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Agencies asking to lower agreed rates during the pandemic
Téma indítója: Renvi Ulrich

Chris S  Identity Verified
Egyesült Királyság
svéd - angol
+ ...
Easier said than done! Nov 16, 2020

Sadek_A wrote:
The advice is: find a WELL/HIGH-PAYING, LOYAL client that can cover your average working hours, then forget about all the rest.


If only they grew on trees!


Matthias Brombach
expressisverbis
Mervyn Henderson
Angie Garbarino
 

Sadek_A  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:38
angol - arab
+ ...
Determination is key! Nov 16, 2020

Chris S wrote:
Easier said than done!

I understand. And, it will remain so for as long as a large number of freelancers are accepting abuse by clients.

Chris S wrote:
If only they grew on trees!

Would the person be a client that grows on trees when 1) they hire a construction contractor/worker to build them something for a certain time-period covering their average working hours at the rate they BOQ for; or, 2) join a course that covers the average working hours of the instructor at that instructor's desired fee; etc.? The list goes on.

And, if the freelancer is going to make the effort anyway, then let it be to find a stable, profitable stream of income. But, if any freelancer is happy with interrupted, unworthy income, then I'm happy for them too!


 

Renvi Ulrich
Kamerun
Local time: 19:38
Tag (2018 óta)
angol - francia
TÉMAINDÍTÓ
Thanks for sharing this experience Nov 16, 2020

It is true that lowering rates almost always makes you work much harder.

Bruno Pavesi wrote:

It's kind of tricky, this happened to a fellow translator I know here in Brazil and the result has been him having to double his workload just to get the same results as before. Of course, perhaps his decrease was higher - not to mention some of the agencies he works with have been less than honest with him.

Personally, if this were an agency I was used to working with, and if the decrease didn't impact me critically, I would be open to a discussion. Maybe have them consider shorter payment windows for you? I guess in the end it's up to you, if you consider these agencies as honest and reliable, then they deserve a chance.


 

Renvi Ulrich
Kamerun
Local time: 19:38
Tag (2018 óta)
angol - francia
TÉMAINDÍTÓ
Very insightful Nov 16, 2020

Thanks for this detailed analysis.

Samuel Murray wrote:

Chris S wrote:
1. Global GDP has only fallen 4-5% this year and is expected to bounce back next year.


Firstly, GDP relates to an average across all sectors, and may not be representative of any particular industry.

Secondly, sources differ on the actual numbers, and it also depends on what you compare with what. For example, this site (which mentions its sources) shows that the EU as a whole suffered a 14% drop in GDP in Q2 2020 compared to Q2 2019. The figure for NAFTA is 10.5% and the figure for the UK is 21%. I'm not sure where your "4-5% this year" figure comes from.

Thirdly, I think few people expected the second wave, or expected it to be so big, so while businesses may have survived the first wave by eating into their savings and may have bounced back a bit during the lull between the waves, the second wave is going to put immense pressure on businesses due to them having exhausted their reserves.

Also, many businesses invested money in anti-corona measures on the assumption that they'd be able to recoup that investment during the post-wave period, on the assumption that there would not be a second wave (or not such a big one).

2. There are generous government grants and loans if they really have lost that much business; and if they’re still struggling after that, you really want to steer clear.


These grants are stop-gap measures to help prevent businesses from going under completely, and are not intended to supplement businesses' loss of income entirely. Even with these grants, businesses lost money, and are expected to trim down expenses in order to survive.

And for this reason it is not really logical to suggest that there is any greater risk in working for a business that is unable to maintain its previous level of spending, regardless of whether they qualified for a grant or not. In fact, one could equally surmise that businesses that take active steps to reduce costs are businesses that must have contemplated their own long-term survival, and are thus less of a risk than businesses that simply eat up their grants in the hope that there would be further grants.

3. I’d be willing to bet that the agencies asking for discounts are the ones that treat translators badly normally.


I suspect you would lose that bet. Indeed, the original poster waxes lyrical about the two agencies that prompted his post here.

And why should I suffer so they can continue to prosper?


Odd way of using "prosper" there, to mean "not going bankrupt". And you do not suffer. If you accept an assignment at 0.09 per word instead of 0.12 per word, it means that you believe that the offered rate is fair, and so... no, you do not suffer unless these clients are your only clients. You have a mix of clients that pay a mix of rates, and now your mix gets adjusted downwards a bit, but you do not suffer.

[Edited at 2020-11-15 11:45 GMT]


 

Renvi Ulrich
Kamerun
Local time: 19:38
Tag (2018 óta)
angol - francia
TÉMAINDÍTÓ
Thanks for your experience, Marina Nov 16, 2020

This sadly happens way too often and is weakening the industry...

