https://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/338638-agency_asks_me_to_work_for_free_then_asks_me_to_lower_my_rate.html

Agency asks me to work for free then asks me to lower my rate
Thread poster: Fiona Grace Peterson

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:41
Member
Italian to English
Nov 10, 2019

I was contacted by an agency the other day, on whose books I have been since 2017, but I've never done a job for them. They were originally based in Edinburgh, now it seems they have an office in India.

I was sent two documents in Italian with their English translations, and asked for "a favour", to "check the quality" of the translations. By the end of the day if possible, and I received the email after 4pm. I replied saying that I don't work for free. They replied that I didn't n
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I was contacted by an agency the other day, on whose books I have been since 2017, but I've never done a job for them. They were originally based in Edinburgh, now it seems they have an office in India.

I was sent two documents in Italian with their English translations, and asked for "a favour", to "check the quality" of the translations. By the end of the day if possible, and I received the email after 4pm. I replied saying that I don't work for free. They replied that I didn't need to check the whole thing, just a few paragraphs here and there. Would that be okay?

I said it most definitely would not, and if they wanted me to work for them they would have to pay me. So they said they could assign me the job and asked my rate. On hearing my rate, they asked if I would reconsider it "just for this one job".

I told them to remove me from their books and not to contact me again.

I get that some agencies' working practices are the pits, but this is the first time I have been unashamedly asked to work for free.
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Dan Lucas
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Kardi Kho
Fatine777
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Philippe Etienne
 

Fatine777
United States
Local time: 05:41
English to French
+ ...
Sadly hilarious :) Nov 11, 2019

I would have straight up asked them to provide me with their bank info and an invoice in order to pay them for my work...

 

Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:41
Member (2007)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Sad world Nov 11, 2019

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:
They were originally based in Edinburgh, now it seems they have an office in India.


I´m afraid that this is the standard, how they treat their suppliers based in India (together with late payment or no payment at all).


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
I sometimes get such a request Nov 11, 2019

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:
This is the first time I have been unashamedly asked to work for free.


If an agency asks me to do something "as a favour", they mean that they want me to do it for free. When that happens, I evaluate whether doing this "favour" might possibly be a foot in the door. Often, these favours are quite small and I lose nothing by doing them. I often also gain nothing -- doing favours rarely lead to jobs. But this is a normal part of marketing -- 99% of the time, money and effort are wasted, but you don't know which 99%.


BabelOn-line
 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:41
Member
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Not against favours in principle Nov 11, 2019

I should add that I'm not against favours in principle. I wrote a blog post about this a while back. If the agency and I already have a good working relationship, if they send me a steady stream of work, and if there is respect on both sides, then I have no problem with it at all.
My problem with this request was that I had done no work for this agency, and the tone was not so much "Can you do this?" as a rather arrogant "When can you get this back to me?"
And since when have transl
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I should add that I'm not against favours in principle. I wrote a blog post about this a while back. If the agency and I already have a good working relationship, if they send me a steady stream of work, and if there is respect on both sides, then I have no problem with it at all.
My problem with this request was that I had done no work for this agency, and the tone was not so much "Can you do this?" as a rather arrogant "When can you get this back to me?"
And since when have translation services come at no cost to the agency?
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Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:41
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Something like that happened to me too Nov 11, 2019

Out of the blue I received a request from a for me unknown agency from Austria, if I could have a 'free' quick look at a short translation and its correction. Translator and proofreader were in war with each other, and if I could tell which version was the most correct.

I checked the agency on the Blueboard, everything seemed OK, and I smelled an opportunity.

I did the 'job' for free, in the hope there would be more in the pipeline in the future. And yes there was, more
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Out of the blue I received a request from a for me unknown agency from Austria, if I could have a 'free' quick look at a short translation and its correction. Translator and proofreader were in war with each other, and if I could tell which version was the most correct.

I checked the agency on the Blueboard, everything seemed OK, and I smelled an opportunity.

I did the 'job' for free, in the hope there would be more in the pipeline in the future. And yes there was, more of the same. I told the agency to not push their luck, and that I expected to be paid for my services (as is normal). Never heard from them again.

I agree with Samuel, sometimes you have to take a 'risk'. No gain without pain.
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Teresa Borges
Philippe Etienne
writeaway
 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:41
Member
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Red flags Nov 11, 2019

Robert Rietvelt wrote:

sometimes you have to take a 'risk'. No gain without pain.



I agree 100% with your post. That said, the agency in your example was in Austria, this one was in India, where the standard of living is lower, therefore rates are generally low; plus it's a different continent and culture, with little chance of resolving any payment issues, hence I'm reluctant to work with Indian agencies.

