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(EN>FR) Are you getting pressure for lower rates from established clients?
Thread poster: Thomas Rebotier

Thomas Rebotier  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
English to French
Dec 17, 2014

I am seeing this from 2 different agencies over the last quarter -- just asking for lower rates on the normal run-of-the mill project. Am I alone?

Feel free to discuss causes, etc. but please share your personal experience over the last year!


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:18
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Yes, but I say no Dec 17, 2014

Thomas Rebotier wrote:

I am seeing this from 2 different agencies over the last quarter -- just asking for lower rates on the normal run-of-the mill project. Am I alone?

Feel free to discuss causes, etc. but please share your personal experience over the last year!



NEVER reduce the rate you've been charging before, or you'll find yourself permanently being paid less by that agency.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:18
Member
English to French
Cheaper is better Dec 17, 2014

Thomas Rebotier wrote:
I am seeing this from 2 different agencies over the last quarter -- just asking for lower rates on the normal run-of-the mill project. Am I alone?

Feel free to discuss causes, etc. but please share your personal experience over the last year!

My first ever non-domestic agency customer (from year 2000) let me know last year in unambiguous terms that I was too expensive. Work from them had slowed down for the past few years, and although they had lived with my numerous rate increases, they no longer offered me as much as during the golden years 2000-2009. It was rather a trickle, so I somehow expected such a move.
Basically, I was to accept EUR0.09 or get off their books. Because, you know, other translators in my crowded EN>FR combination charge that much and end customers want cheaper prices, and this and that.
I replied great fine grand, after changing payment terms from 30 to 45 days end of month, after deciding not to pay 100%, after introducing internal fuzzy matches/homogeneity schmoll in their analyses, I will also swallow a 20% lower income with a smile and get back to my pre-2006 rate, because I'm sentimental and I can't just dump a customer after a 13-year relationship...

Since then, I have not taken on a single job offer from them, because I hardly have enough time to accommodate agency customers who happily pay 0.11.

Because I'm worth it.

Until when?
Today I learned that another long-standing agency customer had lost a major end customer I was in charge of. The end customer now prints their stuff without reread and gets cheaper translators to do the work.

Maybe it's time that I deliver horse manure at 0.04 so that shareholders of big names can get their comfy dividends.

Philippe

[Edited at 2014-12-17 20:47 GMT]


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ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 23:18
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Cheap Labor Dec 17, 2014

Tom in London wrote:

NEVER reduce the rate you've been charging before, or you'll find yourself permanently being paid less by that agency.


Could not agree more. I do not feel any pressure to reduce my rates from my clents. Even if I do, however, I do not intend to go any lower than my current rates. I think my rates are pretty reasonable considering my skills and my experience. If they find a better deal, they might as well go with that one.

There are a lot of translation agencies in Turkey that pay way less than what I charge for translations. The price is so low that I cannot help wondering how they find translators for the jobs they have. Another thing is that they pay by character rather than by word. I think that must be a new trend for cheap labor.


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:18
French to German
+ ...
I do not reduce Dec 17, 2014

I agree with Tom as well, reducing rates is not the solution.

If you start to reduce your rate, you'll probably have to rereduce it next year or in two years....

There are still enough well paying agencies - and end customer - so that I think there is no need to. Not in my language pair in any case.

Personally the only thing I offer is a discount for projects over 20 000 words and if a regular end customer has financial problems I do make an effort.


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Germaine  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:18
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
Well... Dec 18, 2014

Philippe Etienne wrote:

Today I learned that another long-standing agency customer had lost a major end customer I was in charge of. The end customer now prints their stuff without reread and gets cheaper translators to do the work.

Maybe it's time that I deliver horse manure at 0.04 so that shareholders of big names can get their comfy dividends.


If you were paid .11 by the agency, rest assured that the end-customer probably paid .25, if not .30 or more, to the agency.

So, maybe it's time that you send an offer of services to that end customer. Since it is not doing business with the agency anymore, there is no loyalty or other ethics question involved. Et l'odeur sera bien meilleure!


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:18
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Occasionally Dec 18, 2014

One or two regular clients (agencies) have occasionally asked if I would reduce my rate for a standard job. I decline because I think my rate is already very reasonable and I haven't increased it for about five years. Why should I earn less for the same work? MY overheads are increasing too!
One regular client, whose work is almost always "urgent", sometimes offers to pay more for an exceptionally urgent job.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:18
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Why do they di it? Dec 18, 2014

Like Jenny, I always refuse to work for a lower rate for the same agency. My rate is already as low as I can reasonably make it and (given the very low inflation rates) I have not increased it for several years.

