I would like to talk about a delicate issue that may involve criticism of some translation companies. In general, I don’t like criticizing translation agencies as they are usually part of our clients and, as such, they provide us with work and payments. In any case, I’m increasingly noting some practices in them with which I feel uncomfortable. Maybe is because they are new practices to me and I’m not fully accustomed to them yet. But let me tell you about it.
As translator, I usually charge clients on a translated word basis, not on an hour worked basis. If I were requested to work on an hour worked basis, I don’t know how I would come up with that figure. Maybe I would make it match the number of words that I, on average, can translate in an hour, multiplied by the usual rate per translated word. I don’t know, this is just an idea.
This is because, as I said, I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable lately when working for some agencies and for which I charge on a translated word basis. Why is that? Working continually with a translation company is simply great as if you do a good job they will usually assign you more work, and this is the ideal scenario. But it is also true that this also means jumping from one project to another, from one client to another; and those projects or clients have little or no relationship between them. Each may require its own terminology, and even its own style. There were cases where clients provided me with lots of different documents to be read before starting the translation. And reading all that documentation took a long time, time for which I’m not paid, as I charge clients on a translated word basis.
There is also another situation, similar to the one above, with which I also feel a bit uncomfortable. Some of the translation agencies are increasingly using sophisticated revision tools in the translations. As soon as you send a translation to the corresponding Project Manager, this one uses this tool to compare the source text and the target translated text, and to detect differences between both texts. The use of this kind of tools is also being required to translators as a step previous to the delivery, and I must admit that they are sometimes useful, as they help you detect mistakes, but it is also true that they detect differences that are not finally mistakes, and which lead you to spend a long time in the revision. And again, this revision time is not paid for, as in my case and as I stated before, I charge clients on a translated word basis.
On the occasion of this article I would like to ask you about this issue. Am I the only one who feels a bit uncomfortable about this situation? How could this be solved? Would working on an hour worked basis be much better for this type of situations? I’d really like to know how you cope with this.