Minimum charge/Change of contract/How to proceed?
Thread poster: Rad Graban

Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:26
English to Slovak
+ ...
Mar 27, 2008

Hi all,

I signed a contract with an agency 18 months ago. The contract was for three years and one of the clauses in the contract was, that there would be no minimum charges applicable. That was fine at that time as they kept me really busy but last couple of months it feels, that I'm only getting really short projects (£5, £8, etc.). First couple of months, I used to do them (there wasn't many of them) without charging trying to build a good relationship, but now I feel that I should apply minimum charges. How do I let the client know? Can I do it at all? Never been in such a situation before.
Thanks for any suggestions.

Rad

[Edited at 2008-03-28 10:10]


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:26
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Add up the amounts Mar 27, 2008

I assume that it was not in the contract that you would do anything for free and I would not continue to do so. I would ask politely if the agency would like you to send an invoice for each (small) job when you complete it (your regular charge, not minimum charge) or whether they would prefer that you send an invoice when the total adds up to XXX or more (whatever you think is a reasonable minimum amount to make an invoice worthwhile).

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Annelise Meyer  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:26
English to French
+ ...
Every work deserves to be paid Mar 27, 2008

Hi Rad,

So if I am getting things right, instead of charging your usual rate per word on these small jobs, you just do them for free?? You have every right to ask for a change of the contract, or at least to invoice these very small jobs. No wonder they keep sending them to you if they don't have to pay for it.
The projects I get to work on are very different in subjects and sizes, and I usually apply a minimum rate for those below my hourly rate (ie when the wordcount multiplied by my word rate is inferior to it). This for a simple reason: it takes time to save the file, check the instructions, open the file, translate it and send it back. And I don't see why I should "pay" for this time when it is part of my working time for a client!
You could also follow Tina's advice for very small jobs (0-200 words). Whatever method you pick, the main thing is you have to be paid for your work!!

Cheers,

Annelise


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:26
Dutch to English
+ ...
Procedure Mar 28, 2008

Depending on your relationship, call or write to the client, asking them to consider amending the no-minimum-charge clause.

Obviously you can't impose it unilaterally and just "let them know" as you've signed a contract - you need to reach consensus with them.

State your reasons briefly, business-like and to the point, making reference to the change in workflow.

They will say yes or no, simple as that.

They may refuse on the basis of "a deal's a deal", or refuse but add they'll look at the workflow again. If that improves, you'll be back to your original position, so no harm done.

Decide whether it is worth working with them if/when they say no.

If not, move on, and source other clients, assuming of course you're not bound to work for them for the three-year period (which I doubt, but I haven't seen what you've signed).

And as for not invoicing them at all: well it appears it was never part of the deal, so just stop doing it if your gestures of goodwill are being abused.

Best of luck
Debs



[Edited at 2008-03-28 08:51]


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Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:26
English to Slovak
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No anymore. Mar 28, 2008

Annelise Meyer wrote:
So if I am getting things right, instead of charging your usual rate per word on these small jobs, you just do them for free?? You have every right to ask for a change of the contract, or at least to invoice these very small jobs. No wonder they keep sending them to you if they don't have to pay for it.


Not anymore. I used to do it for the first couple of months when I was trying to build a good relationship with the client and when it was just an odd short job (short I'm talking up to 100 words) on the top of all the large projects. Later, I started to add all the smal jobs to invoices for large jobs. But now, I haven't had any descent project for about ten weeks and that's why I would like to start to apply minimum charge.

Sorry, I wasn't very clear about it in my original posting, so I edited it.

Rad


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:26
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Bill them once a month Mar 28, 2008

Hi Rad,

With a long standing client I wouldn't apply a minimum charge.

Not only that, some clients do not like changes. So, if you ask to amend the agreement, some will not have any problems and others will be ruffled. Depending on how good a client this is, it might have a negative effect on you.

If the client sends (numerous) small jobs, I would agree with them to bill once a month or once every two weeks, or as soon as the amount exceeds (whatever you agree upon).

I have two clients with whom I use this system and it works very well. One I bill every month and the other one after the amount reaches our target number.

Good luck!
Lucinda


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:26
Dutch to English
+ ...
Ruffling feathers Mar 28, 2008

Lucinda wrote:

Depending on how good a client this is, it might have a negative effect on you.



A decent job hasn't come through in the last ten weeks? I wouldn't be too concerned at this stage about ruffling feathers.

I'm sure you don't "like change" either, seeing your workflow diminish from a steady flow to a mere trickle. But this isn't about anyone's feelings. It is business, just handle it tactfully and state your case. Keeping quiet isn't going to get you anywhere.

I'd ask them straight out what's happened to the workflow as that is actually your main issue. If I wasn't convinced by the answer, I'd start looking elsewhere.

I don't charge some of my better clients a minimum fee either, but the work keeps coming in. It's a two-way street. The time wasted on fiddly little jobs of £5 and £8 can be better spent sourcing new clients if they can't give you a reasonable explanation for the drastic decline in work.

[Edited at 2008-03-28 18:20]


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