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Poll: How much extra do you charge direct clients (opposed to the normal fee you charge agencies)?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
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Jan 3, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How much extra do you charge direct clients (opposed to the normal fee you charge agencies)?".

This poll was originally submitted by Irene Elmerot

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:13
Spanish to English
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Funny, I think of it the other way around Jan 3, 2007

I think of it as "how much of a discount should I provide to agencies"?

The fee I charge direct clients is my base rate (and is, I suspect, rather less than what most reliable agencies would charge them).


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Irene Elmerot  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 03:13
Member (2005)
Dutch to Swedish
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Differs depending on most clients Jan 3, 2007

Hi, Steven,
yes, I guess it depends on how many direct clients you have. The good thing about having mostly agencies as your clients is that you can always dump your questions on the project managers


Steven Capsuto wrote:

I think of it as "how much of a discount should I provide to agencies"?

The fee I charge direct clients is my base rate (and is, I suspect, rather less than what most reliable agencies would charge them).



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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:13
Member (2006)
French to English
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Friends or acquaintances Jan 3, 2007

I work almost entirely for agencies. Occasionally, a friend or a friend of a friend needs a translation. In such cases, I'd either do it for nothing if it's only small, or charge a little bit more than I'd charge an agency, which is a great deal less than the friend would have to pay an agency for the same work.
Incidentally, how can one get it across to friends that one translates professionally only INTO one's mother tongue, not FROM one's mother tongue into a foreing language? "Civilians" seem to find this hard to appreciate!


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:13
Member (2002)
German to English
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Difficult question, this one Jan 3, 2007

What constitutes a direct client, anyway?

I have stopped considering lawyers direct clients, since the translation is always for their client. For this reason, I classify them as agencies and charge them the same.

As for "genuine" direct clients, who want the translation for their own company, I find that they are often very price-conscious and are looking for a direct translator, instead of an agency, in order to cut costs. It therefore often proves difficult to charge them any more than the agency price, and local enquirers often seem to have a distinctly lower price in mind than the price that a translator charges an agency. My experience is that they sometimes phone me and quote what they are willing to pay, instead of asking how much I charge! I find that an extremely annoying habit, since I have never once phoned any local businessperson, be it the plumber or the dentist, requested their services and stated how much I will pay them.

Astrid


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Cristina Heraud-van Tol  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 20:13
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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The same Jan 3, 2007

Often it's difficult to know whether the translation is for a person or for an agency. Many times they don't tell you, believing that you will charge them more. And also many times I had the situation that a person that considers "him/herself a student with a limited budget" happens to be the secretary of a huge international company. So I've decided to always charge the same.

Anyway, due to the country where I live in, my rates are quite low for international customers but 3 times higher than in the local market, so I always win


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Mark Nathan  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:13
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French to English
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What constitutes a direct client Jan 3, 2007

[quote]Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

What constitutes a direct client, anyway?

I have stopped considering lawyers direct clients, since the translation is always for their client. For this reason, I classify them as agencies and charge them the same.


I regard anyone who is not a translation agency (or fellow translator) as a direct client.
Yes, lawyers need translations for their clients, but then then you could say that any business needs translations for its customers, even if it is simply to persuade them to buy something. In any case, lawyers should be making enough money out of the service they provide without marking up the price of translations obtained for the client. Some of their clients will request original invoices or will set a translation budget. You can be sure that translation agencies do not give lawyers a special rate.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:13
Member (2002)
German to English
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Lawyers supplying translations to their clients Jan 4, 2007

Hi Mark,

Lawyers' supplying translations to their clients is really not the same thing at all as a company using a translation to advertise its services to customers. A company using a translation to advertise is still the last party in the chain, as far as the supply of a translation is concerned, whereas a lawyer is the second-last party in a supply chain.

As far as price mark-ups are concerned, it usually works like this:

The lawyer sends the client a copy of the original invoice and states that that is the translator's invoice.

However, a lawyer is responsible for checking a translation, from a legal viewpoint, which takes time. Thereafter, another entry on the client's invoice might be the lawyer's time spent on checking the translation. When that is added to the translator's invoice, the client may then be paying about what a translation agency may charge.

Astrid


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:13
English to Spanish
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Lawyer responsible for checking a translation? Jan 4, 2007

Lawyers are not translators. I know of no case where they are responsible for checking a translation. They should try to engage capable translators, but the translator's work is final, especially if it is certified, which it often is for court purposes.

If anyone wishes to challenge a translation, they would have to do do directly with the translator, in court if necessary, and with another expert.


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 08:13
English to Indonesian
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The Same Rates Jan 4, 2007

With our present rates, agencies' rates to their clients are certainly higher than ours. Thus, by charging the same rates to direct clients, they will consider them much cheaper than those otherwise would be charged by agencies.

Direct clients must be aware of the fact that agencies are the translation service broker, and freelancers are the real translation service provider. Consequently, they would assume that dealing with freelancers (the first-hand seller) is much cheaper than that with agencies (the second-hand seller).

