Translators, like everyone else in the world, wish to be paid for their work in a timely manner. I understand this and, as such, our company has made the decision to pay our translators twice a month. We pay for all jobs from the 1-15th and then the 16th-31st. Same thing every month. I personally like to know when I am getting paid, I think that is fair and reasonable.
Two translation companies we are quite friendly with have different policies. One pays their translators every 8 weeks. They process pay every 2 months! Another company holds the first check from each one of their contractors, translators and interpreters, in a pool. Contractors are paid only their second check and every check after. They only receive their first check AFTER 6 months of work. These are just some of the ways translation companies combat the wait between when a customer is billed and when a customer pays: they pass the pain on to the translators.
G2Local has resolved not to work like the others but, most recently, our short pay turn around has landed us into trouble.
Just a few weeks ago we completed the translation of a large customer manual into Swedish. All was well, we sent the completed document back to the client and received a “thank you.” We paid the translator within the next pay period, which was, in this case, about 6 days.
Three days after paying the translation team, customer bounces back an email with about 11 questions regarding the translation. Customer was not questioning the quality of the translation; he simply wanted clarification on a few points. Apparently they had shown the manual to someone within the company who speaks Swedish, and they had a few questions. This back and forth happens often, it is to be expected in translation. Customers are often new to translation and they don’t understand what being a professional is. We patiently answer their questions and clarify until the customer is satisfied.
Translator flat out refused to answer the questions. He had already been paid, so why should he spend any more time on this project? He emailed us back and told us to tell the customer he was a professional and they wouldn’t question their attorney so why would they question him?
The next example that comes to mind was a marketing project we did a month and a half ago for a client. Our customer had some packaging they wanted translated into Chinese; the project was fairly straightforward and we completed it, paid for it, all was well. The project was medium volume, it was not the biggest project we have ever done but it also was not small.
About a month later the same client called us and asked if we would simply switch the mission statement that was stated on the bottom of the package translation to a more updated version of their mission statement. We are talking about switching one sentence for another, not a huge use of time. Had it been another language, we may have been able to do it in-house but, in this instance, we opted to send it back to the original translator.
Now, in this situation, we were indeed sending the translator a new translation, and we understand that no one works for free. Nevertheless, we were not pleased when the translator refused to make any discount to his minimum price. As a business, we simply switched the sentence out free of charge as a customer service bonus for our client. The translator was under no obligation to do the same but it made us think twice before we used that particular linguist’s services again. We do not feel that we as a company would or should continue to make updates endlessly for clients but how much could we realistically have charged our client for this request? Was it $50 worth of work for the translator to switch a sentence?
I feel that customers should have 7-10 days after a translation is completed to ask questions or make changes. This is fair and reasonable. I am not suggesting translators make changes to long completed documents. I also feel pretty good about our twice a month pay period, I think it is fair and reasonable. It is very difficult for a language services company to bill and pay each translation on a different schedule. We have to choose some kind of parameters, we choose twice a month.
Translators, just because you have been paid, please do not forget your customer service! We don’t want to “bother” you either but we do have customers on the other end that sometimes ask us questions about completed documents. They are usually short simple queries too, at least in my experience. Standoffs occur out of ego not out of principle at times.
Any feedback from translators or agencies out there? What pay practices bother you and what suggestions do you have for my company in regard to customer service?