The art of negociating
Thread poster: ksarant

ksarant  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:25
English to French
May 21

Hi

I would appreciate if anyone of you could help me in regards to my current situation.

I have been a translator for quite a few years now and this is the first time that I have got a project in my field for a publishing house that I would like to keep as a client.

But here is the problem, I am just realizing that the price that they have offered me for one of the essays is ridiculously low in comparison to the complexity of the text. I have been working on it everyday included weekends and I am exhausted.

I have never confirmed by email that I did agree with their initial rate. So do you think that when I contact them that I am in my right to ask them for more? Also, the text was so complex that I won't be able to give the last four pages on time. Do you think that I could also negotiate that suggesting maybe that they can give the last four pages to someone else ?

My last question, the other essay is on hold because some changes have been done. Unfortunately before knowing this I have almost done the entire translation. Here again, am I in my right to ask if I can be paid for the work that I have done despite of these changes.

I may say as well that I have never signed any contracts with them.

Shall I send them an email or call them when I do these negotiations?

If you have any constructive advise to give me just let me know, I would really appreciate

Thank you


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Elif Baykara  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 04:25
Member (2015)
German to Turkish
+ ...
Negotiations are for the start. May 21

Once you have started with the projects, it is more like a "problem-solving" process.

ksarant wrote:

But here is the problem, I am just realizing that the price that they have offered me for one of the essays is ridiculously low in comparison to the complexity of the text. I have been working on it everyday included weekends and I am exhausted.

I have never confirmed by email that I did agree with their initial rate. So do you think that when I contact them that I am in my right to ask them for more? Also, the text was so complex that I won't be able to give the last four pages on time. Do you think that I could also negotiate that suggesting maybe that they can give the last four pages to someone else ?



ksarant wrote:

I may say as well that I have never signed any contracts with them.




So I assume that you have been working for a long time, at least for more than 2 weeks without having signed a contract and more importantly, without previously discussing the rates. Finding out that the text is more difficult than assumed is a mistake everyone can make. But after working on a project for days and then deciding that the price is not right is not quite a good point. These topics are to be covered at the very beginning. I am a freelancer and not an agency, still, I believe that this is against common sense what you are suggesting.


ksarant wrote:

My last question, the other essay is on hold because some changes have been done. Unfortunately, before knowing this I have almost done the entire translation. Here again, am I in my right to ask if I can be paid for the work that I have done despite these changes.



You should have discussed all these issues before starting the project. However, unless specified otherwise, you have translated the text and you should be paid for this. Plus, you don't have to accept the translation of the amended text.

Again, consider this a negative image of your situation told above: there is a potential change after the start of the project. Would you accept to give your work just as a present? I don't think so.

ksarant wrote:

Shall I send them an email or call them when I do these negotiations?



In your case, I would spare any "negotiations".

In general, I prefer negotiating via email, because this allows everything, including the process itself, to be documented for both parties. However, sometimes I discuss terms on the phone and after everything is set, I write an email summarizing all points.

[Edited at 2017-05-21 14:26 GMT]


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Maija Cirule  Identity Verified
Latvia
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
I agree with Elif May 21

Elif Baykara wrote:

Once you have started with the projects, it is more like a "problem-solving" process.

ksarant wrote:

But here is the problem, I am just realizing that the price that they have offered me for one of the essays is ridiculously low in comparison to the complexity of the text. I have been working on it everyday included weekends and I am exhausted.

I have never confirmed by email that I did agree with their initial rate. So do you think that when I contact them that I am in my right to ask them for more? Also, the text was so complex that I won't be able to give the last four pages on time. Do you think that I could also negotiate that suggesting maybe that they can give the last four pages to someone else ?



ksarant wrote:

I may say as well that I have never signed any contracts with them.