Therefore, charging the same rates is a logical option.


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Jussi Rosti  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 04:13
Member (2005)
English to Finnish
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Prefer asking directly Jan 4, 2007

Irene Elmerot wrote:

The good thing about having mostly agencies as your clients is that you can always dump your questions on the project managers



Funny, I prefer the opportunity to "dumping" the questions directly to the client. A middleman just makes the process slower, makes clarifying questions too much hassle etc. Best is a phone or face2face contact with the (end) client.

Moreover, almost always the PM knows the subject much less well than I do... at least when I'm translating in my specialist areas.



[Edited at 2007-01-04 06:55]


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:13
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Sounds really odd to me... Jan 4, 2007

This is a rather odd concept in our case. I had never heard of a surcharge for agencies and had to reread the question several times. Over here we have the same base rate for everyone (although we do negotiate rates for large volumes).

As we only work for foreign MLVs or large manufacturers, I reckon our "direct customers" in the spirit of the question the local people who call us for a tiny translation. As they are mostly students who need their University documents translated or people who have retired and are dealing with foreign Social Security matters, we tend to be very flexible with the rates we charge them. Other than that, same base rate for all!


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Isabel Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:13
Italian to English
Supply Chain Jan 4, 2007

Hi Astrid,
Sorry, but I don't agree with you re: "A company using a translation to advertise is still the last party in the chain, as far as the supply of a translation is concerned".

I can see where you are coming from, but as far as I am concerned, the last party in the chain - also regarding the translation I provide - is the end customer who buys the product/service being advertised in an optimum manner thanks to my translation.
Surely we all agree a good translation is an aid to increasing business?
IMHO, this also includes translations not strictly related to sales/marketing activities, as they are also essential to companies or they wouldn't get commissioned.

Re the poll, it is common practice in business to employ a pricing structure to allow for the various "links" in the supply chain, and I don't see why this shouldn't apply to our line of work.
E.g. when I go shopping, I don't expect to buy goods at their manufacturing cost or even the wholesale price (though I'd sure like to ... )
Happy New Year to All!


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:13
Dutch to English
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Duty of Care Jan 4, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

Lawyers are not translators. I know of no case where they are responsible for checking a translation. They should try to engage capable translators, but the translator's work is final, especially if it is certified, which it often is for court purposes.

If anyone wishes to challenge a translation, they would have to do do directly with the translator, in court if necessary, and with another expert.



Getting a little off-topic here but since you raised it:

Astrid is not incorrect. Furthermore, from what I know, she is a specialised legal translator and working directly with lawyers, is in a sound position to know how they work (at least here in the EU).

As a lawyer myself (who also happens to be a translator), I can also confirm that any lawyer has a duty of care towards his/her client.

That duty of care extends to actions he/she performs or those he/she entrusts to a third party.

Just as a lawyer is duty-bound - by way of analogy - to select the best possible expert witness and hold pre-trial consultations with that person to prepare properly (i.e. not to just blindly accept that person is known to be capable and will therefore say everything in his/her client's favour), a lawyer commissioning a translation has a duty to firstly select a capable translator but also to check that translator has done a professional job afterwards, not to just blindly use the translation.

Most lawyers may not be translators but most translators are not lawyers either.

Unfortunately, many are just self-professed legal translators who may appear on the face of it to be competent and claim expertise they actually don't have. How is the lawyer to know without checking their work?

For that reason, any lawyer worth his/her weight in salt would check a translation particularly from a technical point of view and would have a legal duty of care towards his/her client do so.

(Of course, this is affected by the lawyer's own knowledge of the languages and it may be necessary to rope in additional help, but that's beside the point here).

I work for lawyer colleagues directly too and don't know one that doesn't check my work before using it. I wouldn't expect otherwise and certainly don't answer "my work is final" when they raise questions.


[Edited at 2007-01-04 08:21]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:13
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Lawyers checking translations Jan 4, 2007

Thank you, Debbie!

I would like to add that now I work as a freelancer for various firms of lawyers, but one firm of lawyers where I used to be an employee really provided the training for me in legal translation, i.e. clarification of the legal terminology and its case law background, during the time that I worked there. They always proofread my translations at the time, and these days probably know which parts of my translations to check, namely especially those parts where knowledge of background case law is decisive in producing a correct translation. From this point of view, certainly they are the only ones who are in a position to check the translation. If I come across a new legal "concept" (as a new legal term will often be), I enquire about it if necessary, and ask them what the background to the use of the term is. If they explain the concept, then it will be up to me to explain it in the translation - taking a whole paragraph to explain a term if necessary (in that case, probably as a footnote). They do then need to check again that my understanding and explanation of the term is correct.

To get back to the question of rates, if I work with conscientious lawyers there is therefore an extremely good case for charging them agency rates, because of their involvement in the quality control process.

Astrid


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