A tricky proposal from a good customer - advice needed
Thread poster: nuclear

nuclear
Local time: 20:14
English to Russian
+ ...
Mar 13, 2004

Here is the situation - there is one of the agencies I've been working for lately, and it essentially is a monopolist on a certain part of translation market. They pay [barely] decent rates, but promptly and honestly.
Anyway - their director had a "business proposal" to me - he officially employs me, pays medical insurance and some other stuff like that, guarantees a monthly load of
upwards $XXXX, and contacts me whenever he places a good job. I don't have to accept all the jobs, don't have to show up in the office (other than to collect money), don't even have to earn (and receive) the specified XXXX. The trade-off is that I payback a fixed amount monthly - not much, something like 15% of the minimal monthly load..... Hmmm... What makes the situation look especially strange for me, is that all this time I have been earning more than the $XXXX he mentioned, in some months - 3-4 times more, and never less. And he explicitly mentioned, that if I decline, nothing changes in our relations and we keep working as we did before...
The evident solution - why in ... the Universe... should I? Besides, I am strongly predisposed against such kind of "business relations".
However, I don't know this person for an idiot, and assume he had some reasons behind the offer (other than obvious desire to pocket a bit of non-taxable cash, that is)...
And I don't want to lose this market...

Any similar experiences?

Any opinions?

[Edited at 2004-03-13 15:59]


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 13:14
SITE FOUNDER
Suggestion: understand, counter-propose, decide Mar 13, 2004

It sounds to me like the director is thinking that he is offering you stability and preference on jobs in exchange for a discount (and stability for himself). What that is worth (and worth specifically to you), it is up to you to decide.

In any case, I suggest you ask for some clarifications (for example, you know the minimum--but is there a maximum income per month? How long will the contract be? etc.) Once you understand the offer, you might want to brainstorm a counter-offer that would be more suitable for your interests. Explain why the first proposal is not interesting to you.

If nothing interesting can be worked out, thank the director and continue working as you have. For a time, you'll still be his best solution... but bear in mind that it is possible that over time, someone else will be offered, and accept, the stable role.

One more thing: assume your posting here, and any replies, will be read by him (or at least conveyed to him). Edit it out and remove telling details if you would prefer that this does not happen.


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:14
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Another approach: what is he trying to achieve? Mar 13, 2004

Hi 'nuclear',

There are several unclear points in this offer, as you described it.
First, the company wants to officialy employ you and pay insurance and other related costs and at the same time requireing you to do 3-4 less than you did before? Does it mean that they are willing to pay your work related costs from their own pocket? If yes, they might have some hidden reasons to do this (tax evasion...?).

Second, the fixed fee, 15% of mimimum load (which you are not even expected to perform, if I understood correctly). Is this amount to be paid to the director's pocket (you've mentioned tax-free cash...) and not recorded in the company books? This could probably be called accepting a bribe rather then discount and such an agreement would probably exist only between you and this director - as soon as he is out of the company, your contract is not valid anymore.

Third, you say that they guarantee the minimum montly amount. Do they say anything about how this amount would be calculated, that is what would be the rate for your work? You don't want to find out that in order to get the same amount you need to translate more and more.

HTH
Magda

[Edited at 2004-03-13 16:00]


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nuclear
Local time: 20:14
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
clarification.. Mar 13, 2004

No, I guess I didn\'t explain the situation clearly enough - the \"proposition\" is like this: the rates remain as they were, I\'d be guaranteed to be receiving job offers worth at least a certain amount per month. I\'m not obliged to accept all, or any of the job offers, and I can expect to receive more than that. The idea, as I understand it, is that this would buy me the possibility of having the jobs of my choice and a guarantee that I stably receive job offers, worth that much per mongth. What I\'m supposed to pay is a fixed amount, if I earn 10 times more, the payback becomes negligeable, if I reject all offers - I don\'t know, probably I\' supposed to pay from my own pocket...There are no obligations on my side, other that the monthly .... hmm, contribution. As you say - purely a private agreement between two friends... Some might call it differenly - and would be absolutely right as far as I\'m concerned... That\'s exactly why I feel reluctunt - the stability is definitely worth that much, but the ... hmmm.. moral side of all this (pardon this high flown style...) bothers me

Thank You and Henry for sharing ideas


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fcl
France
Local time: 19:14
German to French
+ ...
a guess Mar 13, 2004

[quote]nuclear wrote:

However, I don't know this person for an idiot, and assume he had some reasons behind the offer (other than obvious desire to pocket a bit of non-taxable cash, that is)...



