Agencies whose currency is different than that of the country where you are based
Thread poster: ICL

ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 3, 2006

Hi,

I am based in Europe (Germany/Spain), but I have been working a lot lately with one agency from North America, so far without any problem.

At first, we agreed to share (50/50) *only* any bank fees involved when the agency made any direct bank2bank transfers to pay me (the currency exchange rate was covered by the agency).

Thanks to some payment options of PayPal, I have managed to reduce the extra fees (i.e., bank fees on both sides) in my payments only to the exchange rate conversion the agency has to pay for my invoices. That is, right now, all the agency pays is the equivalent exchange rate when converting my invoice amount (in euros) to their local currency.

But now the agency is asking me to consider "sharing" the exchange rate fees for me not to lose "competitiveness" (that is, compared to other translators who work within North America and who do not require exchange rate fees).

I mean, we are both satisfied with our work collaboration, so I don't think it is a translation issue, but rather a money issue.

So my question is: any suggestions about how can I find a fair formula to "share" the said exchange rate fees?

They are a good customer, so I would not like to lose them because of a money issue.

Thanks,

Ivette


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 12:49
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Suggest a minimum fee Aug 3, 2006

I am in a similar siuation with a company in the U.K, who only pays in pound, while I can deal effectively with Euros and dollars. They agreed to pay me in Euros directly to my Euro account based on the exchange rate of the date of transfer, but set a minimum amount to justify the transfer costs.

Try suggesting such a solution if it is convenient for you, of course.

Stephen Rifkind


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
How much? Aug 3, 2006

Stephen Rifkind wrote:

I am in a similar siuation with a company in the U.K, who only pays in pound, while I can deal effectively with Euros and dollars. They agreed to pay me in Euros directly to my Euro account based on the exchange rate of the date of transfer, but set a minimum amount to justify the transfer costs.

Try suggesting such a solution if it is convenient for you, of course.

Stephen Rifkind


Hi Stephen,

Good idea.

Quick question, though: as the volume of work I do for them (and thus the invoice amount) varies each month, would you agree on a fixed minimum amount that is the same always, or one that varies according to the invoice amount?

Thanks,

Ivette


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Cetacea  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 11:49
English to German
+ ...
Payment in US dollars Aug 3, 2006

Another suggestion: How about finding out how much your bank charges in the way of conversion fees? It might actually be cheaper on your side of the Atlantic (which it is in my case), and offering your client to pay a share of a smaller amount might make them very happy...

Depending on the volume of work you do for US clients, it might even be worth to have an account in US dollars, which you could then use whenever the exchange rate is in your favor.


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I have checked bank vs. PayPal exchange rates Aug 3, 2006

Hi Cetacea,

Thanks for your comment.

But like I said in my original message, I have managed, through PayPal, to reach a payment way in which all the agency has to pay is the *exchange rate* applied to the amount they send me as per the invoice (no other bank fees from either side --mine or their-- are needed).

We also checked already the difference between other forms of payment (bank2bank, cheques -- which are not feasible for me--, etc.) and so far the most "clean" way (that is, less fees) of payment is the said PayPal system.

Consider that whenever you make a payment from one bank to another (in different currency countries), you will *still* have to make a currency exchange and, in comparison, PayPal seems to offer a better rate than the agency's bank.

About opening an account in the agency's currency/country, I would prefer to avoid that, because it might mean then that *I* then would have to pay the exchange rates solely, so we would be in the same situation, except the other way around.


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 12:49
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Invoice amount Aug 3, 2006

Dear Ivette:

Don't worry about contacting me thorugh email; that is why I have it. To answer your question, the logic of the situation requires a certain amount, depending on how much fees the company is willing to swallow. If the level of work varies, it may take 60 days for them to send you payment, which is okay as long as you know you will get paid. For example, a certain Spanish agency had a 150 Eur minimum for bank transfers. In the case of this English agency, the limit is higher, but the jobs are rather big. If there is huge variance in monthly invoices, insist on no longer than 60 days, whatever the amount.

Stephen Rifkind


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Payment period not an issue Aug 3, 2006

Hi again, Stephen,

Just wanted to add that the payment period is not an issue here (we have agreed to a satisfactory fixed 30-day period for any invoice I send them).

On the other hand, I am not sure I understood your last comment. Or maybe I did not ask my question to you correctly.

What I meant was that, for example, say my invoice for one month is 1000 euros and the next month is 1500 euros. As said, the agency only needs to pay the exchange rate of the equivalent (in their currency) of the said amounts.

So, if I understood your suggestion correctly, you were suggesting that I pay a minimum fixed amount to the agency to "help" them with the exchange rate fee.