Marina Taffetani wrote:

Arjan van den Berg wrote:

But of course, we are all really very brave behind our keyboards. Things change when you really start to see that they give you less and less work and you still have to pay your bills.


Absolutely. In a perfect world, I wouldn't lower my rates just because an agency I work for tells me they're struggling. Unless, maybe, they're a very good client and I trust them implicitly. BUT, this is by no means a perfect world and I do have to pay bills.

So when one of the agencies I work for "asked" (or rather, demanded) for a 10% discount, I couldn't say no. My workload has plummeted and there was no way I could lose one of my main clients. Needless to say, I'm furious, because it's a big agency and it's hard for me to believe they're really struggling, AND they're one of those that treated translators badly normally, as Chris suggests. Their rates were already low, now they border on insulting, so yes I do suffer, despite what some may think. But I see no alternatives at the moment.


 

Renvi Ulrich
Kamerun
Local time: 19:38
Tag (2018 óta)
angol - francia
TÉMAINDÍTÓ
Very original way of analysing. Nov 16, 2020

Sticking with low paying/disrespectful clients is indeed harmful in many respects.

Sadek_A wrote:

mona elshazly wrote:
You can work for your old clients whenever you are free.


1- It's never a free-time if dedicated for anything other than relaxation and leisure. Even household chores kicks it out of the category. So, perhaps we are talking here about (down-time), as in the time the new, well/high-paying client couldn't cover. Which leads us to the next point.

2- Why would the freelancer be making the effort to retain (by accepting bad/low rate) the old, bad/low-paying client when that same client didn't make the effort to retain the freelancer (by offering good/high rate)? In retaining that client, would there be a positive or a negative side? Which takes us to the last point.

3- When, for the same performance, the freelancer charges 2 different rates with a large gap, they run the risk of getting exposed in a somewhat interconnected industry where a number of negative scenarios can come into play:
- The well/high-paying client stops sending work because they feel they're being cheated rate-wise, don't want to be linked with the bad/low-paying client by the same freelancer, and/or decide to sub-contract via the bad/low-paying client to the same freelancer.
- The bad/low-paying client stops sending work anyway because they realize 1) they can no longer be the freelancer's priority, 2) the freelancer is (apparently) still desperate for their work, bad/low-paying as it is, so they try more leverage.

The advice is: find a WELL/HIGH-PAYING, LOYAL client that can cover your average working hours, then forget about all the rest.


Sadek_A
 

Peter Motte  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 19:38
Tag (2009 óta)
angol - holland
+ ...
Not acceptable Nov 17, 2020

That is Not acceptable.
Managers try all kinds of tricks to make you lower your prices. It's their second nature: always as a discount.


Tom in London
 

Tiina Linnamaa  Identity Verified
Németország
Local time: 19:38
Tag (2003 óta)
angol - finn
+ ...
Depends on the agency Nov 19, 2020

Happened to me as well, one of my agency clients approached me earlier this year asking me to lower my rates because, due to corona, their clients were twisting the screw tighter as well (which I can absolutely believe, as the client works in the automotive industry). I have been working with this agency for 17 years now and our co-operation has always been excellent. They pay fair rates, their payments have never been late, they have never asked for favours but have always sent a PO for even th... See more
Happened to me as well, one of my agency clients approached me earlier this year asking me to lower my rates because, due to corona, their clients were twisting the screw tighter as well (which I can absolutely believe, as the client works in the automotive industry). I have been working with this agency for 17 years now and our co-operation has always been excellent. They pay fair rates, their payments have never been late, they have never asked for favours but have always sent a PO for even the tiniest tasks, have very capable and friendly PMs etc. etc. So, I met them halfway and agreed to lower my rates until the end of year by half of the discount they were asking for. I gave them the benefit of the doubt as I saw no reason not to. Besides, if this helps them keep their clients and stop the clients turning to other agencies who offer their translators pitiful rates, then it's a win-win situation for me as well.

I think in business one has to negotiate and be flexible from time to time if the client is worth it.
Collapse


Sadek_A
Sheila Wilson
Renvi Ulrich
Mervyn Henderson
Marina Taffetani
Angie Garbarino
Arjan van den Berg
 

Sadek_A  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:38
angol - arab
+ ...
..... Nov 19, 2020

Tiina Linnamaa wrote:
Tiina's original post

I read you and I hear "they invested in me, for 17 years, so I invested back in them". Which is applaudable!
But, what is it with the companies that haven't yet invested anything and they're around asking for favors and discounts? That's rhetorical, btw.


 

Tom in London
Egyesült Királyság
Local time: 18:38
Tag (2008 óta)
olasz - angol
Italian saying Nov 19, 2020

Renvi Ulrich wrote:

....They were very candid on their difficulties and appealed to my understanding. These are two serious clients with a very good ethic.


