Translator's Declaration - to charge or not to charge?
Thread poster: Inga Petkelyte

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 07:00
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Oct 23, 2018

So here's the thing - I have done a translation, sent it out, asked for the reception copnfirmation, nada, asked again, they confirmed. Half a day later, they are sending a request to sign the Translator's Decalaration - a simple thing, attesting that I, XYZ, have translated the attached documents (nots specified i the Declaration)..., to print, sacn and send it back.
Well, I don't sign anything like unspecified 'attached documents', so I go to my ddirectory, find the file, get the details
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So here's the thing - I have done a translation, sent it out, asked for the reception copnfirmation, nada, asked again, they confirmed. Half a day later, they are sending a request to sign the Translator's Decalaration - a simple thing, attesting that I, XYZ, have translated the attached documents (nots specified i the Declaration)..., to print, sacn and send it back.
Well, I don't sign anything like unspecified 'attached documents', so I go to my ddirectory, find the file, get the details, incorporate them into the Declaration...
Summa summarum, during this extra time, I could have done a half-page translation.
Where big volumes are involved (i.e., tenders), this extra time is insignificant. Here, however, it took me 1/3 of the translation per se time. Completely disproportional. The usual rate doesn't cover by far this extra time. What to do?
I have never charged for such declarations before but today it started bugging me. (I hope, it will pass!..)
What is your practice?
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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:00
French to English
I would not charge Oct 23, 2018

I don't see how you can really charge for this type of administrative task. The basic idea is that the amount you charge for a job covers any administrative tasks related to it that you may have to perform. Some jobs are more profitable than others; some are barely profitable at all, often for this type of reason. This is also why many people have a minimum fee. It is also the reason that some people don't accept small jobs. Administrative tasks are part of being your own boss.

How
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I don't see how you can really charge for this type of administrative task. The basic idea is that the amount you charge for a job covers any administrative tasks related to it that you may have to perform. Some jobs are more profitable than others; some are barely profitable at all, often for this type of reason. This is also why many people have a minimum fee. It is also the reason that some people don't accept small jobs. Administrative tasks are part of being your own boss.

However... some agency clients require so much paperwork that I find it extremely irritating. There is always our own paperwork to do anyway, so if an agency provides irregular work, small jobs and lots of admin, I tend to not work with them again.
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Kevin Fulton
Andy Watkinson
Ester Vidal
Teresa Borges
Vera Schoen
Vanda Nissen
Flávia Werneck
 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:00
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
This should be extra charge Oct 24, 2018

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

I don't see how you can really charge for this type of administrative task.

You charge for it just like for any other task, by the hour, with a minimum fee.

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

The basic idea is that the amount you charge for a job covers any administrative tasks related to it that you may have to perform.


Well, how could she have included the extra time in her charges, when the agency requested the extra work afterwards? She was not expecting it.
I don't think charging for every job a price that "covers any administrative tasks related to it that you may have to perform" works, because I can think of a boatload of tasks that I may have to perform (requested by the client or otherwise necessary), and if I tried charging a price that covers all of them, even if I don't have to do them, I would outprice myself from the market, so that is not a sustainable pricing model.

I think clients like modular approaches, and pay only for services they want to use.
Certificate of Accuracy, Translator's Statement and whatever names they give to these forms, do take time. Sometimes these forms need to be notarized, which is extra time and expense.
I try to clarify such issues before quoting a price, and my price quotes always include a note on what exactly is included in that price. Anything else is extra. If the client requests an additional task that was not in the original PO or quote, I reply with my quote for that task. If it is a tiny thing, I will do it for free, but otherwise the clock is ticking.


[Edited at 2018-10-24 00:38 GMT]


Ian Keith Jones Williams
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:00
French to English
@Katalin Oct 24, 2018

Katalin Horváth McClure wrote:
Well, how could she have included the extra time in her charges, when the agency requested the extra work afterwards? She was not expecting it.


The unexpected nature of the request was awkward. I do understand that having to do it when you are no longer on that file does mean it takes more time. It is really irritating and it reduces profitability. As Inga says, on a large job, this is not important. On a small job it can represent a disproportionate amount of time. I pointed out that this is why many translators have a minimum fee.

