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I don't understand this pricing tactic...
Thread poster: LegalTransform

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:27
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 12, 2013

I responded to an agency that needs to place a project of over 20,000 words (with the requirement that the translator have legal expertise). I responded in part because the agency has a terrific BB record.

If I tell someone that my rate is .14 a word, I can understand if they want to negotiate and come back and say something like, "we can pay you .12 a word."

However, if I say that my rate is .14 a word, why do they come back and say "our rate is .05 a word for this volume"? What am I supposed to do with that information? They requested a resume and can see I have 20 years of experience. Do they think I will take such a drastic pay cut out of desperation or are they expecting a counteroffer?

I have no intention of responding, just curious why they even bothered to respond.



[Edited at 2013-04-12 21:05 GMT]


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Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:27
Member (2000)
French to English
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MODERATOR
Why not try a counter offer? Apr 12, 2013

Why not offer 0.13 as an experiment? Maybe they'll come back with something else? (Please report back - you've aroused my curiosity)

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Gad Kohenov  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 09:27
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Tell them... Apr 12, 2013

To look for some amateur. Lately I decided that not answering is the best answer. These agencies give their clents lower prices than they should and they want us translators to "absorb" it. Once you cave in once, they will do it every time. I had a case in which my offer was 80$us for the entire translation. The agency told me their budget is 60$us.
I could tell them to go packing but I just didn't answer. I have better things to do than to haggle.
As freelancers we have to take care of our interests. If you find this is too difficult I suggest you change profession to something less demanding. Translation is not food. It's a luxury. And during a world economic crisis people forget, unfortunately, about luxuries or start haggling like a peddlar in a bazaar. The moment haggling begins I lose interest.
I don't think we should cave in to the will of anyone. It's like this Indian system of "best prices". When they approach you with these words - don't answer. The haggling last too much time and a few of these discussion consume a lot of time which you have to compensate for by working deep into the night.

G.K.


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Thomas Rebotier  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:27
English to French
You'd be surprised... Apr 12, 2013

I was in the same boat for a brand new client. Passed their translation test with flying color and the first job they ask me is editing 27k words for $300. I kindly replied that my rates were so much above their budget I wasn't sure they meant bilingual verification and rewriting where needed ("editing") or monolingual "proofing" (as per the "TEP" model terms). And the PM in turn kindly replied to go ahead at my rate. Sometimes agencies make bona fide errors, or just want to test the waters. Trying doesn't hurt!

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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:27
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Ethics Apr 13, 2013

Thomas Rebotier wrote:
Trying doesn't hurt!


However, even if they do say yes, do I really want to work with a company that engages in such practices? I think I'd rather save my time and work with companies who respect me as a human being and as a professional.


[Edited at 2013-04-13 00:05 GMT]


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Astrid Pustolla  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:27
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
That is... Apr 13, 2013

...the point. Even if they reply they made a fault it leaves a very bad taste in my mouth and besides, I have to ask myself all the time, whether they are really going to pay the bill afterwards.
In the case described, I would answer the mail with about two words (no, thanks) and forget the whole matter. Anything more would be wasting time.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Allow me to throw in the cultural card (again) Apr 13, 2013

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
If I tell someone that my rate is .14 a word, I can understand if they want to negotiate and come back and say something like, "we can pay you .12 a word."


If they do say to you "we offer you .12 per word", do you then say to them, "in that case, my rate is .13 per word"? Or do you then accept the rate of .12 per word? If you just accept the .12 per word, then neither of you are really "negotiating", are you? (according to one definition of "negotiate")

If both you and your client are from a culture where short negotiations are considered polite and long negotiations are considered rude (or desperate), then it would make sense for the client to offer .12, because they would not expect you to continue offering various rates. But if your client is from a culture where long negotiations aren't rude (and/or where short negotiations are a clear sign that the one party is desperate), they would not think it odd to start the bidding much lower than they are actually willing to pay.

However, if I say that my rate is .14 a word, why do they come back and say "our rate is .05 a word for this volume"? What am I supposed to do with that information? They requested a resume and can see I have 20 years of experience.


Your 20 years of experience is not relevant at this point. The fact that they are negotiating with you means that they have already accepted your 20 years of experience. You seem to think that the number of years of experience is proportional to duration of negotiations. It is not.

What I would do in this case, is decide how low you are willing to go (e.g. .12 per word), and respond to the agency's offer by saying (apologetically) that that is your lowest rate. If they then respond with a different rate again (say, .06 or .07), simply write back to them again (politely) and tell them that .12 is really your lowest rate.

By that time they will realise that you are not trying to drive a hard bargain and that you have really reached your lowest limit. It is at this point that your 20 years of experience becomes relevant. Now the agency will decide whether they want to cut into their own flesh or not. They might say "sorrry, that's too high for us" and go their way, or they might say "let me get back to you about that" and try to renegotiate with their own client.

I have no intention of responding, just curious why they even bothered to respond.


In my opinion it is rude to break off negotiations by simply not responding, thereby leaving the other party hanging on a thread. But I suppose that that is perfectly acceptable in some cultures.



[Edited at 2013-04-13 08:51 GMT]


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xxxnrichy
France
Local time: 08:27
French to Dutch
+ ...
For me it's clear Apr 13, 2013

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

However, if I say that my rate is .14 a word, why do they come back and say "our rate is .05 a word for this volume"? What am I supposed to do with that information?


