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Advice on fixed-price payment when the job is done wrong

So I've open a job last week, and hired someone to do a project for me. The contractor ended up not delivering the work (she delivered scarse material, about 15% of what she was supposed to turn in), late, and even what she delivered needed to be heavily revised. I ended up paying her fraction of the agreed quote, obviously.

Now, this had put me in a bad predicament, as I was on a tight deadline with my own client. I ended up having to hire someone else, who agreed to all instructions and conditions before starting the work. So her deadline came, and she sent me complete work, but the quality was just awful. I had to spend an extra 4 hours correcting each line of the 38 pages document.

So my question is, how do I handle this one? Should I pay her the entire amount even though it was filled with errors on each line?

Vote Result

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Score: 5.5, Votes: 2
Would it have been a translation?

It depends what kind of price you had agreed on the outset. If you agreed a cheap price and got cheap work that's how the cookie crumbles.

Was it a translation?

What did the "per word" price you agreed work out at? If it was anything like $ 0.3 or even less then you got the kind of quality you can expect and should pay in full being grateful that this person dug you out of a hole.

If the agreed rate was more reasonable then I would suggest you discuss it with the contractor.

I just see so many cheapskate translation clients trying to buy perfect translations for insulting money.

I wasn't expecting doctorate

I wasn't expecting doctorate quality translation. It was a very simple job, but with clear instructions, which were all agreed on prior to the contractor being hired. Those simple instructions were not even followed. Was I stupid to expect that someone who seems eager to work, AND agreed on everything deliver what is expected?

What is a proper per word price according to you?

Hmmmm

Translations N. wrote:
I wasn't expecting doctorate quality translation. It was a very simple job, but with clear instructions, which were all agreed on prior to the contractor being hired. Those simple instructions were not even followed. Was I stupid to expect that someone who seems eager to work, AND agreed on everything deliver what is expected?

What is a proper per word price according to you?

A 38 page document to be translated with a tight deadline is never "simple"

As far as "what do I consider a "proper" rate per word" is concerned, it depends on the language. Some can be had cheaper than others.

Personally I'd have quoted you no less than $ 0.04 per word, but then you'd not have had to spend much time on it....

In general I like to proofread my translations at least 3 times. I go though the last chapter or page immediately after finishing it. Then I like to go back to it after a few hours, and then proofread the whole lot again after sleeping on it. It is amazing how many little things one doesn't catch when reading through it immediately afterwards.
A huge document at a very tight deadline will always be very tricky and I'd expect a few typos here and there, simply because there wasn't the time for proper proofreading and checking.

A well established contractor who values her feedback would not want to turn in shoddy work (and may have turned the job down because she may have known that delivering high quality in the available time would be unlikely) because she values her feedback too much to risk it....

Out of interest: What *WAS* the rate per word?

Quote: Out of interest: What

Quote:
Out of interest: What *WAS* the rate per word?

So you can hit me on the head with a baseball bat? No thank you.

Seriously, I do not know the exact word count, as it was NOT 38 pages of text, but commands for a software. With lots of repetition. Easy but boring work.
For instance, the line had from 1 to 5 words to translate approx..

Dog's eaten my baseball bat

Translations N. wrote:
Quote:
Out of interest: What *WAS* the rate per word?

So you can hit me on the head with a baseball bat? No thank you.

Seriously, I do not know the exact word count, as it was NOT 38 pages of text, but commands for a software. With lots of repetition. Easy but boring work.

I wasn't going to hit you, not even with a wet blanket.

My line of thinking was: if you bought a really cheap translation from a really cheap translator you got exactly what you paid for. If I buy a high quality item at a high price in a shop and it doesn't perform to a high standard I can expect a refund or replacement or reduction in price.

If I buy a dirt cheap rip off copy and It malfunctions and breaks after a week I got what I paid for.

In other words, if you hired someone at a really cheap price to do really cheap work then that is what you ended up with and should pay for. If you hired someone at a fair price for the time spent and got crap you should make a deduction, preferably after discussing it with your contractor first.

It really doesn't matter how easy or boring the work was, it still took the time it took to do. An hour of my time is an hour of my time. I will never get that hour back and it has a value regardless of whether I spend it translating the next best seller or instructions for a coffee machine.

Silly me who thought that

Silly me who thought that "easy work", (yes, easy, as it was not technical or even complete phrases, and had lots of repetition), should have been turned in properly done.

I do understand the concept of "cheap pay cheap result", but I was not paying her to write a memoir on rocket science. I've read plenty of posts where it's common understanding that you won't pay someone who does a job that doesn't require too many skills (like data entry for example) the same as you will pay someone to write code... so I do not understand why I should have been expecting from the start that I would end up with sloppy work. Especially when everything was agreed on way before the contract started.

And just to satisfy your curious mind Petra, my budget was $60. You can grab your wet blanket now.

I DO agree that ALL work should be done "properly"

Translations N. wrote:
Silly me who thought that "easy work", (yes, easy, as it was not technical or even complete phrases, and had lots of repetition), should have been turned in properly done.

