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Outsourcer requires 20% discount (penalty) - what to do?
Thread poster: Natalia Platonova

Natalia Platonova
Russian Federation
Local time: 05:24
English to Russian
+ ...
Nov 19, 2008

Dear collegues!

Please give me an advice.
I agreed to do the translation.
The order was: USD 0.04 x 2284 words.
I translated it, sent it with delay of 20 min (message delivery),
Received no reply. It was evening, sent many times.no reply
On the following day received the message:
You were late over X min. Please apply 20% discount (penalty).

Please give your ideas what to do. To agree or disagree?


[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-11-19 08:26 GMT]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:24
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
What does the contract say? Nov 19, 2008

Take a look at your contract with the company or the PO for the job. If you did not implicitly agree to this by accepting their terms, send your invoice for the full amount. Even if you did agree, I would request documentation of actual harm suffered by the 20 minute delay. If the end customer does not get a similar discount there is certainly no reason to give one.

Perhaps the outsourcer thinks that someone willing to work for such a low rate (USD 0.04) would much rather work for less or even free. Raise your rates and you may find yourself working with a better class of client.


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:24
Dutch to English
+ ...
20 minutes? Nov 19, 2008

Was the delay that critical?

My initial reaction is to say: get lost! (or something a bit stronger)

If the rate is that low, they should expect not to be given priority. I would never have accepted the job in the first place.

Where you made aware that penalties would apply if you delivered late?


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:24
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Do you have your agreement in writing? Nov 19, 2008

That is never a good experience, Natulya, but one of the risks of the business if you don't choose your clients very carefully. Sometimes it even happens in those cases, and with the global economic situation getting worse, the risks grow exponentially. A couple of things before you even accept a job:

1. Did you check the Blue Board (or the internet, to see if they even have a website) on this company to see what the ratings were? If there are none or predominantly negative entries, I would avoid the outsourcer.

2. Did the client send you a PO - Purchase Order, an official confirmation of the assignment? If not, then there isn't really much you can do. It is a good policy to demand one in every case, at least until you know the client better.

3. USD .04 is a dumping price. I would not work for any company paying such a low rate, it makes me suspicious from the get-go, because it tells me they are not a serious agency. Their actions confirm it: They are looking for an excuse to pay even less. A 20-minute delay is not horrible, although it's not a good habit to get into. It does not justify a rate cut of 20%.

You can argue with them, but if you are not in the same country, I would guess that the chances of recovering your pay are not very good, I'm afraid. I have never had this happen to me, fortunately, so I can't really give any tips on what to do next, only on how to minimize the risk of non-payment in the future. This time you may just have to accept the cut as a loss and write it off as a lesson learned.

You should also check the forums on this subject. There is a lot of good advice there, too.

Good luck.


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Vadim Poguliaev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 05:24
English to Russian
my 13 cents Nov 19, 2008

1. Screw them, unless penalty is included in in written agreement. This may occur, if the project is extremely time-sensitive, but it's not by all means a common practise.
2. As Kevin correctly pointed, raise your rates. By accepting rates like this you are demonstrating utter disrespect to your own work, and profession as a whole, and undermine business of your peers. It may sound harsh, but it's true, and it has to be said. Even if you double your rate, it would still be extremely low.


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Natalya Zelikova  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 04:24
Member (2003)
English to Russian
+ ...
Translator's opinion Nov 19, 2008

To simplify the situation I could say that you have breached the PO or contract terms. You were the first to do this, so even if these 20 minutes were not critical, there is no reason now to expect the client to observe them.
I could try to talk to client only if I had really serious reasons for this delay.

I agree that the price is dumping (especially taking into account the rates given you profile), but again this was an agreed rate you accepted.


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Natalia Platonova
Russian Federation
Local time: 05:24
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks for the answers Nov 19, 2008

I am grateful to all of you for the answers.
I will clear the circumstances.

1. I do really know the rate was dumping.
I was in search of new customers.

2. I agreed to translate, cause hoped to increase rate next time (I know it is not an excuse)

3. Yes, I have PO number. There is no such provision of penalties in the order. The customer is a BlueBoard member with rating 4.6. They say they apply penalty cause their customer imposes 20% discount (penalty).
The agency is from the other country.
I have no experiece in cooperating with foreign agencies.
It was the first time. I am afraid I hardly will cooperate with foreign agencies again. I knew that Russian market is full of dangers, but I have never had such problems for many years with Russian customers and agencies.
Yes, I have learnt my lesson.
P.S.
What other criteria (except BlueBord rating) do you apply when choosing/ accepting new agency' order?


My kindest regards,
Natalia


[Редактировалось 2008-11-19 11:42 GMT]


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just looking for trouble Nov 19, 2008

Dealing with strangers at these prices is just looking for trouble. Credit this to experience, raise your expectations, and avoid these types of abusive 'clients'.

