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We can't accept your new rate, because...
Thread poster: Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 21:55
English to German
+ ...
Jan 8, 2016

January is a perfect time for weeding out low paying clients and jobs. I received the email below after trying to raise my rate for a particular type of projects from a very large client who also uses (and will very, very likely continue using) my services for other types of projects, where I am satisfied with the received rates and plan no raise this year.

Although I sometimes voice my lack of understanding for the many, many rants about low rates and agency behaviour, I believe this is a rather perfidious example how agency-side negotiators try to bully inexperienced translators into submission. It deserves publishing (my italics below).

I understand the increased pressures you are under and your desire to increase your income.

We are facing the same pressures on our end. Our business is coming under more and more margin pressure. Clients are expecting more for less and our competition is standing by to pick up any business we turn down or fail to execute flawlessly. We are unable to support any increases at this time.

We have been working with you successfully to date and hope to continue this moving forward.
Any rate increases may jeopardize future business with the XXX business group.


On 'my end' there is absolutely no reason to believe the company is not happy with my other services and the rate I charge for them - yet, the last phrase indicates that now all my business with the XXX business group is threatened!icon_eek.gif

My answer to this, picking up on the "Clients expect more for less":
I do understand if your budget does not allow you to send me reviews anymore.

I am sure we can collaborate on other projects in the future and hope we can all work together to convince our clients that higher quality comes with a price.


I decided against the snappy answer this would have deserved. Business is business.

I would love to see other examples of veiled and not-so-veiled threats and your reactions to them. It would be great to collect a resource for newcomers where we expose some of the tricks and methods negotiators use - and possible ways to answer them in professional or not-so-professional ways.

Best regards,
Anna


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:55
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Face them down Jan 8, 2016

Face them down.

In the past, when an agency has tried to do this to me, I simply replied along the lines of

"Sorry to hear that. Unfortunately my rate is not negotiable.

Should you require my translator services in the future please do not hesitate to contact me"


- and they got back to me the next day with more work.

The fact is that if you're good, they will not want to lose you.


 

Jenae Spry  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:55
French to English
EVERYONE should read this thread Jan 8, 2016

I see so many displays of unprofessional and even passive aggressive behavior posted constantly both on ProZ and on various Facebook groups and every time I am more amazed than the time before. I am shocked time and time again that not only is this unprofessional behavior posted as bragging of beating the "man" (the "man" being one's client...not employer...by the way) but that in return, the poster is met with an outpouring of support.

Here's a poster who took a difficult situation we all face, and a popular topic among translators (rates) and was incredibly professional and kind while maintaining her position.

Kudos to you, Anna, and I really do hope everyone reads this as an example of how to handle these situations.


 

Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:55
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Financial statements/annual reports Jan 8, 2016

Hi Anna,

The way in which you stood your ground in such a polite way is truly commendable.

On a related note, it might be interesting to have a closer look at their annual reports of the past few years (provided they are publicly accessible) and the trend in their reported profits and margins. This might tell you a thing or two about the veracity of their 'complaints'. Also, I might be tempted to attribute statements such as 'Clients are expecting more for less ...' to poor negotiation skills on the part of the agency.

Regards,

Steffen


 

cranium
French to English
+ ...
Four minutes is my personal best Jan 8, 2016

Tom in London wrote:

Should you require my translator services in the future please do not hesitate to contact me"

- and they got back to me the next day with more work.


This reply (almost verbatim) magically turned my "impossibly high" quote into a confirmed order within four minutes, once.


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 02:55
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
World of subcontractors Jan 9, 2016

SBlack wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

Should you require my translator services in the future please do not hesitate to contact me"

- and they got back to me the next day with more work.


This reply (almost verbatim) magically turned my "impossibly high" quote into a confirmed order within four minutes, once.


I am also educated as a construction engineer. In the subcontracting contracts, the employer is much stronger than the subcontractor. This is a conventional practice. Why not give a revolution to this industrial disease?

Soonthon L.


 

Dani Karuniawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 02:55
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Dreaming.... Jan 9, 2016

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro wrote:

January is a perfect time for weeding out low paying clients and jobs. I received the email below after trying to raise my rate for a particular type of projects from a very large client who also uses (and will very, very likely continue using) my services for other types of projects, where I am satisfied with the received rates and plan no raise this year.

Although I sometimes voice my lack of understanding for the many, many rants about low rates and agency behaviour, I believe this is a rather perfidious example how agency-side negotiators try to bully inexperienced translators into submission. It deserves publishing (my italics below).

I understand the increased pressures you are under and your desire to increase your income.

We are facing the same pressures on our end. Our business is coming under more and more margin pressure. Clients are expecting more for less and our competition is standing by to pick up any business we turn down or fail to execute flawlessly. We are unable to support any increases at this time.