So I assume that you have been working for a long time, at least for more than 2 weeks without having signed a contract and more importantly, without previously discussing the rates. Finding out that the text is more difficult than assumed is a mistake everyone can make. But after working on a project for days and then deciding that the price is not right is not quite a good point. These topics are to be covered at the very beginning. I am a freelancer and not an agency, still, I believe that this is against common sense what you are suggesting.


ksarant wrote:

My last question, the other essay is on hold because some changes have been done. Unfortunately, before knowing this I have almost done the entire translation. Here again, am I in my right to ask if I can be paid for the work that I have done despite these changes.



You should have discussed all these issues before starting the project. However, unless specified otherwise, you have translated the text and you should be paid for this. Plus, you don't have to accept the translation of the amended text.

Again, consider this a negative image of your situation told above: there is a potential change after the start of the project. Would you accept to give your work just as a present? I don't think so.

ksarant wrote:

Shall I send them an email or call them when I do these negotiations?



In your case, I would spare any "negotiations".

In general, I prefer negotiating via email, because this allows everything, including the process itself, to be documented for both parties. However, sometimes I discuss terms on the phone and after everything is set, I write an email summarizing all points.

[Edited at 2017-05-21 14:26 GMT]


It's too late to start negotiations as this should be done before commencement of the project. In future, you should adhere to the principle: never take on an assignment unless you have carefully examined the text and rates.

[Edited at 2017-05-21 14:40 GMT]


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Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 03:25
Member (2005)
English to German
Present and future May 21

It sounds like you have agreed on working on two essays at the moment, and after those two essays are done, you would like to get other, new work from the same client.

So you have two "phases": These two essays now, prospective future work in the future.

Personally I would do the two current essays now at the agreed rate and as fast and perfect as possible - and point out current limitations, such as a list of things in the text you might not have understood well, or asking for a change in deadline. And then when they offer you *more* work later, it's a new beginning, and that is the point to take up new negotiations. It's a new start, but at the same time you can say "hey, with the previous job, time and budget didn't work out for this and that reason, let's talk about that for the new job". If your work was good and they want to keep you, they will try to make accomodations. So of course for that to happen, it helps to do what you can now, even if this time round turns out to be something like a "loss leader" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_leader ).


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You do have a contract May 21

I feel for you, but you do have a contract. It's all there in those exchanges of emails. It doesn't need to be written in legalese and signed. They proposed a rate (if I'm reading it right) and now you're doing the work. You've therefore implicitly agreed to that rate. You also agreed to the deadline. The time to disagree with either was before you accepted the job.

For the other job, it depends when they suspended it. If they gave you the work two weeks ago, and suspended it yesterday, contact them immediately to say you've already started work on it. You're entitled to payment for that work as long as you deliver it. If it's unfinished you can negotiate a reduced payment. But if they suspended it soon after allocating the work, yet you continued, you are entitled to nothing - except maybe a 'consideration' for the inconvenience.

You need to inform them asap (like, yesterday) if you can't meet the deadline of the first job. Give the first date you know you can make. Be prepared to offer a discount for late delivery, but don't offer one unless pushed (at least, that's how I'd handle it). If it's an agency then they probably built in some slack so they should be able to accept a slight overrun.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:25
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Ksarant May 21

ksarant wrote:
I have never confirmed by email that I did agree with their initial rate.


Yes, you did. When you started working, that was the confirmation.

I may say as well that I have never signed any contracts with them.


Your actions (and theirs) is the contract.

I am just realizing that the price that they have offered me for one of the essays is [too] low in comparison to the complexity of the text.


It happens. If you discover that you have misjudged the amount of time the job will take and that completing the assignment would not be financially viable for you, then you should inform the client as soon as possible to cancel the job.

So do you think that when I contact them that I am in my right to ask them for more?


If you believe that you or they have honestly misjudged the amount of work, then you are free to explain that to them, and ask for more money. They might agree, but they might not.

Also, the text was so complex that I won't be able to give the last four pages on time. Do you think that I could also negotiate that suggesting maybe that they can give the last four pages to someone else?


If you're going to miss a deadline (even if it's due to unexpected complexity of the text), you should inform the client as soon as possible. You may have to pay a penalty for missing the deadline. However, the client may be understanding, especially if they believe you about the unexpected complexity of the text, and may be willing to grant you an extension to finish the work. They may even be willing to pay you extra for the extra time you spend on the job, but you should not count on that.

