Another example of bullying by a translation company
Thread poster: philgoddard

United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Jul 18, 2013

This was prompted by Lena Nemeth's post about A Certain Company Whose Name We All Know unilaterally cutting its rates.

I don't like the way the relationship between translators and translation companies is evolving. Most are a pleasure to work for, but some (mostly larger ones) are shifting the balance of power in their favour. They dictate rates (which for some reason are always below what I charge), send out mass emails and only reply to the first respondent, and whine about their profit margins.

I've been doing occasional jobs for the UK-based medical division of a major international translation company for many years. Each year I increased my rates by inflation (or slightly more if business was good), and told them before I accepted the first job of the year. However, they never bothered to update the rate on their system, with the result that it ended up being three years out of date. Each time they sent a purchase order, it was wrong. Sometimes I told them and they adjusted it; others I just ignored the error.

Anyway, a few weeks ago they queried one of my invoices because the rates were above what they had on their system. I explained for the umpteenth time, but this time they insisted on paying the 2010 rate, effectively ordering me to cut my prices by 10% because of their mistake. I refused, said I didn't want to work for them any more, and sent a final invoice saying I expected to be paid at my current rates. To add insult to injury, they even refused to pay this.

So I wrote to the chief executive. Fortunately, he saw sense and the staff concerned were ordered to pay my invoice. I got my money, but I've lost what was once a valued customer because of their mean, petty-minded behaviour.


Nikita Kobrin  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:07
Member (2010)
English to Russian
+ ...
Nobody can dictate us rates. Jul 19, 2013

philgoddard wrote:

They dictate rates

Nobody can dictate us rates. We set the rates ourself.



Christophe Delaunay  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:07
Member (2011)
Spanish to French
+ ...
You're not the only one losing.. Jul 19, 2013

I've lost what was once a valued customer because of their mean, petty-minded behaviour.

Think that they have lost too. They have lost you. And if you are a valued translator and they couldn't see that, then maybe it's time to move on.


Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:07
Italian to English
Gone but perhaps not lost Jul 19, 2013

philgoddard wrote:

So I wrote to the chief executive. Fortunately, he saw sense and the staff concerned were ordered to pay my invoice. I got my money, but I've lost what was once a valued customer because of their mean, petty-minded behaviour.

To be honest, this doesn't sound so much like bullying as administrative inefficiency.

If the boss was able to see your side of things, he may well also have marked the cards of the underlings who failed to keep the company's records up to date. It might be worthwhile getting in touch with them again when the waters have calmed a little.

Good luck!


Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 06:07
English to Russian
+ ...
There are ways to deal with them Jul 19, 2013

Phil, I think I know the international company you are talking about, or at least a very similar one. I've been working with their offices in the US and Spain for a number of years, and ran into exactly the same problems, except the last one with refusal to pay. The main issue with such monsters is their corporate structure, and you have to deal with it the way you deal with large corporations: don't expect your project manager to take care of all the problems, or even to know seemingly obvious things. When PMs offer you a job, always answer with your current rate so they wouldn't make mistakes. After raising your rate, wait a few months, then call the vendor management department and tell them to update your records; even if they say they "don't accept" rate increases, patiently explain them that their project managers are already giving you the jobs at your new rate, and you just want to save their time and yours by eliminating lowball offers that you would refuse anyway. A little bit of diplomacy goes a long way. If one can negotiate with terrorists, it's a sure fact one can negotiate with a "hard" client.


John Fossey  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:07
Member (2008)
French to English
Valued customers don't always remain so Jul 19, 2013

philgoddard wrote:

... but I've lost what was once a valued customer because of ....

Customers come and customers go.

What was once a "valued customer" may well cease to be one, for all manner of reasons (new staff, new policies, hard economic times, financial difficulties, new business direction, etc.).

It's never safe to depend too much on any one customer - 20% maximum of your overall sales is a rule of thumb.

Actually, you will find that once you are firmly in the driver's seat you will have much more control over things. The fact is that it's hard to find good translators - they probably need you more than you need them.

[Edited at 2013-07-19 11:35 GMT]


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Another example of bullying by a translation company

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