Just asked by agency to do a translation for free!
Thread poster: Inspectress

Inspectress
Ireland
Local time: 00:25
English to Irish
+ ...
Jan 7, 2016

Just here for a mini vent! I am relatively new to translation, working freelance for about 6 months now. I am lucky to deal with a couple of excellent companies most of the time but the rest of the time it is just a hassle. I am taking on new agencies though so I guess hassle comes with the territory of finding new clients and recently I did a few short translations for a new agency and accepted small payments for each, thinking they would not continue to inundate me with short translations only and obviously I hoped to potentially get larger assignments from them in the future.

The last translation I did for them was of about 20 words which I agreed to do for 3 euro. I sent it, no issues and then they emailed today and asked me to do another short translation of a few words, and asked me to add it to this fee of 3 euro - basically amounting to no payment at all for this extra work! I emailed them back to tell them I had been making an exception for them up to now had not charged them my minimum fee up to this, and that I could not possibly do this for free. Rather than then making me an offer of some token amount even, they asked me, and in all caps, to do this as a 'final favour' for them. I replied again saying that I could not possibly make a living operating in such a way, and explained to them - what they should know already - about the additional work involved in terms of research, etc. that comes with each translation. They wrote back again saying that there would not be much research involved in this translation of a few words 'after all', and then offered to add 2 euro extra for it.

I have written back to decline! I don't need this lack of respect in my life and forced to haggle for 2 euro.


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:25
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
+ 2 Euros Jan 8, 2016

Wow, this really tops it all. Considering the time you've spent explaining to them what they already know - or should know - is worth more than 2 euros. You should comply with their request for a "final favor": wish them well and say good-bye!

 

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 01:25
English to German
+ ...
Rant less, negotiate more Jan 8, 2016

Some of my clients sometimes send short texts from certain end clients of theirs, whose materials I am already familiar with. If the files are properly prepared and the invoicing process is hassle-free, I can accept these tiny jobs, because no further research is involved.

But I will send anyone else away stating my minimum fee. Sometimes they pay it, sometimes not.

Why take these things personally? We are free to accept or refuse every single job offered to us, and to state our fees for every job offered. It is just "natural" business behaviour if agencies try to get things for near nothing or actually nothing - after all, you have accepted similar conditions before and asking you doesn't hurt the PM, does it?

There is only one reason why translators are exploited: because they let it happen.

Tell your client that from now on you charge a minimum fee. If their tiny jobs are urgent and they appreciate your work, they will pay it. If not, there are other clients that will.


 

Elena Aclasto  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:25
Member (2015)
English to Italian
+ ...
agree Jan 8, 2016

I replied again saying that I could not possibly make a living operating in such a way, and explained to them - what they should know already - about the additional work involved in terms of research, etc. that comes with each translation. They wrote back again saying that there would not be much research involved in this translation of a few words 'after all', and then offered to add 2 euro extra for it.

I have written back to decline! I don't need this lack of respect in my life and forced to haggle for 2 euro.


I noticed that often people tend to consider our profession as of no value . A lawyer or accountant services are perhaps costing less to them? Why can some people think they can pay us less just because we are translators? We are giving them the same high level service.
I've always asked myself why.
You have done the right thing.

Elena


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
This highlights the need to get off on the right foot Jan 8, 2016

I don't really know why you expected them to change their habits. You allowed them to take advantage of you several times, so they naturally assumed that was OK with you. I can understand how it happens when you're inexperienced - I'm not ctiticising you here - but you do need to give each collaboration a solid foundation by setting rules and sticking to them. That includes a minimum price for any job you do.