They wait for your counteroffer. They know and they are sure that you will feel ashamed for asking sooooo much. And lots of people do. They know that there are hundreds or thousands of translators out there all fishing in the same pond. That, in the way they say it, the translator's market position is weak. Because it's a marketplace, after all.They know that when bargaining they'll always win. They have obtained a degree in bargaining.

I once struggled with the Belgian office of a direct French client. I stated my normal prices for this client, but this man, a purchaser, was new for me. He bargained for € 0,01 less. I told him clearly that these are my prices for this kind of jobs. His answer: "Dear lady, if I accept without discussion the proposals my subcontractors submit to me, I'll lose my job".

Samuel is right too, it's a cultural thing, I personally am very bad in bargaining and am happy I don't live in Southern Europe.

[Edited at 2013-04-13 09:31 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Your obligation for the good of the industry... Apr 13, 2013

...would be at least to respond and thank them for the information, explaining that you cannot reduce the rate to that extent because it would be unfair for your other customers (or briefly describe any other motives). Of course, wish them good luck too!

While the PM you are dealing with might be with a bad business partner at the moment, you never know: this person might need your services in the future, so courtesy is a must in this and every negotiation.


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:27
French to German
+ ...
Who's being rude here? Apr 13, 2013

Samuel Murray wrote:

In my opinion it is rude to break off negotiations by simply not responding, thereby leaving the other party hanging on a thread. But I suppose that that is perfectly acceptable in some cultures.



[Edited at 2013-04-13 08:51 GMT]



I think it is downright rude to offer someone who is asking 0.14 cents per source word the "princely" rate of 0.05 cents.

Depending on the outsourcer, I may be willing to negotiate, but I find all that haggling rather offensive. Emails like that would go straight to the bin. And no, I don't think there's any point in wasting time on a reply, sorry.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:27
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Emails cost money Apr 13, 2013

If we're going to engage in than endless to and fro of emails for every job, this is going to have to be paid for by someone - that means raising rates. Not to mention those incredibly tight deadlines that are almost always present and are going to get tighter with every exchange.

Has anyone here tried putting in their quotes that the rate stated is non-negotiable (in the downward direction)?


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steven fung  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:27
French to English
+ ...
The 'one size fits all method' Apr 13, 2013

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

I responded to an agency that needs to place a project of over 20,000 words (with the requirement that the translator have legal expertise). I responded in part because the agency has a terrific BB record.

If I tell someone that my rate is .14 a word, I can understand if they want to negotiate and come back and say something like, "we can pay you .12 a word."

However, if I say that my rate is .14 a word, why do they come back and say "our rate is .05 a word for this volume"? What am I supposed to do with that information? They requested a resume and can see I have 20 years of experience. Do they think I will take such a drastic pay cut out of desperation or are they expecting a counteroffer?

I have no intention of responding, just curious why they even bothered to respond.



[Edited at 2013-04-12 21:05 GMT]


It seems to me that they applied the same negotiating tactics to everyone bidding for that job, regardless of experience etc...In other words, they used exactly the same strategy with you as with a novice translator, who charges, say, 0.06/word. They use this method to filter out 'expensive' translators like you. Once they have a pool of translators who they think will settle for something close to their so-called 'budget', ONLY THEN will they start looking at your profile and CV in any detail (and notice things like 20 years' of experience....). Out of this pool of cheap translators they will then pick the one they think is most qualified.
If the discrepancy between my rate and their offer is too large, I personally wouldn't even bother wasting any time replying to such offers.


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steven fung  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:27
French to English
+ ...
The only way is up! Apr 13, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

If we're going to engage in than endless to and fro of emails for every job, this is going to have to be paid for by someone - that means raising rates. Not to mention those incredibly tight deadlines that are almost always present and are going to get tighter with every exchange.

Has anyone here tried putting in their quotes that the rate stated is non-negotiable (in the downward direction)?


Good idea Sheila, I might try this.

(Yes, I often find that agencies who like to haggle are also the ones with the tightest and most unreasonable deadlines).


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 15:27
Chinese to English
Brass neck works surprisingly often Apr 13, 2013

I have watched a fair amount of "reality" TV in my time, including some of the business-oriented shows. It never ceases to amaze me what people get just by asking: discounts, free services, easier conditions...

An email to you is free, and if you're not working in their price range, then it doesn't matter to them at all if they offend you. So for this agency, it's a perfectly rational tactic. Obnoxious, but rational.


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Texte Style
Local time: 08:27
French to English
systematic negotiations Apr 13, 2013

nrichy wrote:

I once struggled with the Belgian office of a direct French client. I stated my normal prices for this client, but this man, a purchaser, was new for me. He bargained for € 0,01 less. I told him clearly that these are my prices for this kind of jobs. His answer: "Dear lady, if I accept without discussion the proposals my subcontractors submit to me, I'll lose my job".



Some people have instructions to always beat the supplier down.
Once I was told this by a customer for whom I had given a "first order" special rate, because he then asked for a "second order" discount. I explained that I sometimes gave a special rate for a first order just to show them what I was capable of. When he said that he systematically had to show his boss that he had managed to obtain a discount I suggested we start again, with me quoting a price two cents higher than my usual rate, and then letting myself be beaten down to my usual rate. He agreed! And then at some point the rule was relaxed, but he didn't tell me and so he started accepting my estimates at the higher rate!!! It was good while it lasted


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