Rush job—and the client wants 25% off the price

I just recently encountered what must be one of the strangest, most unethical ways of doing business.

A client’s ad agency asked me to translate the client’s website, 7 letter-size pages of text in all, into another language by tomorrow.


All right, having nothing urgent going on at the moment, I accepted the job. I copied the text into my word processor, took a word count and gave my price to the agency, who promised to get the client’s go-ahead as soon as possible.

As the time frame was, to put it mildly, challenging, I started work immediately, trusting that everything would go well, as it so far always has. Let it be said that my estimate of course took the schedule into account but was in no way exorbitant. Let it also be said that I don’t short-sell my work, but on the other hand, I seldom lose a job because of price.

The client took his time giving his response. By the time the agency got hold of him, the translation was almost ready.

And then what?

The client starts haggling. Oh no, the price is way too high. If I come down 25 per cent, then he might consider.

This is no way to do business.

First, finding someone who will translate a whole website overnight is well-nigh impossible. Second, if you’re in such a rush, you don’t haggle. Third, do you really think the copywriter/translator is going to be enthusiastic to get another job from you?

So now I have a problem I’d very much appreciate some advice on from fellow freelancers. Do I deliver the job and accept the ridiculous price (after all, the job’s done already) or decline delivery and accept having wasted hours of my time?

Allow me to repeat: this is no way to do business. Recession or not.


EDIT: We finally solved the problem by agreeing that when I send my bill (the reduced fee), the client will pay me the next day. This happened. So both parties are at least partially happy.


  1. Cynthia - 2010-09-24 @ 12:40

    Hi Kimmo,

    Interesting post. Clients are always naughty.

    What comes to my mind was that if you and your client signed any contract, say quotation or P.O. which clearly state the work nature, volume, deadline and cost, before the job starts, everything stated on that contract should be strictly followed by both of you and there seems no room for bargaining.

    And, I only have two solutions for your situation (ignore if you think senseless).
    1. If you want to keep the business relationship with this client, stay firm on the price. If you make a concession, it just means that you need them more than they need you. Once he succeed in cheating (I think it is), he will cheat you since then.
    2. If you no longer want to work with them, discount and never work with them. (I prefer this because it’s not just costly and time-consuming to serve naughty clients. It’s just annoying and occupies your time to work with other clients.)

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