We have been working with you successfully to date and hope to continue this moving forward.
Any rate increases may jeopardize future business with the XXX business group.


On 'my end' there is absolutely no reason to believe the company is not happy with my other services and the rate I charge for them - yet, the last phrase indicates that now all my business with the XXX business group is threatened!icon_eek.gif

My answer to this, picking up on the "Clients expect more for less":
I do understand if your budget does not allow you to send me reviews anymore.

I am sure we can collaborate on other projects in the future and hope we can all work together to convince our clients that higher quality comes with a price.


I decided against the snappy answer this would have deserved. Business is business.

I would love to see other examples of veiled and not-so-veiled threats and your reactions to them. It would be great to collect a resource for newcomers where we expose some of the tricks and methods negotiators use - and possible ways to answer them in professional or not-so-professional ways.

Best regards,
Anna



My dream is simple: an end client comes to a translator without middle men, broker, agency, and the like. Why? Because most of middle service (not all, but most) put heavy burden on both. I am dreaming about a free website where end clients and translators directly meet without any additional cost and, hence, additional burden.

[Edited at 2016-01-09 03:57 GMT]


 

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 21:55
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Dreams and reality Jan 11, 2016

Steffen Walter wrote:

On a related note, it might be interesting to have a closer look at their annual reports of the past few years (provided they are publicly accessible) and the trend in their reported profits and margins. This might tell you a thing or two about the veracity of their 'complaints'.



It hadn't occurred to me so far, but it is a good idea.

SBlack wrote:

magically turned my "impossibly high" quote into a confirmed order within four minutes



And I am having the usual inflow of innumerable requests from the company mentioned above.

Jenae Spry wrote:

passive aggressive behavior



Sometimes I have to wait a while before hitting the send button - I make it a rule not to send anything while miffed. The translation world is big, but eventually we will meet familiar faces again, and that means two things: They have to know from previous occasions that we are not doormats, and they have to know that they can expect professional behaviour from me. And the most important consideration: We are all humans. I try to keep that in mind when I interact with others, because there is always the tendency to see the person on the other side of the inbox or counter as a representative of some evil, soulless entity. That might be their job, but first of all they are human beings, like me, and deserve to be treated as such.

Dani Karuniawan wrote:

My dream is simple: an end client comes to a translator without middle men, broker, agency, and the like. Why? Because most of middle service (not all, but most) put heavy burden on both.



To be honest, that reminds me of the times when I was convinced that self-sufficient farming and knitting my own sweaters were going to save the planet. Agencies do add value to the process: They manage client communication and client expectations, coordinate translators for several languages, sort things out when something goes wrong, prepare files - all these are things I don't really like to do myself. I met some file pushers on the way who try to cash in on just sitting between translator and end client, but I don't work for these anymore.


 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:55
Member (2014)
English to German
You never know ... Jan 11, 2016

In my case it paid to be polite about silly offers. I have two direct clients, both based in the UK, who made me rather impossible offers to start with. I politely (the next day!) explained what I charge and why thinking I will never hear again.

... but 2 and 6 months later they returned, they didn't argue and they are still my clients.

They must have enquired with agencies (who have a mark up) or had a bad experience, who knows?


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:55
English to Polish
+ ...
I like Tom's reply, but Jan 12, 2016

I like Tom's reply, I think it's wonderful at just nipping it in the bud.

On the other hand, I'm a Pole and Poles tend to explain more and expect more explanation and be attached to formal politeness. Think US South or English gentry from 19th-century novels, that's more or less it among the slightly more conservative intelligentsia (actually including shameless liberals and lefties and even proper commies). So there's that desire to write more. Your personality changes when you change the language (more so than in quick code-switching), but hey, it's still there. So there's the desire to match the client's or the agency's polite corpomail in formal politeness and length, perhaps exceed it, and perhaps educate them as well. Or, well, just fight and win. That's quite Polish too.

Anyway, lest I begin rambling:

'I understand your desires as well, and I am sorry to hear that your business is coming under pressure. As you probably know, so is mine.

Please allow me to point out that yours has the scale and resources (and reach and oomph) to resist that pressure more ably and more vigorously than mine, which exists mostly on paper.

It is also fundamentally the responsibility of your management to choose a strategy that achieves a healthy, sustainable profit through adequate sales effort and marketing strategy. Simply cutting the prices in response to the pressure and then cutting vendor costs to preserve the margin may seem like an easy answer, but it's not the long-term sustainable solution that you need.

Small entrepreneurs working as subcontractors can't be expected to lift the heavy weights for big business and effectively insure large companies against loss of margin, at the small entrepreneur's expense.

I'm sure you'll be able understand this.'

Add a reminder of the value you put in or how much you enjoy working with them etc.