That's why I was asking you then *how much?* I guess it's best that I discuss this with the agency, but your idea, as I understood it, is definitely a reasonable solution.

Again, thanks,

Ivette

PS: Sorry if I was a bit *pushy", but I need to solve this issue soon, so that is why I was requesting discussing this by email (but it is obviously best that others read all your replies as well).


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 05:49
English to French
+ ...
They are supposed to pay ALL fees Aug 3, 2006

At the risk of sounding rude to agents, a client (not just in the translation industry but everywhere) is supposed to always pay the transaction fees and all other fees related to financial transactions. Simple (stupid?) example: when you pick up a pizza and pay for it with a bank card, the fees are deduced from YOUR account, right? Same goes for everything else.

As for the competitiveness issue, if other translators in North America are more competitive to them, then why do they give YOU the work? Their argument doesn't make sense. If they give you the work instead of someone in North America, then that means they just can't find enough good, reliable translators for that language pair in North America. If they gave you the job, that means they need you.

This agent may be a good one despite this eagerness to share fees, but I would be on my guard with them. I learned from experience that clients who try to cut a deal on things like this are the ones who later on ask for you to lower your already "best" rate. These people usually turn into a headache - and sometimes into a very poor BlueBoard rating.

My two cents...

Good luck!

[Edited at 2006-08-03 15:50]


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Be right back Aug 3, 2006

Viktoria, you make a good point (and one which has been debated here I believe at least once).

But I need to finish a couple things (including my "negotiation" with the said agency) and I will get back to you asap.

Later...


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Case by case Aug 4, 2006

Hello Viktoria,

Sorry, but I had a really crazy/busy work day yesterday, so I was not able to make it back here.

The good news is that my negotiation is solved with a satisfactory agreement for both me and the agency.

About your comment, for which, like I said, there is at least one thread about it, I have mixed feelings.

I tend to treat each case separately.

Yes, *some* agencies might ask you to lower your rates, share the payment costs, etc. etc., but then they might be a lousy agency that offers you nothing really important in return (not even regular work). In these cases I have finished my work relationship without a doubt, but obviously because the minute I said no to their unfair conditions they disappeared.

But in other cases I have tried to reach a balance between what an agency offers me in return (especially if it is a lot) and what I can offer them in return at a given point (besides, of course, the quality of my work).

In the case which made me post my original message in this thread, we had an original agreement about sharing bank transfer fees, but once I managed to get rid of that part through this special way of payment through PayPal, then obviously it was only them paying the exchange rate fee.

So I did not consider outrageous to share a little bit (something symbolic, actually) of this, considering that I get a lot in return from this particular agency (not only in terms of money, but also in terms of communication quality, a very important factor for me after so many years of being a freelancer).

Also, I take into account the size of the agency, because sometimes an agency might be big enough to have enough profit to cover all fees involved in freelancers' invoice payments, while a smaller agency does not have such a strong capital.

So, again, I try to analyze things case by case.

Saludos,

Ivette


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 05:49
English to French
+ ...
Many factors to consider Aug 4, 2006

Of course, my last post refers only to the initial "rules". Nothing keeps you from giving an established client special rates when it is a good client and you want to stay competitive to keep the client. Nothing keeps you from adding little extras you don't charge for to jobs - in fact, I just did that in the past days. It actually pays off in the long run!

The important thing to consider is that, initially, you have an agreement with your client about money matters and you accept it, thinking that considering the work to be done, the deadline, the amount of research, the formats involved, the friendliness of the client along with the quality of communication - which, I agree, IS extremely important and sadly too often overlooked - the terms are not half bad. But then, not long after, the client tells you they want to change this (to their advantage, of course) and that's where it's not worth it anymore. It is only logical that if you lose an advantage somewhere along the line, you are not willing to offer as much anymore for the lowered amount of profits either. I mean, if you go to a restaurant that sells $5 burgers and one day, they sell the $5 burger without the meat in it, I don't think you would be willing to pay $5 anymore.

Of course, like I said, over time, it is OK to offer things to clients as a sign of appreciation, but mark my words. I said offer, not concede upon request. I offer things to clients also, but when they ask for free extras, I don't give it to them, simply because they are the ones who asked and I didn't offer. Same thing as with a child: I feel like buying the child some ice cream - but if that child asks for the ice cream before I even offer, I don't feel like offering it anymore. What I have a problem with is clients who abuse of the idea that the customer's always right. I find it insulting when they ask for things that will benefit them financially, because it comes off as pretending to be entitled to it. I have a problem with being taken for granted. I have a problem with clients who think I work FOR THEM - I only work WITH them, and I work for none other than myself.