Personally, my absolute minimum is equal to 15 minutes of my time. But that's only for regular clients who I invoice monthly. It adequately covers the very small amount of admin associated with each individual job (rates etc have already been agreed so it's just a simple exchange of emails). I also have another minimum - the minimum per invoice - which is equal to one hour of my time. That's rarely a problem for my regular clients who tend to need more than one hour of my time over a one-month period. But it means that if a new client wants 20 words, they pay EUR 30 for them, whereas an established client would pay EUR 7.50. They also don't get even single-figure wordcount jobs offered for free. In practice, once a client has paid the first invoice, assuming everything is going well, I'll suggest we move to monthly invoicing. It means giving a small amount of free credit, but there are great advantages to me as well.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 01:25
German to Serbian
+ ...
Set your minimum charge per order/contact/email. Jan 8, 2016

And stick to it, it may be, for instance, €50 or more.

So even if they have just one word to translate, it will still cost them €50.

I only take on "can you just check a couple of words" things from my established and regular clients with whom I had worked on large projects before. Otherwise, the minimum charge applies. However, rarely do I get such requests from my regular clients.

[Edited at 2016-01-08 13:14 GMT]


 

Inspectress
Ireland
Local time: 00:25
English to Irish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yup, inexperience to blame I guess Jan 8, 2016

I simply just didn't expect them to continually mail me for just a few words, less than 20, at a go. I had accepted that last job for 3 euro but what tipped it over was being asked to add that other one, first for free, then for 2 euro. How can a company only have a few words every time they contact a translator? And how on earth can translators make a living accepting work on that basis- obviously they are finding the odd mug to agree to it, but there is just no excuse for accepting this on a sustained basis.

I told them about my minimum fee and they then asked if they could send me individual jobs/translations as they arise over the course of the month and proposed that I could then charge my minimum fee at the end of the month, assuming the total doesn't go over the maximum word limit as per minimum fee.

I think they will probably go find another cheaper translator if they can which is no loss to me. I have a couple of decent, regular clients and am not desperate. A particularly obnoxious PM in this case too.


 

Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:25
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Agree with Sheila Jan 8, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

This highlights the need to get off on the right foot

I don't really know why you expected them to change their habits. You allowed them to take advantage of you several times, so they naturally assumed that was OK with you.


I agree with Sheila here. From the agency's point of view, it looks like you set the agency up to believe that "inundating" you with small jobs at small fees was OK, and then threw a temper tantrum over a couple of words and a few euros.

Also, don't take it personally that a client would dare to ask for a freebie -- it happens everywhere in the business world so it's something we just have to get used to and feel OK about accepting or declining such requests as we see fit. So they can ask for a freebie but we don't have to say yes -- but there's no use getting huffy and angry about the fact that they asked!


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
I often do very small translations for free. Jan 8, 2016

If it's a regular customer with whom you have a good relationship, free translation is a very effective goodwill gesture.

Obviously, if it's an advertising slogan that's going to take me two hours, no way. And we need to fight the erosion of minimum charges. But free is the business model of the future, and we need to get used to it.


 

Kaja Bartkowska  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 01:25
German to Polish
+ ...
I don't see why we should work for free. Jan 8, 2016

Inspectress, the mistake you made is that you ever agreed to do those small translations for peanuts. You have to "teach" your customers from the beginning how they are supposed to treat you. If you do "one exception", it won't end with one exception. They will demand even more for even less in the future. "Give them a finger, and they'll take the whole hand."

The reasons for establishing a minimum fee became very clear to me long time ago. A customer who contacted me through an agency sent me a ONE WORD translation (and she paid for one word due to the charging rules of that agency). I thought, 'Ok, I've been translating a lot for that agency, I'll do that for them'). And the best thing about that whole translation was that the customer submitted an issue ('Translation too long')! I did a thorough research and sent an exhaustive explanation why the translation can't be any shorter, I suggested an alternative, etc. And I got literally nothing in return (a few cents and no "thank you" - the customer wrote that "it wasn't helpful"). I haven't done any small translations for that agency since then. The thruth is, if we don't value our work enough (don't set the right price for it), the customers won't do it either.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:25
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I never charge for 20 words Jan 8, 2016

philgoddard wrote:
If it's a regular customer with whom you have a good relationship, free translation is a very effective goodwill gesture.


