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Who selects payment method/terms? Wrong paradigm on Proz job posting
Thread poster: José Henrique Lamensdorf

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:42
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Oct 4, 2008

Every business selling anything in the world states up front the payment methods they accept. For instance, check any hotel or restaurant in directories and guides, both online and on hardcopy; each one lists the credit cards and other payment methods they accept; signs at their physical entrance too. Have a look at any web site that sells anything, and you'll see the same. If applicable, they also state if the payment should be made in advance, COD, or if it may be extended, eventually divided into several installments. The seller stipulating the sales condition has been a business tradition for at least the last half-century or so since I've become literate, if not forever.

Proz is no exception: look at http://www.proz.com/join?viewPage=faq#Platinum_payment

Meanwhile job posting on Proz goes head on against the grain. Go to http://www.proz.com/post-translation-job , scroll down to Payment Information, and you'll see that the second item leaves it up to the buyer the choice of how and when they want to pay.

Imagine if I walked into a fancy restaurant and told the mâitre d' that I'd be paying for my meal with a truckload of pumpkins after the harvest!

For crying out loud, why is it so???

So the proper way to handle this would be the service provider, viz. the translator, to state on their profile how and when they expect to be paid for their work. Of course, options and flexibility could easily be included, just as it is for outsourcers right now. As new electronic payment systems pop up every day, these could be automatically added after a Proz member has first included it, and it has been checked as existing. (No endorsement implied, though.)

So, for instance, an ousourcer willing to pay 3¢/word two months after delivery would be prevented from bothering a translator who charges (like any business in the world - Proz included as shown above) 10¢/word, payable in two weeks.

IMHO this would be the very first step for translators to recover some professional dignity, and for Proz to get rid of the Amateurz nickname that comes up now and then, by thwarting amateurish attempts - which tend to downgrade Proz as a whole to the eyes of legit pros, both on the outsourcing and translating sides.


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Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 04:42
English to Spanish
Yess! Oct 4, 2008

I second this proposal. Let's move with the times, not against. And let's be real pros once and for all.

Well said, José Henrique!


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Kemal Mustajbegovic  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:42
English to Croatian
+ ...
I am translator and I am selling my services Oct 4, 2008

I do not need to bid on advertised jobs postings, simple reason being – I am lucky (?) or – better way to put it – I am contacted for a job. And, when an agency contacts me with a job offer I have the freedom to play the game by my rules.

“Thank you for calling, what kind of job you are to offer? (…) Yes, I can do that (…) yes, the time frame is OK with me, and it will cost you $xxx. (…) Good, can you send me PO and the rest of the document. (…) Thank you, it’s been pleasure to talk to you too. I’ll send you the invoice with the terms of payment. We’ll stay in touch. By!”

That’s how it usually goes. Sometimes it happens that you have response like “oh, you’re too expensive!”. “I’m sorry to hear that”, I usually respond, “ BTW would you call your local electrician to replace the light bulb socket in your lounge and ask him for a quote."

Or, “we can pay you in 60 days after the invoice” to which I respond “ I accept payment in 14 days after sending the invoice through any method stated on my invoice”.

What I want to say is – as the translator I sell my services under my conditions – take it or leave it. I accept agencies as a partners and collaborators, if I find that the agency tries to exploit me – I’m out of the game.

There are couple of agencies that I have extremely good business relations with, but – there are also agencies that are on my “black list”.


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Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 04:42
English to Spanish
That's not the point, Kemal Oct 4, 2008

We all have extremely good business relations; and many of us have never got a job posted, though I have some years (two times registered on different years) as a Proz.com member.

The point is... Kindly read again to José Henrique. That's the point.



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Kemal Mustajbegovic  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:42
English to Croatian
+ ...
??? Oct 4, 2008

I am sorry but I don't get it. What's the point again?

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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 07:42
English to Spanish
I third the proposal Oct 4, 2008

It has always struck me as really odd that the job posters get to choose everything, from rates, to deadlines, to payment method (of course, we are free to accept or reject, but that's besides the point, even if not everyoine gets what the point is). The very public message I see in that is basically "if you want to sell your services, you'll have to accept the conditions we, the buyers, set"... with the endorsement of Proz.com. Extremely unprofessional, IMHO, and a big setback to the efforts that are being made by many of us to dignify our profession and be taken seriously, as PROFESSIONALS.

SO:

I would go even further, José. I think that translators (ie., the service providers; the sellers) should have the option to state THEIR payment terms in their quote (as well as their profiles), and not the other way around. The "Payment Details" section on the job posters' page should NOT be there; it should be in the translators' quotation forms instead.


Greetings!

[Edited at 2008-10-04 18:17]


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 11:42
English to Hungarian
+ ...
free world Oct 4, 2008

Job posters have every right to impose conditions. You can turn them down.
You also have every right to impose conditions. They can turn them down.

This is not a matter of principle in my eyes, just let the market sort it out.

Nothing stops you from responding to a posting and stating that you will only do the job under certain conditions. If they choose an inferior translator just because he/she is willing to take payment 90 days after the invoice in 10c coins mailed in a wooden crate, their loss. You move on to reasonable clients.

Also, nothing stops you from setting up a website of your own, advertising your services with any number of terms and conditions you see fit.


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Kemal Mustajbegovic  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:42
English to Croatian
+ ...
Thank you Ariffo Oct 4, 2008

That was my point for those who are patient enough to read carefully.

