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Freelancers charged for agency's time spent editing?
Thread poster: cathsal

cathsal

Local time: 00:43
Italian to English
+ ...
Mar 14, 2007

An agency has informed me that due to (so far unspecified) "non compliances" in a 2000 word translation which I sent them a week ago, they are charging me 35 euros for the hour they claim they spent editing it.
I requested to see the file a couple of hours ago and am still waiting. Having re-read my original translation I cannot see any obvious mistakes at all.
They have done this kind of thing before, always several days after I have sent in the translation. Usually the corrections are, to my mind, stylistic changes...so far I have always paid up, deducting the amount from my invoice, as they will not back down.

It seems ridiculous to me that an agency can charge freelancers for the in-house editors' time, at an hourly rate much higher than what they pay freelancers per hour (a miserable 15 euros in this case!!) Surely editors are there for precisely that reason.

No other agency I work for has this policy as far as I am aware (not having had any complaints from other agencies) and I was wondering if any of you have had similar experiences.


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Jalapeno
Local time: 00:43
English to German
... Mar 14, 2007

My advice: Stop working for them. Ridiculous behavior, in my opinion.

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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 00:43
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Jalapeno is right! Mar 14, 2007

The function of making minor/stylish corrections of a translation is exactly what an agency has to take responsibility for.

If they think there are too many, they can drop you but they cannot charge for it.

If you disagree, negotiate or drop them.

MW


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:43
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
They are not worth bothering with Mar 14, 2007

Hi,

You have three options. First, accept it. Second, not accept it and have nothing else to do with them. Third, inform them that your fees have grown by exactly the same amount they charge you for editing and then they can edit as much as they like.
I personally would choose option two. A 2000 word translation does not sound like a lot of work and money so they seem expendable to me seeing as they do not value you at all. Their behavior is totally inappropriate. Any project should have a proofreader and if this agency does not have one they are showing a ghastly lack of professionalism.

Cheers,
Ines


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:43
English to German
+ ...
Nice try... Mar 14, 2007

...and obviously (as well as unfortunately), a successful one.

The only situation where I have suggested a reduction in the amount invoiced is where the work delivered was substandard, and required a significantly longer amount of time editing. In any such case, I have given the freelancer the option of reducing the invoice, or getting full payment (whereby I made it clear that in the latter case, it would be the last job).

I would not take any further assignments from such an outsourcer.

Best regards,
Ralf


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cathsal

Local time: 00:43
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Mar 14, 2007

Thanks for your support - I know they are ethically in the wrong and am glad you all agree. Whether it's legally wrong is another matter.

I know I should drop them...but unfortunately in recent months they have been my biggest client, by a long way.
I've been in this quandary for 6 months now and would love nothing more to drop them for precisely this kind of mercenary attitude and, for example, their policy of paying after 120 days (often with added delays on top of that!), not accepting my recent attempt to raise my rates by 5%...the list goes on.
My plan is to find better clients and "release myself" from their clutches as soon as it's feasible!


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 00:43
French to English
+ ...
Is that all? Mar 14, 2007

Didn't they bill you for postage, expenses related to finding clients, coffee consumption, their phone bill or office cleaning charges?

You should be happy to work for such a generous agency. In fact, you should probably send them more money.

Or you could tell them to **** ***.

Personally, I would go with plan B

Terry.


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 00:43
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
You said it ... Mar 14, 2007

My plan is to find better clients and "release myself" from their clutches as soon as it's feasible!


I was about to write it myself. And don't stop too soon. I guess five, six, with not one of them over 30% of revenues is to go for.

Wish you all the best.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 23:43
Dutch to English
+ ...
Don't be a beggar for punishment Mar 14, 2007

cathsal wrote:

I know I should drop them...


You're right, like a hot potato!

If they only pay after 120 days (more than reason enough), stop now - you've got time to find better clients, do work and get paid over that period, rather than allowing this particularly vicious circle to carry on any longer.

They probably know you have most of your eggs in their basket, it's an untenable situation. Break the cycle of abuse. Don't go back for more.

It's also practically humanly impossible to deliver your best work when you feel like this about a client anyhow.

My advice: take the plunge and put the energy into something worthwhile, market yourself instead of wasting your time with these lowlifes.

Good luck,
Deborah



[Edited at 2007-03-14 12:44]


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Amy Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:43
Italian to English
+ ...
Seconded Mar 14, 2007

Terry Richards wrote:

Or you could tell them to **** ***.

Personally, I would go with plan B

Terry.


Cathsal,
Sorry to hear about this.

By sticking with them you have given them tacit acceptance of their (wildly unprofessional) conditions, but only now see fit to complain, so you're rapidly running out of legs to stand on...! Break the cycle - ditch them before you end up paying their taxes as well and find yourself some decent clients who respect you and the work that you do.