This person is not getting subventions for hiring, per chance?


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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:14
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It seems to be what some companies call "dedicated staff" Mar 14, 2004

Hello,

What you meantion seems to be what some companies call "dedicated staff". The company proposing this intends to assure that you will be available whenever they need. You in return will have a stable amount of work per month and a stable amount of money.

For a translator who has managed to have a good amount of work per month this might not be a stunning preposition:-) (since it will mean less money) but do remember that for some translators this might be an acceptable offer.

On the other hand, that proposition will have a "end date" so be sure that after that ends you can still get your other clients back.

Only you can decide your own path for the future.

All the best
Mónica


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Lesley Clayton
France
Local time: 19:14
French to English
+ ...
Would it be an exclusive contract? Mar 14, 2004

Or would you be able to take on work from other clients too? Something else to think about.

mmachado wrote:
On the other hand, that proposition will have a "end date" so be sure that after that ends you can still get your other clients back.


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Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:14
English to German
+ ...
Just DO NOT do it! Mar 14, 2004

Nothing to add!

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nuclear
Local time: 20:14
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agree... Mar 14, 2004

italengger wrote:

Just do not do it!


Well, that is exactly how I feel about it. So far I managed to avoid doing things that don\'t seem right to me, but this might be the end of the proverbial rope... Upps, the idiom is Russian, but I think the meaning is self-explanatory...
I still wonder if declining means making an enemy out of this guy (despite that he explicitly said otherwise) - in which case... I don\'t know... Perhaps still not, but that\'d be tough..


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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:14
French to English
I wouldn't accept Mar 14, 2004

nuclear wrote:
I still wonder if declining means making an enemy out of this guy (despite that he explicitly said otherwise) - in which case... I don't know... Perhaps still not, but that'd be tough..


You said in your original message that your client said nothing in the relationship would change, so I don't think you would have to worry about him shunning you.

You could always tell your client that your schedule is always busy since you get work from several clients (so you don't need a guaranteed amount of work - but how can he guarantee it anyway???) and that you prefer to maintain the current arrangement with him.

FWIW,

Erika


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Giuliana Criscuolo-Bruce
Local time: 18:14
English to Italian
+ ...
Check your tax position Mar 14, 2004

Would you actually be receiving the medical insurance and other benefits he mentioned, or would it be just a front?
If you would be receiving these benefits you might get taxed on them (making you worse off) and he might get tax deductions (to his advantage). If I were you I would run all the sums by your accountant, and in the case that the proposal tips favourably on your side, THEN consider its legal and moral implications... Also, perhaps you want to consider what it would mean to you if, in order to make the proposal work, you were to be tied up to work mainly or solely for this one client... think, did you become a freelance because you liked the freedom? What would happen if suddenly this exclusive working relationship were to sour, and you have lost most of your hard-earned clients, because you were no longer available for them? Unless work gets contracted out, there is only so much translating a single guy can do...! My answer would be to concentrate on the quality, and not the quantity. Good luck!


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Cristiana Coblis  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 20:14
Member (2004)
English to Romanian
+ ...
contract = deal Mar 14, 2004

You should always put things in writing for your own security. In any country a simple contract between the two parties should be enough.

It is usual to have such offers: client proposes an average volume of work per month or per year and translator offers special terms and rates for that volume of work and client. But this comes in the form of a contract.

Also, your client should find it very difficult to pay your medical insurrance and other benefits without a contract of some sort... or you shall find it absolutely impossible to make him keep his promise to do so without a contract.


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nuclear
Local time: 20:14
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I guess I'm convinced.... :) Mar 15, 2004

Cristiana Coblis wrote:


Also, your client should find it very difficult to pay your medical insurrance and other benefits without a contract of some sort... or you shall find it absolutely impossible to make him keep his promise to do so without a contract.


Right you are, there is supposed to be a contract stipulating all the benefits of the deal(I should rather say was, because all the diffetenr inputs I'm getting kind of firmed up my decision to forget about it). Plus, there would be a little unaccounted transaction every so often...And of course the other person would find it perfectly easy to make me keep my side of the deal - without any written commitmens...

To All - thank you, ladies and gents for instrumental ideas! Appreciate it.


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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:14
English to Portuguese
+ ...
If you receive a contract... Mar 15, 2004

Hello,

Just to advise you to send the contract (if you receive any) to a specialist for analysis before signing to ensure you don't sign something tricky:-)

Kind regards,
Mónica


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