Agency wants a quotation for a "monthly rate"
Thread poster: ABillington

ABillington
Germany
German to English
Nov 15, 2018

Hi, I was contacted by mobile phone yesterday by someone who is apparently offering a medical translation job to last a year. I tried to pin him down about the extent of the work, but he wouldn't say. He wants me to offer a "monthly rate" before knowing anything more about the job. How can I propose a monthly rate without knowing the size of the job? And does this sound like a scam?

 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:53
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Probably a scam Nov 16, 2018

Apparently that person is unwilling to provide any information to assist you with figuring out a monthly rate - which, within itself, is extremely unusual. If you are interested in the job, then tell him to provide you with an employment contract - because this is exactly what it would be.

Or you could give him a rate based on your per word rate times an X-number of words. Once that number of words has been reached, you stop working for that month.

Frankly, such a dubio
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Apparently that person is unwilling to provide any information to assist you with figuring out a monthly rate - which, within itself, is extremely unusual. If you are interested in the job, then tell him to provide you with an employment contract - because this is exactly what it would be.

Or you could give him a rate based on your per word rate times an X-number of words. Once that number of words has been reached, you stop working for that month.

Frankly, such a dubious request sounds, looks, and "smells" like a scam, so it most probably is a scam.
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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:53
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
You need more info Nov 16, 2018

I don't think it's a scam -- you do see clients try this sort of thing from time to time, usually when they expect work to be ongoing but don't themselves know how much work it will be each month. So they try to put you on "retainer". If they expect the volume of work to be high, they may think this is one way they can save some money, by "locking" you into a fixed monthly fee. If they worry that volumes might be tiny, they may think this is one way of preventing a bunch of minimum fee charges. ... See more
I don't think it's a scam -- you do see clients try this sort of thing from time to time, usually when they expect work to be ongoing but don't themselves know how much work it will be each month. So they try to put you on "retainer". If they expect the volume of work to be high, they may think this is one way they can save some money, by "locking" you into a fixed monthly fee. If they worry that volumes might be tiny, they may think this is one way of preventing a bunch of minimum fee charges. If they are worried about fast turnarounds, they may think this is one way to "force" you to accept jobs even when your schedule is full.

You don't have enough information to make any sort of agreements with this person at this time. For one, they just contacted you by mobile so you don't even have any information in writing yet, and you aren't even sure who this person is. First things first, vet the client, carry out risk management procedures (credit checks etc.) and make sure this is someone you would want to work for at all, much less on an ongoing basis for a fixed fee.

If you determine that the client themselves is above board, then I would start asking questions about the job itself, specifically you want to find out WHY the client thinks a monthly fee is a good idea from his point of view. Then you can find a solution that fixes his concerns without painting you into a corner.
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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 16:53
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Ten thousand bucks? Nov 16, 2018

Just answer with a very high rate and see what happens.

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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:53
Member (2018)
French to English
The cost of slavery Nov 16, 2018

If he wants you to work full-time for a year, he'll need to pay you a salary with all workers' rights attached, so you could work out how much you would want for that (taking into account that you wouldn't have enough free time to properly serve your customers during that time).

He may just need a guarantee that you'll be available any time he needs you in the course of a year. In which case, you can suggest an hourly rate for when you do work for him, plus a retainer fee to offse
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If he wants you to work full-time for a year, he'll need to pay you a salary with all workers' rights attached, so you could work out how much you would want for that (taking into account that you wouldn't have enough free time to properly serve your customers during that time).

He may just need a guarantee that you'll be available any time he needs you in the course of a year. In which case, you can suggest an hourly rate for when you do work for him, plus a retainer fee to offset the fact that you may have to refuse work from your other clients in order to remain available. Again, make sure that the fee will fully cover the inconvenience of remaining available, factoring in how much you have worked in previous years and rounding figures up because after all, you might have to pass up a superb offer.

He probably doesn't really know exactly what he wants and thinks that having a slave would solve all his problems without him having to do spade work such as finding out pesky little details like wordcount. Show him just how much that would cost him and then he'll be ready to find out what you need to know, or show you at least some of the documentation to be translated with an indication of how much more there is likely to be. It's highly likely most of the documentation has yet to be written, but the poor guy needs to submit a budget ahead of time.

He may also need reassuring that you'll treat all his documentation as highly confidential before sending you anything.

It could still be a scam of course, but it sounds more to me like someone who is a little overwhelmed at the prospect of managing a huge project with very little experience in how translators work.
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:53
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
Agree with Angela Nov 16, 2018

Angela Rimmer wrote:
You do see clients try this sort of thing from time to time, usually when they expect work to be ongoing but don't themselves know how much work it will be each month. So they try to put you on "retainer".