The other essay is on hold because some changes have been done. Unfortunately before knowing this I have almost done the entire translation. Here again, am I in my right to ask if I can be paid for the work that I have done despite of these changes.


Yes, you should be paid for the work that you did. And if the client wants the translation of the updated file, then he should pay extra for the extra work involved in updating the translation as well.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:25
French to English
Learning curve May 21

I've been translating since 1994. My learning curve is on-going. I still regret accepting some jobs, but do accept that some jobs are more lucrative than others. Sometimes I do kcik myself for having accepted a particular job. I just ge ton with it and do whatever I can to get it over and done with to the best of my ability - and as quickly as possible. There are some jobs you are glad to see the back of. This might be one of them for you!

Nothing to add except to point out that in the future, if you don't have the opportunity of reading the document through, however quickly, before acccepting the job, make sure that you add a condition which enables you to add extra time and/or extra £££€€€$$$ in the event of unexpected/unseen complexity. I've done this with very large projects where I have been kept busy for several weeks and also with projects where you do not have the complete document before having to make a decision.

Your biggest problem on this job right now is not being able to meet the deadline. That is something you need to discuss with them at the earliest opportunity.

[Edited at 2017-05-21 19:33 GMT]


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Texte Style
Local time: 03:25
French to English
I agree May 22

Basically I agree with everyone else. If you've started work without signing a contract, the mere fact that you started work implies that you agreed to the conditions.

You can always call them and explain that you misjudged the text. You could maybe start by asking a few questions about the text, to improve on your comprehension of it, but also to highlight how complex it is.
Explain that due to the complexity, you'll need some more time. Don't discuss the rate now.

If all goes well and you are offered more work, then is the time to point out that this client has some pretty complex translations and given that you take longer on a per-word basis than for other jobs, you'll have to raise your rate. Remember to also factor in more time by extending the deadline, preferably based on how long you took for the first one.

In all honesty, if you need more time AND more money, chances are you'll find that they'll be stubborn on at least one of those points.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:25
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Too late... May 22

You have already started working on a job without first rejecting their proposed conditions, i.e. you have de facto accepted their conditions. Unfortunately this is what any judge will rule if you took this to court.

Say your neighbour dumps his rubbish on your lawn one day. If you do not complain to your neighbour, never notify anyone of the facts, never call the police about it, and never take your neighbour to court, after several times trying to be patient and a good neighbour, you are de facto accepting that it is normal that your neighbour dumps his rubbish on your lawn...

Now your only option is to clean the rubbish... i.e. accept to be paid what they had proposed, count your blessings, and learn for next time.

[Edited at 2017-05-22 20:03 GMT]


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
amen'd May 23

First, let's define what makes legally abiding "agreement" according to the real biz, not some linguists' misinterpretations.
And what type of "starting" agreement it is exactly--preliminary/tentative, tacit, parole, special, legal, contractual or what, I wonder? Nigerian spammers must be happy)

Second, only explicit confirmation from BOTH parties counts, not mere "starting something".
If one doesn't reply for awhile or starts researching the offer, translating something interesting, or just extracting terminology, then he is allegedly somehow obliged to accept it?--What a nonsense! Why? And how do the other party really know?

Third, with some provisions according to a signed legal contract, it's still quite possible to re-negotiate terms even when a project is in progress, but it requires proper arguments and justification (e.g. it takes more time, more efforts to research, a very specific language, whatever). If the result really matters, then any sensible client would reconsider it; at least it's more fair and translator wouldn't feel like a lemming slave.

That's why they need proper communication!


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:25
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
But did you... May 24

ksarant wrote:
I have never confirmed by email that I did agree with their initial rate.

After some comments this question crosses my mind: But did you confirm that you would do the job? And, when you say that you never confirmed the rate "by email," does this mean that you accepted the job over the phone?

If you did accept the job without analysing the contents and its difficulty, I stick to my guns: it is too late to negotiate now.


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The art of negociating

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