I totally agree. That's how professionals work. However, professionals don't work for next to nothing because they 1) don't have to and 2) value their time too much

Quote:

I do understand the concept of "cheap pay cheap result", but I was not paying her to write a memoir on rocket science. I've read plenty of posts where it's common understanding that you won't pay someone who does a job that doesn't require too many skills (like data entry for example)

But translation is a skilled job and translating software requires extreme concentration to not mess the whole thing up.The words and phrases may not have been complicated, but I translate a lot of software and it's NOT a simple little boring brain-free endeavor as you often have space restrictions and need to fully understand the genre to use the exact right words and phrases.

Quote:

And just to satisfy your curious mind Petra, my budget was $60. You can grab your wet blanket now.

No wet blanket, and I do not in ANY way condone the contractor turning in sloppy work, I'd rather they had not taken it on in the first place, but yes, I think you got what you agreed to pay for.

Has it occurred to you that maybe the reason why you ended up with nothing / crap from TWO contractors on the same project was because you simply weren't willing to pay the rate necessary to attract people who would have done it right first time round, saving you time, money and hassle?

Hold your horses

Petra R. wrote:
Translations N. wrote:
Silly me who thought that "easy work", (yes, easy, as it was not technical or even complete phrases, and had lots of repetition), should have been turned in properly done.

I totally agree. That's how professionals work. However, professionals don't work for next to nothing because they 1) don't have to and 2) value their time too much

Quote:

I do understand the concept of "cheap pay cheap result", but I was not paying her to write a memoir on rocket science. I've read plenty of posts where it's common understanding that you won't pay someone who does a job that doesn't require too many skills (like data entry for example)

But translation is a skilled job and translating software requires extreme concentration to not mess the whole thing up.The words and phrases may not have been complicated, but I translate a lot of software and it's NOT a simple little hat boring brain-free endeavor as you often have space restrictions and need to fully understand the genre to use the exact right words and phrases.

I know.
I'm a translator myself and this job was a small part of a bigger contract, that I was already working on.
So having worked on it myself, I can, without a doubt, say that is what NOT hard work. Boring yes, but nothing more.

Like I said previously, if I had more budget I would have spent more, but that was not the case.

$60 + 38 pages + 2 days = word salad :)

I didn't realise that we were talking about $60. I thought that the budget would have been more realistic and that the translator was a professional...obviously not.

If you had come to me with only 2 days deadline to turn in a translation job of 38 pages full of code (which, independently of how many repeated words there were, takes a lot longer to work through and it is by no means an easy job to do), my quote would have given you a heart attack.

So I think I have to agree with Petra here. You did pay peanuts, so the translators that you atracted with your job posting would necessarily have been the very bottom of the barrel...clearly you did not hire a professional. For $60 you might have got a couple of pages translated, not 38. And you would have been charged extra for the super tight deadline.

I wonder how much was your client paying you...

client bashing galore

Marian Cantero wrote:

If you had come to me with only 2 days deadline to turn in a translation job of 38 pages full of code (which, independently of how many repeated words there were, takes a lot longer to work through and it is by no means an easy job to do), my quote would have given you a heart attack.

I wouldn't have come to you.
I didn't beg anyone to take this job. The contractor applied, and agreed to the terms.

Marian Cantero wrote:

I wonder how much was your client paying you...

About three times what I paid my contractor.
BUT, for 110 pages.
I did 3/4 of the job myself.

If I had more budget I would have paid more. It's that simple.

No client bashing at all, just very simple truths of business

Nobody is bashing at all. I don't think anyone was bashing you or rude to you or anything of the sort.

There are some fundamental business truths, however, and one of them is that you get what you pay for.

The other is that when you take on work at an unprofitable rate you only cheat yourself.

We all learned that the hard way. I sure as hell did.

So, to answer your original question

Translations N. wrote:

And just to satisfy your curious mind Petra, my budget was $60.

To answer your original question: You should pay in full because at that price for that amount of work if you got anything useable you got a bargain.

If you want decent work pay decent money. It's as simple as that.

Whatever the ending, I do not

Whatever the ending, I do not like paying for crappy work. Be it $10, or $1000. I have worked for less pay in my professional life, but I was proud enough to give my all every time I was working on a project, and offering free revisions if the client wasn't happy. Guess what? Never had to revise even once. But I did had to make a 4 hours revision last night, and will pay as if everything was rosy.

I'm sorry but the "you can turn crappy work and still be paid" attitude doesn't go well with me. But hey, if that's how "every one else" does it.... I guess I will just have to bow out and pay as if the work was perfect..

The rate per word agreed

is neither here not there. Through my proofreading jobs I have experienced first hand translators who charged the client nice hourly/word rates and who had no qualms about turning in work that had clearly been put through Google Translate (and I know this because on one occasion I took random paragraphs of the original text and put them through Google and the result was exactly, word by word, what this "expert translator" with lots of hours and stellar feedback had sent the client).

What puzzled me at the time was that she was on an hourly rate and she had used over 100 hours on this project...How can you use 100+ hours copying and pasting?? It took me around 60 hours to clean and rewrite her work...

