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Was I wrong ?
Thread poster: Salima Post

Salima Post
United States
Local time: 12:20
English to French
Aug 29, 2008

I have been working with this particular agency for the past few months and I had already lowered my rates in exchange of weekly assignments.

On 2 or 3 occasions, I have done work for this agency with a same day delivery without charging extra. Short translations or proofreading works that I know I can do in a short time! They never offer to pay extra for any of these jobs.

Today, I received another job but this time not only the deadline was several hours away but the rates were lowered because of some client issues.

Yes, I could have only declined without asking for an explanation. Nevertheless, I did the opposite. I thanked the agency for the offer and declined the job. However, I asked why the fees for that particular job have been lowered and added that the next time I will have to charge them an extra 50% for same day delivery. (Btw, do you consider this as a rush job?).

Their response was quite surprising to me.

"It is simply because the client is paying less due to specific issues and, because we are free to offer what we can and ask everybody. Each professional knows what they can accept and what they cannot accept, so I do not see the problem if offering what is available for them. I really do not know why we have to explain ourselves to you, you can simply say no. I will refrain from sending these offers to you in the future."

After all, I have helped them on several occasions with a last minute work without charging extra. Do you think that it was wrong of me to ask the reason why the rates were lower than usual with a same day delivery? Is it wrong of me to say that I will charge extra next time? What can I tell them in my reply?

Granted, I am a newbie as a translator but the cost of living is not getting any cheaper and unfortunately, rates are getting lower and lower. Agencies are expecting us to give them our "best rates" and they still want the lowest rates possible and work tight deadlines? Do they know that we have overheads as well because we are freelancers? Do they know that without US translators, their business will not exist? Do they realize that we are people who are entitle to earn a decent living and make some extras dollars or Euros when possible?

What do you think?


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 12:20
German to English
Don't be a doormat Aug 29, 2008

The agency has already taken advantage of your inexperience and wants to exploit you further. There are lots of good agencies, but unfortunately it takes a while to find them.

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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 14:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Reply? Aug 29, 2008

morgan17 wrote:
...
What can I tell them in my reply?
...


If I were you I wouldn't reply. Your time would be better spent finding properly-paid work elsewhere.

MediaMatrix


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Ligia Dias Costa  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:20
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No! Aug 29, 2008

Of course, you are not wrong. Agencies are free to offer prices and freelancers are free to accept them or not. Some offer higher prices and some lower. It is a free market and agencies are playing their part: buying at the lowest price possible and selling at the highest price possible.
My advice: try to find one agency with bigs amounts of work to give you a steady income. An then, look for better paid jobs - there are lots in the market, mostly from end clients.

Good luck!


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Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 19:20
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
No but... Aug 29, 2008

I think you have been wrong in lowering you rates for them in the first place. Stick to your rates (or raise them)!

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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:20
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
You should have seen this coming Aug 29, 2008

Interesting that the other Kevin used the word "doormat" - that's exactly the word that popped into my head before I got half way through your post. Don't be surprised if the agency shows an abusive attitude after you've already allowed them to walk over you and take you on their own terms.

Blow these people off, get a spine and insist on proper rates and professional business exchanges. Develop a business plan for establishing a clientele that pays good rates and for distributing your risk so that you are not overly dependent on a few clients and stick to it. That plan might include doing something about your profile on ProZ, which can be an excellent draw for good customers if done right. The current version basically says "I have no experience and no confidence - please walk all over me!"

As for rates, I don't think they are getting lower for those who can deliver high quality work and who have a viable plan for marketing their services. If you don't have an in-demand specialty - get one! Or look forward to rough decades ahead scrambling for the scraps of business letters and tourist web sites. Translation is a wonderful, fun profession - for me at least - but they key to making it worthwhile is staying in control of your business relationships. If at some point you can't get to where your clientele needs you more than you need them, you are probably in the wrong profession.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:20
Dutch to English
+ ...
Agree ... Aug 29, 2008

Kevin Lossner wrote:

As for rates, I don't think they are getting lower for those who can deliver high quality work and who have a viable plan for marketing their services. If you don't have an in-demand specialty - get one!


Raise your game and you won't need to deal with the cowboys any more.


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:20
Portuguese to English
+ ...
??? Aug 29, 2008

I guess I'm in disagreement with practically everyone here, but I've never heard of charging extra for same-day delivery.

Amy


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Alfredo Fernández Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
Your client must appreciate you, as well as pay you according to your rates Aug 29, 2008

This is rather unbelievable... as well as humilliating... You accept rush jobs from them, at no extra charge, and they, on top of that, bite you back when you ask them the reasons for it.

If I were you, I would be much better off simply ridding myself from this unappreciative, rude and low-paying agency.

