Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Assured volume does not materialise, change of CAT system ... how would you respond?
Thread poster: Hermann

Hermann  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:40
English to German
+ ...
Jul 12, 2010

I am sure the following situation is not uncommon, in fact, to me it has already happened far too often that I am now considering to take a firmer stance.

Last year I was invited by an agency to be part of a team for the translation of automotive documents, workshop manuals, service communications, etc. This project involves about six languages. In the original proposal they stated a volume of several hundred thousand words per year, hence needing several providers for each language. The selection process involved a test translation of almost 800 words (more than I would normally tolerate but it covered different types and styles of material so I felt there is a certain logic to ask for this much). They also required references from several clients for whom I have done automotive jobs and the use of Trados TE. In view of the big volume they were of course not able to pay my standard agency rate. But on the other hand I was not expected to offer any CAT discounts either.

I was selected and received a couple of small jobs in the following months and a slightly larger one at the end of the year. By the end of the year I have also demanded an assured annual volume as a condition to keep my rate for this project at the agreed level. They gave me an assurance to this effect in January.

I received a few more small jobs and then in May the 'important announcement that their client had decided to migrate to Across and a server-based operation'. All translators were asked to try out the new system. At this point I had probably only completed 1/5 of the assured annual volume. As I was extremely busy at the time, and continue to be so, I just told them that this represents a major departure from our original agreement and changing to another tool would inevitably involve additional, unbudgeted time to learn to work with this new tool. I asked them whether they would be willing to compensate me for some of the time I would need. Their reply to this was negative.

I also told them that it would be perfectly understandable and within my rights to claim back the discount if as a result of this change – should I decide not to work with the new tool – I would not receive the volume promised and for which we agreed the lower rate. They replied there is no way they could pay more for work already completed.

Because of the additional difficulties I have experienced with this client in regard to payments (they always needed a reminder before they paid) I am not particularly keen to continue working on this project and are now considering to reclaim the discount.

My reason to share this with this community is to find out whether anybody has ever done the same and whether they were successful. I firmly believe this kind of situation justifies such a stance.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:40
Member (2008)
Italian to English
A common trick Jul 12, 2010

It's one of the commonest tricks in the book to get translators to agree to work at low prices by holding out the prospect of large amounts of regular work in future. We all get a job offer like that at least once a week.

Anyway, why would anyone ever be attracted by the prospect of a future that consisted of doing more work for less money?


 

Veronica Lupascu  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:40
Dutch to Romanian
+ ...
Types of clients Jul 12, 2010

Why would you continue collaborating with an agency that:

1. Doesn't respect the initial agreement;
2. Doesn't adjust the initial agreement when decides to change some practices;
3. Doesn't pay on time.

Claim your discount and don't work for them anymore.


 

Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:40
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Two other ways... Jul 12, 2010

Two other ways of dealing with such clients (beside dumping them, which usually is still the best course of action):

1. Tell them that the rate is going down after you have received a specified volume of work. This is usually easier to be done on a monthly basis.

2. Make an agreement which makes them pay for a specific volume of work in a specified period, whether they assign it to you or not.

Very few agencies would go for any of that, but then it means that their promises were not worth much from the start...


 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 06:40
English to Czech
+ ...
Hmm... Jul 12, 2010

Jabberwock wrote:

2. Make an agreement which makes them pay for a specific volume of work in a specified period, whether they assign it to you or not.

Very few agencies would go for any of that, but then it means that their promises were not worth much from the start...


Interesting, and true...


 

Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:40
French to German
+ ...
My question... Jul 12, 2010

did the agency sign an enforceable contract with you? It does not seem to be the case.

 

PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 06:40
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
I you wish, agree to lowering your rate... Jul 12, 2010

but only when the promised volume of work actually comes in.
While you are waiting ask for your usual rate.

It has been a while since I have received an "offer" like this, but it does happen frequently, and I don't think I have heard of anyone actually getting this 'large volume of work' they promise.
It is as scam of sorts.

