Acceptable to ask for an advance?
Thread poster: Joseph Jeffries
Joseph Jeffries  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:23
French to English
+ ...
Jan 28, 2011

Hi everyone,

I've just accepted an on-site translation job in Paris, starting on the 7th Feb. I will be travelling there from the south of England and I will have to find accommodation in the city for 7 nights.

Given that it's only 10 days away, flights and hotels are likely to be fairly expensive. In this light, do you think I am within my rights to ask for a partial advance on the fee?

Any advice or personal experiences shared would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

Joe



[Edited at 2011-01-28 12:31 GMT]


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 10:23
French to English
+ ...
Always Jan 28, 2011

You are always within your rights to ask for just about anything (within legal restrictions), it's called negotiation and companies do it all the time. In this case, your request seems quite reasonable. If it was me, I would have them pay for the hotel and transport directly.

Whether you will get what you ask for is another question. You generally have a lot more leverage if you negotiate before you sign the contract / accept the job.

T.


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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:23
Member (2009)
English to Russian
+ ...
The client has to cover all your travel expenses. Jan 28, 2011

Otherwise, you'll spend more than you'll earn, which does not make much sense.

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Joseph Jeffries  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:23
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agreed, but... Jan 28, 2011

Natalia Mackevich wrote:

Otherwise, you'll spend more than you'll earn, which does not make much sense.


I negotiated a higher fee to cover the travel costs.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:23
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Shame Jan 28, 2011

Joseph Jeffries wrote:
I negotiated a higher fee to cover the travel costs.


That's a shame, IMO.

I've never been in this situation so I'm not the best person to advise you, but I would have thought payment for the translation and payment for being there in person need to be invoiced separately, with unavoidable, up-front expenses being paid before you even book the tickets.

What if you get there and they say they don't need the translation any more? Or if they don't like your work? I would have thought it would be in your interests to keep the two as separate as possible.


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:23
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Ask! Jan 28, 2011

Dear Joseph,

since job and payment have already been agreed as it seems, the answer to your question:

Joseph Jeffries wrote:

... do you think I am within my rights to ask for an advance on the fee?


would be no. You should have discussed this matter before.

However, I think you should just ask your client about it. A partial advance payment seems sensible, and a sensible client might agree. However, if the client says no, you'll have to bite the bullet.

Just my 2 cents,
regards,
Erik


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Joseph Jeffries  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:23
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hi Erik Jan 28, 2011

efreitag wrote:

Dear Joseph,

since job and payment have already been agreed as it seems, the answer to your question:

Joseph Jeffries wrote:

... do you think I am within my rights to ask for an advance on the fee?


would be no. You should have discussed this matter before.

However, I think you should just ask your client about it. A partial advance payment seems sensible, and a sensible client might agree. However, if the client says no, you'll have to bite the bullet.

Just my 2 cents,
regards,
Erik


Thanks for writing back.

I should have made it clear in the first post that I am talking about a partial advance, and not the full fee up front. That would clearly be unreasonable.

It's not a major issue for me at all as the negotiated fee comfortably covers the costs. It's more the principle. I will ask and if they say no, it won't change anything.

JOe


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Manuela Junghans  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:23
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Hi Joseph Jan 28, 2011

I just had to deal with a similar situation a couple of days ago.

I was asked to travel to Germany from Scotland for an interpreting assignment, which of course would also have incurred flight and accommodation cost.

I too asked them if they would pay this upfront, but since there was some problem with this and they could only assure me that it would be paid in the end, the assignment unfortunately fell through.

I don´t want to put you off, but I personally had one very bad experience, where I had to wait 2 years to be reimbursed for my travel costs for an interpreting assignment abroad.

Therefore, my personal rule, if they don´t pay at least part of the costs upfront, I´m not going to risk it.

Good luck with your job anyway, hope it works out for you.

Manuela


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:23
French to German
+ ...
With Manuela Jan 29, 2011

I don't do interpreting that often, but the agency which most requested my services in this field always had the client making full arrangements and accommodation payments in advance and always made sure that the reimbursement of travel expenses would be distinct from the fees per se.

I hence never made offers in which these expenses were becoming "invisible" due to a higher fee.


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xxxR.C.
Local time: 10:23
English to Italian
+ ...
YES DEFINITELY EVEN MORE SO WHEN IT'S NOT JUST A FEW LINES' TRANSLATION Feb 1, 2011

I often politely request an advance payment and have recently proposed a poll on this. I don't get one so often, but I grant a special treatment to those who accept.

It is absolutely reasonable to give some trust to the person we choose to work with, plumbers want to be paid on the spot and so do supermarkets and basically all other dealers and professionals, not to mention PROFESSIONAL DOCTORS!!!! We take weeks or months to finish a work, so asking for an advance is just to say "I am not a wizard I eat and drink like anyone else and I live out of this".

This especially when the clients tend to disappear after the completion of the work, and sometimes it happen(z).


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Kate Chaffer
Italy
Local time: 10:23
Italian to English
Tax? Feb 1, 2011

As others have said, you are definitely within your rights to ask for an advance but the client may not accept. What I'm wondering about is why you didn't invoice flights and accommodation separately. By just increasing your fee, surely you'll now have to pay tax on the whole amount, whereas if you had invoiced separately, the hotel/flight expenses wouldn't have been taxed.

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Joseph Jeffries  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:23
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all for your input Feb 1, 2011

Hello all,

Thank you very much for sharing your feedback, opinions and advice. All extremely valid and I have duly taken everything on board.

This is the first time I have taken on such a project (i.e. an on-site project with overseas travel involved) so I did not have the benefit of experience when I was negotiating terms.

The client needed a quick answer and I, extraordinarily excited by the project (for it really is a fantastic opportunity), gave her one. You live and learn, and I will certainly approach things differently next time.

That said, I managed to get return travel to Paris for less than £100 and I will be staying in my friend's vacant flat for free. So all in all, save for the rather sad situation of being in Paris on Valentine's day without my loved one, things have turned out rather well.

Thanks again,

Joe


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