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Seeking for advices on how to face difficult clients not willing to pay
Thread poster: Federica Duello

Federica Duello  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:35
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Feb 28

Hi everybody, I am having an issue with an outsourcing agency which I am collaborating with, and since it is the first time for me facing a situation like this one, I don't know how to face it....

Long story short: before starting the job, I sent them a quote based per hour, stating "hourly: 1*xx" (my rate); the PM and the client accepted it, thus I started my work.
Now, the agency refuses to pay the amount I said for the translation + proofreading + tabling because when I announced the total price related to the amount of time spent working, the PM replied he misunderstood because he thought that "1*50" meant a decimal number (I can't believe he said it for real); now, after having spotted some subjective errors (most of them regarding style, which neither the client nor the PM mentioned before) he is imposing me his price, which is equal to a 60% discount on my initial fee.
I tried, since this agency is a good client of mine, to negotiate with him, offering a lower fee for this time, but as far as I can see he is not willing to accept it, that is why I am not getting any answer.

I need some advices from somebody more experienced than me in this matters, thank you in advance for your replies and for your time spent in reading


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
What does "hourly: 1*xx" mean? Feb 28

What do you mean by "hourly: 1*xx" / "1*50"? Is "*" intended to be a multiplication sign? If so, why would you include a multiplication sign in an hourly rate? And if so, why would you include a multiplication by 1, which makes no difference?

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:35
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Just guessing Feb 28

Federica Duello wrote:

Long story short: before starting the job, I sent them a quote based per hour, stating "hourly: 1*xx" (my rate); the PM and the client accepted it, thus I started my work.
Now, the agency refuses to pay the amount I said for the translation + proofreading + tabling because when I announced the total price related to the amount of time spent working, the PM replied he misunderstood because he thought that "1*50" meant a decimal number


Hi Frederica,

if your quote means that you have worked for 1 hour only and are charging 50 Euros for this one hour, then your client has accepted that rate for one hour of work, and should pay for it.

If you had worked for more than 1 hour, I'd have to ask the same question Thomas has asked, why * 1? Please clarify.


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xxxIlan Rubin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 07:35
Russian to English
Sounds like it's no longer a good client Feb 28

So it was a good client. What does that mean? For me a good client should be somebody who regularly provides you with a fair chunk of your income (say 20-25%). Anybody less is probably replaceable without too much effort.

And it also sounds like it's no longer a good client.

So I would move on and write off the loss and stop working with them, there are lots of agencies out there. Or if they really are important then just don't argue with them and accept their position, which might not be unreasonable, as it seems that there was a genuine miscommunication.

PS, you are asking for advice so here's a couple of tips:

1) if I had this sort of dispute with an agency I wouldn't dream of raising it on Proz. Why? Because if the agency sees your post they might feel rather upset that you have brought a dispute in which they are involved to public attention. Just because you don't mention their name doesn't mean they won't be upset.

2) your profile has a number of errors in English: you should brush it up and that should help you to get more clients (e.g. "Italian" not "italian", "centrered in" isn't English at all (you misspell the first word and it should be centered on / centred on depending on US or UK spelling), etc.); also your profile isn't particularly business-like - starting with "Hi" and finishing with a smiley. Some agencies won't care, but others will and it's best to be conservative.

[Edited at 2017-02-28 18:59 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-02-28 19:01 GMT]


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David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
I didn't get it Feb 28

What was included in the price. Was it a mere proofreading job?
What was your calculus and what was his? Can you put it in equations?
You wanted 50 and he gives you only 25? Is that it?

[Modifié le 2017-02-28 19:42 GMT]


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:35
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
1.50 per hour? Feb 28

Federica Duello wrote:

... the PM replied he misunderstood because he thought that "1*50" meant a decimal number...


Are you saying the PM told you he thought you were asking 1.50 [currency] per hour? If that's the case (and I hope not), how is that possible, since you wrote they are a "good client" of yours? Surely you had already worked with them before, and already agreed on rates?

P.S. However yes, "hourly: 1*50" is confusing... "[currency]X per hour" would probably be clearer.

[Edited at 2017-02-28 20:14 GMT]


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:35
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Take you loss and learn Feb 28

People who are being paid to get across messages should communicate more clearly.

