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Abusive terms and conditions
Thread poster: yassdos
yassdos
English to Spanish
Jun 4, 2008

I am wondering if something may be done in favour of our rights as translators. I have lately noticed that outsourcers are benefitting from us more and more. They set forth THEIR terms and conditions in disregard of our rights. For example, they require that a translation be delivered within a few days or even hours, and they even intend to pay after a 60-day period. This is so ridiculous! It is not fair! I am really annoyed and getting fed up with this system. I think that it is time something was done inmediately. Most translators who quote on jobs here have a first degree in translation or even a master degree, that is to say, we are professionals. This is not charity work, so, why do we allow outsourcers to exploit us in such an awful manner? Some of the terms and conditions set forh are really shameful. Why do we have to wait for a period of time over thirty days to be paid and pray to be paid? Perhaps, some translators can put up with this situation, but others, cannot. Most of us must keep on living, that is, we must buy food and clothes, pay taxes, among other expenses. We are service providers as any other service provider. I know that many accept these conditions because this is how the market works and they have no option, at least for the time being. I really do not know how they can live and if they will continue accepting that kind of terms. I mean, in the real world, if you cannot pay for something, you do not get what you intend to acquire. It is so simple like that.

I BELIEVE, AT LEAST, WE MUST BE HEARD. SOMETHING IS NOT WORKING WELL. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE BECAUSE OTHERWISE IN THE FUTURE IF AN OUTSOURCER INTENDS TO PAY AFTER A THREE-MONTH PERIOD, IT WILL BE ACCEPTED JUST BECAUSE THAT IS HOW THE MARKET WORKS.

It is not a "take or leave it" matter.

These conditions cannot be tolerated anymore.

Comments and ideas are welcome!

[Edited at 2008-06-04 17:53]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:23
English to German
+ ...
Do something Jun 4, 2008

Hi yassdos,
I think that it is time something was done inmediately.

Agreed - stop accepting such terms.

Most translators who quote on jobs here have a first degree in translation or even a master degree, that is to say, we are professionals.

Exactly. It's up to each professional to determine his/her terms and conditions.

Best regards,
Ralf


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 14:23
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
So what's the problem? Jun 4, 2008

Everything is negotiable. If you want payment in 10 days or whatever, make that a condition of taking the job. Simply do not work with terms that you do not find acceptable. If you make your expectations clear and sometimes the reasons behind them, you may find that most of the outsourcers can be flexible and meet your terms, or a reasonable compromise can be reached. If not, wish them a good day and move on.

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yassdos
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Recommendation Jun 4, 2008

Hi Kevin

Sometimes you know that outsourcers are not very flexible and if we do not accept the conditions, they just look for another translator willing to work for them. The same happens with rates. I have graduated some time ago and so far I have read many job offers that contain abusive terms and conditions. I do not have a lot of work. I am a newly graduated translator. I was thinking that perhaps outsourcers should be recommended to set "reasonable" terms on posting a job.

Kind regards,
Yas


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:23
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Many outsourcers are very small agencies Jun 4, 2008

yassdos wrote:

Hi Kevin

Sometimes you know that outsourcers are not very flexible and if we do not accept the conditions, they just look for another translator willing to work for them. The same happens with rates. I have graduated some time ago and so far I have read many job offers that contain abusive terms and conditions. I do not have a lot of work. I am a newly graduated translator. I was thinking that perhaps outsourcers should be recommended to set "reasonable" terms on posting a job.

Kind regards,
Yas


Hello Yassdos,

The problem is that many translation agencies are very small, or one-person businesses. It is true that many of them should not have started up in business without any money behind them, however they did. If they do not have any money, that means that they have to wait for their client to pay them before they can pay the translator. It is not supposed to be like that, but it is, due to their lack of capital.

As for the end clients, I have plenty of experience of them, and they always want the translation yesterday. However, many end clients are slow in paying, so the agency has to wait a long time for the money to come in. To cover themselves, they ask translators to wait 60 days, so that they will definitely have the money in by then.

There is no particularly easy solution. If none of these agencies who do not have much money existed, then we would all have to search for end clients ourselves, and the majority of translators do not like doing that, because there is only time in a day to translate or to sell, but not both.

Astrid


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:23
English to French
+ ...
Agree Jun 4, 2008

Each translator should set his/her own terms and not let outsourcers dictate them. Refuse jobs where people try to impose their own terms when you are the one selling the service.

