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Reduced rates due to Covid crisis?
Thread poster: Julia Glasmann

Julia Glasmann
Duitsland
Member (2006)
uit Engels in Duits
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Jan 22

I have had two translation agencies (so far), asking me whether I could lower my rates due to the "difficult circumstances", so they could remain competitive on the market. Anybody else has been having similar requests? If so, how did you respond? I ended up asking the PM whether the agency's inhouse employees were also taking a pay cut in oder to remain competitive...

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Chris S  Identity Verified
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No Jan 22

Julia Glasmann wrote:

I have had two translation agencies (so far), asking me whether I could lower my rates due to the "difficult circumstances", so they could remain competitive on the market. Anybody else has been having similar requests? If so, how did you respond? I ended up asking the PM whether the agency's inhouse employees were also taking a pay cut in oder to remain competitive...


What if they’d said yes they have taken a pay cut?!

To be honest, I think I’d just politely say no without any argument or explanation.

Unless I was in a really bad mood.


Teresa Borges
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Stuart Hoskins
Local time: 19:05
uit Tsjeggies in Engels
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Yes Jan 22

A couple of agencies have asked me to take a temporary cut. I have worked with them, and indeed the same staff, for over 20 years, so, for want of a better word, they're "family" and I know that they wouldn't do this if they didn't have to. As for agencies I don't work with so frequently, I'd have to check my in-tray and think thrice.

Binnur Tuncel van Pomeren
 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
Verenigde State
Local time: 13:05
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Please let us know Jan 22

Excellent question, but what was the answer???

Julia Glasmann wrote:

ended up asking the PM whether the agency's inhouse employees were also taking a pay cut in oder to remain competitive... [/quote]


Wilsonn Perez Reyes
Dalia Nour
Teresa Borges
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 18:05
Member (2007)
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No Jan 23

I haven’t been asked. I have been working with the same customer’s base for a long while and to be honest if we ever come to that it will mean that the situation is as difficult for me as it is for them…

ahartje
 

Julia Glasmann
Duitsland
Member (2006)
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TOPIC STARTER
Amicable solution Jan 23

Jean Lachaud wrote:

Excellent question, but what was the answer???

Julia Glasmann wrote:

ended up asking the PM whether the agency's inhouse employees were also taking a pay cut in oder to remain competitive...
[/quote]

To give a little more background to my response: The agency started out by asking me for a 20% discount for high-volume translations. I agreed to 10%, because I have worked with them for many years and like working with them. Then the PM went on to ask whether I could also apply this "special rate" to "low-budget" projects, citing the Corona crisis as the reason for her request. At this point, I felt like she was pushing it and asked her, whether they also pay their inhouse employees less when they are working on low-budget projects. I think I phrased it nicely, since I did not want to come across abrasive, but at the same time I wanted to make the point that it seems unreasonable to expect freelancers to work for less while their inhouse staff - who has the luxury of a stable income - gets paid the same. She said she understood my point and that the decision, obviously, was up to me. In the end, I said no, because the rates they pay are on the lower end already anyways. Remains to be seen if and how much work I will still get from them, but even looking back, I stand by my decision.


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italië
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Interesting rationale! Jan 24

Julia Glasmann wrote:

I have had two translation agencies (so far), asking me whether I could lower my rates due to the "difficult circumstances", so they could remain competitive on the market.


Luckily I have dodged this particular bullet so far. This scenario dreamt up by the translation agencies is absolutely fascinating - apparently freelancers are somehow immune from the financial effects of the pandemic, sat in our penthouse suites with gold-plated dictionaries and laptops, able to lower our rates while the translation agencies struggle stoically on down in the sewers.

As we do to drugs and sweets from strangers, Just Say No. And run like hell.


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Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:05
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At least they have the courtesy to ask Jan 24

Julia Glasmann wrote:

I have had two translation agencies (so far), asking me whether I could lower my rates due to the "difficult circumstances", so they could remain competitive on the market.


My experience is that there are agencies which just lowered their prices overnight, no questions asked.

And since when are we the ones who have to pay the price for covid? Or for keeping their turnovers on level, for that matter?

So, you can guess my answer.

[Edited at 2021-01-24 15:06 GMT]

[Edited at 2021-01-24 15:09 GMT]

[Edited at 2021-01-24 15:45 GMT]


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Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:05
uit Duits in Engels
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No Jan 25

I haven't been asked. The only logic I could see is if the agency was charging a lower fee to their clients in order to make things easier for them. Does anyone know if that is happening?

