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Politeness to customers
Thread poster: Parrot

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:22
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 29, 2015

This is probably not an issue since I prefer to be polite to customers at all times and most of those I deal with have actually been around long enough to take a hint when the rates they offer are not "competitive" -- from my end, anyway. (That key word "competitive" is my problem only from a certain perspective that inverts theirs: obviously, I'm shooting myself in the foot if I tie myself up with a rate my usual clientèle pays twice over, and I'm amazed at the number of people who can't seem to grasp this).

But without calling them "bottom feeders", how do you say "I don't have time for this" when you're asked to please notify your next available time slot so they can ostensibly test you?

Or: is it advisable to leave a note on your profile that says you don't do tests so to please just look at the samples in your portfolio if they need assurance?

Another solution (is this polite?): could you possibly hint at the obvious -- that a certain number of years of experience are simply not to be availed of under beginners' terms?

What do you guys say when what you really feel like saying is "I don't have time for this"? Or "I should be rating you, how long have you been around?"

Okay, 'nuff rantingicon_biggrin.gif


 

Richard Foulkes (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:22
German to English
+ ...
Confused! Jul 29, 2015

It seems like you're trying not to offend clients you're not interesting in working with because they don't pay enough.

Why not just quote them your current rate, then they will either offer you work at that rate or not bother you again?

As an aside, I quoted on a job for a potential new direct client on Friday with my standard rate (which is respectable). They responded on Monday saying somebody else had quoted half my fee (which is not respectable) so they wouldn't be using me. I told them I hoped the quality of the translation didn't reflect the fee! Is that offensive? I don't know, but it seems unlikely I'll be hearing from them again either way...which is fine. I value my down time at least as highly as my working time so it makes no sense to work for less than my standard rate.

[Edited at 2015-07-29 08:24 GMT]


 

Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:22
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
No need to offend or feel offended Jul 29, 2015

Parrot wrote:

But without calling them "bottom feeders", how do you say "I don't have time for this" when you're asked to please notify your next available time slot so they can ostensibly test you?



Why would you need to call them anything? You quote your terms, you might negotiate a bit and the client can take it or leave it. And if you are not at all interested in working with a particular client, you don't have to - just say you're not interested.


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:22
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Been there, done that Jul 29, 2015

Richard Foulkes wrote:

It seems like you're trying not to offend clients you're not interesting in working with because they don't pay enough.

Why not just quote them your current rate, then they will either offer you work at that rate or not bother you again?


I did. Then they offered revision (even more cut-rate than the translation offer). I counter-quoted with time-based and word-based rates, cum caveats. Then they got back to me about testing.

From that I concluded they i.) could only be inordinately dense; or ii.) would not have been around long enough in the business.

As an aside, I quoted on a job for a potential new direct client on Friday with my standard rate (which is respectable). They responded on Monday saying somebody else had quoted half my fee (which is not respectable) so they wouldn't be using me. I told them I hoped the quality of the translation didn't reflect the fee! Is that offensive? I don't know, but it seems unlikely I'll be hearing from them again either way...which is fine. I value my down time at least as highly as my working time so it makes no sense to work for less than my standard rate.


I wouldn't have bothered with the second response, to be frank, and I don't normally. (Decreases the chances I'll be offensiveicon_biggrin.gif. I mean, you get what you pay for). And I'm happy not hearing again from this kind of people as well. But to be addressed a third time??? That's what bugs me.

I mean, we work to achieve our markets. Once we get the clients we're happy with, THEN we -- maybe -- bend over backwards: give them preferences, considerations, tweak the first-come-first-served rules on a case by case basis and all that. But, gads, in cases like this I don't know what to say... "I'll keep my cotton-picking hands off your time if you keep yours off mine"? Or, "mine is an existential story, I have only 24 hours in day, maybe you have more"? (If they moved to Mars they'd get 30 minutes extra).

[Edited at 2015-07-29 09:05 GMT]


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:22
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I tell clients like that I am booked for the next couple of months... Jul 29, 2015

I translate a book occasionally, and with regular clients that means I know I will be fully booked until it is finished, even if I don't know precisely what I will be doing more than a week or so ahead. So I usually have a deadline to refer to.

If not, it's none of their business, but I do let regular clients know if I am half-booked like that.

When promising new clients turn up, then of course, I try to fit them in along with the regulars. However, if they look average or below, I tell them I really have no capacity available, or whatever expression matches theirs, for the next three months. (Alternatively whenever the deadline is, or until after the summer holiday or Christmas break or some suitably distant landmark that should put them off icon_biggrin.gif )

If they try to press my rates, I mention that the clients who keep me fully booked also pay the rates I ask, so sorry, but it doesn't make sense for me to squeeze in anyone who pays less.

And after that simply busy-sounding one-liners, 'Sorry, I'm fully booked right now' as necessary!


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No need to explain anything Jul 29, 2015

"Thank you very much for your message. My rate is xx.xx. Feel free to contact me should you be interested in my services."

This will do. I always have time for this (a few seconds, really).