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:24
Dutch to English
+ ...
Bottom-feeders Nov 19, 2008

Sorry to be so blunt, but if you work with the profession's bottom-feeders, then it should hardly come as a surprise when they start employing these type of tactics.

From a legal point of view, they may well have no leg to stand on. I can't comment, we don't have all the facts, but at the end of day it makes no difference what the 'legal position' is.

Fact is, they know damn well they're never going to be embroiled in legal proceedings over peanuts like this, so they just don't give a proverbial s***.

Instead of wasting further time with this, my advice is put it down to experience and spend the time looking for a better class of client.



[Edited at 2008-11-19 10:23 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:24
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Only if the agreement says so Nov 19, 2008

Natulya wrote:
You were late over X min. Please apply 20% discount (penalty).


If the PO and/or contract you have with them says this, then you must accept it, but if the PO and/or contract does not mention this kind of penalty, then I would find it unreasonable.

Still, you did deliver late. How late would you consider reasonably late?


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Igor Indruch  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 03:24
English to Czech
Never work for low rates! Nov 19, 2008

Woodstock wrote:

3. USD .04 is a dumping price. I would not work for any company paying such a low rate, it makes me suspicious from the get-go.


Absolutely. This was my first thought. Never, never, never accept such jobs - you harm yourself and others as well.

And I agree with this as well:

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

Instead of wasting further time with this, my advice is put it down to experience and spend the time looking for a better class of client.



[Edited at 2008-11-19 11:29 GMT]


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:24
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
What I would do Nov 19, 2008

Natulya wrote:

....They say they apply penalty cause their customer impose 20% discount (penalty).




That is no excuse, especially if they can't verify it somehow. I would be very suspicious about their reason. Your agreement is with the agency, not their customer, so that is comparing apples and oranges. It is their problem to sort things out with their customer, and if there is no penalty clause in the PO, it has nothing to do with you. It also seems foolish for an agency not to include a time cushion between the translator's delivery and returning the finished document to the client for that very reason. The whole thing sounds very phony to me. However, I can't tell you what the legal basis is, someone more informed will have to do that.

I can only tell you what I would do: write the invoice in the full amount, and don't sell your services so cheaply again. Just remember that once you have named a price to a client, it will be very, very difficult to raise it later. Look for better clients at a fair price. I started lower (not that low, however), until I gained more experience and found out what my market value was, and just kept looking for better-paying clients in steps as I added to my references and recommendations. Now I'm in the happy situation where I can pick and choose my jobs, but it takes time and patience.

Edited to add:
As I see it, you can do one of two things: write the invoice for the full amount and argue with them, at the risk of not seeing any of the money owed you, or swallow your pride and don't argue, accept the 20% cut and move on in the hope that you will at least get the 80%.

[Edited at 2008-11-19 11:48 GMT]


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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:24
English to French
+ ...
5% Nov 19, 2008

Ok I will try to help and not immediately jump to stomp on the person who comes to a Proz forum seeking help.

1) Natulya, you can work with other foreign agencies in the future. They are not all like that.

2) There is no clause for the 20% in your agreement. That's good for you.

I think you can plead that you sent the document 20 minutes late in "good faith", that is, you estimated that the hour of delivery was just an indication, that, is not exactly with a precision to the minute, and you needed those 20 minutes to send a perfect work.

That is often the case in agencies. They ask you to deliver at a certain time, but they manage something like one hour or one day for various processes of checking, editing, sending...

Now they say that their own client imposes a reduction of 20%. If they can prove it, I think you can do nothing. You must accept the 20% yourself.

If they cannot prove it, I think you could negociate a reduction of 5% only.

HTH

Arnaud


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:24
English to German
+ ...
Where does this come from? Nov 19, 2008

Natulya wrote:
They say they apply penalty cause their customer imposes 20% discount (penalty).


Please forget about that one. In case they claim that they were forced to forward the file to their client 20 minutes late - hahahahaha! - the proofreader was supposed to do his / her job within a nanosecond? That's their job as an agency!


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:24
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Next steps Nov 19, 2008

1. Send your invoice for the full amount
2. Wait and see what happens

If the payment deadline passes, put a note on the Blue Board with an appropriate score indicating that this agency does not pay on time.

Please note that you must not say anything at all about a BB posting to the agency as this would violate ProZ rules. Just do it.

If the agency tries to blackmail you by demanding that you change your BB post, notify staff immediately and forward any correspondence indicating this. Never make any threats yourself.

If you are not paid in full, take steps to see if it is possible to get these zookeepers banned from posting their worthless jobs here.

[Edited at 2008-11-20 06:35 GMT]


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