Naturally, this goes a longer way toward expounding your point and making it impregnable than actually converting them, but in some situations their rate-cutting mail is simply a gratuitous attempt, meaning they have nothing to lose by simply trying. If they see it won't work, chances are they're just cut their losses by no longer wasting time trying.

(If I really wanted to convince them, I'd probably use a mix of emotive and rational appeal, with a dose of rationalized emotive appeal and emotionally coloured rational appeal with a friendlier approach and perhaps a way for them to be a big person. But I'm a lawyer, not a lover.)

Translators could benefit from noticing and appreciating that business is a bit of a game, and it's not always collaborative, it's sometimes adversarial. However, an adversarial style is sometimes just a matter of style, a stylistic preference that doesn't change the fact you're collaborating and the collaboration's going on because it's mutually beneficial. Trying and probing and testing your endurance and looking for openings may happen.

In a computer strategy game, sometimes, well, most of the time, you will harass the opponent in the early game by sending a unit or two near his base just to be a nuisance and perhaps look out for any cheese the other player might be tempted to try if left alone outside your radar. (If you're experienced enough, you will often know by seeing how much defence he puts up, sometimes meaning his resources are involved elsewhere, perhaps somewhere troubling.)

You don't actually expect to win right away, but it's not like you're going to complain if that happens, right? So if you spot or manage to make an opening, you'll like want to send some more troops in to take advantage of it and secure the position or just go and kill his base while it's still possible. Some games do finish early like that, though it's a bit of an embarrassment to not last until at least the mid game.

Average players let go after that point, but more skilled ones, especially professional players, will basically continue to do it all the time, often in several places at once, which is one of the hallmarks of a more capable player. He always does something to improve his chance of winning the game, he always pesters you, and always is in three places at once. (Doesn't mean they don't lose to noobs who do something unexpected.)

Even chess players will troll you and test you.

Don't allow it to become a kiri-sute gomen, but gracefully deflect. Preferably with a yawn and taking a bite of an apple while at it.icon_wink.gif (Which doesn't mean you aren't watching them closely.) But don't disrespect them, just gracefully pass their tests that weeds out the cannon/katana fodder.icon_wink.gif

[Edited at 2016-01-12 11:16 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:55
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Politeness Jan 12, 2016

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

I like Tom's reply, I think it's wonderful at just nipping it in the bud.

On the other hand, I'm a Pole and Poles tend to explain more and expect more explanation and be attached to formal politeness.


Politeness consists of brevity: making one's point and moving on.

It does not consist of forcing busy people to waste time wading through long screeds of badly written stuff in the hope of identifying a point.

I usually don't bother to read them. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

[Edited at 2016-01-12 11:26 GMT]


 

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 21:55
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not even time for lunch Jan 12, 2016

Tom in London wrote:


Politeness consists of brevity: making one's point and moving on.

It does not consist of forcing busy people to waste time wading through long screeds of badly written stuff in the hope of identifying a point.



Although I have to agree with Tom on the brevity, I like Łukaszs deliberations, and think they do get to the point of the problem quite well and relatively concisely. Probably even that might be too much for today's busy PM, though. Just check out glassdoor and have a look at what employees of the larger translation agencies report about their work day - the poor guys don't even have time for lunch. We should feel sorry for them, and enjoy the privilege of being able to say 'no' in all polite or unpolite manners...


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:55
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Mmm lunch Jan 12, 2016

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro wrote:

Although I have to agree with Tom on the brevity, I like Łukaszs deliberations.


I didn't read them; no offence intended but I have a lot of translating to do and it's almost lunchtime !


 

Adrian MM. (X)
Local time: 21:55
French to English
+ ...
Anti-inflationary responsibility Jan 13, 2016

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro wrote:

January is a perfect time for weeding out low paying clients and jobs.
Best regards,
Anna



Really? I cannot fathom (or to use a polite German euphemism of 'nachvollziehen') the rationale of automatically putting up rates at the start of the 'Christian' New Year and contributing to fuelling inflation. (Clients may observe a different calendar with a different New Year's date and that, in these troubled religious times, should be thought about AND respected).

It riles me when my own co-workers and colleagues (editors and audio-typists) spring this traditional hike on me, in one case a 75% leap.

Just think about doing unto others as you would have done unto yourselves.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:55
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Nor can I Jan 13, 2016

Adrian MM. wrote:

I cannot fathom the rationale of automatically putting up rates at the start of the 'Christian' New Year


Nor can I. Interest rates across the EU have been very low for several years now, and on that basis I could not justify an increase in my standard rate. The last time I increased it was in response to a steadily rising bank rate, but that must have been some years ago - before "the crash", when everything collapsed (and BTW will crash again, perhaps sooner than we think).

Perhaps I should add that my current rate is satisfactory. I don't feel that it's either too high or too low (for my market).

[Edited at 2016-01-13 07:41 GMT]


 
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