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Agency contract - ridiculous?
Thread poster: Simone Linke

Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:32
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Oct 4, 2010

Hi all,

I've just received a contract from an agency (from Lithuania), and even though I've already made up my mind about it (i.e. not sign it), I'd still like to gather some input on what others experience and how much you'd tolerate.

First, a general question:
The contract states that I will have to include "15% income tax" on my invoices. Huh? I thought the reverse charge procedure applies here? Why would I charge 15%? And what would I do with those 15% then? (And aside from that, I'm currently still VAT-exempt and don't charge VAT in Germany either. Wouldn't that make matters even more complicated if I suddenly had taxes on my invoices??)

Then some other funny things:
They offer Trados discount rates all the way down to 50% matches: for matches of 50-74%, they'd only pay 80% of the regular rate. For 75%-84%, they only pay 45% and higher matches get payment percentages of 40%, 20% and 0%. Repetitions get 5% of the regular rate.
I mean, I often abide and accept discounts for matches of up to 75%, but discounts for 50% matches? Those are often useless! Do any of you accept such discount rates?

Then they want me to deliver the TM with my translations (for those projects with Trados) - free of charge, of course.

Next, they have an error/reduction grid, that basically lists the number of errors per 250 words and the corresponding reduction in payment. It's important to note that also "style", "structure" and "semantics" can account for errors. But "style" is something subjective.. what if someone with different style preferences proofreads my translation and changes lots of things out of personal taste? Then my payment gets reduced?!

And the worst part (imho at least), they reserve the right to bring up complaints about the quality of the translation within 2 (two) years (with reductions in payment if necessary).


Have you ever had such a contract with so many restrictions and payment cuts? I should add that they also claimed they couldn't pay my standard rate because there was already a price agreement with their clients in place and I'd have to accept the existing rate (which is a few cents lower than mine)... and now they want to cut it even further with those crazy discounts?!

Also would you ever agree to free-of-charge delivery of the TM and to this 2-year complaints period?


I've already dealt with various agency contracts but this one tops them all... right?


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:32
Swedish to English
+ ...
I've got a little box where I save funny jokes from x-mas crackers Oct 4, 2010

This belongs there.

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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:32
French to English
+ ...
Remember a contract can be negotiated Oct 4, 2010

People often forget that the point of a contract is that it's an AGREEMENT between the parties concerned. If you don't agree with something, but you and the client mutually value one another, that you should be able to negotiate a version that you do agree with.

Of course, if the client doesn't value you (or vice versa) in the first place, then that's a different story. As the contract stands, I think working in a slave labour camp would achieve a similar effect and involve less paperwork, but it's a personal decision.


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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:32
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yup Oct 4, 2010

Funny, I just showed it to a friend and we wondered if the slave chains came for free with this contract..

I agree with the part about this being an agreement. I was thinking about proposing different terms, but then again, I get the feeling that this will probably lead to payment delays and excuses.... probably not worth the hassle..

But I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this contract is a joke.


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Alison Sabedoria  Identity Verified
France
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Chains extra Oct 4, 2010

The price of your chains would, of course, be charged as yet a further reduction, with an option for the agency to increase this amount over time to allow for depreciation of the material, wear and tear.

Bin!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:32
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
How bad can things get? Oct 4, 2010

Simone Linke wrote:
I agree with the part about this being an agreement. I was thinking about proposing different terms, but then again, I get the feeling that this will probably lead to payment delays and excuses.... probably not worth the hassle..


I too would probably start by wanting to challenge or negotiate (I'm an inveterate optimist) - but you obviously realise that it would be a complete waste of time.

But I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this contract is a joke.


A joke, yes. But who's laughing?

Regarding the TM - were they proposing to send you a massive TM to start with? In that case, I might agree to add to it for a small fee. If they want you to create the TM then hand it over - Oh, no! Do you expect to get all the separate recording tracks when you buy a CD? Or the blueprints when you buy some state-of-the-art electronic equipment?

As for the 2-year delay in finding fault, that's really laughable. Shouldn't they, as a translation agency, be able to find fault with a sub-standard translation in just a couple of days, and certainly before the invoice is due (my own cutoff for entertaining revisions)?

I wonder just where their own job comes in - what do they do apart from conning end-clients into thinking they know the translation industry and can get a competent translator to work on their text. If they (a) don't even understand their own tax legislation and (b) can't recognise when a translation is good or bad - what do they do to earn the inevitably massive mark-up they charge?

It's all very sad, Simone. The only bright spot is that you didn't sign anything, so you haven't really lost anything. Hopefully, anyone reading this who might otherwise have been tempted to give it a go will realise that they're selling themselves short.