I don't like it when a client thinks I am doing this job for glory and am willing to go the extra mile for extra glory. I am willing to go the extra mile - for money. Otherwise, the increase of benefits on their side should come from me, not from them. After all, when I offer to give them an extra, I give it to them as a sign of appreciation or to stay competitive - not for them to save money.

In my case, I offer clients to pay by cheque as it costs next to nothing in Canada to cash in a cheque and the currency exchange fee is ridiculously low. It does cost me a couple of dollars, but a couple of dollars is a very acceptable price to pay to gain and keep a good client - so the client doesn't ever pay for this fee, which s/he also appreciates. However, it is the client who should normally pay transaction fees - and I only pay them when I took the initiative to offer to pay. So, your solution sounds good to me, it actually sounds a lot like my scheme with the cheques - a minimal investment into a good client. I just don't like it when they ask for it - I prefer to offer.

I can only applaud you for not giving in to clients that ask for too much and are not willing to fit the bill. I wish most of us thought that way - but then again, most of us don't realize that we only keep about half of our earnings and we have to pay taxes and expenses with the other half...

As someone said somewhere around the forum, I don't like to be micromanaged. So, you are right in taking into account the size of the client - but I would only do it if the small client didn't treat my like a large one, i.e. didn't try to micromanage me. Luckily, most of my agency clients are small agencies AND large agencies who don't try to manage anything except the job itself.

Finally, although there are many basic "rules" for such things, they should be used carefully. All clients, all agencies and all freelancers are different, so it is best to have custom terms and custom agreements for each of them, taking in consideration all of the factors. In the end, the client will appreciate this - and it could be more profitable than anything else after a while.

Cheers!

[Edited at 2006-08-04 17:09]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I always carry all the exchange rate costs myself Aug 4, 2006

ICL wrote:
But now the agency is asking me to consider "sharing" the exchange rate fees for me not to lose "competitiveness" (that is, compared to other translators who work within North America and who do not require exchange rate fees).


I live in ZA and my home currency is ZAR. I invoice non-ZA clients in EUR (for Americans I make an exception and invoice them in USD). This means that I'm paid in EUR or USD, not in ZAR. The exchange rate charges are therefore always carried by me, never by the client. I had always assumed this to be the normal course of doing business with overseas clients.

Only once did I ever receive a cheque in ZAR, sent to me from an American client who did the conversion at their bank and had their bank make out the cheque in ZAR instead of USD. Only once, and I was very surprised when it happened.


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agrees/disagrees (like in KudoZ) Aug 4, 2006

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

I don't like it when a client thinks I am doing this job for glory and am willing to go the extra mile for extra glory. I am willing to go the extra mile - for money.


I basically agree with you on this one, but, to be honest, in my case, I like my job (using languages and learning about words) so much that sometimes (only sometimes) I have overlooked the money part.

Maybe that is a mistake, but I guess satisfaction does not solely depend on money (although, like this lady said in this article, http://finance.yahoo.com/columnist/article/moneymatters/7858 , we have to count our blessings *AND* our money as well).

Still, I have used at times the argument of profit vs. salary to make a point about not paying any extra fees, because, like you said, we basically earn a gross salary (unless you become an agency yourself).



I can only applaud you for not giving in to clients that ask for too much and are not willing to fit the bill. I wish most of us thought that way - but then again, most of us don't realize that we only keep about half of our earnings and we have to pay taxes and expenses with the other half...


No need for applause, because it all depends on your circumstances. You might be able to choose to end immediately a given work relationship at a given moment, but sometimes you don't have that choice. As you said, it depends on many factors, but obviously if the work relationship is not satisfying, you should end it as soon as possible.



All clients, all agencies and all freelancers are different, so it is best to have custom terms and custom agreements for each of them, taking in consideration all of the factors. In the end, the client will appreciate this - and it could be more profitable than anything else after a while.


Yes, definitely. Keeping a "nice" agency/customer has proven worth it for me, as long as this "keeping" is reasonable.


Samuel Murray wrote:

The exchange rate charges are therefore always carried by me, never by the client. I had always assumed this to be the normal course of doing business with overseas clients.


Samuel, don't spread the word to agencies, he he he!

Seriously now, again, IMHO, I think all these things are best to take on a case by case and based on the initial agreements with the client.

As we can tell, by just a few of us in this thread, everyone has different ideas about business agreements, so as long as both parties reach a mutually satisfying solution, that is what counts (I guess?).

Interesting conversation, but gotta go start working on the dinner menu (it looks like pizza again!).

Enjoy the weekend!!,

Ivette


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