I once had a client who put me on a type of retainer that I thought was fair, as it simply guaranteed him immediate access to a translator but allowed me to invoice extra if the amount of work during a cycle exceeded that which the retainer would normally have covered.

He wanted a discounted rate, of course, so I slashed my usual hourly by about 50% and quoted him for 3 discounted hours per day, with the understanding that if I had to work more than 3 hours on any day (or the equivalent word count), the additional hours would be invoiced at my usual hourly rate. When during those discounted hours he had no work for me, I continued working on my other clients' work. This was an "in-house" position, so it meant that I had to be physically present at his office 3 hours per day (including travel time). I sometimes stayed and was "available" to him for much longer than 3 hours if I did not want to interrupt myself with travelling while working on another job. I never got to invoice him extra, and I don't think I "lost out" in the end.

But every retainer agreement is different, so this is just one example of how you might do it. I'd also recommend agreeing on a notice period, e.g. that either of you can cancel the entire agreement with just 1 or 2 weeks' notice.


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Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:53
German to English
+ ...
It makes sense only if ..... Nov 17, 2018

..... you are working for them as a full-time employee, with fixed hours not exceeding the standard usual hours. If so you would be an employee, and would also be receiving the usual benefits such as vacation pay, sick leave, pension contributions etc. Obviously that's not what they are thinking. Probably they also have not really thought this through. How can you quote anything based on an unknown quantity of work or hours?

 

Yaroslava Pryjmak
Ukraine
Local time: 16:53
English to Russian
+ ...
Agree with Thayenga Nov 17, 2018

I guess the customer either wants to save some money or doesn’t know the amount of monthly work to be done. In this case I also think it’d be appropriate to agree with the customer about some maximum amount of words you are ready to translate for this project on a daily basis and offer a monthly rate based on that. If the customer wants you to fix some monthly rate without knowing any details than you can fix this rate but define the monthly amount of work to be done for this rate.

 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
ambiguity Nov 18, 2018

Perhaps, it's just about monthly output (turnover) or prospect's ignorance, because I also wouldn't like the unilateral idea of local yet "independent" (unprivileged and unsecure) full-time outsources as a modern work-for-food serfdom

 

Victoria Fushchich
Ukraine
Local time: 16:53
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Unusual Nov 18, 2018

I would insist on finding out WHY they want to find out your monthly rate (the reason that they are willing to pay on monthly basis is not really a reason). It's unusual. I would give them my rate per word and ask them on information about the job they are offering. It looks like they are asking for info from you, but not giving you any info in return. I would be very cautious with such offer. I see two ways out here:
1. mutual discussing all the DETAILS about the job
2. signing a co
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I would insist on finding out WHY they want to find out your monthly rate (the reason that they are willing to pay on monthly basis is not really a reason). It's unusual. I would give them my rate per word and ask them on information about the job they are offering. It looks like they are asking for info from you, but not giving you any info in return. I would be very cautious with such offer. I see two ways out here:
1. mutual discussing all the DETAILS about the job
2. signing a contract.

wishing you the best in clearing out this situation
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ABillington
Germany
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Nov 19, 2018

Thanks all for the useful comments and information. I had not heard of this idea of having someone on a "retainer" before.

I recall that this same person contacted me a couple of years ago and was similarly pushy, trying to persuade me to offer a quote for something based on no information, and insisting that giving a word or line rate was "not how translators work" and that he knew that because he was such an experienced translator himself.

I ended up suggesting a dail
... See more
Thanks all for the useful comments and information. I had not heard of this idea of having someone on a "retainer" before.

I recall that this same person contacted me a couple of years ago and was similarly pushy, trying to persuade me to offer a quote for something based on no information, and insisting that giving a word or line rate was "not how translators work" and that he knew that because he was such an experienced translator himself.

I ended up suggesting a daily rate and it turned out that he wanted me to spend three days a week in another part of Germany, with all the travel and accommodation costs involved. I turned it down and was very relieved.
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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:53
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
There you go Nov 20, 2018

ABillington wrote:

... and was similarly pushy, trying to persuade me to offer a quote for something based on no information, and insisting that giving a word or line rate was "not how translators work" and that he knew that because he was such an experienced translator himself.


This only proves that that person knows absolutely nothing about our industry.

ABillington wrote:

... and that he knew that because he was such an experienced translator himself.


I wonder what he's dreaming of at night.


 


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