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Minimum free for translation
Thread poster: eva75

eva75
English
+ ...
May 15, 2006

Is it always necessary to charge a minimum fee for a translation and does it look unprofessional not to do this?

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xxxdf49f
France
Local time: 22:32
minimum fee of course... hardly worthwhile otherwise May 15, 2006

eva75 wrote:

Is it always necessary to charge a minimum fee for a translation and does it look unprofessional not to do this?


It isn't a matter of "looking professional" of not!
It's a matter of not being worthwhile bothering otherwise!
Imagine this example:
* 100 words multiplied by, say an average agency rate in France of 0,10 eurocent/word = 10 euros
* Time needed: switch on your PC, download e-mail from client, save it unde Word, open Word, do the translation (about 15 minutes), run Word spell-check, proofread twice, send it by e-mail to the client, write out your invoice, print it, put it in the envelope, write client's address, go to post office... = at least one hour and probably more, right?
* I pay my cleaning lady 12 euros/hour...

and you would charge 10 euros?? out of which you deduct social security charges, trade taxes, income tax etc...
all in all, it hardly seems worth it... better change job and become a cleaning lady if you really need money!

For info: my minimum fee for direct clients is 54 euro (that applies to anything under and up to 300 words) (I live and work in France).
Using 10 eurocents as an average agency fee x 300 wds = 30 euro would then be your minimum fee. (re. your other post: same reasoning would apply to proofreading 223 words)

df


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:32
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
It depends. May 15, 2006

Hi Eva,

I have a minimum fee but do not apply it often.

I have a couple of valued clients who frequently/daily in one case send small jobs (smallest one was 3 wds). I do not charge them a minimum fee. I just keep a running invoice for them and send them a monthly or bi-monthly invoice statement.


Both of them then immediately pay.
I hope that thi helps.

Good luck!
Lucinda


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Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 23:32
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Usually Yes May 15, 2006

Every time I agree on the general rates with a new client, I state a minimum price for the translation (for me it's the same as my hourly rate). I apply it very selectively though, just like Lucinda. Regular clients I might not charge anything for the occasional one to five sentences, but if the client is a new one or sends jobs very irregularly, it find it better to charge the minimum rateas, as it takes time to prepare the invoice etc.

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Iza Szczypka  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:32
English to Polish
+ ...
It really depends May 15, 2006

With one-off customers, I always charge my minimum fee.
My regular customers are always informed beforehand what my minimum fee is. And then it depends on the customer's behaviour.
If they occassionally ask about a single sentence or phrase, I may reply adding a note "minimum fee applies" or "by courtesy" - depends on the actual length and/or difficulty.
If they do it 3-4 times a week, becoming a nuisance, after a few such requests I simply add a note "please remember the minimum fee applies at all times" and turn the counter on ... it can add up to quite a nice amount at the end of month.
Most of them soon stop asking stupid questions (no context, ambiguous phrase) and come to the simple conclusion that it will be cheaper for them to order a translation of two pages than to try to do the translation by themselves, asking 6-7 questions on the way. Easier for me as well.


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xxxEmmanuelleAn  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:32
English to French
+ ...
Of course May 15, 2006

I have a minimum fee. Imagine getting paid 10 euro for a 100-word (highly) technical document that involves a lot of research and hard work...I'd rather go to the beach with my friends...

Bon courage!


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Per Bergvall  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 22:32
Member (2002)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Minimum invoice amount May 15, 2006

I have tried with some success to get my irregular outsourcers to accept a minimum monthly invoice amount of 100 EUR. By this, I mean that they can keep sending me small jobs, and I'll accumulate all month, but if the total comes to 34 EUR, the invoice will be for 100 EUR. All they have to do to avoid this, is to send me more work...
My reasoning is this:
My own time used for invoicing and follow-up easily costs 10 EUR per invoice.
My accountant's time for posting the invoice to Accounts Receivable, and posting the payment, easily costs 10 EUR.
When payment is received, the bank charges me15 EUR to process the payment.
If I were to bill the 34 EUR, I'd already have lost 1 EUR - and that's before considering that even these 34 EUR are subject to 50% income tax.
Billing 100 EUR, I at least get to enjoy 15 EUR for myself, after direct and indirect costs and taxes.
Of course, when clients send you translations with a word count of 3, there should be a standard handling charge of 10EUR or so, waived for word counts of 100 and up.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:32
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
I apply a minimum fee when there is occasion to do so May 15, 2006

Last week I got both my maximum and minimum jobs from the same regular client. The maximum job was about 35,000 words, the minimum job was a handful of words (a very short list of goods). I would not have charged for the latter at all, but for the fact that they appeared to want an invoice for the file. In the circumstances I felt that, if I had to issue an invoice, it would look unprofessional if it were for less than 10 Euros, so I wrote on it, "Minimum fee - 10 Euros".

In the case of a couple of agencies who find my normal (very fair) word rate too expensive, and therefore got into the habit of only sending me the very small jobs, because I did not apply a minimum fee and the next translator did (so I was the cheaper choice after all for very small jobs), I had to start charging a minimum fee of 25 Euros or 30 Euros. Needless to say, I stopped hearing from those agencies at all any more.

In another case, an agency sent me a test translation to do, which was sent to them by a prospective client. They knew I did not do free tests, but hoped that I would do it cheaply. I knew that the chances that they would give me the work afterwards were not too good, and that they would try to find somebody who charged less per word for the final job, so I charged them 20 Euros "minimum fee" for something that took me only five minutes to do. I did not get the job, so I was glad I had charged them 20 Euros.

As you can see, my "minimum fee" also changes to suit each occasion. That is necessary, too.

In general, I do not like minimum fees and will not apply them if I am given a regular supply of normal-length projects by the client concerned.

Astrid


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:32
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Just another thought... May 15, 2006

I was examining a translation administration program over the weekend and noticed that it contained a facility for entering into the program the minimum fee for each client separately. Therefore, I guess that my idea of a "flexible" minimum fee may not be that uncommon. In general, the same minimum fee would always apply to the same client in my above examples - because the same client always behaves in the same way.

Astrid


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Kathy Ramgahan
Local time: 16:32
English to Amharic
+ ...
This really depends May 16, 2006

If you want to cover low range of client range segment, you shouldn't charge minimums. If you want to attract "big fish", then you should charge minimums and scare away small unprofitable clients. It's all marketing so to speak...

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Jesús Marín Mateos  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
Regret May 16, 2006

Hi Eva,
I now regret not having minimum fee because one of the agencies I work for sends me one sentence everyday....and I get paid for it £0.60.....it is not worth the time that it takes to open the email, save the sentence, translate it, send it back, expect confirmation and keep an excel file with the word count to invoice at the end of the month....not worth at all.....I've learnt from the experience and will not do it again...
Good luck.
Jesus

[Edited at 2006-05-16 09:44]


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