Cheers,
Gerard


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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:35
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Accept the price and BE CLEAR ABOUT FUTURE PRICES Mar 1

What does Federica's English on her profile have to do with this?! She doesn't work into English, first of all, and second, she never asked for your advice in that matter and it's rather presumptuous to sit there and dole out unsolicited criticism about something that is not even related to her query. (She asked for specific advice about her problem, not general advice about her profile etc.)

I also don't see a problem with her raising this issue on ProZ to ask for advice. That is what this forum is for. She has not broken any forum rules and her query is not unprofessional, so I'm not sure where the issue is, even if her client DOES see this thread.

ANYWAY, Federica, it sounds like when you quoted your price you were not very clear, and so there was a misunderstanding. It's odd that the client would interpret your rate as EUR 1.50 per hour and not ask you to confirm that price since it is CRAZY LOW. But ultimately you could have been more clear.

If the client really is a good one to you, and you don't want to lose business or leave them with a bad feeling, I would accept the cost he offered. Explain that you are accepting his price because of a misunderstanding, but for future reference, your hourly rate is "EUR XX per hour". Make it very clear what your real rate is. Do not use asterisks (*) or multiplication signs; write out your prices fully so that misunderstandings can be avoided.


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hourly rate Mar 1

Your quote would only be unclear if it were 10% or 20% lower than an average hourly rate of a professional translator/reviewer. However, 1.5 EUR per hour is something no project manager, no matter how new they are to the job, would possibly believe in.

This number is way off and excludes any possible confusion whatsoever.

If they “thought” 1.5 EUR per hour was the rate, and you “thought” is wasn’t, I don’t see why on earth we should place a burden of proof on you. If they “thought”, and therefore weren’t sure, they should have checked it with you.

If a UK company sends me a quote of 1,200 GBP for a piece of software, can I pay them 1.2 GBP and tell them something like: “Oh, in Spanish the comma separates decimals and I ‘thought’ it was 1.2 GBP. And since I ‘though’, I’m of course right and you are wrong”?


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Christophe Delaunay  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:35
Member (2011)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Looks like... Mar 4

Federica has resolved her problem or .. has gone on holiday

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Álvaro Espantaleón  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:35
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Quite confusing (your quote) Mar 4

But it is obvious that the PM is abusing you. I think there is no minimum wage in Italy, so an Italian judge could say it is perfectly fine to work for 1,50.

Anyway, as this is a good client of yours and you just lost one hour of your time (if I understood correctly), my advice is that you let it go.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:35
French to English
minimum wage irrelevant Mar 5

Álvaro Espantaleón wrote:

But it is obvious that the PM is abusing you. I think there is no minimum wage in Italy, so an Italian judge could say it is perfectly fine to work for 1,50.


Sorry Alvaro, but the minimum wage point is not relevant, even if there were such a thing in Italy. Freelancers are self-employed, independent professionals and so laws concerning employees do not apply to them.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:35
French to English
Federica Mar 5

There can be confusion when quoting as some countries use "," where others use a ".". These quirks are known and so it is common to write amounts in full using words, or to query an amount or a rate which seems abnormally high or low.

You chose to use "*" which is a standard multiplication sign in machine calculation and on keyboards, but not in daily business writings. The agent should have asked you to clarify what you meant, but they did not and were probably deliberate in taking advantage of that.

I can understand how you feel, probably more so as until this incident, you had worked well with this agency. If they are prepared to think you will seriously work for 1.5€ an hour, then you may just have discovered they are not the people you should continue working with.

In future exchanges with clients, particularly when establishing price, cost, rates and so on, use standard in-text notation.

[Edited at 2017-03-05 03:12 GMT]


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Federica Duello  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:35
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not on vacation Mar 21

Christophe Delaunay wrote:

Federica has resolved her problem or .. has gone on holiday


Oh no, I just could not see all your replies, that is why I was not answering to anybody of you


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Federica Duello  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:35
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
1* Mar 21

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

What do you mean by "hourly: 1*xx" / "1*50"? Is "*" intended to be a multiplication sign? If so, why would you include a multiplication sign in an hourly rate? And if so, why would you include a multiplication by 1, which makes no difference?


I could have accepted if the client had asked me all this: hour= 1*whatever (at least to me) was clearly stating that 1 hour is worth xx euros.


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