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Does money matter or not?
Thread poster: Iuliana Bozkurt

Iuliana Bozkurt  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 21:28
Member (2008)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Nov 17, 2011

I could not find a more inspired title to my post, at least not one which could be more related to my... issue.

I am sure many of you have already been in the situation I am going to describe below: briefly, I have a client who sends me projects every now and then, say once every 3-4 months. Small projects. He pays in time, everything is fine.

BUT, for 2 months now, he has been adopting a new and strange behaviour: this client of mine (a translation agency, in fact), is asking me to translate 2-3, maximum 5 words for him. He does that about every week or once every 2 weeks. I would have felt rather odd to charge him for those 2-3 words, so I did that for free. Up to now. But this situation does not seem to stop, at least not in the near future. He works with a company that produces pens and those labels he is sending me have 2-3, 5 words. Once a new pen is produced, a new label needs to be translated. Even today, a couple of hours ago, I received a similar request - kindly help us with these 5 words: ... Now, I am not stingy, but I somehow feel bothered about these requests that have no finality. I am sure he IS charging the company for my translations.

So, my question might sound a bit naive, but I really do not know how I to handle this situation as diplomatically as possible: I would not want to seem rude and ask for my minimum rate since we are talking about some words, but I am not happy about working for free for someone who is probably charging for my translation. What do you think? Should I charge him? And how much? I could not ask for half an euro to be transferred via PayPal, could I? Or maybe wait 1 year and then cumulatively invoice... 5 euros or something. What would you do in my case?

I will very much appreciate any ideas.

Thank you,

Iuliana


 

Localize It!  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:28
English to Italian
+ ...
It does if the client is taking advantage... Nov 17, 2011

Hi Iuliana,

I have a client that sometimes asks for 2 to 5 words translations.
If it's an addition to a previous translation that I did for them, like a last-minute change or extra text, then it's not charged.
But if it's new text then I do charge them. Actually, I didn't even have to ask, they simply send me the quote along with the request. They apply my word rate.

Another solution that you can adopt is establishing a minimum fee, for example 50 cents.
Independently from the lenght, even if it's under 5 words you will apply that fee.

It is ok to do it sometimes, but here it sounds like they are clearly taking advantage of your kindnessicon_wink.gif

Elena


 

XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:28
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Are you getting any other work from him? Nov 17, 2011

If you're also getting a decent amount of paid work from him that might offset these 'favours'. If not, I would certainly broach the subject of your minimum charge. In my view, once or twice is okay, more than that isn't.

 

Elena Volkova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:28
English to Russian
+ ...
Ask what they suggest? Nov 17, 2011

I agree with you - you should not be translating for free for a long-term client if it is not a one-off request but an ongoing thing.

I would write an email to the agency outlining the situation and asking for their suggestion as to how you two should handle it. I don't think they will have the nerve to ask you to continue providing your service for free, and when they come up with an amount/arrangement you will have a chance to negotiate it.


 

Hepburn  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:28
English to French
+ ...
Alas, same situation here Nov 17, 2011

Hi Iuliana,

I often have that problem, not with one client in particular, but with various ones, as if it was the done thing and that we were meant to be available to give our time freely and sometimes it does take time to translate words without the proper context, particularly with new brands, or new games. I once told the client he could not expect me to decide on my own, and that he should have a panel of people to do that particular translation of a name for a brand or a new toy for example.
Thinking ot it now, they probably ask several translators the same questions and then, they have a free panel giving them enough material to choose.

As to getting some form of payment, I am thinking of setting a minimum charge of 4 EUR for less than 50 words, no matter the number.

Your post really makes me seriously think about it

Let us know more about your progress in the matter!

Claudette


 

Hokyun You  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:28
Member
English to Korean
+ ...
You should be charging and don't feel bad about it Nov 17, 2011

You are a professional translator. You do it for living. It's not like a hobby or anything. You must be charging the agency no matter how many words there are. It's not just about how many words there are but it's also about your timely reply and delivery. What you should also take into account are your effort and time to reply his email, to translate, and to deliver the work in timely manner. I think you should charge between 1 to 3 euro for each small translation request. You should never wait for a year to send a lump sum charge. Send an invoice at least once a month. You can ask for immediate payment after delivery or just prior to delivery of the following request since those are small amounts. You never know when the agency will vanish into air. Never wait long to send an invoice.

