Translation agency acting as agent
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:12
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 3, 2007

I have received several e-mails from a large translation agency. They have launched a campaign asking their interpreters and translators to refer their direct clients to the agency and then the agency will handle all the billing, etc. on the interpreter/translator's behalf and provide you with a 10% bonus over your rate.

However, if the company calls the agency again for more work, I guess there is no guarantee that the agency will contact you to work for that client.

Seems like a sneaky way to get new clients for the agency???


[Edited at 2007-04-03 19:17]


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:12
English to Dutch
+ ...
They can try, and you can say no Apr 3, 2007

They have the right to try stuff like this, and you have the right not to go along with it. They're proposing a straightforward business deal, and you can accept or decline.
Nothing immoral IMHO, but I would decline though.


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megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:12
English to Spanish
+ ...
I would just say no Apr 3, 2007

1. My customers are "just mine"
(I looked for them, I took my risks to acquire them, I convinced them, I dealed with them in both good and bad days, I know their names and surnames, married or not, children or not, mountain-lover / sea-sinker, coffee-addict / cannot-smell-coffee, etc....)

2. My relationships with my customers are confidential

3. My agreements with my customers are strictly confidential !!

4. What if you have an excellent relationship with a customer but something breaks down between the agency and you?

If an agency wants to attract new customers, let the agency make their job: to find and keep new customers + to find and KEEP the best providers for their projects through appropriate pricings / timings / personal treatment.

See you around!

Ruth @ MW


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:12
German to English
Don't do this! Apr 4, 2007

You're cutting your own throat.

I would hope that you are charging in excess of your standard rate + 10% to your direct clients (as proposed by the agency in question). Many freelancers charge their direct clients about 10-25% below standard agency rates, or at least 25-50% in excess of their agency rates (this may vary by language combination or country).

The result of this arrangement is that you may lose a direct client, and the agency will gain a client who is happy to pay cheap rates.


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:12
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
They can't be serious... Apr 4, 2007

And then only 10% bonus?
Think about it... Let's say your rate is 0.10, that would only be a rate of 0.11. You could ask this rate increase directly from your client and they would probably pay it without hesitating.

Also. the agency would have to demand a much higher rate from your client than your old one since they want to make some money from this deal. This, in turn, might cause your client to abandon this agency and you with them! Why should he all of a sudden pay 30-50% more than what he's paying you now?

Both, you and your direct client lose.
I would stop working for that client immediately. They obviously plan to take advantage of you. Who knows what shady deal they'll come up with next.

In contrast to Jan, I think this is highly immoral. Why do you think so many agencies include non-compete clauses in their agreements which explicitly forbid you to contact their clients directly?

Also, another possibility: In order to get 10% above your current rate, you'd have to let the agency know what you charge. What's keeping them from underbidding your price and outsourcing the work to another translator working for much less than you? They could just approach your client without your knowledge and just offer them a deal they can't refuse.


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Levan Namoradze  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 08:12
Member (2005)
English to Georgian
+ ...
I got those messages as well Apr 4, 2007

I got those messages also. I think they are just trying to get our customers and nothing else.

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Richard Benham  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:12
German to English
+ ...
10% bonus over what?! Apr 4, 2007

A 10% bonus over what you are getting paid by direct clients sounds like a good deal, assuming you are not Santa Claus when it come to charging your direct clients. However, 10% over the agency rate is daylight robbery!

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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:12
German to English
+ ...
Loadsamoney Apr 4, 2007

As a colleague of mine once remarked, there's lots of money to be made in translation, provided you're not a translator.

Marc

[Edited at 2007-04-04 07:34]


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Daniel Bird  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:12
German to English
Instant breach of confidentiality Apr 4, 2007

megane_wang wrote:


2. My relationships with my customers are confidential



Thanks for pointing this one out Ruth - a near-hidden gem of a reason not to "refer" clients.

The idea stinks.
DB


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:12
Member
English to French
I like it Apr 4, 2007

Marc P wrote:
As a colleague of mine once remarked, there's lots of money to be made in translation, provided you're not a translator.
...

Just like haute couture and all those lil' hands...
Philippe


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 01:12
English to Spanish
I received it as well Apr 4, 2007

All their e-mails are now automatically marked as Spam.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Good idea, but must be kept separate Apr 5, 2007

TampaTranslator wrote:
They have launched a campaign asking their interpreters and translators to refer their direct clients to the agency and then the agency will handle all the billing, etc. on the interpreter/translator's behalf and provide you with a 10% bonus over your rate.


This is an excellent idea, but they shouldn't sell themselves as a translation agency, then. They should market themselves as an administrative arm for freelancers. And they should show how they've taken steps to ensure that no client creep takes place.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I sometimes refer clients to agencies Apr 5, 2007

TampaTranslator wrote:
Seems like a sneaky way to get new clients for the agency?


I sometimes refer new or wouldbe clients to agencies I know, if it would be too much trouble for me to handle their admin.

For example, in my country, if you do any work for a government department, you have to register as a service provider and provide them with all sorts of information and stuff before you can even hope to get your money. They money is guaranteed, but getting it is often not worth the trouble. If such a client phones me, I direct him to one of my local agency clients, and I send an e-mail to the agency about it. If the agency chooses to use me, fine, if not, fine. But then at least I don't have to bother with all that admin.


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Navy Huang
China
Local time: 12:12
English to Chinese
+ ...
Exchange of client information proposed by one "colleague" Apr 5, 2007

Once I was approached by one colleague I am not very familiar with and not happy to talk to since I know he always hunts jobs (with no care of rates) from translation agencies and then subcontracts at even lower rates to those who "have no choice" but to accept. He came to me with the idea "we exchage our client information so that we both can expand our client suites", before which we have not had a word in almost a year. I did not know why he suddenly came up that idea and the only answer I can guess is that perhaps he thought I was just young enough to be a fool.

Sometimes I somewhat understand agencies' shady behaviors---anyway, they are businesses. For translator colleagues, I can understand but cannot tolerate. They themselves are translators and they should know
there's lots of money to be made in translation, provided you're not a translator.



Huang Haijun


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:12
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Another client-pinching trick Apr 9, 2007

Have you guys been filling in online forms at translation agencies' web sites? Now and then I make a "campaign" and fill a dozen of them.

Some have a very interesting trick asking for your clients' contact information. Unless you provide three references, their system will not accept your submission, CV, nothing. Some even say it's not their fault; it's an absolutely mandatory requirement for them to keep their ISO XXXX certification. A few took the trouble to send me an e-mail explaining this.

The fact is that your clients, whose e-mail address you gave away in the online form will probably receive:

a) an e-third-degree asking an avalanche of all sorts of questions about you, e.g. how often you shave (face or legs), things of the sort;

b) spam forever (some actually people buy confirmed e-mail lists);

c) job-peddling e-mails to the tune of "we can do anything [your name] does for you, better, faster, and cheaper! And we are better-looking too!"

In some of these sites one can feel that immediately upon submission, there are robots in place to grab these precious translation-client addresses and e-mail them "the works" without any further delay.

So I use these fields to put a message like this:
"I keep a policy of not disclosing my clients' contact information to safeguard them against spam and job peddling. All exceptions made so far have proven me right in doing so. You wouldn't like that either."

If the agency states their non-disclosure policy up front, I take the chance to add: "My clients' identity is covered by a confidentiality agreement very similar to yours."

As their robots check for the accuracy of the e-mail field, I usually fill them in with none@none.com.

We've gotta stop this practice!


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