Personally, I have to question the reasoning behind lowering the rates in exchange for large volumes of work that would ultimately make you very dependent on one client, because you would have little time to work for anyone else. So when this well dries up (if there was ever a single drop of water in it), you would basically be out of a job!

Anyway, that's just my view.


 

Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:40
French to German
+ ...
Exactly... Jul 12, 2010

PCovs wrote:
It has been a while since I have received an "offer" like this, but it does happen frequently, and I don't think I have heard of anyone actually getting this 'large volume of work' they promise.
It is as scam of sorts.


 

Hermann  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:40
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Interesting ... but Jul 13, 2010

Tom in London wrote: It's one of the commonest tricks ...


I did say it is not uncommon but my angle is a different oneicon_smile.gif

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:did the agency sign an enforceable contract with you? It does not seem to be the case.


I've received an assurance for a minimum annual volume; this should be enforcable in the UK.

But you are all getting too much stuck on the issue of volume; there are other factors at play. The change of CAT system and the training I would require for which they are not willing to pay and which is one of the main reasons why I shall not continue with this project.

PCovs wrote:
It has been a while since I have received an "offer" like this, but it does happen frequently...

Personally, I have to question the reasoning behind lowering the rates in exchange for large volumes of work that would ultimately make you very dependent on one client, because you would have little time to work for anyone else. So when this well dries up (if there was ever a single drop of water in it), you would basically be out of a job!


You said it: 'it does happen frequently.'

But let me assure you my reduced rate still compares very well with what many out there are charging as a standard rate, what's more they would still offer CAT discounts on these puny rates. My deal did not include CAT discounts and I was able to work with a massive TM.

I took the right steps at a very early stage of the project by asking for an assurance that I would receive a certain minimum volume to hold my rate at this level and I was not in any way committed to work just for them.

Again: This thread talks about a set of circumstances, apart from volume, and it would be nice if we could talk about the other points as well. After 30 years I am no stranger to this industry and are aware of the tricks one might encounter.

[Edited at 2010-07-13 07:46 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-07-13 09:15 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:40
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Reclaiming a discount Jul 13, 2010

Hermann wrote:
Because of the additional difficulties I have experienced with this client in regard to payments (they always needed a reminder before they paid) I am not particularly keen to continue working on this project and are now considering to reclaim the discount.


I think only a lawyer and an accountant will be able to tell you what the chances of success is that you can "reclaim" the discount. Factors which I speculate will have an effect is how well-written the agreement was between the two parties regarding what the non-discounted rate is and what the expectations are for the discounted rate to apply.

Also, I think it would have been better (easier to prove your case, perhaps) if your invoices included the non-discounted rate plus the discount as a separate item, instead of just the discounted rate as if it was the agreed normal rate.

One of my concerns is that you may be required to prove that the client never had the intention to provide a certain volume of work. You gave a discount after the client declaration an intention to provide a certain volume of work. Remember, the client doesn't generate the work himself -- he gets it from another party. If that other party fails to provide the promised volume of work, your client's failure to provide it is neither deliberate nor due negligence. If the client's failure to fulfil his intention is due to factors out of his control, he may have a leg to stand on.

Besides the above, allow me to toss an analogy for something entirely different into the discussion. If a shop advertises "buy four items, and get one for free", and the customer buys three items and the shop gives him the one item for free, can the shop legally take back the free item when the customer later fails to buy the fourth item?

I have always thought of a discount as a gesture, and not as a type of "payment in kind" in exchange for something that the client promises. I think it makes business sense to think of discounts in that way, i.e. as a gesture or an investment of goodwill, and not as something that guarantees a return.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:40
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Jam Jul 13, 2010

Samuel Murray wrote:

[not something that guarantees a return.



There are a useful English expression for what is being discussed:

"Jam tomorrow"


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:40
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Exactly Jul 13, 2010

PCovs wrote:
but only when the promised volume of work actually comes in.
While you are waiting ask for your usual rate.

Exactly. My advice --an practice-- in these cases is to propose a yearly volume discount that, if the promised volume is really reached, will be equivalent to a lower rate. If the customer does not send the agreed volume, they pay my usual rate or a rate in between the usual rate and the rate they were proposing. This way they get the rate they wanted, but only if they also honour their volume commitment.

