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Request for discount after receiving invoice
Thread poster: J.Muldoon
J.Muldoon
Germany
Local time: 06:15
German to English
Jan 19, 2011

I know that similar matters have been discussed at length here before but I couldn't find anything that matched my particular situation and I'd be very grateful from some opinions.
I recently completed a large job for an agency I've worked with for 2-3 years; they haven't been great but they pay on time and have an excellent BB record (although, in my experience, that's worth nothing at all).
Everything was done and accepted and I sent them my invoice.
Now I received an e-mail saying that they had given the client a discount for repetitions and would I reduce my invoiced amount accordingly?
I replied that there had been no mention of this when they offered me the job; the PM's answer was that this was one of their standard conditions, so she didn't feel she had to mention it.
Now, I've done more than 20 jobs for them in the past and not once have I been asked for any sort of discount (of course, they were all much smaller...their requested "discount" for this one comes to over 1000 euro).
How does that make it a "standard condition"?
I was briefly tempted to suggest a smaller discount...but was instantly appalled at myself for even considering it!
I can't think of any other business sector where it is acceptable to start haggling after the work is done and accepted and the invoice has been received. Surely, any discounts, special conditions, extra services, etc. have to be agreed BEFORE the order is accepted, not when you've been sitting on the bill for a week and don't like the idea of handing over a fairly large sum.
After several refusals, the agency has reduced their request to ONLY 30% of my usual rate for the repetitions, but I still don't see why I should agree. I understand the arguments for such discounts, have accepted them in the past, but only if I have agreed to them in advance!
I worked hard on this job, ended up having to do extra work on it because their own staff were on holiday, and I see no reason why I should reduce my fee.
What do you all think? Why should we accept being squeezed for ever more "discounts" and rate drops, which would be unacceptable in any other area of business?


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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:15
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Purchase order? Jan 19, 2011

Do you have a purchase order or any other agreement in writing with details about the job and the price?

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Rolf Kern  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 06:15
English to German
+ ...
Repetitions? Jan 19, 2011

What kind of repetitons? Repetition of letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, pages? In case of straight repetition of a whole paragraph I usually charge 50% for that paragraph, then 25% for the next straight repetition etc. in my invoice. To reductions for other "repetitions" I do not agree.

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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:15
French to German
+ ...
My 2 € cents Jan 19, 2011

felis wrote:
Now I received an e-mail saying that they had given the client a discount for repetitions and would I reduce my invoiced amount accordingly?
I replied that there had been no mention of this when they offered me the job; the PM's answer was that this was one of their standard conditions, so she didn't feel she had to mention it.


1) The discounts they are willing to give to their client are not to influence what they have agreed to pay you. Basically and from what you are writing, methinks that you are now expected to jump in with a fee reduction for a commercial gesture made in the framework of the contractual relationship between the agency and the end client (which is none of your business to say the least).

2) Standard conditions should be known and accepted on both sides. They are under the obligation to inform you about their conditions and vice versa. And you both have to agree, even implicitly (by accepting the order resp. the service provided), on the other party's conditions.

It is therefore and imvho irrelevant to discuss what is subject to discounts and in which way it should be subject to discounts as long as you don't know how and why it should be. And in this context, the PM's line sounds rather hollow and meaningless to me.

[Just my logical reasoning so far and not a legal advice]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:15
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Two questions Jan 19, 2011

felis wrote:
Now, I've done more than 20 jobs for them in the past and not once have I been asked for any sort of discount...


Were there any repetitions in the previous jobs?

...(of course, they were all much smaller...their requested "discount" for this one comes to over 1000 euro).


What percentage of the amount you demand doe this EUR 1000 represent?

Oh, and Simone's question also needs answering... what does it say on the purchase order?


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J.Muldoon
Germany
Local time: 06:15
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
POs repetitions and experience.... Jan 19, 2011

yes, I know better but no, I don't have a PO...just a PO number.
This has always been one of my problems with this agency, they simply refuse to provide a PO.
It has always bugged me and I've been worried since I accepted the job but I do have plenty of experience with this company. Their answer to requests for a PO has always been that the conditions/rates I agreed with them in the contract apply for all jobs, unless specifically stated otherwise. I have paper and digital copies of every document I have signed for them and none of them include any discounts.

