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minimum charge - in any case?
Thread poster: smarinella
smarinella  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:37
Member (2004)
German to Italian
+ ...
May 31, 2004

I have a small question about minimum charge:

I never asked for it, although I know all the arguments in favour of it. I don't do it first because I don't like it and seconly because I think it's better, especially with a new client, to be nice and not give the impression you charge 3/4 lines as a half page or something like it.

So under 3/4 lines I do it free of charge, otherwise I count the lines as usual.

Recently, talking with other colleagues, they told me I should change my ideas and aske for it IN ANY CASE, otherwise they would doubt of my seriousness and professionality.

What do you think about it?


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:37
I guess it varies depending on the style of each translator May 31, 2004

This is how I do it: I inform all my new clients that the minimum charge is US $25, so it is up to them if they ask for a translation of five lines or five pages.

When a new client has become a customary client, and all of a sudden they need the translation of a word or a sentence, or my opinion on the use of one term over another, then I do it for free, precisely because it is a regular client.

I am sure you will get many different ideas from other colleagues.

P.S. I have a particular arrangement with one client: Every month we always open an invoice for "short translations", where I accumulate the price for all the bits and pieces they ask me to translate during the period, and which I send to them on the last day of the month.

[Edited at 2004-06-01 15:37]

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:37
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Similar to Rosa May 31, 2004

I have a minimum charge of GBP20, which I stick to in well over 90% of cases. But I don't mind doing ten minutes work for a regular client for less than this. I have not lately found anyone asking me for freebies, but I did once, years ago. An agency from which I had never had any work asked me to translate a few words, free. I did so, and a month or two later, I again translated a few words, free. When they asked for a third time, still without them having sent me any work, I billed them for my minimum charge, and they were quite indignant about it, but they did pay it. I never heard from them again.

[Edited at 2004-05-31 21:33]

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Andrea Ali  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:37
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Exactly May 31, 2004

Rosa Maria Duenas Rios wrote:

When a new client has become a customary client, and all of a sudden they need the translation of a word or a sentence, or my opinion on the use of one term over another, then I do it for free, precisely because it is a regular client.

I was once asked to translate about 60 words. I told the person that I was going to charge her a minimum fee (250 words). She agreed and I got paid.

I do not know if it has to do with your seriousness and professionality. It is just your job. Free would be OK for a friend, IMO.


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Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:37
German to English
+ ...
It depends on the client Jun 1, 2004

Hi Smarinella,

I agree with Rosa and Jack.

I have quite a few regular clients and I wouldn't even consider applying a minimum charge for them because they give me so much other work that I could just add the one small job to another big bill.

As for one-off clients or agencies: There are agencies out there who just ring you now and again for the odd sentence (sometimes even out of your mother tongue, which I refuse). Be careful with such agencies, because some of them are just users and the cooperation often simply isn't worthwhile. I don't mind translating the odd sentence for free for a regular client, but I do mind issuing a bill for 5 EURO or so, just because I feel bad about applying a minimum charge for a few words. Some worthwhile cooperations do start out with the translation of sentences or small jobs, but if you keep hearing from the same agency only when they need a sentence or so (without them giving you any proper work), be careful! It just distracts you from more profitable work and that can be both annoying and stressful.

All the best,


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vixen  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:37
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Agree with Sarah Jun 1, 2004

The agencies that come to you only when they need a few words or so are often looking for free or ultra-cheap translations. I have recently learned that lesson. You translate a few sentences for free to show your good will, but when they have a 'real' job, they decide that you are too expensive and take their business elsewhere.

Serious customers, be it agencies or direct clients, usually have no problem with minimum rates. They don't give their products or services away for free either. I have a regular client, who sometimes sends me a few additional sentences or strings to translate, but they themselves always indicate that they will pay my minimum rate for the job (separate invoice) or add an hour to the next PO (next invoice).

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