Yes, THEY need people like you to survive... without people like yourselves and others, they would go out of business...


Whereas YOU CAN have direct clients, and YOU DON'T HAVE TO DEPEND from 'agencies' like this one, if it deserves this name.

I would simply not accept any further jobs from them.

At the most, if financial desperation hits you, I would ask 50-75% your normal rate:
it is a rush job, and you have no obligation of taking it.

But, even so, I would much rather not to have anything to do with this 'low-end of the scale' 'agencies'.

Can you ring a self-employed (plumber/electricist/etc) at any time, and ask them any service, at no extra charge?
Can you impose them your price, or do they accept whatever you may want to pay them?

The answer is, simply, NO!

This is the principle, and how it works out.

Do not let yourself be undersold! Or, do not let the agency haggle your rates down!

Alfredo

[Edited at 2008-08-29 20:03]


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shfranke  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:20
English to Arabic
+ ...
Concur with other respondents: you are better off without such lsoers Aug 29, 2008

Greetings.

I concur with other respondents.

You are better off without contending with such losers.

Accepting short-deadline projects and with payment at lower rates in the first place is a surprising practice, and that acquiescence may have exposed you more to such abusive treatment by that firm.

Good luck in growing your business with direct clients and with other firms in the global language services industry.

Regards,

Stephen H. Franke
English - Arabic, Kurdish & Persian
San Pedro, California


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:20
Dutch to English
+ ...
Hi Amy Aug 29, 2008

Amy Duncan wrote:

I guess I'm in disagreement with practically everyone here, but I've never heard of charging extra for same-day delivery.

Amy


That has a lot to do - I suspect - with the language pair we both share (Portuguese to English). I can't talk for Brazilian or most American clients, but if the Portuguese market itself is anything to go by, it's not the norm, and that's perhaps why you haven't heard about it.

However, in my other language pair, Dutch to English, the situation couldn't be more different. Nobody - who I've encountered at any rate - gets offended if you raise the issue and a lot of my Dutch clients offer a rush rate of their own accord. One earlier this week, for instance, simply raised my 'general legal text' rate (for a standard contract) from EUR 0.12 to EUR 0.16 on the PO, without us even discussing my 'rush rate' and it wasn't even a same-day delivery (which is why I didn't consider it a rush job and never raised the issue).

Imagine trying that in Portugal for PT»EN - you'd give someone a heart attack

Needless to say, the amount of Portuguese I'm doing these days is steadily decreasing and I never do same-day or even next-day PT jobs. I just do enough, a few select jobs for a few clients who all pay 30 days, to keep in practice.

It's ironic actually, because PT»EN requires far more effort than NL»EN - you know how contrived and 'flowery' PT can get.



[Edited at 2008-08-29 20:18]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:20
English to French
+ ...
Laughing in your face Aug 29, 2008

You were wrong. Not in the way you handled this specific situation that you describe. Rather in the way you've been "handling" this client from the beginning.

You accepted to lower your rate in exchange for regular work. You accepted urgent work without charging a surcharge. What message did the agency get? That you were willing to bow low before them and by extension, that you think you depend on them. You gave them a weapon to point at you.

If you replied the way you replied to this client, it is probably because you have a minimum below which you are not willing to go. If the client can't understand that, you are probably better off without them, especially seeing how rudely they reply.

All the best!


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:20
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Ahhhh, so that's it. Aug 29, 2008

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:That has a lot to do - I suspect - with the language pair we both share (Portuguese to English). I can't talk for Brazilian or most American clients, but if the Portuguese market itself is anything to go by, it's not the norm, and that's perhaps why you haven't heard about it.

Imagine trying that in Portugal for PT»EN - you'd give someone a heart attack


Well, I'm sure that would be true in Brazil as well, since I've never heard of such a thing!

Thanks, Debs.

Amy


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Salima Post
United States
Local time: 12:20
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
I never thought of myself as a doormat ... Aug 30, 2008

Kevin Fulton wrote:

The agency has already taken advantage of your inexperience and wants to exploit you further. There are lots of good agencies, but unfortunately it takes a while to find them.


but yes, I look like one. I wanted to gain experience but not at all cost. I realize that now and I will be working on that and will try to find the good agencies. Thanks.


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Salima Post
United States
Local time: 12:20
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
I thought of it... Aug 30, 2008

mediamatrix wrote:

morgan17 wrote:
...
What can I tell them in my reply?
...


If I were you I wouldn't reply. Your time would be better spent finding properly-paid work elsewhere.

MediaMatrix


by not replying so that things don't escalate. After all, my time is precious and I should concentrate on better things such as working on my profile.

Thanks.


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