Cancellation Fees?
Thread poster: Hilary Davies Shelby

Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 21:47
German to English
Jan 10, 2007

Hello all,

Because of a "misunderstanding" yesterday (I scheduled a project, but the client cancelled it...long story...grrr), I ended up earning nothing yesterday.

While they are a regular client and I do have work from them today, I am still considering billing them for a few hours to cover yesterday's lost earnings. (I am hesitant to do this, though, as it seems to have been a genuine misunderstanding and I don't want to lose this particular client).

I was wondering if any of you have measures in place to cover such circumstances, i.e. cancellation or "no-show" fees to cover time you have scheduled for a project if it is cancelled by the agency or client at short notice or it just doesn't materialise? How much do you charge? Do clients actually pay up? Is this a crazy idea?

Thanks for your feedback!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

casey
United States
Local time: 22:47
Member
Japanese to English
Don't know, but... Jan 10, 2007

I'm interested, too. Some of my clients are pretty nonchalant about asking me to open my schedule. I usually just turn those jobs down and tell them to come back when they have a sure thing. I have been burnt before and try to avoid that now.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

sokolniki  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:47
English to Russian
+ ...
No show fee.. Jan 10, 2007

.. is what I always request when I have a new interpretation project and this is equivalent to my minimum fee for 2 hours. This should be included into the WO or email confirmation.

I did not quite understand if your client canceled a translation or interpretation project, however with translation project cancellation, I have never heard of any cancellation fees or applied ones. You never know if the outsourcer found a vendor with lower rates than yours or, as they say in most cases, it was the client which canceled or postponed the project.

The kind of fees I also know of is stand-by fees and these should be agreed upon beforehand. However, I for one never charged these.

[Edited at 2007-01-10 14:33]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ebru Kopf  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 05:47
Member (2006)
English to Turkish
+ ...
I do charge but.. Jan 10, 2007

After couple of times having such "misunderstandings" I do now have a contract which also includes ND/NC terms. According to this, if I have received the job and after 1 or 2 days later clients cancels, they have to pay me my daily hour fee times 8 (my contract says minimum work hours a day is 8), and they really pay since this condition applies to me as well like if I miss a deadline then I pay them, it is a win-win in this case.

But I do have such contract if I and my client will go for long term colloboration. For one-timers I do also send an invoice some are paid some are not. It is a kind of luck sometimes.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nadia-Anastasia Fahmi  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 05:47
English to Greek
+ ...
Nothing Jan 10, 2007

I would never charge any of my regular clients such fees.

I would only charge them "cancellation fees", if they had assigned me a job which I would have started working on and then it was cancelled.

Being a freelancer does not guarantee me earnings every day (although I've been lucky so far). However, if a client would make a habit of contacting me and booking my time and then cancelling due to a "misunderstanding", then I would have to think about charging them such a fee, if only to teach them to respect my time.

My cents for what it's worth!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Rosa Diez Tagarro  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:47
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not crazy at all, but this is a regular client Jan 10, 2007

I'm interested to hear other opinions, too!

This has not happened to me often but I recall two recent similar situations:

a) the client cancels the project once I have started working on it. I invoice them for the part that I have already translated. I can't do anything about the rest (I have the feeling they found a translator with lower rates, as suggested). Bad luck!

b) the client postpones the project and tells me I can start on a certain date. It is a project that requires full-dedication so I do not accept other work. Then, on that date, I cannot start because texts are not available yet. The customer (a good one) offers to pay to cover for the lost earnings. Though I do not get other work done that day, I do not invoice them, since it is a customer I value and I know it was not their fault and it has not happened before. Bad luck again!

So, if your client has not offered to pay for those lost earnings, I wouldn't ask, mainly because that is a regular client. If this happens again, well, then that is a different story...

I think we should be entitled to some kind of compensation in such cases, but we tend to put it to bad luck and forget about it, because the market is tough enough... I don't know, I really appreciated it when that customer offered to compensate me, it is not something you hear of everyday!

Anyway, I tend to think in terms of weeks / months / years (particularly months), and I do not worry if I haven't earned any money on a particular day.

