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Being asked to accept rate cuts for the next 2 years to come?
Thread poster: lillkakan
lillkakan
Local time: 16:59
English to Swedish
Mar 20, 2008

I was wondering if this has ever happened to anyone else and what your response was. Is this common practice? Basically, an agency which I have worked with for about a year (at a rate per word that is now about 50% below my average) is now asking me to further cut my rates (when I was looking to -raising- them).

..."unless we come down in price and agree to take a rate cut each year, we will no longer be able to get work from [client]. /.../ Give me your bottom line prices /.../ with the understanding that the prices will need to be good until 2010. /.../ I don't need your current rates, I need the lowest you can go with the understanding that in a year [client] will probably translate an average of 250,000-400,000 words in each language...

I mean, I can understand that the agency is stuck between a major client on one end and me on the other - but in two years time it's my goal as a business to earn MORE not less?? Even with the "promise" of 400k words in the coming year, those words would be worth twice as much at my current standard rate - why would I want less?

I suppose it's of some significance that the end client is American, a large (we're talking HUGE) corporation based in the USA - could this be their response to the current recession? I need some advice on how to respond to this, I'm starting to feel that I have no other choice but to stop working for this agency.


...anyone got any good tips for getting end clients, not agency clients?


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:59
English to German
+ ...
Straight answer... Mar 20, 2008

I'm starting to feel that I have no other choice but to stop working for this agency.

Precisely.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 10:59
English to Spanish
seconded Mar 20, 2008

Ralf Lemster wrote:

I'm starting to feel that I have no other choice but to stop working for this agency.

Precisely.

Best regards,
Ralf



Not worth your time


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:59
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
There is another possibility Mar 20, 2008

lillkakan wrote:
I need some advice on how to respond to this, I'm starting to feel that I have no other choice but to stop working for this agency.


Ask them to cut their margin by 50%, and then some more, but only for 2 years.

Gianfranco


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:59
English to French
+ ...
Ditto Mar 20, 2008

I agree with all the other replies. You could also tell your client the truth, that they already pay you much less than your other clients. How about saying something along the lines of: "Funny you just requested to talk rates - I was just about to contact you to announce my new, higher rate." Seriously, though, I would simply quit working with these people. There is no business where people lower their rates over time - if anything, rates should be raised, not lowered.

lillkakan wrote:

I suppose it's of some significance that the end client is American, a large (we're talking HUGE) corporation based in the USA - could this be their response to the current recession?



If the client is in the US, then you are being skinned alive. Their currency is worth less now, and this means that if you are being paid in US dollars, you are already losing money. And they want you to lower your rates to top it off??? Some nerve they have! I have an agency client in the US who raised my rate in January, on their own, without me having to ask for it. Trust me, the recession has nothing to do with this one.

All the best!

[Edited at 2008-03-20 16:42]


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:59
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
What I don't understand is why you are working for them Mar 20, 2008

lillkakan wrote:

I have worked with [them] for about a year (at a rate per word that is now about 50% below my average)



I don't understand: why are you working for them if they pay you half your rate?

Their question is easier to answer if you refrase it:

"Dear translator, you are already earning half your normal rate whenever you accept a job from us; you now have the opportunity to work for us most of the year, but only if you accept to work for a still lower rate. Are you willing to forego the possibility of accepting work at 100% your rate from other customers because you are already committed to 40% of your rate for us?"

[Edited at 2008-03-20 16:51]


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:59
Dutch to English
+ ...
Nice one Riccardo Mar 20, 2008

Riccardo Schiaffino wrote:

"Dear translator, you are already earning half your normal rate whenever you accept a job from us; you now have the opportunity to work for us most of the year, but only if you accept to work for a still lower rate. Are you willing to forego the possibility of accepting work at 100% your rate from other customers because you are already committed to 40% of your rate for us?"


Tell them to take a flying leap ...


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Ana Cuesta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:59
Member
English to Spanish
Simple maths Mar 20, 2008

I for one prefer to work half-time at my full-rate than full-time at half-rate. Same earnings and more free time to enjoy and to look for better-paying customers.