I think this is a great idea. Don't you think?

[Edited at 2011-11-17 13:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-11-17 13:29 GMT]


 

Nani Delgado  Identity Verified
Germany
German to Spanish
. Nov 17, 2011

I´ll try to explain what I think you could do (I sometimes have difficulties expressing myself in English). I´d suggest that you invoice him once a month and that you offer the client an arrangement that could be like this: if he doesn´t send you within a month enough work that would exceed your minimum fee, then charge your minimum fee at the end of the month. If he sends you bigger jobs and some small jobs (couple of words) in between, then I would charge them at my normal per word rate and invoice them together with the other jobs.

This way maybe he thinks twice before sending three words to translate and/or he learns to manage his projects in a more efficient way (he could e.g. accumulate several sentences before he actually sets up a job).


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:28
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Minimum fee Nov 17, 2011

I always charge a minimum fee. One word, two words, etc. will be billed at $50.00 period. Of course, I get fewer requests for smaller jobs, but that is fine with me.

For an agency that provides me with a lot of work, I will do the occasional small job for free, but I always include an invoice indicating that this $50.00 fee was waived.

I suspect that in the near future clients will be picking out words and sentences from documents that they are not able to understand using machine translation portals and it is more important than ever that we establish minimum charges for each project regardless of its size.



[Edited at 2011-11-17 13:45 GMT]


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:28
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
An ongoing favor Nov 17, 2011

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

I suspect that in the near future clients will be picking out words and sentences from documents that they are not able to understand using machine translation portals and it is more important than ever that we establish minimum charges for each project regardless of its size.



[Edited at 2011-11-17 13:45 GMT]


I agree with Jeff.

Consider this, if your client has possibly (I'm not saying s/he does) several translators at hand to whom he can send 2 - 5 words and won't be charged for their translation, this amounts to several USD or Euros in savings.

I've done a couple of 2 - 4 words translations at no charge, but these were for a long-term client who has provided me with several larger projects.

As stated here before, you could send your client an email requesting the agency's financial terms in regard to recurring "mini"- translations. At least then you know whether they intend to continue to use your free service or not.


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:28
Member
English to French
Money does matter Nov 17, 2011

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

I always charge a minimum fee. One word, two words, etc. will be billed at $50.00 period. Of course, I get fewer requests for smaller jobs, but that is fine with me.

For an agency that provides me with a lot of work, I will do the occasional small job for free, but I always include an invoice indicating that this $50.00 fee was waived.

I suspect that in the near future clients will be picking out words and sentences from documents that they are not able to understand using machine translation portals and it is more important than ever that we establish minimum charges for each project regardless of its size.



[Edited at 2011-11-17 13:45 GMT]

I admit I am very flexible with charges, depending on how bothersome it is on my schedule and various other factors like when in the day, who, how asked, how often, how boring...
Agency customers expect me to charge for anything they send me, and I do, except when I can't be bothered entering the job into my management system. Of course this applies only to agency customers who send real work my way on a regular basis. I never charge less than 15 euros, if only for the 10 min I will need for admin and the actual work, break included.
In my opinion there is strictly no point in charging the price of a pack of cigs. The mere time needed for inputting the job, invoicing and what not "costs" more than that.

Philippe


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 02:28
Chinese to English
I wouldn't mind for a direct client. Not for an agency Nov 17, 2011

Your post indicates that this work is for an agency, and I would absolutely not accept this kind of behaviour from them. A few of the agencies I work with have a system whereby I build up credit with them and they make a payment when I request it or when my credit exceeds a certain amount. I'd get paid for these little jobs (considerably more than my standard rate - 2 words is much much harder to translate than 1% of 200 words), and just let them accumulate with the agency to avoid the hassle of frequent small payments.
For direct clients I would be more relaxed about it, but if it's a regular business thing, I would definitely propose some sort of paid arrangement after a few months. Not press the issue, but definitely mention it and make a proposal.