Regards,

Rosa


Direct link Reply with quote
 

abufaraz
Pakistan
Local time: 07:47
English to Urdu
+ ...
Unethical Jan 10, 2007

In my opinion, charging a regular client like this is unethical. I would never do this. It doesn't matter much if you have to lose something once in a blue moon. After all, you get frequent and regualr earning opportunities from the same client

Regards,

[Edited at 2007-01-10 17:14]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Giulia TAPPI  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:47
French to Italian
+ ...
I never charged for translations Jan 10, 2007

but I do for interpretations, unless it is a client that offers a series of meetings at different dates. In that case, I can accept to postpone a date, unless I had to refuse another meeting on the same day, in which case i charge the full price.
For translations, it never happens to me that it is cancelled.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 21:47
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
more reliable clients! Jan 10, 2007

aburiaz wrote:


In my opinion, charging a regular client like this is unethical. I would never do this. It doesn't matter much if you have to lose something once in a blue moon. After all, you get frequent and regualr earning opportunities from the same client

Regards,

[Edited at 2007-01-10 17:14]


Thanks very much for your comment! This is actually the third time this has happened to me in the last week (different agencies). Maybe I just need some new clients.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
Another opinion Jan 10, 2007

I agree with my colleagues, I've never heard of anyone charging for a translation that did not materialize. Unless, of course, you had already started the translation, in which case it's only fair that you bill the client for the work that you had already done. This happened to me once with a client who said he wanted me to stop because he wanted to make a lot of revisions to the document. He totally understood that I had already spent 3 or 4 days with what he gave me.

When it comes to interpretation assignments, supply and demand will definitely play a part on how you proceed. If it's very hard for you to get clients, you may have to grin and bear it, and hope that it doesn't happen to you often.

Speaking in general terms, it's incredibly unfair of a client to make you set aside a day, or a half day of work, and then cancel at the last moment. You could've accepted another assignment, and ended up not making any money that day as a result. Whether or not something came up at the last minute or the client is just a jerk who doesn't care, the end result is that you are out a day's wages, and that hurts our bottom line.

Whenever anyone hires me for depositions (I mostly interpret in court, so I don't normally have these problems), I fax to them a very simple agreement in advance, they have to sign it, and fax it back to me. I require at least 24 hour advance notice if they need to cancel. If not, I will bill them for two hours of my work, if they had asked me to set aside only a morning or an afternoon, more if they had reserved the whole day. I have never had a client not sign it. It's only fair to compensate me for leaving that time open for them. People forget that as free-lancers, if we don't work, we don't eat. (I know that's an exaggeration, but you get the point). Imagine if you have several clients who do this to you in the same month.

Now, you say that these people are regular clients. My suggestion to you is to implement this new cancellation fee in the future, so they have advance warning. Sticking them with a bill right now might make them feel uncomfortable, since it will come as a surprise to them. And we don't want them to find another interpreter, do we? Good luck to you!

teju

[Edited at 2007-01-10 20:43]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 21:47
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Exactly my point Jan 10, 2007

teju wrote:

People forget that as free-lancers, if we don't work, we don't eat. (I know that's an exaggeration, but you get the point). Imagine if you have several clients who do this to you in the same month.

Now, you say that these people are regular clients. My suggestion to you is to implement this new cancellation fee in the future, so they have advance warning. Sticking them with a bill right now might make them feel uncomfortable, since it will come as a surprise to them. And we don't want them to find another interpreter, do we? Good luck to you!

teju

[Edited at 2007-01-10 20:43]


This was exactly my point, Teju - I'd set aside the whole of yesterday, turning down other work to do it - and then the client cancelled the job at the last minute. Obviously I've had this happen to me before - and sometimes I even turn down work myself when I have too many offers, which is nice! - but this has happened to me 3 times in the past week and i would like to implement some sort of mechanism to cover my expenses if this happens in future. I really like your idea - thanks very much!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:47
French to English
If this is for translation... Jan 10, 2007

Hilary Davies wrote:

This is actually the third time this has happened to me in the last week (different agencies). Maybe I just need some new clients.