It may be that agencies ask us to lower our rates because they have already negotiated a low rate with their client (perhaps in a tender bid competition with other agencies) and only afterwards they hope to persuade the translator to work for a lower rate.

I can understand the difficult situation of agencies who compete against one another on price alone, but they need to understand the difficult situation of the translator !


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Gregory Flanders  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:18
French to English
+ ...
Not yet Dec 18, 2014

But this thread has helped strengthen my resolve to make a considerable rate hike in January. Thank you.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:18
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Hike Dec 18, 2014

Gregory Flanders wrote:

But this thread has helped strengthen my resolve to make a considerable rate hike in January. Thank you.


Given the constantly descending rate of inflation in Luxembourg (see here http://www.tradingeconomics.com/luxembourg/inflation-cpi) I hope you'll be able to justify this!



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Thomas Rebotier  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
details... Dec 20, 2014

In fact, one of the cases was a prospect, not a client. The job did not materialize and about the same time I got another offer on my mail for the same project. So I think that the agency didn't have the deal yet and was trying to gather a team allowing them to bid as cheap as possible. [It's only the second time over the years that this happens to me (the same job proposed through different agencies) ; the other time I did two translation tests with different agencies at a 5-week interval that were the exact same text. Only difference: my words of the first time were now offered back to me as the "glossary" for the second test. I would believe that the end client is still looking for cheaper...]

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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:18
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Why should translators be exempt from market forces? Dec 20, 2014

Tom in London wrote:
I can understand the difficult situation of agencies who compete against one another on price alone, but they need to understand the difficult situation of the translator !


They are under no such obligation, Tom. There is a market for translation services at various levels of quality and complexity. If, in your market niche, there are plenty of translators looking for work and not that many jobs available then prices will likely fall.

If your niche is well-protected then prices likely will not fall and may even rise over time. If clients need your services and there are very few suppliers then the boot is on the other foot, no?

These are the fundamentals of pricing in a free market. It happens everywhere and, yes, in other professions also. If there is more supply than demand, all suppliers struggle.

I am not necessarily convinced that supply does exceed demand in the case of translation and the industry is so diverse that it's hard to tell.

Still, it seems to me that the market for translation services is also quite opaque and thus there is more of a problem of information asymmetry - specifically agencies have a better view on rates than freelancers - than there may be in other industries.

Dan


[Edited at 2014-12-20 09:11 GMT]


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Thomas Rebotier  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:18
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
@ Dan dead on the spot Dec 21, 2014

It's the "information assymetry" that I think is [dead on the spot]. Some of the opacity is structural and affects everybody, I am thinking about quality for example, but when it relates to pricing and cost structure, the agency has the upper hand...

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:18
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I disagree Dec 21, 2014

Thomas Rebotier wrote:

.... the agency has the upper hand...


I disagree. Without translators, the agency is out of business. As soon as translators realise that we are the main actors in this industry, things will change.

[Edited at 2014-12-21 21:01 GMT]


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Catherine Howard
United States
Local time: 16:18
Portuguese to English
+ ...
agency owners are exchanging tips on how to lower rates Dec 22, 2014

A high-placed member of our national translation association reported what she heard when she attended a conference of translation agency owners under the rubric of the national association. Although she's a freelance translator, she wanted to learn what agency owners talk about at their own meetings.

Among various topics of presentations and ordinary conversations was the topic of "vendor management," which she discovered was a euphemism for "how to get freelancers to work for less money." Yes, folks, agency owners were publicly exchanging tips and tricks on the best strategies for convincing translators to swallow lower rates. This became a topic of great mirth during informal conversations, when they recounted stories of how they pulled a fast one over on some hapless translator, who accepted a miserable rate, when the end-client was paying top rates. Those who could boast about the biggest profit in these transactions were regaled with the most delighted laughter and congratulations.

Another popular topic of presentations and conversations was the spectacular growth in their overall profits and amount of business over the past few years. Some of the agency owners touting the greatest income and the biggest agencies were not even ashamed when they exclaimed, "And I don't even know a foreign language!"

Folks, don't swallow their lines. They are very deliberate, very conscious, very well-planned strategies for making money at our expense. Just say no...

[Edited at 2014-12-22 03:08 GMT]


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