"United we stand", and all that! It's a cliché, but we really need each other.


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:32
Swedish to English
+ ...
Missed this beauty Oct 4, 2010

Simone Linke wrote:


And the worst part (imho at least), they reserve the right to bring up complaints about the quality of the translation within 2 (two) years (with reductions in payment if necessary).




You can only apply a reduction to a payment before/when you actually make it. After that the term is a "refund". Does this mean you'll have to wait 2 years for payment?


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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:32
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Probably subsequent deductions Oct 4, 2010

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:

Simone Linke wrote:


And the worst part (imho at least), they reserve the right to bring up complaints about the quality of the translation within 2 (two) years (with reductions in payment if necessary).




You can only apply a reduction to a payment before/when you actually make it. After that the term is a "refund". Does this mean you'll have to wait 2 years for payment?


The way the contract phrases it, it appears that they would simply withhold payments for subsequent jobs then.. that's why I find this item the worst. Basically, you'll have to worry about payment for each job you do for the next two years. Urg!

I'm just glad I read this contract in detail.. I tend to become sloppy over time and just glance over the various contracts (most are very similar anyway) - a nice reminder not to do this!


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Rolf Kern  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 20:32
English to German
+ ...
Forget it Oct 4, 2010

That's my advice.

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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:32
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Would anybody sign that? Oct 4, 2010

I can't imagine anyone signing it unless they just didn't bother to read it.

Am I the only one here who has never signed a translation contract? Maybe I'm just lucky.


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Wolf Kux  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:32
Member (2006)
German to Portuguese
+ ...
Forget ... Oct 4, 2010

... such slavery contract!

Or you may agree with them that, if another translation appears to you with a better income, you simply may have the right to suspend this first work, until better priced one becomes finished.

Such guys need to know that they are dealing here with serious people, not with vassals as they themselves were on past soviet dominations.

You live in a free country with free people working there, not with such slavery.


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Natalya Sogolovsky  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 21:32
Member (2010)
Russian to Hebrew
+ ...
Similar post about paying VAT in Lithwanya? Oct 5, 2010

It seems to me I saw a similar post about paying VAT in Lithwanya a couple of weeks ago... I can't find it right now but some translator asked if the Lithwanian agencies have to charge VAT... But it seems there some higher rate was stated - I remember being shocked but did not read the whole discussion then.

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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:32
Spanish to English
+ ...
Me neither Oct 5, 2010

Amy Duncan wrote:

I can't imagine anyone signing it unless they just didn't bother to read it.

Am I the only one here who has never signed a translation contract? Maybe I'm just lucky.


I don't do much agency work, but I have occasionally worked for a couple of large agencies for many years and they have never asked me to sign a contract or an NDA.


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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:32
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Latvian agency Oct 5, 2010

Yes, I saw this post. It was about a Latvian agency wanting to withhold 26%.
It still doesn't make sense to me.. if I include taxes in the invoice amount, this amount will have to be paid and then I'd be sitting around with the money, not knowing what to do about it...


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:32
French to English
Something of a curate's egg Oct 5, 2010

One point at a time

Simone Linke wrote:
The contract states that I will have to include "15% income tax" on my invoices. Huh?

Quite. I think this would need to be looked at. Are they using the right term?

They offer Trados discount rates all the way down to 50% matches: for matches of 50-74%, they'd only pay 80% of the regular rate. ...Repetitions get 5% of the regular rate.

Paying 80% of the rate for 50% matches sounds OK & yes I do accept them. Conversely just 5% for reps sounds a bit stingy. Swings, roundabouts, blah blah.. What we make per hour/day/week is what counts, not quibbling over fractions of a eurocent for repetitive document headings. In my humble opinion, of course. And naturally, if you look after the pennies...

Then they want me to deliver the TM with my translations (for those projects with Trados) - free of charge, of course.

Another topic that arises frequently. They can, of course, create it themselves anyway, so you're not protecting anything. There seem to be two camps: a) if they want it, they can do the alignment work to create it, or b) it only takes me 2 minutes and it keeps the customer happy. I'm in b)

Next, they have an error/reduction grid, .... they reserve the right to bring up complaints about the quality of the translation within 2 (two) years (with reductions in payment if necessary).

Screw that.

I've already dealt with various agency contracts but this one tops them all... right?

I've seen worse clauses quoted on this very forum, usually about liability. If I needed/wanted the client, I'd want to clarify that 15% stuff, and negotiate the reductions-for-errors aspect to reduce the timeframe to one month and objective errors only. But the other stuff seems fine.


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