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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:59
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Rate cuts Mar 20, 2008

Are they asking you to cut your rates for all of their clients or for just this one particular client?

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George Fabian
Local time: 16:59
Polish to English
Tell them to take a long walk on a short pier Mar 20, 2008

I agree fully with all of the above responses, in particular the one from Ana. Better to invest your time in finding better paying clients than waste your time doing slave labor.

Respect yourself and your clients will respect you - that's my motto.

George


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:59
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Sounds good; time to negotiate, then Mar 20, 2008

lillkakan wrote:
Even with the "promise" of 400k words in the coming year, those words would be worth twice as much at my current standard rate - why would I want less?


There is the promise of a steady income, however. Still, you can't spend all your time on that single client, because you will damage your business by being unable to accept other, new clients and work from existing other clients.

Let see... this agency offers:

* 200 000 words (don't believe that high 400k estimate)
* from a single client (so there is consistency and familiarity)
* over the next two years

So, tell them that you're excited about the prospect of regular work because you realise that a regular income will off-set the lower rate you're about to charge.

Accept a rate that is 30% lower than your normal rate. This does, of course, entirely depend on them sending you at least 10 000 words per month from this client. If the number of words in any month drops to below 9 000 words from that particular client, your normal rate will apply for that month.

Don't listen to the nay-sayers on this forum. This is an excellent opportunity, but you must make sure you get hold of their balls.

You might also want to promise no more than 5 hours a day, because you have other regular clients who take up some of your time every day. Right?


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Michael Pauls
Germany
Local time: 16:59
English to German
Excellent advice! Mar 20, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:

Don't listen to the nay-sayers on this forum. This is an excellent opportunity, but you must make sure you get hold of their balls.



Exactly. Don't fret - follow Samuel's advice and try to get the most out of this. He got you on the right track.

mp


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lillkakan
Local time: 16:59
English to Swedish
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks all for the input Mar 20, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:

There is the promise of a steady income, however.

Accept a rate that is 30% lower than your normal rate. This does, of course, entirely depend on them sending you at least 10 000 words per month from this client. If the number of words in any month drops to below 9 000 words from that particular client, your normal rate will apply for that month.

Don't listen to the nay-sayers on this forum.

You might also want to promise no more than 5 hours a day, because you have other regular clients who take up some of your time every day. Right?


(sorry about the edits, but i hate long quotes)

Your suggestion wouldn't be so bad I guess, if it weren't for a few things:

* They already pay me too little. I was looking to suggest a raise, not a cut, in the first place.
* To negotiate demands like the ones you suggest requires things I don't have: Time and capacity to keep track of them all. And time to enforce the agreement, should they deviate from it. It just feels like too much time spent for too little.


Most of all I'm just amazed that this can even be suggested - and I'm slightly upset that the agency doesn't seem to have the balls to stand up to the end client which obviously won't suffer any significant losses to pay a few cents more for their translations. It makes me wish I could go to this meeting and really tell them how I feel.

I actually already sent my reply to the agency, telling them they pay me too little already and if anything I was looking to raise my rates this year, especially since they won't pay me in euro instead...

Anyway, thanks all for the input! I guess it just feels a bit scary when you're still establishing yourself, to turn down prospect of work - even when you -know- it's the "right" thing to do, having read all the discussions about rates and selling yourself short and all..


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:59
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's time to... Mar 20, 2008

It's time to start looking for new clients. LOTS of work at LOW rates puts you in the same category as those who flip burgers. Maintain your dignity and self-respect and look around for something else to do. That's why you're a freelancer: you've got the FREEdom to call the shots!

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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 17:59
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
I recently dropped a client for that very reason Mar 20, 2008

We negotiated a rate for 2007 (they talked me into reducing it by half a cent promising large volumes - and kept their promises... at least for the first three or four months). Then the inflow of jobs dropped down to a few hundred euro per month. In January, I received a fax where the masic rate was cut by half a cent further. The explanation was, "we are setting up a network of offices throughout Europe" - was I supposed to finance their development?

We parted.


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