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Daniel García
English to Spanish
+ ...
Who decides...? Oct 4, 2008

Mmm...

If a restaurant does not take any credit cards, for instance, as a buyer, I can still call that restaurant and say that I am going to be 10 friends on a Monday evening (not a busy evening) but only we can pay with credit card.

The restaurant owner can decide to take those ten customers or not.

As translators, what prevents us from stipulating our own terms and refusing to work with customers who don't accept those terms?

As a translator, I can stipulate that customers should transfer the money to my bank account and take care of the costs themselves.

What do I do if a customer has a large project and can pay 20% higher than my usual rates but they only pay through PayPal? I might want to do that project, even if the terms of payment are not my preferred ones...

In the end, it's a matter of offer and demand, as always. If your services are in high demand, you can stipulate your conditions. If not, you might not be able to do so, so matter what Proz does...

But still, if somebody wants to put in their profile their preferred terms of payment, that should be allowed to do so of course.

Daniel


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 07:42
English to Spanish
ummm Oct 4, 2008

Kemal, I'm not sure I got your point, and it seems to me that you certainly didn't get José's, so I don't understand what you are thanking me for...

That you and probably many others (me included, fortunately) are "lucky" enough to NOT have to bid on jobs is completely besides José's and mine point/post.

Greetings

[Edited at 2008-10-04 18:10]


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:42
Swedish to English
+ ...
Recently posted a thread Oct 4, 2008

About a "project" I'm doing together with my fellow students (currently studying web design - system design with user focus). I asked for translators and agencies who were willing to spend a few minutes answering our survey.

http://www.proz.com/forum/off_topic/116585-the_ideal_system_for_getting_work.html

This is the kind of input which would have been very useful. One of the aims of our system is to (re-)define the role of the freelancer as a vendor.

We're currently assembling and analysing the answers we've received so far (thank you everyone who's participated), but we might be able to squeeze in a few more responses.

Madeleine

Edited typo

[Edited at 2008-10-04 18:14]


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Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 04:42
English to Spanish
Proz.com... Oct 4, 2008

...which I consider as "our community site", could help us by just reverting the current roles on the job posting section.

I've read many discussion fora where colleagues claim for decent rates on Proz.com job posting section, and many times Moderators have responded that things are so and so (you know what I'm referring to), and we can leave it or take it. That's it.

I think José's proposal is completely right and upgraded. We are the service providers; the sellers, and, put as Ariffo's saying, we should have here an opportunity to behave as Professionals from the very beginning of the bidding.

(Nothing personal.)





[Edited at 2008-10-04 21:38]


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 11:42
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Lemme fourth the proposal Oct 4, 2008

It has always struck me as really odd that the job posters get to choose everything, from rates, to deadlines, to payment method (of course, we are free to accept or reject, but that's besides the point

It's NOT beside (sic!) the point. The predominant impression here is that it's the seller's market (i.e. the agencies dictate their terms). Fact is, that's how the grease flows down the pipe - from the client via the agencies to us. Should the agencies write it up like

"...er... listen, there maybe some work for you ... Like, I mean ... could you send me ... er ... your CV and your rates?".

Actually some of them do and every time I get a mail like this, I climb the wall.

I dont think the market is skewed in seller's direction. The one difference I guess is, the agencies (I am talking just about survivors, not those one-week stands) are halfway down the food chain, between the wall and the hard place: they need to build up trust both with the client and the freelancer. But that's beyond the subject of this thread.

Regarding "fourth"ing the proposal: I have gotten as far as seconding something, but, hey, let's keep counting.

Regards

Vito


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:42
French to English
Balance of power Oct 4, 2008

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
For crying out loud, why is it so???


It is because, in the general translation market as a whole, there are many suppliers (translators) and relatively fewer buyers (in this instance, agencies). If one particular supplier is not happy with the terms, the buyer can be reasonably confident of finding one who WILL accept them.

The situation is not unlike that of dairy farmers in the UK. Many suppliers (the farmers), very few buyers - the big supermarket chains - who have been forcing down prices for years. Indeed, supermarkets generally have been warned of their behaviour, as they hold all the aces and they know it (e.g. asking suppliers for payment to stock their goods). Not just supermarkets, either, other retail chains have been announcing e.g. unilateral 2% discounts applied to invoices paid on time.

It's not just about who is the buyer and who is the seller, it is about who needs whom the most, and which side is most easily replaced.

Of course, the answer for us, as individuals, is to make ourselves the ones who cannot easily be replaced, to shift the balance of power, and I think this is best achieved by specialising and being excellent. When the buyer needs YOU, and is going to struggle to run his/her business without YOU, then YOU get to set the terms. If there are 5,000 other people who can do what you do....


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 12:42
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
I'm afraid Oct 4, 2008

the situation will become even worse- just today I got to know about

http://translate.google.com/translate_t#

It translates directly from almost any to any language (without first translating it to English as a mediatory), I tested it with general texts in many languages- the results were better than I would have believed possible just yesterday- say, in a 100 word text Swedish, Finnish, Estonian, Lithuanian, German into Latvian- in average one word was not recognized, the rest was fully understandable, just grammar needed to be somewhat corrected.

Uldis

Charlie Bavington wrote:
It's not just about who is the buyer and who is the seller, it is about who needs whom the most, and which side is most easily replaced.
(snip)
If there are 5,000 other people who can do what you do....


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