 

Julia Glasmann
Duitsland
Member (2006)
uit Engels in Duits
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TOPIC STARTER
Who knows... Jan 25

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

I haven't been asked. The only logic I could see is if the agency was charging a lower fee to their clients in order to make things easier for them. Does anyone know if that is happening?


"We want/need to be able to offer our clients *competitive* rates" is the standard reason/excuse I get from agencies when they try to negotiate lower rates. This often comes along with the "promise" (as happened in the current case I had been referring to) that this in turn would of course help me grow my business. Yay! So I can work even more for less money so eventually I will make the same money again that I did before agreeing to "special rates" to "stay competitive". *eye-roll* I did not even try to get into a lengthy explanation like that, which is why I raised the question whether their employees are taking a pay cut too, because if it was really economically necessary, it would seem like a reasonable thing to do.

To answer your question: There is not really a way of knowing whether (some) agencies feel the need or pressure to actually lower the fees they are charging their clients. However, I used to work in-house for two translation agencies, so I got an idea of how much they are charging their end clients, which is almost twice as much as what they are paying me. So even if things get a bit rough for a while, they have enough of an margin to cover it without "having" to push it onto us freelancers...


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:05
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And what happens post-Covid? Jan 25

At what point would the pre-Covid rates be reinstalled?

Are they asking you to take a cut in rates as they have less work?
- a rational counter-argument would be an increase in rates to make up for the shortfall. Only half joking on this one.

Are they asking you to take a cut in rates as their clients are asking them to lower their rates?
- another take would be that flexibility might be a reasonable consideration for long-standing clients with whom you ha
... See more
At what point would the pre-Covid rates be reinstalled?

Are they asking you to take a cut in rates as they have less work?
- a rational counter-argument would be an increase in rates to make up for the shortfall. Only half joking on this one.

Are they asking you to take a cut in rates as their clients are asking them to lower their rates?
- another take would be that flexibility might be a reasonable consideration for long-standing clients with whom you have built up a good working relationship.
Collapse


 

Julia Glasmann
Duitsland
Member (2006)
uit Engels in Duits
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good questions Jan 26

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

At what point would the pre-Covid rates be reinstalled?

Are they asking you to take a cut in rates as they have less work?
- a rational counter-argument would be an increase in rates to make up for the shortfall. Only half joking on this one.

Are they asking you to take a cut in rates as their clients are asking them to lower their rates?
- another take would be that flexibility might be a reasonable consideration for long-standing clients with whom you have built up a good working relationship.


All good questions, none of which were touched or properly answered, which left me with the impression that the agency has no serious plans to raise my rates again once the Covid situation has cleared and mostly uses it as an excuse. I feel like I showed sufficient flexibility by offering a discounted rate for larger volumes, but if I have to lower my regular rates in order to continue getting work from them, I am better off looking for new clients...


Marina Taffetani
 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italië
Local time: 19:05
Member
uit Italiaans in Engels
My thoughts exactly! Jan 26

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

At what point would the pre-Covid rates be reinstalled?



If I was to take a cut in rates - which I wouldn't rule out if the client was good and I thought their request was genuine - I would put a time limit on it, such as expressing a willingness to reduce my rates until the end of the year, at which point we would review the situation. I would tell them that we are both in the same boat, but that I would be happy to work together to find a mutually beneficial solution for the short term.


Elena Feriani
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Bruno Pavesi  Identity Verified
Brasilië
Local time: 15:05
Member (2020)
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Leaning towards a No Jan 26

Maybe if it were a client or agency I've been working with on a steady basis, I might consider a slight discount.
But overall I figure I have bills to pay, and I doubt the internet and lighting providers will hear me out on lowering their rates haha


Julia Glasmann
Marina Taffetani
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:05
uit Frans in Engels
The big risk is under cover Jan 26

The big problem when agencies start asking for this type of favour, as favour is what it is, is that they are expressing cashflow problems. The ultimate risk is that if that it is the case, if their business goes belly up, how do you get paid?

Accepting a slight decrease to accompany a good client and a longstanding business relationship has to be in your interest, short-term, medium-term and long-term. So I would probably say okay, but I want X% upfront.


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