Having said that, I don't get worked up about this anymore, the reasons being that 1) I am specialized, 2) I offer high quality translation and 3) even though I get an infinite amount of ridiculous offers, some of them trying to even bribe me into slavery, I have nothing to lose by simply declining the work offered. I can afford to do that because I am popular enough among my established clients that I hardly ever have a dry spell. Even when I don't get any work for two weeks, I don't really have to worry because I work at comfortable rates, so the dry spells are not hurting my wallet. The point is, if you allow yourself to take on work where the outsourcer dictates your terms and conditions, you will have the small end of the stick in nearly all litigation cases. Non-payment on grounds of unsatisfactory quality, outsourcers refusing to pay the bank transfer fee, payment 60 days after invoice + the 15th of the month (what are you supposed to live off of in the meantime?), etc. These things WILL happen to you if you let them.

On the other hand, clients who do not pay do hurt my wallet - and generally, those who ask me for my best rates are people who often have no intention of paying me anyways. One more reason not to work with people who try to set rates and conditions in your stead.

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

If none of these agencies who do not have much money existed, then we would all have to search for end clients ourselves, and the majority of translators do not like doing that, because there is only time in a day to translate or to sell, but not both.


I think Astrid made an excellent point here. As long as you work with agencies, you will always bump into this problem. The trouble is, many freelancers became freelancers not realizing that there is an entire market out there that has nothing to do with agencies. Yes, it is much harder finding direct clients than working with agencies. But then again, the money is better and the relationship is often much better as well, thus, your conditions also have better chances at being accepted. And even though, as Astrid says, it takes time to find direct clients, it is not as time-consuming as it may sound. There may not be time enough in a day to do both - but there is time enough in a week.

Sad to say, but too many freelancers are geared exclusively at agencies. If they realized that they can work, at least partially, with direct clients, their business wouldn't be the same. Most importantly, they would have better control over their businesses. I think this is what the original post was hinting at - control over your business. But you will not have that control until you reach out and grab it.

With people who try to hijack my terms and conditions, I simply say "It happens my way or no way." Sucks to be them if they refuse... In the meantime, I have other clients who are willing to treat me the way I deserve to be treated. Try it - you'll see how it will relax you and eventually contribute to your business.

It's not worth it to try and fight this problem. Educate your colleagues and then just let them work the way they see fit. In the meantime, concentrate instead on having an excellent reputation, polish your translating AND your writing, educate your clients and do your marketing homework - the latter being perhaps the most valuable advice I can give anyone working as a freelancer. If you manage to work your way up to the top class of translators, you will see that it will not be so hard to set your own terms. Never mind that others shamelessly accept bad rates and bad conditions - they will just give you more occasions to distinguish yourself from the crowd.

All the best!

[Edited at 2008-06-05 00:15]


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:23
Spanish to English
+ ...
Avoid the abusers Jun 5, 2008

I agree with Viktoria here.

If you want to earn a reasonable living and control your business, then you will have to be selective about who you choose to work with.

Agencies and brokers generally offer poorer terms than end-clients. The answer is obvious.

Good luck!


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:23
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Welcome to life Jun 5, 2008

I agree with just about everything said by the people who responded. One of the best comments was by Ralph who, in response to, "something must be done," said, basically, "absolutely - YOU are going to do it, now get cracking".

Good luck with the changes to your business!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:23
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Whatever is agreed to without ignorance or duress, is fair Jun 5, 2008

yassdos wrote:
This is so ridiculous! It is not fair! I am really annoyed and getting fed up with this system.


The system, as you call it, is your own inability to say "no" and stand up for yourself. If you agree to something, and you're not doing it in ignorance and you're not being coerced into doing it, then whatever you've agreed to, is fair (unless you're a masochist).

So, decide what you regard as fair.

Why do we have to wait ... to be paid and pray to be paid?


What, don't you trust God? If you're unhappy with praying to be paid, then there is something you can do, you know... simply follow procedures that seek to avoid non-payment. If it's a new client, don't do a large job until you trust them. If it's a large job, check out the client on black lists and white lists. Speak to the client in person and make sure he's legitimate.

It is not a "take or leave it" matter. These conditions cannot be tolerated anymore.


Of course it is a "take it or leave it" matter. Simply say to the client, "These are my terms, take it or leave it". Your problem is that when the client says to you "take it or leave it", you think you have to take it, not leave it. Well, take heart, because you can leave it if you want to.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 16:23
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
my two cents Jun 10, 2008

I fully agree with Samuel - as long as one accepts those terms and conditions, it is NOT the agency to be blamed. On the other hand, I fully understand yassdos and that state "I am fed up with all that" . One possible solution - what about trying to find new clients who will not play those games? I think it is a high time for that. Some time, some work, some effort, and you will be rewared.

