA allows it, of course.

And if it's not technical, don't even consider me (but then you don't know me, let alone whether you can trust me).
Disclaimer: I'm only summarizing points made by others and injecting my 0.02 cents. icon_smile.gif

"Everybody has a heart of gold--from their own point of view (even I do)..."


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:24
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Learn from the experience! Nov 29, 2011

Roberta Beyer wrote:
I was offered a pretty low rate but it seemed reasonable since they were not even asking for serious style and grammar proofing - mostly just "accuracy and consistency of terms."

It appears to me that you misunderstood the customer. What they wanted to say is "we want everything to be perfect, so you fix the mess made by our cheap translators."

To me you made one mistake already, which is accepting a rate without seeing the whole of the file to be proofread, or at least a bulky sample. If negotiations took place even before the translation started, you could have left the matter of the rate open until you had the document in your hands and could assess its quality. Low-pay customers always say (and probably think) that their cheap translators are excellent, so you really need to protect yourself from misleading definitions of the scope of your work.

As for raising the rate on the fly, I think that would not be appropriate at this stage: you have already agreed to do a job at a certain rate. Fair or not looking at the quality of the translation, that is what you agreed to. By having to struggle for peanuts in your current task, you will remember to be more cautious in future projects.

Learn from the experience and be more cautious in future "proofreading" jobs:
- Never accept a proofreading rate without seeing the translation first

- If it is impossible to have the translation before agreeing a rate, use a per-hour rate and make a clear statement in your quotation that you will charge for the actual hours required, i.e. more hours if the translation has a low quality, less hours if the translation is good

- Before agreeing the rate, clarify the meaning of "proofreading": just check for typos and obvious mistakes (my interpretation of "proofreading"), or also checking for accuracy, terminology, compliance with industry-standard terminology or national standards, etc. etc. (i.e. a full review)?

BTW: I also think your rates are very low indeed. They put you in the "cheap" part of the board, thus making you appealing only for low-payers. Raise your rates, and you will also raise the quality of the people contacting you.

Low-payers will always say that your rate is outrageous (even your current rate, as you have experienced already since they offered an even lower rate, which you accepted). They are not the kind of customer you want to have in the long run for your career.

Good luck!


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:24
German to English
attempt to answer original question Nov 29, 2011

Hello Roberta,

Roberta Beyer wrote:
I am doing a very large proofreading job on a technical document translated by four different translators. ... So far, almost none of the terms have been correct and instead of "proofreading" I am finding myself really translating, doing the research to find the right terms. ... Should I raise my rate and/or change the delivery time?


I would recommend to the PM that he or she rejects the original translations and demands that the translators deliver translations that meet the minimum standards for anyone with a basic knowledge of the subject matter and text type. Until the translators do that, they have not fulfilled their contracts and there is no reason for the PM to pay twice for this work.

Skim through the documents and make a list of concrete, global problems that need to be fixed by the translators and then send this to the PM, who can send it to the translators with a deadline for the corrections. You should not start proofreading until these new versions have been delivered. This procedure is based on German law, but there must be something comparable in whatever country's laws apply to the translations in question (it seems that in most countries, clients just threaten to not pay).

As far as lessons learned:
The PM ought to learn not to hire incompetent translators and not to accept unrealistic deadlines that either exceed his or her skills as a PM (coordinating and managing a project is not selecting the cheapest translators and hiring a proofreader) or are simply impossible by any standards.
The incompetent translators ought to learn not to accept work that they are unqualified to do and at prices that make adequate quality impossible.

Sincerely,
Michael

PS: I also also agree with Nicole's rate advice.

[Edited at 2011-11-29 09:24 GMT]


 

Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:24
Italian to English
+ ...
Another question Nov 29, 2011

Roberta Beyer wrote:

Should I raise my rate and/or change the delivery time? I did also previously tell the project manager that I was accepting the job conditionally, and might re-evaluate if the translation was very bad.


Hi Roberta,
Did you put the last bit in writing? If you did, then remind the PM of that and stop the job until you get the rate sorted out.
Last year I was contacted for what was supposed to be a proofreading job and gave the woman my rate (30% of my translating rate). I took a look at a few of the files and they seemed OK, but the woman didn't have all of them yet, so I warned her that if the job proved to be heavy editing then the rate would go up from there. When I got started, I saw that some of the files had not even been written by native speakers! (It was an exhibition catalogue and some of the artists - from all over the world - had decided to write their own entries.)
Anyway, I got in touch with her immediately and said that for the really bad files the rate would be from 50% to 70%, depending on how much work I had to do.
I ended up charging her different rates on that job: 30% for the simple proofreading, 50% for heavy editing and 70% for the really bad stuff. I had already worked for this woman before, so she obviously trusted me to be honest about the amount of work I did on each file.

Getting back to you, Michael gave you good advice: you should draw up a list of mistakes to send to the PM as proof of what you're saying. And be sure to include spelling mistakes, which are inexcusable today given the technology we have. It takes very little time to click that little button and check spelling!
FWIW,
Catherine
PS: Keep us posted!

[Edited at 2011-11-29 11:54 GMT]


 

Roberta Beyer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:24
Member (2011)
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Catherine! Nov 29, 2011

cbolton wrote:

Did you put the last bit in writing? If you did, then remind the PM of that and stop the job until you get the rate sorted out.


I did indeed.

I took a look at a few of the files and they seemed OK, but the woman didn't have all of them yet, so I warned her that if the job proved to be heavy editing then the rate would go up from there.


This is pretty parallel to what is happening right now.

I ended up charging her different rates on that job: 30% for the simple proofreading, 50% for heavy editing and 70% for the really bad stuff.


That seems to be where I am right now. For the moment I am charging about 70% for the first quarter, which really I just re-translated. Honestly I don't want to charge more... I just want it to get easier so I can be done.

Michael gave you good advice: you should draw up a list of mistakes to send to the PM as proof of what you're saying. And be sure to include spelling mistakes, which are inexcusable today given the technology we have. It takes very little time to click that little button and check spelling!


I have been using track changes since the title, mwahahahaha. But really, I have been up front with the PM at every stage of the way. They are supportive but stressed and worried about deadlines, of course. But I think I have made the problems very clear and they seem to be open to working it out.


 

Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:24
Italian to English
+ ...
good news, then! Nov 29, 2011

Roberta Beyer wrote:

But really, I have been up front with the PM at every stage of the way. They are supportive but stressed and worried about deadlines, of course. But I think I have made the problems very clear and they seem to be open to working it out.


It seems to me that you have done everything possible to be honest and professional. And I know what you mean about just wanting to get that job done ... I'm in the middle of revising the last part of a massive book! icon_smile.gif
Catherine


 
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