 

Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Handle with tact Nov 17, 2011

Of course we don't want to rock the boat too much, because your client may well be seeing this as "only a couple of words" which you can translate in "no time flat". But that in fact is not strictly speaking true. What is true is that it probably takes you longer to set up and send the e-mail than it does to translate the words, but that in itself increase the time devoted. The smaller the project the greater the proportion of time per word on adminsitration. Which in turn means that we have to think about minimum charges rather than per word charges, as others have wisely suggested. And although I agree in principle with Elena, I think it should be, as others have said, a higher charge, although only to be billed periodically, to reduce the relative admin burden.

I also like the second Elena's suggestion - asking them what they propose as a way of dealing with the situation. An elegant move.

I have one client, a business, and various people on the staff consult me every so often about "tiny little things". So that actually adds up. And because they are an important client, I tend not to charge. But in this case, I think that, as well as being taken for granted (they don't have me on a retainer, after all) they may even not be noticing that I am doing this favour. So I am wondering about including it all in my monthly bills, but rated at zero per hour? A delicate matter. Mind you, just when I really was getting a bit fed up with being exploited (I was actually asked to go up and give my opinion in situ on some captions for visual work, but couldn't see a graceful way to bill for that service), the big boss gave me a present of a bag of home grown tomatoes. Now that's the kind of tit for tat I can cope with!


 

Annamaria Amik  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:28
Romanian to English
+ ...
Minimum rate, period! Nov 17, 2011

Oh how I dislike this behavior!

Direct client or agency, you are not obliged to do these small favors. These small-word projects take time too - reading the e-mail, opening the attachment or opening a new file for some languages with diacritics just to make sure they are not destroyed in the e-mail, replying etc etc. 10 minutes for no-pay "no effort" jobs every week can really add up in time.

I charge 1 page (=300 words) for everything less than that. I have one client that does the same as yours - sometimes he comes back with small additions to jobs already done, normally I don't charge him for that.

If you ask them to come up with a solution, they might propose that words should be counted at the end of the month - DON'T accept this, it's not worth it, it takes more time to count than you are paid foricon_smile.gif

If this is a recurrent job, set a fixed price for each label (provided that they are not longer than 10 words), let's say $5. A manufacturer should accept this, a bad (machine) translation can affect their image, most countries require labels to be translated into the local language etc. So indeed there are economic interests at stake. Why should you sacrifice yours?

Just set a fixed price for each label, but I advise you not to go below the price of half a normal page.


 

Andrzej Mierzejewski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 20:28
Polish to English
+ ...
Why help them for free? Nov 17, 2011

aceavila - Noni wrote:

I have one client, a business, and various people on the staff consult me every so often about "tiny little things". So that actually adds up. And because they are an important client, I tend not to charge. But in this case, I think that, as well as being taken for granted (they don't have me on a retainer, after all) they may even not be noticing that I am doing this favour. So I am wondering about including it all in my monthly bills, but rated at zero per hour? A delicate matter. Mind you, just when I really was getting a bit fed up with being exploited (I was actually asked to go up and give my opinion in situ on some captions for visual work, but couldn't see a graceful way to bill for that service), the big boss gave me a present of a bag of home grown tomatoes. Now that's the kind of tit for tat I can cope with!


Home grown tomatoes? Gosh, that's a royal treat!icon_razz.gif

But grown by him or by his gardener?

Looks like they are successful at least with the first half of the basic business rule: buy (your work) cheap, sell (their work) expensive.

Why shouldn't you be treated by them in a more conventional way? You could say: I do find pleasure in helping you with those 'tiny little things' each and every day, but that has accumulated up to ... minutes/hours for the last month alone. My rate for on-the-phone consultancy and advisory work is EUR ...... an hour. From now on, I will sum up all calls from your company and issue an invoice once a month, with a billing sheet attached. OK?

That's just a rough idea, you can devise a more sophisticated approach.

Regards

AM

[Zmieniono 2011-11-17 15:58 GMT]


 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
Refer client to Proz Nov 17, 2011

All the client has to do is post his mini-translations as Kudoz questions. Then he not only gets them for free, he will often have several versions to choose from as well.

 
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