Sorry, I went on a tangent.

It is a shame that your translators did not work out, but such is life. The only thing I would advise you is that you make sure in the future that the deadlines you set leave you with plenty of time to proof read and correct the work that you receive, so that you can still send it to your clients in time.

Regarding payment, if the quality was poor, pay them accordingly, whatever the price agreed.

Quote: The only thing I would

Quote:
The only thing I would advise you is that you make sure in the future that the deadlines you set leave you with plenty of time to proof read and correct the work that you receive, so that you can still send it to your clients in time.

Well I did leave a couple of days when I set the deadline for the first person I hired. If that person would have delivered I wouldn't even be here talking about this.

I'm sure you did, and I'm sorry

things didn't work out.

Whilst I am against free samples and never send them on my applications, I don't mind a bit of healthy competition when bidding for jobs. When a client posts a translation job which includes a small paragraph (100 or so words) that have to be translated and sent with the application, and it is clear that all bidders have to translate the same text, I always do it.

If the end language is one that you know yourself, you can do that when posting your next job. Like that you will know before hiring who would be able to do the job well and who wouldn't. I know this doesn't help you now, but it might in the future.

Consider the % of the translator's work that you had to redo and deduct it from their payment. This is normally how these things are handled in the B&M world. If your translator is a true professional, they already know that the work they sent you is bad, so they should agree with a reduction of their money.

Well that's where I'm stuck,

Well that's where I'm stuck, because at least 80% of the command lines had some type or error in it: from broken brackets, spaces left when it shouldn't, wrong accents, to complete phrases that didn't make any sense.
She did provide all the work, but I had to proofread so much that I could have hired someone just to do that.

Marian, I agree and disagree - kind of :)

Marian Cantero wrote:
is neither here not there. Through my proofreading jobs I have experienced first hand translators who charged the client nice hourly/word rates and who had no qualms about turning in work that had clearly been put through Google Translate (and I know this because on one occasion I took random paragraphs of the original text and put them through Google and the result was exactly, word by word, what this "expert translator" with lots of hours and stellar feedback had sent the client).

What puzzled me at the time was that she was on an hourly rate and she had used over 100 hours on this project...How can you use 100+ hours copying and pasting?? It took me around 60 hours to clean and rewrite her work...
d.

Yes, I have come across that myself. I was given a huge medical text to proofread and it was complete word salad. I ended up having to redo it from scratch, there wasn't even enough German in the translation to "fix" it. Again there was a tight deadline because a German doctor had been booked to proofread the paper at a huge hourly rate and I literally worked 25 hours to get it done with only a couple of breaks to let the dog out.

However, in general you DO get what you pay for with translations. You have been here longer than I have, but we have roughly the same feedback score.

I just know for a fact that neither of us would turn in a messed up translation like that because we have worked so hard for the reputation we have built up.

I keep getting invitations in the $ 0.02 per word range and always politely explain to the client that they'd be very lucky to get anything decent at that rate.

It WILL sometimes work. New contractors trying to prove themselves so taking on work at a much lower rate than usual, for example.

But it's a massive gamble.

I used to "politely explain to the client

that they'd be very lucky to get anything decent at that rate", but I don't bother anymore. I just select "Not interested" and move on... Smile

I would just pay what I think

I would just pay what I think the work is worth (and be prepared for consequences, such as lower feedback scores which would turn away (at first I wrote "distract" here, but looked it up and changed it. I am not a native speaker. Smile ) higher quality applicants the next time). Why waste bandwidth and ask rhetorical questions?

Huh?

Konstantin S. wrote:
Why waste bandwidth and ask rhetorical questions?

??

Why not?

Why not?

Maybe I'm missing something, but...

Quote:
Now, this had put me in a bad predicament, as I was on a tight deadline with my own client.

Someone paid you to do a job and you subcontracted it? (I'm assuming without the client's knowledge)

That's the source of your problem right there.

My advice is if you're going to subcontract work, do it with someone you know and trust. And obviously make sure your own deadlines aren't tight in case something goes wrong.

Oh, and like the others said, when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Ignorant much?

Joseph S. wrote:
Quote:
Now, this had put me in a bad predicament, as I was on a tight deadline with my own client.

Someone paid you to do a job and you subcontracted it? (I'm assuming without the client's knowledge)

You're assuming too much dear.

Also, you are aware that the majority of the work offered here is subcontracted work, right?

Well...

Translations N.]</p> <p>[Quote wrote:
Someone paid you to do a job and you subcontracted it? (I'm assuming without the client's knowledge)

Quote:
You're assuming too much dear.

It is an assumption, sure, but probably not an unfair one. However, the kind of client who hires at that level probably doesn't particularly care who does the work anyway.

It is not how things work at a professional level but then you've already noticed that during your hiring experience. However, at a professional level people don't accept over 100 pages of translation at a laughable budget and a tight deadline, and then scrabble trying to get it done by hiring others to do part of the work, paying peanuts.....

It's just not a very promising business model, all ethical concerns aside.