10% referral fee claimed by French agency
Thread poster: Stefanie Maile

Stefanie Maile  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:59
English to German
+ ...
Feb 3, 2010

Yesterday, I received the contracting documents of a French translation/interpreting services agency, in which I was asked to agree upon a 10% reduction of my invoices as an referral fee.
This seems pretty much to me (if not too much, to be honest) and furthermore unnecessary as well, since this is usually already included in the net price per day one receives as an interpreter.

I asked a colleague about this and he thinks it strange, too. He told me though that he has one customer, also an agency, who actually does charge a small referral fee - but really just a small one, not 10% of each invoice.

Please let me know, if you have (had) similar experiences?


With kind regards from Germany,

Stefanie Maile

[Edited at 2010-02-03 10:03 GMT]


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:59
English to Dutch
+ ...
Totally idiotic Feb 3, 2010

The 'referral' costs of the agency are already included in the payment rate - they pay you less than they get from their client. So any 'referral fees' above and beyond that are just double takings.
I'ld stay clear from this agency.


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:59
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Did they refer you to the client? Feb 3, 2010

Charging a referral fee assumes that they connected you with the client directly. Referral fees are usually one-off fees: once the contact has been established, you can work with the end client without passing through the agency. This practice is explicitly forbidden by non-competition agreements, which specify that you should not try to get in touch with the client directly (only through the agency). So, it is either a referral fee or an NCA.

As Jan Willem has pointed out, their margin is already included in the rate they charge the end client.

Kind regards,
Attila


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:59
French to German
+ ...
RED ALERT Feb 3, 2010

Dear Stefanie,
there are some scammers out there (some naming themselves "translation platforms") - sorry to quote my own writings, but I described what I discovered in my blog here: http://tinyurl.com/nc5sa4
More details and names in private if needed.


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
I received the same contract Feb 3, 2010

Hi Stefanie,

I received the same contract from the same company you are referring to. My eye focused on the same section, and it does seem quite strange to me.

I agree that the "referral fee" in question is both incorrectly named and idiotic, however, I signed the document because:

1) I somehow don't really expect to receive jobs from this company (the "what the heck" principle)
2) I crossed out the portion that says "I have enclosed a copy of my/my firm's current rates for all Services" and replaced it with "Because services and circumstances vary, rates will be stated/negotiated at the time the job is placed."
3) I figure, if I ever do get offered work through this company, I can always increase my rates by 10% to compensate. If they don't like it, they can take a long walk down a short pier. But since I haven't established fixed rates to begin with, chances are they just won't know.




[edited for idiom reversal syndrome, thank you John]

[Edited at 2010-02-03 21:34 GMT]


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Stefanie Maile  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:59
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sorry, but my French is not that good Feb 3, 2010

ScottishWildCat wrote:

Dear Stefanie,
there are some scammers out there (some naming themselves "translation platforms") - sorry to quote my own writings, but I described what I discovered in my blog here: http://tinyurl.com/nc5sa4
More details and names in private if needed.



Dear colleague,
I just looked at the blog you recommended - but my French is not that good anymore, so I only understood half of it, I'm afraid. Would you mind summarising it in 2 or 3 sentences for me?
Thank you very, very much!

Stefanie


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Stefanie Maile  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:59
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for giving your opinion! Feb 3, 2010

Dear colleagues,
I very much appreciate your comments on this topic.
Thank you for giving your opinion, everybody.

Kind regards,
Stefanie


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Stefanie Maile  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:59
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No, they wanted to have both, an NCA as well as this fee. Feb 3, 2010

Attila Piróth wrote:

Charging a referral fee assumes that they connected you with the client directly. Referral fees are usually one-off fees: once the contact has been established, you can work with the end client without passing through the agency. This practice is explicitly forbidden by non-competition agreements, which specify that you should not try to get in touch with the client directly (only through the agency). So, it is either a referral fee or an NCA.

As Jan Willem has pointed out, their margin is already included in the rate they charge the end client.

Kind regards,
Attila


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:59
French to German
+ ...
Basically Feb 3, 2010

Stefanie Maile wrote:


Dear colleague,
I just looked at the blog you recommended - but my French is not that good anymore, so I only understood half of it, I'm afraid. Would you mind summarising it in 2 or 3 sentences for me?
Thank you very, very much!

Stefanie

This is about a so-called translation platform, which would ask potential translators to pay a fee in order to be able to quote and which also has other requirements (such as: the end client must validate your translation before you get paid).
All in all, I was made attentive about this entity because colleagues complained they were unable to receive their fees. By the way, the outsourcer is listed with a bad rating in the Blue Board.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
They want to have their cake and eat it Feb 3, 2010

Attila Piróth wrote:
So, it is either a referral fee or an NCA.


But you say they're demanding a referral fee AND an NCA, Stefanie. In that case, who exactly are they referring you to? Themselves?

I'd refer them to a lawyer if I were you - for free!


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
The latest info Feb 3, 2010

I had actually asked the person who contacted me if/how this "10% referral fee" would be applied in the case of translations. Today I received the following response (abridged):

"We usually deduct a 10% commission from your rates (not including expenses
or out of pocket costs) to cover our expenses in advertising and billing the
client. However, each job can be negotiated in advance, so if you would like
to request another option this can be done at the time of hiring."

It still sounds strange to the point of being fishy, but one thing to keep in mind is that this company is not a translation/interpretation agency per se.

Its self-proclaimed purpose is to provide "local solutions for global projects". A list of these includes "media services", which include video production, corporate communications, rich media, photography, etc., "legal services", which include legal videographers, court reporters, deposition management, etc., and "corporate services", a category that includes videoconferencing, webcasting, event organization, and *interpreters*, etc.

So maybe they do somehow see themselves as brokers, but I totally agree that a referral fee and an NCA would normally be mutually exclusive.

I won't hold my breath about being contacted for work, but it will be interesting to see (if)what projects come my way, and at least I will still have the ability to negotiate.


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10% referral fee claimed by French agency

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