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Would you willingly point out repetitions? August 28, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation Sites.

One of my project managers got upset with me last week when a 2,000-word job I translated for him ended up having 900 words of 100% repetitions. Apparently it was the client’s error, and the PM didn’t catch it either. Since it was such a small job I assumed it was a deliberate choice on the client’s part (not every sentence was repeated, so it could have been for something completely different) and didn’t bother to say anything. But you know what they say about assumptions – “If you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME.”

It is worth mentioning that this is one of my clients that has never insisted on Trados discounts. I wrote the PM several e-mails explaining why I did what I did and offered to charge 30% on the 900 words, since I had a feeling the client had really screwed up and would be refusing to pay for those 900 words. It was a misunderstanding all around.

I never heard back from him and when I sent my invoice to the company owner and apologized and explained the discounted price, he had no idea what I was talking about. Oops! So it must not have been as bad as I assumed it was, but a little more communication from the PM would have soothed my nerves. Apparently the PM is on vacation. Here I have been worrying about losing the PM’s trust and business because I hadn’t heard from him. Luckily this is one of my oldest and dearest clients with whom I have an excellent relationship, so there’s no harm done. But what if it had been a random client with whom I only work on occasion…

I thought it was definitely worth mentioning here for that very reason. I was curious as to how you all would have handled the situation. If you notice repetitions, would you voluntarily mention it (and voluntarily earn less)? That seems kind of counterintuitive to me, but apparently this PM was disappointed that I didn’t. I’m curious to hear what you all think.



1. Melissa - August 28, 2008

If I did not have a standing agreement with the client regarding discounts for repetitions, I don’t think I would have mentioned it. How were you to know that the client had made an error and that it was not caught by the PM? You were simply carrying out your end of the contract.

2. Corinne McKay - August 29, 2008

I agree with Melissa; I think that if there’s a really blatant repetition, for example if they send you two copies of the same document, you’re ethically bound to mention it. However, in the situation you described and if you do not have a Trados discount in place with the client, I think that they can’t blame you for not doing the PM’s work.

3. BaraJag - September 4, 2008

As a PM since 10 years back I can only say that it’s the PM who has to ask you for discount. As long as there isn’t agreed upon in general. If he or she doesn’t, the PM have to sort that out with their end client themselves. You didn’t do anything wrong. (But in a case, as Corinne says, there’s a duplicate, it’s ethicall to tell the PM something’s wrong).

Oh, found this page by accident I might ad.

4. jillsommer - September 4, 2008

Hi BaraJag, Welcome! I hope you keep coming back. I value hearing from PMs as well as freelance translators. I agree that in some cases it is ethical to tell the PM, but in this case it wasn’t. All’s well that ended well. The PM must not have been too upset, because when I submitted the invoice and explained why there was a discount the CEO had no idea what I was talking about.

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