Their arrogance at just expecting I would gladly work for free, plus them asking me to lower my rate were two massive red flags which did not bode well for a fruitful future collaboration.


Robert Rietvelt
Teresa Borges
Dan Lucas
writeaway
Vanda Nissen
Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei
 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:41
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
@Fiona Nov 11, 2019

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:

Robert Rietvelt wrote:

sometimes you have to take a 'risk'. No gain without pain.



I agree 100% with your post. That said, the agency in your example was in Austria, this one was in India, where the standard of living is lower, therefore rates are generally low; plus it's a different continent and culture, with little chance of resolving any payment issues, hence I'm reluctant to work with Indian agencies.

Their arrogance at just expecting I would gladly work for free, plus them asking me to lower my rate were two massive red flags which did not bode well for a fruitful future collaboration.


I am aware that my story is not a 1 on 1 experience with what happened to you, hence my title: 'SOMETHING like that happened to me too', namely the expectation that you would work for free.

By the way, I agree totally with your conclusion.

[Edited at 2019-11-11 12:51 GMT]


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:41
Member
English to French
Scottish coincidence Nov 11, 2019

Last week, a Scottish agency asked me to do a 400+-word test to assist in securing a new potential client (electronics).
They had asked me a previous free test six months before for the same purposes (engineering), which I consented to. I have yet to be notified the outcome, and I have never worked with this agency.
For this new request, I stated my fee, and the agency replied that they expected a free test, sorry for the misunderstanding. I kindly replied that I wasn't prepa
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Last week, a Scottish agency asked me to do a 400+-word test to assist in securing a new potential client (electronics).
They had asked me a previous free test six months before for the same purposes (engineering), which I consented to. I have yet to be notified the outcome, and I have never worked with this agency.
For this new request, I stated my fee, and the agency replied that they expected a free test, sorry for the misunderstanding. I kindly replied that I wasn't prepared to deliver a second free test and clearly explained why. No reply.

As a rule, when agencies request a free test and I comply, it's a one-off. I believe that a (short, huh) free test may be a way to get recurring work from a new agency. But to win new contracts, the agency should play their part: invest in their offers. I'm not part of their payroll, after all.

Perhaps a new specialisation with a future, beside MT post-editing, is to specialise in free tests, free editing and free translation.

Philippe

Edit: English

[Edited at 2019-11-11 15:31 GMT]
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Thomas Pfann
writeaway
 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:41
Member
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Back To The Future Nov 11, 2019

I wonder if it's the same agency? Does the one that contacted you have an office in India?

Philippe Etienne wrote:

Perhaps a new specialisation with a future, beside MT post-editing, is to specialise in free tests, free editing and free translation.

Philippe


When free groceries, free mortgages, free petrol (LPG in my case) and free utilities become a thing, then I guess that could be one possible avenue of employment. Or we could return to the barter system. We could all go back to living plastic-free on the land, leave our doors unlocked, and sit around griping about how awful the future was.


writeaway
Darius Sciuka
 

LIZ LI
China
Local time: 18:41
Member (2008)
French to Chinese
+ ...
I won't mind BUT Nov 12, 2019

Personally, I won't mind doing a favor(or several) for my clients.
But he/she should be someone, by definition, having a professional relationship with me & offering me assignments at regular basis.
I am often asked to recognize sources(esp. European languages) for some of my clients, particularly for those who have only EN-zhCN translators in-house.
It's quite common in my country, some may even refer it as a kind of business courtesy, implying to "be prioritized for potentia
... See more
Personally, I won't mind doing a favor(or several) for my clients.
But he/she should be someone, by definition, having a professional relationship with me & offering me assignments at regular basis.
I am often asked to recognize sources(esp. European languages) for some of my clients, particularly for those who have only EN-zhCN translators in-house.
It's quite common in my country, some may even refer it as a kind of business courtesy, implying to "be prioritized for potential projects".
But a "flavor" is literally, "without recompense", and should be something subject to my availability.
I'll definitely say no if I were Fiona.

[Edited at 2019-11-12 07:11 GMT]
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Jessica Noyes
 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:41
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Agencies wanting me to work for free Nov 13, 2019

My favorite repartee to agencies wanting me to work for free or who want me to do five dollar jobs is:

"I'm a businessman, not Mother Teresa."


 

Susanna Martoni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:41
Member (2009)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
It seems that Nov 18, 2019

it seems that almost everyday someone tries to have some job for free or to have some job within incredibly crazy and unfeasible times. A phone call this afternoon, from Italy, never heard from them before. "Could you please translate 8 pages into Italian for tomorrow, early in the morning, because at 11 o'clock the client must be absolutely" ... arggh

Un saluto Fiona


 


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