Best of luck,
Amy


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cathsal

Local time: 00:43
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
plenty of baskets but... Mar 14, 2007

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

They probably know you have most of your eggs in their basket,


The irony is I have about 10 regular clients but there's just very little work coming in at the moment!
I quite often turn work down from them if at all possible, in busier periods, sometimes just because I can't be bothered with all the inevitable hassle.

However, point taken, I can't wait to tell them where to go.

This agency should come with a health warning...


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sara menzietti  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 00:43
English to Italian
+ ...
sorry for all this Mar 14, 2007

if this agency has been a client of yours for a long way and has criticised your translations for "non compliances", I do not understand why they keep on assigning jobs to you??? I think they like your works and for this reason they keep on collaborating with you, so they need you, don't they? I would add that agencies should take their risks... business is business...
As far as my professional experience in agencies is concerned, I have never heard of an agency charging translators the time spent on editing their work... therefore it's time for you to drop them.
Good luck!


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Theresa Lung  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:43
English to Chinese
Don't wait and see Mar 14, 2007

cathsal wrote:

The irony is I have about 10 regular clients but there's just very little work coming in at the moment!
I quite often turn work down from them if at all possible, in busier periods, sometimes just because I can't be bothered with all the inevitable hassle.

However, point taken, I can't wait to tell them where to go.

This agency should come with a health warning...


cathsal,

Don't wait for "new big client" and see "if you can drop that unethical agency"

Normally, company would drop you if your quality is bad, however, they don't! That means your work is good! And I believe all my co-workers here at Proz.com is so professional to be discovered by good and ethical agencies.

Instead of continuing to deal with them, you should spend your time in polishing your profile, uploading your portfolio, and sending your letter to good agencies with high rating in the Blue Board.

Small project dosen't mean nothing. It is a test for both the agecy and you. For the agency, they will make this a chance to see your quality and responsiveness; for you, you can see that agency's practices, e.g. prompt payment? good project management?

Good relationship will build up gradually then and big project will come accordingly. You know why? Because a good partnership has established and the agency have reliable translators on hand so that they have more power to bid even bigger projects!


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 15:43
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Horrible behavior Mar 14, 2007

It seems that this "agency" is milking both you, the translator, and their end client to keep their profit as high as possible. They're probably paying you half of what they're making with this project and, by forcing you to make deductions on your invoice, they're pushing their profit margin even further! That's really outrageous!

As the owner of a small translation agency myself, I would never do that to one of my translators. I've been working with about 10 professionals for some time now because I trust them and their work requires minimal editing. They're valuable assets to this company, not a liability, so it makes sense to keep them in our team.

However, when we got a large job last year and had to hire a couple of new freelancers (who had excellent resumes and did good sample translations, by the way) to help our current freelancers with the workload, we noticed that these two people joining our team could be considered frauds, for their work was really below any rational professional standard.

I worked on the project myself as the proofreader and was really ticked off by the low quality of their product. Still, as a business, I had to step back, take a deep breath and, instead of charging them for the extra time I had to spend reworking their documents, I simply paid them in full when their respective invoices were due and removed their names from our list of freelancers for good.

In other words, I'll never work with them again because even if they paid me for our proofreader's time (in this case, my own time as the text editor) it wouldn't compensate such a headache. And, as a business, I'm able to claim it as a business loss, because if I couldn't work on the project as an editor I would have hired a third party and paid for their time from the company's own pocket.

To make things short: DROP THEM! They're not a real agency, they're scammers that are just wasting your precious time!

Good luck!


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Navy Huang
China
Local time: 07:43
English to Chinese
+ ...
Torture similar to yours Mar 14, 2007

[quote]cathsal wrote:


I know I should drop them...but unfortunately in recent months they have been my biggest client, by a long way.
I've been in this quandary for 6 months now and would love nothing more to drop them...[quote]


One of my two major clients during those days when I just stepped into translation industry offered "acceptable" rates then though with indecent policies such as payment on 25th of the month following that of delivery, 5% income tax (3% in China and we used electronic invoices that actually won't be taxed by the government), tricky word count (i.e. Korean characters instead of the publicly accepted Chinese characters)...At the beginning I made several attempts to better the terms but in vain, e.g. once I asked the PM "Aren't my attention, energy and skill worth a decent payment?", can you guys guess what the answer is----"Even though we do not pay you more you still will work hard on it, won't you?"....After that I never attempted to raise the rates but worked even harder to improve my skills and to find more reputable clients who are happy to pay for high-quality translation.

And I realize one thing, i.e. never try to change anyone! Once there is some serious problem with someone, in my opinion, we either accept them or drop them! Good luck.




[Edited at 2007-03-15 01:04]


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