An example for this is something like 100% of the rate for volume for a yearly volume of up to 50,000 words, then a 5% discount if the volume is from 50,001 to 100,000, then a 10% discount from 100,001 to 300,000 words... etc. etc.


 

Hermann  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:40
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Interesting ... but Jul 13, 2010

Tom in London wrote: It's one of the commonest tricks ...


I did say it is not uncommon but my angle is a different oneicon_smile.gif

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:did the agency sign an enforceable contract with you? It does not seem to be the case.


I've received an assurance for a minimum annual volume; this should be enforcable in the UK.

But you are all getting too much stuck on the issue of volume; there are other factors at play. The change of CAT system and the training I would require for which they are not willing to pay and which is one of the main reasons why I shall not continue with this project.

PCovs wrote:
It has been a while since I have received an "offer" like this, but it does happen frequently...

Personally, I have to question the reasoning behind lowering the rates in exchange for large volumes of work that would ultimately make you very dependent on one client, because you would have little time to work for anyone else. So when this well dries up (if there was ever a single drop of water in it), you would basically be out of a job!


You said it: 'it does happen frequently.'

But let me assure you my reduced rate still compares very well with what many out there are charging as a standard rate, what's more they would still offer CAT discounts on these puny rates. My deal did not include CAT discounts and I was able to work with a massive TM.

I took the right steps at a very early stage of the project by asking for an assurance that I would receive a certain minimum volume to hold my rate at this level and I was not in any way committed to work just for them.

Again: This thread talks about a set of circumstances, other than volume, and it would be nice if we could talk about the other points as well. After 30 years I am no stranger to this industry and are aware of the tricks one might encounter.

[Edited at 2010-07-13 09:16 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:40
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
On using a new CAT tool Jul 13, 2010

Hermann wrote:
I received a few more small jobs and then in May the 'important announcement that their client had decided to migrate to Across and a server-based operation'. All translators were asked to try out the new system. ... I just told them that ... changing to another tool would inevitably involve additional, unbudgeted time to learn to work with this new tool.


There is nothing a translation agency can do if their client decides to start using a different CAT solution. The translation agency has to provide the service to the end-client that the end-client requires, and the end-client won't pay extra just because he has a particular preference. And I don't think many agencies would pay for training themselves, unless the training is tax deductible. (-:

In the past year, two of my largest agency clients told me that their end-clients have migrated to Across, and two of my other clients told me that they're going to start using Trados 2009. So far, all four these agencies are still sending me work in the original formats, so I'm not sure how long this promised (threatened?) migration is supposed to take.

I hate web-based tools (they are slow and cumbersome) and I find that unless there is an economic reason for me to continue with it, I would rather stick to what I know best. Clients often get excited by demonstrations of web-based tools because they don't realise just how fast translators can really work on offline tools. On the other hand, I have no objection to learning new tools.


 

Colin Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:40
Italian to English
+ ...
I've always wondered that as well. Jul 13, 2010

Tom in London wrote:

It's one of the commonest tricks in the book to get translators to agree to work at low prices by holding out the prospect of large amounts of regular work in future. We all get a job offer like that at least once a week.

Anyway, why would anyone ever be attracted by the prospect of a future that consisted of doing more work for less money?



I've always wondered that too. Try going to your local supermarket and telling them, "I'll do my shopping here every week for the rest of the year. Can I have a discount today?" They will tell you to go forth and multiply (but not in those words), because they know that you can say the same thing at all the supermarkets in town.

The only time you should agree to an arrangement like this is if the client signs a written agreement, in advance.

Getting back to Hermann's problem: I would try to claim back the discount, promising the sun, moon and stars until you get it. As soon as you do get it, dump them.icon_smile.gif


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Assured volume does not materialise, change of CAT system ... how would you respond?

Advanced search







BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2017 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2017 helps translators increase translation productivity whilst ensuring quality. Combining translation memory, terminology management and machine translation in one simple and easy-to-use environment.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search