If it's for intrepreting, I would guess a cancellation fee is appropriate, I don't to interpreting so I can't say, but it seems fair to me, as they are "booking" you.

However, if it's for translations, it's not new clients you need, it's a new policy, based on the old proverbs about counting chickens, and the relative value of birds located a) in the hand, b) in the bush

Basically, it amounts to only calculating availability and deadlines etc. on the basis of work you've actually got. In your hand. Approved (PO or whatever mechanism you have between you & a client). Otherwise, you're free. First come, first served.

No matter how well-intentioned you and your agency clients may be, stuff happens. Last minute changes to documents. The end-client person who was gonna send the document to the agency first thing is off sick that day. A manager suddenly decides they wanna approve a document after all.

That is the approach I adopt, and all 'my' agencies understand and appreciate (and indeed, in a couple of cases, actually encourage) it. As far as I can tell, it's what they expect. They know that last minute hitches can arise all too easily.

That is not to say I don't make the odd 'promise' to deal with something, and then find myself with perhaps a little more work than I'm comfortable with for a day or two. But I only calculate deadlines on an average of 2k words per day, whereas I can do double that without too much trouble, at least for a few days, and I see on your profile you say you can do 5k per day. So it's manageable.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 04:47
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
"While they are a regular client and I do have work from them" Jan 10, 2007

the question here is the quality of the business relationship. How to charge for sh*t happening is a less important point (Germans have a much to-the-point expression for it: Nebenkriegsschauplatz)

Practical suggestion: write an offer (or standard quote, or whatever the title will say) saying that "I would like to draw your attention to the fact that starting as of 1st of next month ..." blah blah blah ... and then you have on paper, that it's their cost from now on. If they will be ready to play by these rules, oh well, it's a different question. You have in any case to decide yourself first, if that's IT, or you are ready to absorb it, if it happens again.

Regards

smo

PS: which is, I would assume, the suggestion in other responses as well, I just have not read through all of them.

[Edited at 2007-01-10 23:05]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
FYI Jan 11, 2007

Hilary,

I too, I'm lucky enough to live somewhere where there's always work. I have an agreement for translations, and a slightly different one for interpretations.

I bet this matter has been discussed at lenght in the forum many times before, but just in case, here's a few pointers. In my interpretation agreement, besides outlining clearly my cancellation terms, I also let them know when payment is due (usually upon receipt/or within 30 days, depending on the client). I have a mininum fee of two hours of service, anything less will cost the client a full two hours, anything over, will be billed at my regular hourly rate. The increments are at every fifteen minute intervals, for example, if the deposition ends after 3 hours and 20 minutes, I round it off to 3 hours and one quarter hour. If it's 3 hours and 25 minutes, then I bill for 3 hours and a half. Another thing that I've had to include (and this pertains mostly with lawyers and depositions) is that payment of my services is not contigent upon third party billing. Which means, I don't want to hear another lawyer giving me the excuse -and a couple of them have tried-- that they haven't paid me yet because their client hasn't paid them. I make it very clear that the person who hires my services is the attorney, and he and only he is responsible for paying me. I don't work for the person being deposed. I've been burned once or twice, and that's how we learn. Then the attorney signs and dates the agreement, after filling out the case number, date and time, and all pertinent information. As soon as they fax it back to me, I confirm receipt, and that's when I'm officially committed to the assignment. No agreement, no committment. Like one of my colleagues already said "first come, first served". We all know how many people call asking around (I call them fishing calls), and they never call back. I'm booked when I have a signed agreement.

None of this should sound the slightest bit unreasonable to lawyers, who charge many times over what we charge, and who start the clock the minute they leave their office. Try and book an appointment with your lawyer and don't show up, and you'll see what happens. Therapists, doctors, and some other professionals also do it. Time is money. If I'm not going to make the appointment, the least I can do is call them the day before so they can fill that appointment time with someone else.

If I've left anything important out that should be included in the agreement, I'd love to hear comments from other interpreters.

[Edited at 2007-01-11 03:54]


Direct link Reply with quote
 


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


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

Cancellation Fees?

Advanced search







SDL MultiTerm 2017
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2017 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2017 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »
PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »



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