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:22
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Eventually, it did come to that Jul 29, 2015

But honesty is my failing. Seems "I'm booked for the next two weeks" wasn't long enough.

I'm considering caveats on my profile (no one seems to pay attention to the red dot) without making it too forbidding. Things along the lines of "please look at my portfolio, I don't have much time for tests".

Although I have to admit I've long wanted to say (actually, to everyone in general) something more like "do the math, folks!" (if it doesn't add up, I can't do it, if it doesn't square, I won't do it, etc...)

icon_biggrin.gif


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Testing lamps Jul 29, 2015

Now and then I see people endlessly testing bulbs at a hardware store. They are not looking for a certain number of good lamps, but merely seeking the self-assurance that they are smart enough to spot a defective one, instead of just grabbing a few and rushing to the checkout.

After a one-man-show agency hired me to proofread some ghastly technical translation, and later told me that it was his test for another agency's big job, I reckoned that agencies testing translators is a pointless waste of time.

Every time I am offered a rate that is about half of my standard rate, I bother to advise them to use free, online, real-time Google Translate. I tell them that from my own experience, when I get hired to redo translations done at that price level, though the nature of the flaws will be different, the overall quality is pretty much about the same.

I avoid "being offered" any rates, and try to overlook such offers as much as I can. I tell them my rates. If they want to pay more (never happened!), let them donate the balance to charity.

If they ask me whether I can "improve" these rates, yes I can!
I can spare them from unnecessary financial expenses.
If they elect to pay me COD via bank transfer, the total on the invoice will be almost 20% lower than if they paid me via PayPal a month later, at the expense of PayPal's high fees and the abusively high interest rates in my country. Bottom line is that 97% of my clients pay me COD.

The key is in assertiveness. If I state my case as a well-established successful professional, and they are looking for an amateur/newbie to play for a sucker, they'll drop me like a hot potato.


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:22
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes! Jul 29, 2015

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

If I state my case as a well-established successful professional, and they are looking for an amateur/newbie to play for a sucker, they'll drop me like a hot potato.


I want to be a hot potato for certain offers! (Change my profile photo -- how do you show a potato being hot?)icon_biggrin.gif


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Easy! Play dumb to their commands Jul 29, 2015

Parrot wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

If I state my case as a well-established successful professional, and they are looking for an amateur/newbie to play for a sucker, they'll drop me like a hot potato.


I want to be a hot potato for certain offers! (Change my profile photo -- how do you show a potato being hot?)icon_biggrin.gif


Merely pretend that you never heard them trying to impose 2¢/word, payment two months later. Assert your price & terms, if they want you, that's what it costs. If they don't like your terms:
a) there is nothing forcing you to accept theirs; and
b) there is no reason why they can't try hiring someone else.

Too many translation outsourcers assume that you should be humbly grateful to them for having been assigned a job. Too many amateur translators worldwide make this assumption true.

I stick to a more sustainable relationship, we help/need each other to make a living; that's all!


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:22
German to English
It depends on whether the offer is solicited Jul 29, 2015

If I have contacted a client regarding possible engagements and they respond with a price that is below my acceptable minimum, I politely let them know. That usually puts an end to any further discussion.

Unsolicited offers, especially those coming as part of a mass mailing, are generally ignored, unless the inquirer has been referred by a colleague. In that case, the offer is generally acceptable.


 

564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:22
Danish to English
+ ...
Just say no Jul 29, 2015

Good old slogan that still works. icon_biggrin.gif

I've found that this works well:

I'm afraid I cannot work under those terms.
Good luck in finding another suitable translator.


As a side comment, the following response made me smile yesterday after I quoted for a job here on ProZ:

"The only problem I see is that we are only able to pay £15 per hour as this is a monolingual job, I don't suppose you would be happy with that?"

My answer was simple, but still polite (I think):

"I'm afraid not. icon_smile.gif "


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:22
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
*Gasp* Jul 29, 2015

You'd never believe it but after the third no, I received an Agreement of Collaboration.

Edited to say: My complexes are acting up. Am I too polite? Or do I really look like a doormat?

[Edited at 2015-07-29 14:10 GMT]


 

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:22
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
You can't keep all doors open Jul 29, 2015

I see here a difficulty to close the door and a wish to keep all the doors open even when nothing satisfactory is behind them. It happens to mild people all the time. I also have been like that but not anymore.
Sometimes it is really better to say a clear no.
I used to have a client, an agency, for various years. Then they found someone cheaper. Now this cheaper one went for holidays and they asked me to do the translations during that period. For a lower rate than my usual, of course. Well, it's my old client, so I agreed. When I told about this to my friend, he was incredulous: "What? Is that your old client? When was the last time they asked you to do a translation? They're just using you." A cold shower - but so true!
So next time, I will tell them politely that I do offer discounts to my clients providing me with regular orders but I regret to tell I can't offer this idscount to you.


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:22
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@Inga Jul 29, 2015

Thank you. I AM trying to close the door. There just seems to be a crowbar wedged in it.

 
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