As far as repetitions are concerned, they mean entire segment/sentence repetitions. The job was not offered to me with the condition of using any sort of CAT tool (I usually don't if I can avoid it). As it was, I used MemoQ but the majority of repetitions required serious editing for tags/capitalisation.
I have also acceded to requests for a discount for repetitions in the past, but only if this was clearly stated before I accepted the job; haggling after receipt of the invoice is, in my opinion, just not on.

@ Simone ...yes, I know better, I've been doing this job long enough, but no, I don't have a PO...just a PO number.
This has always been one of my problems with this agency; they simply refuse to provide a PO.
It has always bugged me and I've been worrying about it since I accepted the job but I do have plenty of experience with this company. Their answer to requests for a PO has always been that the conditions/rates I agreed with them in the contract apply for all jobs, unless specifically stated otherwise. I have paper and digital copies of every document I have signed for them and none of them include any discounts.

As far as repetitions are concerned, they mean entire segment/sentence repetitions. The job was not offered to me with the condition of using any sort of CAT tool (I usually don't if I can avoid it). As it was, I used MemoQ but the majority of repetitions required serious editing for tags/capitalisation.
I have also acceded to requests for a discount for repetitions in the past, but only if this was clearly stated before I accepted the job; haggling after receipt of the invoice is, in my opinion, just not on.

@Laurent - Thank you, that was exactly my feeling. I have no influence over the amounts the agency charges the end client, so I don't see why it should affect my fee; my contract is with the agency, not the end client. If a condition/discount is considered standard, it must be accepted, in writing, before work starts. Any haggling after receipt of the invoice is simply an attempt on the agency's behalf to increase their profits. I'm not a legal professional but I fail to see how they could justify such a claim.

@Samuel, yes, my previous jobs have included plenty of repetitions. In fact, I've done all sorts of work for them, including corrections and revisions for very BIG pharmaceutical company clients who simply wanted assurance that their translation really was of "marketing quality". I've always been absolutely fair with them in calculating my fees...
The discount they suddenly want adds up to around 20% of my invoice - my personal view is that I earned every cent of it and that this agency would suddenly have to come up with a vastly increased volume of lucrative jobs to even make me consider a reduction ...which I seriously doubt.


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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:15
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
The contract should help your arguments Jan 19, 2011

If you have the contract and other paperwork, then (imho) it wouldn't matter much whether you have a PO or not.

If the contract states the terms and conditions and you haven't explicitly or implicitly agreed to other conditions for this job, then I don't see any basis for their claims.

(I'm also occasionally working for clients without an explicit purchase order, but I make sure that I have something in writing that states my rates and any other terms that may apply.)


It sounds as if you have a long relationship with this agency and would probably want to continue working for them. So, one possible suggestion that comes to mind is to refuse this discount here (maybe give them 100€ off or something as a gesture.. if you can afford it) and tell them that you will try to give them some discounts for future projects. This would be a gesture on your part without giving in to their unjustified demands. But don't *commit* to future discounts per se, just say that you will evaluate each upcoming project and apply discounts where possible (if the next project doesn't allow any discounts, then don't give any if you don't want to).

Otherwise, if you don't necessarily need this agency, just stand firm and demand what's owed to you. Good luck!


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Alexandra Lindqvist
Local time: 07:15
English to Swedish
+ ...
Unaccebtable! Jan 19, 2011

Ok so you don’t get PO:s for this client. However if nothing about theese kinds of reductions are stated in ANY document you have from them and this was not mentioned when you got the job I find it unacceptable for you to except.

Try to explain to them why you feel you deserve this money and explain to them that you don't find it fair that they try to renegotiate conditions after the work is already done!

Do you want this client or not?
Cause perhaps if you dont accept theese odd conditions they will drop you? Do you feel that you want to continue working with them after this event?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:15
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
A gesture may be called for Jan 19, 2011

Simone Linke wrote:
If you have the contract and other paperwork, then (imho) it wouldn't matter much whether you have a PO or not.


My opinion, too

So, one possible suggestion that comes to mind is to refuse this discount here (maybe give them 100€ off or something as a gesture.. if you can afford it) and tell them that you will try to give them some discounts for future projects.