Fidarsi è bene. Non fidarsi è meglio.

TRANSLATION:

It's good to trust people. It's even better not to trust them.

In my experience, no matter how much you trust people, they will let you down sooner or later. It seems that this moment has come with your two clients.

[Edited at 2020-11-19 12:31 GMT]


Adieu
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
Egyesült Királyság
svéd - angol
+ ...
Welsh saying Nov 19, 2020

A fo ben, bid bont.

To be a leader you have to build bridges.

You won’t get anywhere if you trust nobody. You have to trust your customers to some extent. Every job delivered is a free loan they might not repay...


Sheila Wilson
Zibow Retailleau
Mervyn Henderson
Dan Lucas
 

Renvi Ulrich
Kamerun
Local time: 19:38
Tag (2018 óta)
angol - francia
TÉMAINDÍTÓ
Good approach Nov 19, 2020

Thanks for sharing this experience, Tiina. Your flexible, reasonable, but yet financially effective way of handling this situation is a good inspiration

Tiina Linnamaa wrote:

Happened to me as well, one of my agency clients approached me earlier this year asking me to lower my rates because, due to corona, their clients were twisting the screw tighter as well (which I can absolutely believe, as the client works in the automotive industry). I have been working with this agency for 17 years now and our co-operation has always been excellent. They pay fair rates, their payments have never been late, they have never asked for favours but have always sent a PO for even the tiniest tasks, have very capable and friendly PMs etc. etc. So, I met them halfway and agreed to lower my rates until the end of year by half of the discount they were asking for. I gave them the benefit of the doubt as I saw no reason not to. Besides, if this helps them keep their clients and stop the clients turning to other agencies who offer their translators pitiful rates, then it's a win-win situation for me as well.

I think in business one has to negotiate and be flexible from time to time if the client is worth it.


 

Tom in London
Egyesült Királyság
Local time: 18:38
Tag (2008 óta)
olasz - angol
The End Nov 19, 2020

Tiina Linnamaa wrote:

.... I met them halfway and agreed to lower my rates until the end of year


You'll have the dickens of a job getting them back up again.


Thomas T. Frost
Adieu
 

Anna Haxen  Identity Verified
Dánia
Local time: 19:38
Tag (2005 óta)
angol - dán
+ ...
Me too Nov 20, 2020

One of my oldest clients (based in Belgium) was taken over recently by another European agency and all was well for a while. Then came covid-19, and this new agency informed their vendors that they could see no other option than to cut 10% off all future invoices until September 2020. I politely told them to count me out. In late August, they started sending out amateurish videos in which the CEO, I think it was, droned on about how covid has affected the economies around the world and how hard ... See more
One of my oldest clients (based in Belgium) was taken over recently by another European agency and all was well for a while. Then came covid-19, and this new agency informed their vendors that they could see no other option than to cut 10% off all future invoices until September 2020. I politely told them to count me out. In late August, they started sending out amateurish videos in which the CEO, I think it was, droned on about how covid has affected the economies around the world and how hard things still were for them, pulling up figures and graphs as proof, and ending, of course, with how they were still, sadly, unable to pay their vendors in full. At that point I politely wrote and offered my sympathies and told them they were welcome to strike me off their list for good. Is it me or is it outrageous to use this situation as an excuse to underpay their freelancers, given all the various relief funds that have been established for businesses such as theirs? And can anyone explain how chasing away their vendors like this can benefit them in the long run?Collapse


Tom in London
Thomas T. Frost
Mervyn Henderson
Chris S
Zibow Retailleau
Jocelin Meunier
Peter Shortall
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
Egyesült Királyság
Local time: 18:38
Tag (2014 óta)
japán - angol
Not necessarily illogical Nov 20, 2020

Anna Haxen wrote:
And can anyone explain how chasing away their vendors like this can benefit them in the long run?

That rather depends whether they are still here in the long run, doesn't it? Agencies are affected by economic downturns, just like freelancers, and agencies usually have quite significant cost bases to manage.

If the situation at the agency in question is so difficult that their survival over the next few months rests on being able to cut their costs in the short term, then it makes perfect sense to try and reduce what they pay their suppliers.

That might cause the business serious problems in the future, but if the alternative is to go bust today, well, there's a certain logic to it... You cross the bridge you have to cross today, and worry about the one you have to cross next year when - if - you get there.

The question is whether this agency is genuinely in such dire straits. It smells of opportunism to me. There's a large UK-based agency that is notorious for trying to impose swingeing rate cuts on freelancers whenever there's an economic downturn. They're still here, somehow, and as far as I know they don't offer to raise rates again in the good times.

Regards,
Dan

[Edited at 2020-11-20 20:56 GMT]


Tom in London
Renvi Ulrich
 
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