Given the nature of the specific task requested by the client, asked after the job had been completed, I'd probably have been unhappy about it too, in much the way Inga describes. Would I have charged for it? No. However, it is very likely I would have regretted not having charged a set minimum "small job" fee from the word go. I've seen minimum fees of 35 or 50 euros. If you do so and only spend 15 minutes on the translation, if you then have 30 minutes of admin, then you are still charging for the time spent. For me, the point here is that Inga did probably not charge enough to start with. I have done this in the past and regretted it, so am getting better at charging a set minimum fee for a small job.


I don't think charging for every job a price that "covers any administrative tasks related to it that you may have to perform" works, because I can think of a boatload of tasks that I may have to perform (requested by the client or otherwise necessary), and if I tried charging a price that covers all of them, even if I don't have to do them, I would outprice myself from the market, so that is not a sustainable pricing model.



I think clients like modular approaches, and pay only for services they want to use.


I agree. The client should only pay for the services he/she wants to use. A translation service includes the time taken to manage the I file (creating the file, email/telephone exchanges, drawing up and sending the invoice, etc). That represents time and that time is factored into what you charge the client.

I may not have made myself clear though. A translator is running a business and so aims to make a profit. I was not suggesting that paperwork and general admin and accounting should be invoiced to client. What I do mean is that running a business means making sure you have enough work to cover that time, or to pay someone else to do it for you. I also mean that ideally, each translation should be profitable from a stand-alone point of view, including the translation itself and the time spent on it generally. I also pointed out that some jobs are more profitable than others. However, each job should still be profitable. When that does not happen, it becomes unprofitable. It happens from time to time. If it happens too often, there is a problem and something needs to change.

Over the 27 years I have been in this business, it has taken me time to learn to stop working with clients who are "heavy" in terms of admin, or to charge a higher rate to anticipate that extra time. We all come across them. They are the clients who send you an updated version of the job you are working on, who will send you updates after you have finished, etc. As you say, they are no longer within the terms agreed at the outset and the clock is ticking.

So, yes, as a rule, an extra task asked for by the client should be charged for.
In answer to the question, would I have charged for a Declaration as described by Inge? No, I would not.
Would I have found it irritating? Yes, I would. My irritation would have been :
- towards the client for not having thought of that to start with
- towards myself for not having replied that I would do so at extra cost
- but mainly towards myself for not having charged a minimum fee for small jobs that would have meant the task was not a problem.


Certificate of Accuracy, Translator's Statement and whatever names they give to these forms, do take time. Sometimes these forms need to be notarized, which is extra time and expense.
I try to clarify such issues before quoting a price, and my price quotes always include a note on what exactly is included in that price. Anything else is extra. If the client requests an additional task that was not in the original PO or quote, I reply with my quote for that task. If it is a tiny thing, I will do it for free, but otherwise the clock is ticking.


My general rule too.

[Edited at 2018-10-24 03:14 GMT]


Joe France
Teresa Borges
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:00
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It's an added service, with added value Oct 24, 2018

I don't think I'd have charged this time if it had been in my interests to keep this client happy (as opposed to already being fed up with them and not bothered if this were to be the last job). Instead, I'd have made it clear that next time there would be a flat-rate charge of €nn for this added service. And if I hadn't already sent the invoice then I'd add a line for this charge, plus another negative one, to make it clear that this is a one-off business offer and not a free service.
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I don't think I'd have charged this time if it had been in my interests to keep this client happy (as opposed to already being fed up with them and not bothered if this were to be the last job). Instead, I'd have made it clear that next time there would be a flat-rate charge of €nn for this added service. And if I hadn't already sent the invoice then I'd add a line for this charge, plus another negative one, to make it clear that this is a one-off business offer and not a free service.

Let's be clear here: do we think that the end client is getting this for free, or is the agency charging them more for this certification? And if the agency is charging for it, why on earth wouldn't the translator?
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Ian Keith Jones Williams
Ivana UK
 


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