My personal advice would be to do the first, but not the second. In other words, offer them a gesture for this job. NOT an exact reduction per repetition - I would make it very clear that this is a once-off commercial gesture, and I would imply (without coming out and saying it) that you're doing this to dig them out of the hole they've dug for themselves by promising the earth to their client. I think that's what happened: some new over-eager employee (probably paid on a commission basis) promised the client a huge discount based on repetitions.

Otherwise, if you don't necessarily need this agency, just stand firm and demand what's owed to you


Certainly another possibility!


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J.Muldoon
Germany
Local time: 06:15
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Simone Jan 19, 2011

Yes, your comments more or less mirror my thoughts on this matter.
I have documentation for all my standard rates for this agency; I'm not a lawyer but I don't see how they could come up with a plausible legal argument for their request for a discount.
As I've said, I did briefly consider offering a smaller discount, e.g., 10%, for a moment but then added up all the hours I had spent on this project and my experience of this agency over nearly 3 years.
In that time, they've represented a very small proportion my income, coupled with difficult communication and poor quality source documents. In all, I'd rather lose a "not very good and unreliable" agency, than accept a major reduction to the fee I legitimately earned.
...Unfortunately, if they decide not to pay at all, I will be forced to take the matter to the courts...thankfully I can afford this and am annoyed enough to take a stand.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
Tacky Jan 20, 2011

Tacky, tacky, tacky.

It may be also that they decide not to pay at all, so you may have to fight them for it. It sounds like an outfit that is not worth dealing with; totally unprofessional and really tacky. But I would say not to make any concession to them at all.


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:15
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
Another suggestion Jan 20, 2011

You mentioned that you had to do extra work on this over the holidays because their staff was out.
So you could say, "Sure, I'll give you 30% off, but I need to add 30% for the work I had to do over the holidays/weekends ... That's right, I have a 30% surcharge for such work ... No, I realize it wasn't part of the initial agreement, but if you can change the terms then so can I."
Waddya know? They owe you the exact same amount as before
Catherine


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:15
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Good one, Catherine! Jan 20, 2011

cbolton wrote:

You mentioned that you had to do extra work on this over the holidays because their staff was out.
So you could say, "Sure, I'll give you 30% off, but I need to add 30% for the work I had to do over the holidays/weekends ... That's right, I have a 30% surcharge for such work ... No, I realize it wasn't part of the initial agreement, but if you can change the terms then so can I."
Waddya know? They owe you the exact same amount as before
Catherine


So here's the bottom line: don't give in to their shady practices even if you lose this unprofessional client (which wouldn't hurt much anyway in your situation).

Steffen


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:15
French to German
+ ...
And... Jan 20, 2011

cbolton wrote:

You mentioned that you had to do extra work on this over the holidays because their staff was out.
So you could say, "Sure, I'll give you 30% off, but I need to add 30% for the work I had to do over the holidays/weekends ... That's right, I have a 30% surcharge for such work ... No, I realize it wasn't part of the initial agreement, but if you can change the terms then so can I."
Waddya know? They owe you the exact same amount as before
Catherine


And... add 30% more for extra administrative work (trying to make sense of their "decision", writing e-mails etc.).


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:15
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Advance or late notice Jan 20, 2011

You say you have done 20+ jobs for them and never gave any discount. I suggest you tell them you think they have mistaken you for some other vendor. Send them a list of all these PO numbers, explain that you gave no discount on any of them, so you fail to see any plausible reason to start right now. It should be implied that how much they charge their end-clients is none of your business.

I am flexible, but firm. Once my longest-standing client ever (24 years so far, and counting) called me, rather desperate: Hey, we need your help. Someone here really botched it up on an estimate, and we'd need you to translate a one-hour video, top urgency, for free! Can you do it? We'll make it up on your next jobs. At that time I had been working extensively for them, several hundred jobs over 15 years, and they had always paid me the right amount, within two days from delivery. I told them to send it to me at once, and not to worry about "making it up", their track record would cover that bill.

So once something has been agreed to, that should be it. Ask them how they would react if you suddenly told them, after the deadline, that you'd deliver two weeks late?


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