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Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 15:23
Member (2006)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Sell your bills to a billing company Jun 14, 2008

Of course, the first thing you have to do is stand up for yourself and not take any deal you think is unfair. In that respect, I agree largely with these other comments.

I acknowledge however that you are reluctant to say no as you do not want to lose the business.

In this latter regard, I suggest you sell your bills to a billing company. You send them the bill, they pay you 95% and deposit it into your account on the same day, and then you never have to worry about it again. Then it is the billing company's problem.

I suggest this method to everyone. It would be an enormous step toward taking control of one's business without risking losing customers who require long payment times.


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:23
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
The Big Deal Jun 14, 2008

Let me guess... three 24 year olds behind a couple of cheap desks and $8 walmart phones trying to give the impression of a huge business (the size of IBM) by having an impressive agreement fo you to sign (they copied-pasted it and changed the name of the agency).

Big deal.

Who reads the agreements anyway... it's a "free market", right?

Have you any idea how many of your colleagues in here SUBCONTRACT jobs to other translators in violation of their agreements with agencies? Who's going to know anyway... they get a job for 6 cents per word, they sign an agreement which prohibits them to sub-contract a job, but then they subcontract it at 3 cents per word. It's a "free" market, right? That's one of the networking achievements in our industry...







[Edited at 2008-06-14 09:57]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The problem is... Jun 14, 2008

Kevin Lossner wrote:
Everything is negotiable. If you want payment in 10 days or whatever, make that a condition of taking the job. Simply do not work with terms that you do not find acceptable. If you make your expectations clear and sometimes the reasons behind them, you may find that most of the outsourcers can be flexible and meet your terms, or a reasonable compromise can be reached. If not, wish them a good day and move on.


The problem is that if I won't budge from my position of rejecting all jobs with payment beyond 30 days, I'll lose some clients.

The solution is simply to realize that these are clients I didn't want anyway. They are just trying to build cash flow at my expense.

Low rates should get the same treatment. If I accepted them, they'd take up time that I could use to work on other jobs at normal rates.

So why bother?


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:23
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Take responsibility, and set YOUR terms and conditions Jun 14, 2008

yassdos wrote:

They set forth THEIR terms and conditions in disregard of our rights. For example, they require that a translation be delivered within a few days or even hours, and they even intend to pay after a 60-day period.

These conditions cannot be tolerated anymore.



Saying "something should be done" really means someone else should do something. If you are not happy with the situation, take respponsibility for it and do something:

Set your rates, terms and conditions.

Some prospect will accept them. Some will not, and will counteroffer their own. Decide which terms are negotiable (if any) and which not, and stick to them.



[Edited at 2008-06-15 04:04]


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:23
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Don't blame all agencies for this - lack of payment within 30 days regulations Jun 14, 2008

I have to side with the Legitimate and good Agencies on this issue (for illegitimate agencies, read note 1).

I believe that there is some sort of regulation in the EU market which makes payment within 30 days mandatory (kinda...) for products and services.
In such a market, the End Client pays the Agency within 30 days, and then you get your money the same day (give or take).

In your market, the Agency is not sure about the payment from the End Client (or about the time frame of the payment by the End Client), therefore transfers some risk to the Translator. I understand this. It's called sharing the risk.

If the major world markets had such regulations (such as in the EU), then the Agency would feel more safe (they will get their money on time from the End Client) and would be able to pay the Translator within 30-35 days or less.

Lack of regulations (which we cannot impose because they are a matter of federal laws and uniform commerical codes), hurts not only translators, but agencies as well. You lose $500, but the agency's damage is more than $1200 for the same job.

Personally, I accept terms of payment within 90 days. However, this is not a major problem in our industry. The problem is all these small anonymous agencies that never pay (some of them just dissapear), or just strange outsourcers who even use fake names, get the job, and never pay.

The solution? Translators should HELP the legitimate Agencies, so that they become stronger, and they should also HELP the new full-time colleagues in establishing stronger self esteem and drop this mentality of "poor me, I'm just a translator, I deserve to be poor". This mentality hurtts both agencies and translators, and the entire market.

Note 1: Statements such as "you live in a poor country therefore we' re not paying you", directly stated or implied, should probably be reported to the United Nations. I think that the sweat shop mentality is not acceptable.

Note 2: Legitimate and good agencies (I have lots of those), always treated me with the outmost respect and they are trying to keep translators and clients happy (that's their job, after all). Help them become stronger.




[Edited at 2008-06-14 15:42]


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