I agree. In fact, even if it's an irregular client, 20 words does not warrant a fee, IMO. And if a client wants to send little bits of text every now and then, well, then invoice for them all at once at the end of the month. The minimum fee would apply, however, if the job comes with extensive instructions, a TM and a glossary, etc.


 

Inspectress
Ireland
Local time: 00:25
English to Irish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Minimum fee for on demand translations for a month? No way. Jan 8, 2016

I had only done three very small translation jobs for them up to that point so why should they expect that I would do more work for free, and at 6 hours notice?

They made a mistake taking me and my time for granted and thinking 3 euro was enough for about 30 words in total, for two individual jobs. Offering no compensation at all for me is unacceptable - I have no guarantee they will ever turn into good customers. I already did 4 translations for them at tiny prices after all. So I do not need to justify the fact that I feel aggrieved by it.

The PM involved was obnoxious and rude - probably gets paid by the hour and commission on top. I do not. As for billing at the end of the month for a number of small jobs, it would not pay me to do it. There is simply too much time involved in accepting a brand new file, doing requisite research, translating, proofreading, sending, and then having to reply when or if the end client who is using some program akin to google translate to vet the work, asks agency to check with me if all is in fact correct. I have good clients and we treat each other with respect. Also anyone emailing me with all caps and multiple exclamation marks pretty much gets struck off my books, as the PM did in this case asking for 'FINAL FAVOUR!!!!'.


 

Rita Pang  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:25
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
... Jan 9, 2016

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro wrote:

Why take these things personally? We are free to accept or refuse every single job offered to us, and to state our fees for every job offered. It is just "natural" business behaviour if agencies try to get things for near nothing or actually nothing - after all, you have accepted similar conditions before and asking you doesn't hurt the PM, does it?


I agree.

Also exactly as Samuel has said; for certain clients, I don't mind offering quick services for free. If it takes me less than 15 minutes and I have that 15 minutes to spare that day, I consider it an act of good will. Of course, if I simply don't feel like working on it, I say no.

If I would get a penny for every rude PM who came along, I'll definitely have enough for a drink (or two!) by now. Don't take these things personally. It's not worth it. Just say no when you don't feel like it/don't have the time to do so.


 

Inspectress
Ireland
Local time: 00:25
English to Irish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Professional standards Jan 9, 2016

Rita Pang wrote:

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro wrote:

Why take these things personally? We are free to accept or refuse every single job offered to us, and to state our fees for every job offered. It is just "natural" business behaviour if agencies try to get things for near nothing or actually nothing - after all, you have accepted similar conditions before and asking you doesn't hurt the PM, does it?


I agree.

Also exactly as Samuel has said; for certain clients, I don't mind offering quick services for free. If it takes me less than 15 minutes and I have that 15 minutes to spare that day, I consider it an act of good will. Of course, if I simply don't feel like working on it, I say no.

If I would get a penny for every rude PM who came along, I'll definitely have enough for a drink (or two!) by now. Don't take these things personally. It's not worth it. Just say no when you don't feel like it/don't have the time to do so.


And that is what I did do - I said no. Clearly, one is happy to do a favour of a few words for clients they have worked with often before, but when it comes to a brand new client, I do not and would not unless there is already a good track record, or at the very least if I am asked to do so in a respectful manner and not have my service and time taken for granted. Context is important, as is self respect.


 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Just asked by agency to do a translation for free!

Advanced search







WordFinder Unlimited
For clarity and excellence

WordFinder is the leading dictionary service that gives you the words you want anywhere, anytime. Access 260+ dictionaries from the world's leading dictionary publishers in virtually any device. Find the right word anywhere, anytime - online or offline.

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2019 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has evolved to bring translators a brand new experience. Designed with user experience at its core, Studio 2019 transforms how new users get up and running and helps experienced users make the most of the powerful features.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search